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Professor Nancy Lesko Joins C & T

Three years ago, Nancy Lesko came to TC while on sabbatical from Indiana University at Bloomington. While teaching in the Sociology of Education program, she became familiar with TC and New York City. Now she is here to stay. She joined the Department of Curriculum and Teaching as an Associate Professor in January.

"The opportunity to work with different kinds of schools and people from different ethnic, racial and class backgrounds is wonderful here," Lesko said. She is teaching a basic course in curriculum design, and may add a course in the future on gender and curriculum and teaching.

Lesko is currently working on two book projects. The first examines the history of the concepts about adolescence through the period from the late 1800s to the present.

"The book explores the making of new ideas about adolescence, for example, the belief that youth go through discrete stages of development, as profoundly influenced by colonialist encounters with 'savages.'"

Lesko also delineates how nation-building and gender arrangements affected the new, 'modern' concepts of adolescents at the turn-of-the-century and explores how nationalism, race, and gender continue to exert strong pulls on how we think about, research, and respond to youth.

The second project is a book that she is editing on the topic of masculinities at school. "Contributors to the book look at masculinities among students, teachers, in textbooks, and in higher education policy-making.

One author examines male teachers in early childhood education, which is historically a feminized domain," Lesko noted. "Another chapter looks at gender equity educational policies in Australia, where decades of attention to girls' schooling has given way to a perception that now boys might be disadvantaged."

When her work on the books is complete, Lesko looks forward to studying the politics of service-learning curricula and how mandating 'compulsory volunteerism' plays out on the school and classroom level.

"The purposes for service learning are lofty ones designed to teach people to be responsible citizens," Lesko comments. "But what happens to the sense of responsibility when it is mandated?" She aims to find out.

Lesko received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her dissertation looked at Catholic high school students' responses to a stated emphasis on community amid a culture of competition.

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