EDuCATInG The CReATIVE MaVERICKs
paper focuses on the narratives and experiences of young Hispanics in
south Texas. These youths matured during America’s high period
of civic engagement and their involvement in the birth and
development of social clubs defined and reinforced their culture.
Growing up Hispanic meant, for many of these people, belonging to a
large supportive Hispanic ‘family’. The clubs helped
define appropriate dating rituals and general social behavior.
The Art of the Possible
It is McDonald (in Freebody, Muspratt and Dwyer, 2001) who states that “an important avenue for liberation is to remember origins and to reclaim all aspects of the past rather than the part that is selectively transmitted by the dominant culture” (259). Metz (1980) expands on this notion by referring to the “dangerous memory of the community that remembers when things were different, when things were done in different ways (p.53).
Central to this theory and to the purpose of this paper is the specific present and historical context of the individual or group that is claiming or re-claiming its origins. Thus, within the context of these stories, as is the case with other similar stories, one can see how they serve as snapshots of the memories of the participants.
In the first instance, the stories were solicited from men who had varying experiences with their early formal education. In selecting the stories for examination, ethnicity, class and other factors were not knowingly considered; rather, the stories tended to come from men who believed that personal narrative could serve as an avenue for self-knowledge. The school stories thus provide a reconstructed memory of how school affected these men and explores how they managed to overcome their past. Given that the mother tongue of this first group of men was English helped to explain why their stories displayed a sophisticated use of textuality (or intertextuality, Kristeva). In other words, these informants viewed themselves as storytellers and used language to weave a compelling set of multi-leveled multi-textual narratives. Bruner (1986) elaborates on this where he talks about how the imaginative application of the narrative mode leads to good stories, gripping drama, believable historical accounts. These are stories which deal in human intention and action and the vicissitudes and consequences that mark their course(p.13). In like manner, then, the drama that unfolds in the lives of these Hispanic males makes for accounts of the kind that Joyce would term “epiphanies of the ordinary.”
Within educational research there is a vibrant hermeneutical strand upon which this work is based. The writing and research by JoAnne Pagano, Deborah
Britzman, Nel Noddings and Madeline Grumet are informative for this purpose. Grumet’s work has been central to that kind of research called autobiographical text (in Pinar, 1995). Grumet’s methodology has been to encourage her participants to write multiple accounts of one educational experience thereby achieving a triangulation of the narratives that are constructed by participants. In some ways, this paper has to do with asking or inquiring about the relationship between two distinct but not separate forms of autobiographical text in reclaiming the self that was constructed in formal schooling. In effect, the central question being asked is how various forms of thought, verbal, visual and written, combine to form identity and shape memory.
These school story recollections also seem to have uncovered another theme. Although difficult to identify explicitly, the autobiographical texts appear to make explicit what has been implicit and, in the process of text formation, they question what have been called historical presuppositions about what we believe is the basis for the way we view the world. One example relates to how the school stories constructed by our informants question the ability of the public school system to fully prepare children for life in a democracy. In other words, these autobiographical texts are not simply examples of simply bourgeois individualism. In following the thinking of
Connelly and Clandinin, these stories represent personal, practical knowledge of how to get by without necessarily succeeding in school. They tell of how a group of creative people succeed that are contrary to the myths of how to behave and learn in our society. One might say these stories could be a broader exploration of Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. A second example might be related to questioning how we know in schooling that we know. In an era of “no child left behind”, our rush to accountability based on quantitative standards, may just not be acceptable in a diverse and complex world. Therefore, if autobiographical text is important in informing the nature of these school stories , it may also help to point the way to an educational context of community, of diversity, complexity, and short term planning as Fullan (Change Forces, The Sequel, 2001) has argued. By rendering explicit what has to this point been implicit, we may have found the conceptual vehicle that will assist us in coalescing much of the work cited above.
One of the commonalities that surfaces in the stories is the belief that schooling failed to help these people become aware of the multiplicity of ways of telling and making sense of the dominant set of presuppositions that define success and successful student behavior. The recognition of a multi-layered dominant path to success was something these subjects (i.e. Hispanic males) learned in the world of work. In each case, the participants expressed the
wish that schooling would have provided them with
the opportunity to retain their maverick risk-taking status while coming to understand that success in school is more often an indication of how well one understands and conforms to the dominant paradigm rather than being an indicator of emotional or intellectual achievement.
Early in 2004, funding was obtained from the Garcia Foundation to expand the work with young Hispanic males. Within this context, we interviewed and collected the stories and conversations of a dozen prominent Hispanic males in South Texas, individuals who had become successful in their community. As was the case in the previous stories, many of these men had been unsuccessful in their early years of formal schooling or schooling simply did not appear to have been an important influence in their lives. What was important was the role played by associations such as the social clubs.
The memories that were recalled by the participants in this second study are a mostly forgotten web of formal and informal connections held together by recollections garnered from connections to the various social clubs. What bound them together were dual connection of the church (i.e. the Catholic Church) and the network of social clubs in the Corpus Christi area. In particular it was the social club that transmitted the cultural presuppositions of being Hispanic in the south Texas region and it was the
social club that enabled so many Hispanic males to remain in a school system where Anglo presuppositions were dominant and which were so pervasive in all schools in this part of Texas (and probably throughout the state).Limited research is available concerning Hispanic involvement in volunteering and community service (Chase, 1990). Gonzales (1985) identified nearly 200 national and local Hispanic American voluntary organizations in the United States. Hutchenson and Dominguez (1986) declared that voluntary and ethnic organizations and ethnic churches are the major participants in the voluntary sector. According to Brody (1997), there are over 1000 non-profit organizations in the greater Cleveland area, yet only ten to twelve serve as primary agencies of service to Hispanic Americans. The most recent studies conducted by the Independent Sector (2000) indicated that 46 percent of Hispanic Americans volunteered in 1998, an increase of 6 percentage points since 1995 (40%). Hobbs (2000) provided specific recommendations for recruiting and supporting Latino volunteers, concluding that “How successful you are in recruiting and retaining Latino adults as & Lopez, 2001). Safrit and Lopez also found that the family can also serve as a barrier to volunteering. That is to say, most of the volunteers in this study indicated that they were more likely to volunteer if their own children were involved in the study. Other participants indicated that their obligations to family came first. This is an important finding in that it suggests that, for Hispanic families,
children and family take precedence over outside influences such as volunteering.A second key factor identified in the Safrit and Lopez study was the influence of the Catholic Church in the recruiting of Hispanic volunteers. According to Swenson (1990), 70 percent of Hispanics are Catholic; the local parish, in addition to being a place of worship, serves as a center for social activity, charitable events and celebrations, and the promotion of community service. Activities conducted through the church have strong links with volunteer work. Church work as volunteerism is defined in terms of an outreach ministry and may not be considered volunteering. Swenson concluded that this exclusion results in substantial undercounting of volunteerism. In the Safrit and Lopez study, 45 percent of the Hispanics interviewed reported volunteering in the church.
This involvement in the church by Hispanic males has had an impact on the development of the social groups. Several of the men indicated that the selection of membership in the social clubs came from casual conversations with acquaintances in the church (conversation, 2004). In other words, these individuals had an obviously close connection with the church and it was with church members who went to the same church who then became members of the same social club. What seemed clear was that the work these young Hispanics did in the social clubs as teenagers and currently as adults identified them as being gifted or of above-average ability.
However, when reference was made to their school stories, there is rarely a recollection by a classroom teacher or principal that these were gifted students. What seemed evident, though, was that these students thought creatively. These students thought creatively. They evoked their own sense of community within a community and society within a society, but they were not considered gifted within the public school system.
Various reasons for the disproportionately low number of Hispanic students in gifted and talented programs have been proposed. One is the lack of a clear definition and definitive criteria for what constitutes giftedness (Hilliard, 1976; Richert, 1987). In sum, the process of identifying gifted Hispanic students would benefit educators greatly if identifying characteristics were more clearly delineated. Another issue is the concern over test bias (Barkan & Bernal, 1991). What seems clear is that these men recognized the talents that each brought to the table. However, in the identification process, evaluation of giftedness typically compares standardized skills as they are measured in Reading comprehension scores and in scores on tests of logical thinking. This use of a very narrow definition of giftedness can limit the threshold of what constitutes giftedness, particularly for Hispanic students (Masten, 1985) and for any student who does not come from the mainstream culture. Researchers have long cited the oversimplification and conversion of giftedness into a
a single test score (Richert, 1987), as well as rigid policies and narrow testing practices (Hunsaker, 1994) as practices that have limited access to gifted programs for many Hispanic students. Issues of the definition of giftedness and the relationship of this definition to Hispanics come down to defining success and the standards of measure by which we define giftedness remain problematic issues here. The rigid policies and narrow testing practices do not promote relationships nor do these practices identify strengths in intrapersonal and interpersonal communication. Relationships and communication are important characteristics defining young Hispanics. According to the 2004 small business advocate of the year for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Corpus Christi, Texas, in a business relationship, more time is spent in getting to know the individual than taking about business at hand (Salazar, 2004).
The issue of the under-identification and the non-recognition of the talents of Hispanic students have been more recently studied. Plata and Masten (1998) suggested that, in order to make the identification process more accurate, teachers may need assistance in recognizing talents in culturally diverse students. Gaskin, Peng and Simon (1992) found classroom teachers to be sensitive to under-represented groups in gifted and talented programs, yet non-trained in the recognition of the talents and capacity of these students. When discussing the early learning experiences with hose interviewed, there
was never a reference to the recognition of their talents and abilities in school. The development of the social groups is often referred to as a reaction to the inability to participate in the conventional school groups that were inaccessible to them at the time. This led individuals to form their own social groups, ones that enabled them to build capacity and develop skills that would lad to a high level of success and affluence in life. In addition, what was more deeply uncovered in the conversations was the legacy issue. There was a pattern and practice to networking, and relationship building that led to the development of successful yet traditional social groups. The attainment of a high level of affluence and success is rarely attributed to the school experience that so many of these men were exposed to in their early years of schooling (Conversation, 2004). Richert (1987) suggests that students with potential need to be identified and placed in enrichment programs. These practices may offset inequalities in serving potentially gifted students who are put at risk due to low teacher expectations (Rist, 1970), impoverished backgrounds (McKenzie, 1980), and/or inappropriate instruction stemming from a “hidden curriculum” (Sadker & Sadker, 1994). Many successful South Texas public schools recognize this practice in the form of establishing talent pools of students as opposed to isolating the talented young Hispanic leaders in the classroom.
The upshot of all this is that the men and women who participated in
these social groups selected the best and brightest they could find
among their peer group. However, selection was heavily influenced by
the Catholic Church and the family. These individuals used an
informal peer selection process that led to the formation of a
network that carried them through their adult life and followed them
into their professional careers. Peer selection has been introduced
as a method for selection into gifted programs. A 1987 study by Udall
of a peer nomination from, as part of a referral process
to identify gifted students, led to impressive findings. The initial implementation of this instrument was conducted in three schools (schools with 75%, 50%, and 25% Hispanic populations, respectively) in a large urban school district in the southwestern United States. The sample size for the initial size consisted of 1,564 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students and 66 teachers. The study included interviews of students to determine student perceptions about the instrument. Udall concluded that peer referral is a useful technique in the identification of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic students, and this instrument can aid in the identification of gifted Hispanic students not previously identified by their teachers. In addition, the peer nominations tended to reflect the cultural balance of the schools included in the study more accurately than did teacher nominations. There was no significant difference between the nominations of Hispanic and Caucasians in this particular sample.
This peer referral form seeks to address broader ranges of students and giftedness which would include interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills. It is very important that any measure of giftedness reflect cultural fairness which occurred utilizing the instrument introduced by Udall (Cunningham, 1998).
Caroline Cunningham, in a 1998 study of a peer nomination instrument,
noted that only small gender differences were found with the peer
nomination form used in her initial study. Given the conflicting
results in the literature (cf. Gagne, 1993), the impact of gender
bias in peer nomination instruments needs further investigation. The
fact that more females and males were nominated in response to the
question, “What boy or girl
learns quickly but doesn’t speak up in class very often?”, reinforces the research on gifted girls masking their ability (Callahan, Cunningham & Plucker, 1994,; Reis, 1987; Reis & Callahan, 1989) and could serve as a focal point for future empirical study. This also implies a class culture that reinforces the perception and learned teacher expectations by the students. This is an important issue for educators to consider regarding the reflection of sex role stereotypes (Cunningham, 1998).
The success and capacity of the men in the morning conversations stemmed from the activities outside the classroom and the selection process among peers.
These activities were not within the walls of a classroom or a part of school related clubs and activities. Out-of-class experiences can influence student learning and personal development, yet there is not a strong influx of knowledge about which out-of-class activities are linked to successful outcomes (Danks, 1993).
The fundamental content and performance standards for academic institutions are embedded in the curriculum. There is no disputing the current vision and initiative of most academic leaders, political officials and educational stakeholders who value the strict adherence to high academic standards and academically oriented curricular practices. It is also imperative to note that students benefit greatly from out-of-class experiences that enhance critical thinking, organizational skills and networking among students, Academic institutions would benefit greatly from encouraging students to take advantage of opportunities that exist outside the classroom (Lopez & Safrit, 2001). This type of policy and practice would encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning and apply academic learning to their own community.
This paper thus focuses on the narratives and experiences of Hispanic men who matured during America’s high period of civic engagement. They experienced the benefits of social capital in their youth while attending the social clubs which defined and reinforced their culture. Growing up Hispanic meant, for many of these people,
belonging to a large supportive Hispanic ‘family’. The clubs helped define appropriate dating rituals and general social behavior. Going to school and staying in school was an integral part of the mandate of these clubs. Therefore, the stories of the South Texas Hispanics (males) describes social capital based on the social organization of family and friends who were often not well connected, who had to rely on each other for support and for whom it was not clear that were unlimited numbers of chances for success ahead. For these mavericks, then, the social clubs provided a way in which they could retain their individuality, not only as Hispanics but as individuals. For example, even though rule following was important, the clubs provided social venues enabling the development of what is today a vibrant Latino music industry in South Texas. In sum, the qualities of persistence, hard work, and trust enabled these individuals to ‘grow’ their social capital in unique ways.
One of the commonalities which surfaced in the Hispanic stories was the belief that schooling failed to help Hispanic youth develop a growing awareness of the multiplicity of ways of telling and of making sense of the dominant set of presuppositions that define success and successful student behavior. Too often the formal curriculum consisted of explicit attempts to homogenize Hispanic differences into mainstream culture. Fortunately the social clubs functioned to neutralize this effect to the extent that many of these men remained in school because of the calming influence
of the clubs and the friendships that developed out of the club
relationships. Formal schooling and teachers did not help; in effect,
they proved to be an obstacle which could only be overcome through
the clubs and the traditional qualities of hard and persistence work.
In effect, the recognition of a multi-layered dominant path to success was inculcated through the social clubs and, later, through the world of work. In some cases, the participants often expressed the wish that schooling might have provided children with the opportunity to retain their maverick status while coming to understand the idea that success in school is more often an indication of how well one understands and conforms to the dominant paradigm than it is an indicator of emotional or intellectual achievement. In other cases, the local social clubs provided a cultural safety net through which the dominant culture might be strained or filtered. Hence, for these individuals, schooling became an extension of the activities of these clubs.
Just as the pressures of time and money, suburbanization, electronic entertainment, and other subversions reduced social capital across America, the same proved true for the Hispanics of south Texas. A crucial factor in all of this was the broad generational change, “the slow, steady, and ineluctable replacement of the long civic generation by their less involved children and grandchildren.” (Putnam, p.283). Along with the rest of America, cultural and regional differences came under growing threat
and narratives collected during this time testify to this loss.
The legacy of the South Texas Social Clubs can be traced from their inception as the League of the United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). LULAC’s formation and evolution led to the inception of the Corpus Christi Scorpions, the first male social club in south Texas. Their purpose was to provide wholesome activities and social interaction within the Hispanic teenage community. Membership in the Scorpions was obtained by initiation. This exclusive opportunity came from a young person’s proven integrity and reputation. The group would work to raise funds for activities and for social activities that were not readily available through the schools or other community organizations. One of the primary interests of the club was to have dances to enable the young Hispanic population to meet other young Hispanics in the area. The Scorpions ran into early difficulty because the Plaza hotel, the only dance venue in Corpus Christi, would not allow dances. It appears that that the owners of the hotel had received many complaints about the noise level and, as a consequence, dances were not allowed. To overcome this problem Johnny Prezas and Raphael Galvan Sr. opened up the Galvan Ballroom and rented out the ballroom to the Scorpions on a regular basis. Thus the Galvan Ballroombecame a major venue for dances in south Texas and many of the social clubs in the area benefited from having this facility.
As a club, the Scorpions defined socially acceptable behavior within the Hispanic community and transmitted s south Texas cultural essence which pioneered the basis of social capital in Corpus Christi. The events they fostered became community activities that served to benefit not only the membership but also community members as a whole. The events served as fundraisers that attracted the entire community. These came to represent the views of the young people in the community at large and, as a result, young people in the club came to have a deep interest in civic responsibility and in building their capacity as involved citizens. Many of the social clubs that followed after the Scorpions adopted this legacy of service and civic responsibility.
During World War II, many of the Scorpions volunteered for active duty. Their experiences in the club had led them to be both patriotic and honorable. Recently, in a conversation with Tony Abaca, a businessman in Corpus Christi, a reference was made to patriotism and community as fundamental values of social clubs. This legacy, then, was evident in the number of members who were decorated for both valor and service during the Second World War.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s, as Corpus Christi grew, so did the social clubs. Former members returning from the war enhanced the reputation of what the club represented. However, family responsibilities prevented Scorpion
members from sustaining their work within the club. Nevertheless, the legacy of the Scorpions lived on and in the 1950’s and 1960’s, splinter groups such as the Delords, DeNobles, and the Parracutines were formed.
Hence, the formation of
young people’s clubs became a legacy representing young ideas
and values, era un herencia de jovenes. These groups now controlled
the social activities of young Hispanic males in south Texas in a
general way. The success of the groups now depended upon cooperation
and enterprise among young Hispanic males. A master calendar of
yearly events was kept at Exposition Hall in Corpus Christi. The
monthly dances held by each club were duly noted and each group
cooperated with the others so that activities within each group could
be coordinated to avoid conflict amongst groups.
Moreover, splinter groups included organizations for young women, such as the Hi-Fairness, Della Dinese and the Prima Debs. Both male and female groups cooperated to put on social activities and supported one another. This spirit of cooperation, though informal, rivaled existing city wide strategic planning committees. The advantages these groups enjoyed were that there were no hidden agendas and the participants were young men and women. They knew that the entire Hispanic community would benefit only if all the groups were successful.
The young women and men of the DeNobles, DeLords, and the Parraccutines rented halls, hired This legacy, however, was not an isolated manifestation of series of chance events. The south Texas Hispanic community was grounded in the belief that emphasized support and caring for one another. A case in point was the Galvan family of south Texas. Whenever a member of this family confronted death, the entire family would move in with the patron of the family, Raphael Galvan. The entire family would participate in the mourning and in the healing process. The women would wear black clothing for a year and the men would wear black arm bands to demonstrate mourning for that individual. As well, there was no limitation to the amount of time a family member’s immediate family could live with grandparents; they would stay until the healing process had been accomplished. This family tradition carried throughout the sixties and early seventies.
By the late 1960’s this closely knit community was beginning to resemble the rest of America. Many of the members of the social clubs had married, become successful and moved from the inner city to the suburbs. The neighborhoods where they had walked to school were beginning to look abandoned. Many of these young men and women were veterans of the Viet Nam War and when they returned, they made use of the GI bill to attain a college degree and get a start in business. Therefore, as
they became upwardly mobile they, like many other Americans, rejected their roots. As a consequence, their ties were often closer to their work than to their community.
This phenomenon intensified in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The social clubs became less community based and the ones that managed to survive became less active and lost their spirit of cooperativeness within the community. The activities which were once a central feature of the social club began to have to compete with national television and the expanding youth culture. In addition, the young men and women of the 70’s and 80 have found it hard to resist the allure of the emerging disco club culture. The availability and appeal of this cultural form appealed to the young Hispanic youth because of its ready availability and because it did not require them to work cooperatively towards a common end. In other words, the same enjoyment that was provided by the dancing and the opportunity to meet other young people came without the attendant need to work towards a common end for the larger community. That is to say, the decline of the social clubs paralleled the decline of the social capital. People became engrossed in their own needs and responsibilities with a subsequent loss of identity with the community at large. Nevertheless, many of the members of these clubs continued to meet and continued along the traditional path established within the culture of the social clubs. This was marked by the formation (and longevity)
of clubs such as the Sembradores de Armistad, Sceptor and the United Married Couples clubs. In following the traditions of the original clubs, the members of these clubs planned dances, debutante balls, gave out scholarships, and held Christmas parties for their grandchildren as well as friends and acquaintances. Membership in these new clubs was by invitation or open to those who participated in the events.
It is evident that some vestiges of the social clubs remain today but their function has changed drastically. Throughout their history the clubs did not view themselves as explicit defenders of Hispanic culture. They served as extensions of the cultural heritages which the parents and grandparents of these men brought with them to America. When viewed historically, one can see the importance of these organizations. However, at the time they were in full operation, these clubs formed an important part of the social landscape. Putnam refers to this as social capital. That is to say, the recounting of the stories of these clubs was part of a process of unraveling an implicit past. What became clear to us was that many of the people we spoke to did not realize the impact the social clubs had on them until they began to talk about the clubs to us.
What seems clear today is that contemporary Hispanic youth have no social clubs upon which they might build social capital. There is no formal mechanism that might enable them to realize the multi-paradigmatic
nature of contemporary society. In the past, from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, young Hispanic youth in south Texas learned to work cooperatively to build and sustain their culture.
The social clubs served as a collaborative community in which it was safe to be Hispanic. The clubs also provided the necessary social capital to keep many young people in formal educational settings. Within the safety net of the clubs, these young men and women came and went to school in these groups, did homework together, and worked after school together. While in the past there had been racial discrimination in south Texas, the existence and success of the social clubs made participation and achievement in main stream American society possible. Today what is left is the public school system, a system or organization which is ill-equipped to fill the void left by the clubs. The rich tradition of learning how to be a proud member of the Hispanic community as well as a full participant in mainstream American society has been lost. For many contemporary Hispanic youth there seems to be only one way to succeed. They must achieve high scores on the high stakes testing which is a pervasive part of Putnam (2000) in Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of the American Community, describes how social capital, or the collective value of our social networks have changed in the past one hundred years. He draws draws on approximately 500,000 interviews to substantiate his claim
that we no longer engage socially as we did in the past. The result is that we have become disconnected and alienated from our roots. Economic capital is constituted by material, quantifiable wealth. Social capital, on the other hand, consists of the connections and social networks on which an individual may draw in order to establish credibility or social influence. Symbolic capital refers to the social potency and credibility that accrues to the other forms of capital when they are recognized and legitimated within fields and social groups; without this validation, any capital has little worth (Carrington, 2001, 269).
Cultural capital has three unique forms: institutional, objectified, and embodied. As Carrington explains, children come to school with varying degrees of cultural capital. They arrive with the “correct” attitude towards school and institutional authority. In the case of Hispanic individuals and their children, Hispanic youth come to school with a firm belief in the American dream but with a world view that is infused with all of these traditions that are an integral part of their cultural and linguistic heritage. In other words, they possess”dangerous memories” because their understandings are, in many cases, at variance with the cultural capital most schools expect of their students.
As Carrington (2001) argues, “The imposition of Eurocentric curricula, learning styles, and behavioral
norms, and sanctions against the use of nonstandard English acts as a
powerful form of symbolic violence against indigenous and migrant
students through processes of exclusion and silencing ”(270).
To further illustrate this point, since the mid-1960’s, Americans attend far fewer meetings, enroll in fewer labor unions, volunteer in far fewer civic organizations, participate in far fewer political organizations or local clubs, and generally visit less with friends. They also spend less time in participatory sports (Atlas, 2001)... To quote Putnam (2000) here, “Organizational records suggest that for the first two-thirds of the twentieth century America’s involvement in civic associations of all sorts rose . . . . in the last third of the century, by contrast, active involvement in face-to-face organizations has plummeted” (63).
As we spend less time together, we tend to trust each other less. Evidence shows that we spend far less time with our friends and neighbors, conversing over meals and engaging in other types of social interaction (Putnam, 2000). According to Putnam, many factors account for this loss of social capital. Chief amongst these is the emergence of a mobile, fragmented middle class which has cut its ties to traditional neighborhoodfamily and friends. What has emerged is a physical move from the inner city to the suburbs, away from the traditions of the past coupled with an emotional move away from those ties that once framed
Technology has undoubtedly played an important role in this shift. While the telephone does not appear to have served as a disconnecting force, both television and the internet have been influential in this process. The challenge of the internet is to demonstrate how computer-based communications can enhance participation without widening the gap between “haves” and “have-nots”.
At the present time our students are not engaged in the practice of building social capital by reaching for goals that might benefit the community and lead to a quality of life that preserves tradition and enhances the future. The individuals in social groups described in this paper matured in a society that had limited access and predetermined opportunity for success. Thus social clubs provided opportunities outside the boundaries of accepted social norms for to succeed. Several questions arise: First, ‘How will young men of today from diverse backgrounds find and build a parallel social structure to create the opportunities that these young men found? Second, ‘Can the public school system find a way to acknowledge ‘gifted’ difference and encourage these men to thrive inside public education? Third, ‘Is it possible that young mavericks only thrive outside traditional social structure and that all our efforts to be inclusive are bound to fail?
These stories appear to indicate that the public school system was not designed, nor is currently evolving, in
the direction of building social capital. . The sole focus on testing and academic excellence fragments and disenfranchises young males generally; especially those who might be called mavericks because of their ethnicity or in the case of the first set of stories, mavericks, individual show, by choice or by chance, have lived their lives outside the mainstream. The result has been the rise of a fractured society, a society which appears to have lost its roots. This it shares with most of contemporary America. The solution, we suggest, is to uncover the past and allow structures such as the social clubs to thrive. At the same time it is essential to enhance and support public schooling in a way that builds capacity, confidence, trust and honor, and leads to a renewal of a regional social capital.
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