In general terms, the workshop explores examples of good quality young adult (YA) fiction (picture books, graphic novels, illustrated books, novels and short stories, poetry), which might be used with adolescent learners in a range of (formal and informal) contexts in the local area. Ultimately, the workshop is intended to promote educational activities that cultivate awareness of the self, of others and society as a whole.
In recent years, within Italy and around the world, YA literature (aimed adolescents and young-adults) has come to be regarded as a beneficial educational tool; for young people, engaging with such writing can offer a life experience that provides the stimulus for a deeper and more critical understanding of the reality of society and a growing awareness of their own changing and evolving identity. For this to take place, however, works of a suitable standard have first to be selected, with due consideration and on the basis of specific, academically rigorous parameters and criteria.
The best YA writing deals with multiple issues, is informed by a range of values, and includes content and (explicit, but most of all implicit) educative messages that operate on multiple levels. It represents adolescence (or rather, adolescents) authentically and realistically in cognitive, psychological and emotional terms.
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING:
Students should: be familiar with the primary characteristics and aspects of good quality young adult literature: be familiar with a number of the unique qualities of the YA genre, such as the different types of publication (comics, graphic novels and illustrated books; novels and short stories; poetry); able to interpret the explicit and implicit content of the works explored in critical/literary terms and in light of the theoretical content covered during the course; recognise some of the fundamental needs that YA literature can address in readers in the target age group; show familiarity with a number of strategies and techniques for introducing learners to good quality material.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING:
Students should: be able to apply the theories explored during the course to recognise aspects of authenticity in the representation of people and situations in the works covered; able to recognise and distinguish quality writing from commercialised publications (with generalising, stereotypical representations of the adolescent experience), at least on an initial level; be able to use reading-promotion strategies and techniques to design possible reading-centred interventions (no reading along pre-established “themes”, engaging with the work as an end in itself rather “using” it to achieve an ulterior purpose), taking as a starting point the needs of the learners and the nature of the context of operation.
Students should: be able, in a way that exhibits appropriate awareness and critical understanding, to apply the rigorous academic parameters covered during the Pedagogia dell’adolescenza lectures and the workshop to select written works for use in educational settings; be able, in a way that exhibits appropriate awareness and critical understanding, to select appropriate methods for presenting different types of book depending on the learners and learning context in question, with a view to encouraging a profound and genuinely rewarding engagement with the written work (not, therefore, “using” the book as a means to an ulterior end).
COMPREHENSION ABILITIES Students should: be able to identify authoritative sources and bibliographic references with which to expand their own knowledge of the field of young-adult and teenage literature; be familiar with criteria for selecting appropriate reading material in these genres based on the educational needs of pre-adolescent and adolescent learners.
- Introduction to young-adult literature and how it connects with education questions (e.g. the development tasks of adolescent learners; the need for recognition; the narcissistic society; the affective family, fragilities of contemporary families and adolescents).
- The broad variety of YA publications and a number of key authors.
- Group analysis of young-adult picture books, poetry, and short stories, exploring the messages they contain, variations of the adolescent experiences represented, and symbolic and metaphorical aspects.
- Considerations for practice: analysing publications in groups; how to introduce them in different educative and educational settings; how to make the most of digital resources in developing reading plans for pre-adolescent and adolescent learners.
Short introduction to young adult literature uploaded to Moodle for consultation in the student’s own time. Introduction, in lecture format, to the theoretical aspects of the workshop with examples in the form of slides and readings from selected texts (theory-practice cycle).
- Individual activities, in small and/or large groups, in which students will analyse and interpret selected works (with a reading list issued in advance or provided by the lecturer) on the basis of criteria and parameters developed in the course of teaching or introduced in the theoretical-introductory section.
- Producing a report on the works covered (following the lecturer’s directions). This will form the basis of the assessment for the workshop.
Note: The lecturers will provide the material required for the various activities on the platform before and over the course of the workshop itself.
Methods of assessment:
Final report, taking as its subject one of the picture books examined during the workshop and covering the following points and questions:
- Why might this picture book be relevant to adolescent learners? Link with concepts and issues touched on during the Pedagogy of Adolescence lessons and the course texts (Dusi, Il Riconoscimento nei contesti educativi, Angeli, Milano, 2017; Barone, Gli anni stretti, Angeli, Milano, 2019; Parada, available from moodle).
- Analysis of the book
- How to present it to learners
- Possible activities for use with pre-adolescent and adolescent learners in education settings.