chapter  1
18 Pages

New Age for Coming of Age

There are longstanding cultural assumptions in the United States that adolescent coming of age is fraught with difficulties and that public high schools often do not go far enough to ensure smooth passages to adulthood. It was Margaret Mead (1928) who popularized the belief that American teenagers go through an especially turbulent period of “storm and stress” made worse by a culture “woven of so many diverse strands [and] numerous contradictions [that young people confront] a confusing world of dazzling choices” (p. 204). She was quite pointed in her criticism of high schools for failing to transmit cultural certainties to young people who are uncertain about how to adjust to adult life.