Childhood, Youth, and Learning at Hampshire College

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This page is about the academic concentration. For the student group, please visit Childhood, Youth and Learning (CYL).


CYL Mission Statement 

The Critical Studies of Childhood, Youth & Learning Program is an interdisciplinary academic program connecting students, faculty, staff, and the larger community. CYL promotes critical thinking about how children and youth grow, change, create, and learn in the context of larger social structures and cultural practices.

We respect young people as participants in artistic, educational, cultural, and social communities. We dispute traditional paradigms of knowledge production that view children solely as objects of adult values and practices. Rather, we consider the multifaceted identities of children and youth and affirm young people as narrators of their own experiences.

We believe that learning occurs in many spaces. For this reason, we conceive of education broadly and consider children's lives over their days and through the years. We believe that efforts to address the education and wellbeing of children and youth must be grounded in the complexity that exists across individuals, families, classrooms, schools, and communities.

We believe that sharing diverse ideas, practices, and knowledge strengthens our capacity to act thoughtfully and passionately in the world. We support collaborations that enhance our educational activities, explore and advance research, theory, and practice, and respect the goals of our community partners.

Our courses, projects, events, and community-engaged learning opportunities incorporate the integration of methodologies, disciplines, and perspectives. These efforts challenge our assumptions and compel us to innovate and develop habits of critical inquiry that inform our understanding and interactions with young people and the significant adults in their lives.

2010 CYL Division III Presentations

  • mical boles-friscia: "Writing to Transgress: Rethinking Identity, Social Systems, and Youth"
  • Carson Chodos: "EFA, FCBUE & MDG: A Politically Motivated Alphabet Soup"
  • Cory Cochrane: "Schools & Colonization: The Significance of Education on Anishinaabe Land"
  • Katie Crisona: "Talk Dirty To Me: An Exploration of the Pioneer of Twentieth Century American Sexuality and Sex Education"
  • Niajah Doty: "Education Through Youth Voices"
  • Jamie Friedberg: "A Series of Paintings & A Collaborative Youth Mural Project Exploring Identity & Empowerment in Women"
  • Kierstin Hettler: "Dramatic Arts Integration in the Early Elementary Classroom"
  • Emily Ike: "Creating a Children's Book for Intersex Youth"
  • Liz Looker: "I'm Respectful": Middle School Students, Clothing Choices, & Identity Negotiations"
  • Charmaine Mack: "What About Gender Bias in Education"
  • Aly Pilkons: "An Exploration of Food, Eating, and Vegetarianism in Picture Books for Children"
  • Alyssa Roark: "Embracing Vocation: The Journey Toward Becoming a Teacher"

Faculty and Staff Contact Information

Laura Wenk, Program Director
Associate Professor of Cognition and Education

Melissa Burch
Assistant Professor of Cognitive Development

Rachel Conrad
Associate Professor of Psychology and Childhood Studies

Kristen Luschen
Associate Professor of Education Studies

Natalie Sowell
Assistant Professor of Theatre

Sarah Frenette
Teacher Licensure Coordinator

Robin Marion
Educational Outreach Coordinator

Sample First-Year Course

Girls in School: Feminisms and Educational Inequality Feminists have long been invested in the relationship of girls’ empowerment and education. Second Wave liberal feminism, for instance, strove to make schools more equitable places for girls, demanding equal access and resources for girls and boys and the elimination of discrimination specifically impacting girls. Yet the relationship of gender inequality and schooling is a complicated and contentious site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. By analyzing research, pedagogies, policies, and programs developed in the past few decades to address gender inequality and schooling, students should complete the course with a complex view of feminism and how these different, and at times contradictory, perspectives have contributed to the debates around educational inequality and the design of educational reform.

Sample Courses at Hampshire

  • The American School
  • Autobiographical Memory
  • Contemporary Issues in Education Reform
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • The Fictional Child
  • How People Learn
  • Instructional Methods for Inquiry-Based Teaching
  • Integration of Creative Drama & Core Curriculum
  • Introduction to Art Education
  • Knowing & Transforming Environments with Children & Youth
  • Philosophy of Education
  • Psychoanalytic Approaches to Psychotherapy with Children
  • Rethinking Childhood
  • Science Education in Urban Schools
  • Social Development
  • Special Topics in Childhood, Youth & Learning
  • Writing a Child’s Voice for Theatre
  • Youth, Sexuality & Education

Through the Consortium

  • Creative Arts & the Young Child (UMass)
  • Early Childhood Education (SC)
  • Education in the City (SC)
  • Issues in Children’s Literature (UMass)
  • Lab in Early Social & Personality Development (MHC)
  • Philosophy for Children (MHC)
  • Program Planning, Implementation & Evaluation in Special Education (UMass)

Facilities and Resources

The CYL outreach coordinator’s cffice facilitates opportunities to work on-campus with the Hampshire College Children’s Center and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. The office additionally helps coordinate class-based and individual community engagement opportunities in local schools, after-school programs, and youth-serving organizations.

The Child Development Research Center, equipped with one-way observation glass, A/V recording, and a reception area for parents and children, serves as an opportunity for students to observe and record data on child behavior and learning techniques.

Teaching licenses obtained through the Five College Teacher Licensure Program are recognized in approximately 45 other states. To become eligible for licensure in the state of Massachusetts, students must successfully complete the requirements of a teacher licensure program, pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL), and submit licensure application materials and fees to the Massachusetts Department of Education. The Five College licensure coordinator is available on-site at Hampshire to support students through the licensure process.

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