Volume 2 Issue 1
Keywords: Black Students, Equal Education, Females, Higher Education, Racial Factors, Secondary Education, Social Class, Urban Schools
Keywords: Activism, After School Programs, Citizen Participation, Grade 8, Hispanic American Students, Middle School Students, Middle Schools, Social Action, Student Participation, Urban Areas
Keywords: Adolescents, Comprehensive School Health Education, Homosexuality, Immigrants, Low Income Groups, Minority Groups, Secondary Education, Sex Education, Sexual Abuse, Urban Schools, Working Class
In The Peaceable Classroom, Mary O'Reilley (1993) asks, "What would it be like to teach from the conviction that our students are artists, poets, indeed, from the knowledge that we ourselves are poets?" (p. 87). Throughout the 2002-2003 school year, I have been facilitating a photography and writing elective course entitled "Sistahs" with a small group of young women at a charter high school in Philadelphia1. Starting with the premise that we are all artists and poets, we have pursued critical engagements with autobiographical writing and photography both in and out of school.
While school remains the most obvious and common reference point for research on learning, more and more urban education scholars are investigating life beyond school as a critical site for youth development, cultural production, and theory building (Heath & McLaughlin, 1993; Hull & Schultz, 2001; Mahiri, in press; Maira & Soep, in press; Seyer, in press). I want to focus here on community-based youth media projects in particular, framing these sites in a new way: by considering them not just places worthy of study, but also models for research methodology.
It has never been more important to build connections among the full range of organizations that invest in children, youth, families, and communities. There is unprecedented support for increasing the quality and quantity of supports and opportunities available to children and youth (Afterschool Alliance, 2001), and a growing sense that community resources must be enlisted to support young people's education and development (Hill, Campbell & Harvey, 2000). While schools and community-based programs have different practices and different bottom lines, they are linked in a very basic and powerful way by a shared interest in helping children and youth succeed.
The Bluford Series is a group of seven relatively short books that are highly relevant to today's students. With titles such as Lost and Found, A Matter of Trust, Someone to Love Me, and The Gun, the novels focus on a group of urban high school students and their families; each novel addresses situations that students care about. Alissa Williams, an 8th grade student at a public, academic magnet school in Philadelphia read all seven books in the series and shares her thoughts about the Bluford Series.