1st Edition

The Means to Grow Up
Reinventing Apprenticeship as a Developmental Support in Adolescence

ISBN 9780415960335
Published November 26, 2008 by Routledge
248 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

In The Means to Grow Up, Robert Halpern describes the pedagogical importance of "apprenticeship"—a growing movement based in schools, youth-serving organizations, and arts, civic, and other cultural institutions. This movement aims to re-engage youth through in-depth learning and unique experiences under the guidance of skilled professionals. Employing a "pedagogy of apprenticeship," these experiences combine specific, visceral, and sometimes messy work with opportunity for self-expression, increasing responsibility, and exposure to the adult world.

Grounded in ethnographic studies, The Means to Grow Up illustrates how students work in unique ways around these meaningful activities and projects across a range of disciplines. Participation in these efforts strengthens skills, dispositions, and self-knowledge that is critical to future schooling and work, renews young peoples’ sense of vitality, and fosters a grounded sense of accomplishment. In unearthing the complexities of apprenticeship learning, Halpern challenges the education system that is increasingly geared towards the acquisition of de-contextualized skills. Instead, he reveals how learning alongside experienced adults can be a profoundly challenging and complex endeavor for adolescents and offers readers an exciting vision of what education can and should be about.

Table of Contents


Part I: Theoretical Bases

Chapter 1: Apprenticeship as a Teaching and Learning Framework

Chapter 2: Apprenticeship and the Tasks of Adolescence

Part II: Cases

Chapter 3: Apprenticeship in the Framework of High School Reform

Chapter 4: The Broader Base of Apprenticeship Experiences

Part III: Reflecting on Apprenticeship

Chapter 5: The Experience of Apprenticeship: From Both Sides

Chapter 6: Benefits of Participation in Apprenticeship

Chapter 7: The Limits and Limitations of Youth Apprenticeship


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Robert Halpern is Professor at the Erikson Institute for Graduate Study in Child Development.


"In an era of rampant student boredom and failing schools, Halpern shows us how an old model of mentorship and learning is being reinvented to provide powerful experiences to prepare youth for the workforce of the 21st century. In multiple guises – summer internships, work-based learning, and science, technology, and arts-based youth programs – the apprenticeship is reemerging as an educational model that matches young people’s eager responsiveness to hands-on learning and the new demands of the workforce for flexible pragmatic skills. This book provides a superb inside view of how diverse apprenticeships work, including how they are structured, the nature of the apprentice-mentor relationships, and the rich developmental experiences that youth gain."  --Reed Larson, Professor of Human Development, Psychology, and Educational Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign  

"Robert Halpern's latest book...holds many guiding insights and generous dollops of comforting, good old-fashioned yet contemporary and down-to-earth wisdom for readers, especially those whose priorities or responsibilities involve the care and guidance of adolescents coming of age. Halpern provides a skillfully crafted account of the experience of apprenticeship and its benefits...the author's depiction of varied apprenticeship experiences captures both their complexity and nuance. The greatest appeal of this book lies in the fact that it is about the human need to do skilled, specific work that matters and taking pride in the craft. A compact book, yet detailed and carefully and meticulously written,[this book] is a handy reference guide for anyone investigating the promise of apprenticeships. Psychologists, teachers, social workers and others whose work involves families and adolescents in high school are likely to find this book useful. Halpern's attention to detail and his persistence in drawing together seemingly disparate ideas brings all the systems into focus." --Padmini Banjeree, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 54, Release 43