Antonio Gramsci once said that everyone is a philosopher—Leif Gustavson shows us concretely what that might mean. In Youth Learning on Their Own Terms he offers both a compelling critique of the most familiar classroom practices as well as a nuanced and detailed portrait of young people dwelling in possibility, consciously constructing their lives as expressive and adventurous, reflective and meaningful.
Because, he is not an ideologue, Gustavson convincingly explores approaches and approximations rather than laws and causes. Motivation, engagement, sustained attention, standard-setting, self-discipline—Gustavson discovers sites of youth activity where these desirable qualities are assumed, not imposed, spots where young people invent themselves as authors, artists, and activists—as unruly sparks of meaning-making energy on voyages of discovery and surprise rather than either outlaws or raw materials moving along some alien and inhuman assembly line.
A basic and universal human impulse is the desire of leave a footprint in the sand, a cave-painting on the wall—Leif Gustavson helps us re-imagine education as a place where that impulse might become both organizing guide and controlling principle. This is a compelling, an essential book.