I don’t like baseball. Its not that its boring, or repetative, or anything like that. Its just that I don’t like it. An interesting thing about baseball though: Almost 100 years ago they developed a system that acknowledges that small town teams are important to big city teams through the little league or “juniors” system. Its a cool idea, for cities that are generally the economic drivers behind major league baseball success.
Then I read a journal article that is called “Creating a sandlot for democracy: The Study Circle Resource Center’s appraoch to youth civic engagement.” While I love Study Circles, I desperately want them to go back and reconsider the title to this important set of lessons. This title unfortunately echoes the ongoing pattern of relegating youth involvement to the lowest common denomonator of society, the role of the tiny fish in a huge ocean.
Worse still about this particular article’s title is that it reveals a sentiment that is terribly patriarchial and alienating. That message is that young people’s actions aren’t even little leagues: they’re sandlot, that wonderfully idyllic space where kids go to play in the heat of the summer that serves as nothing more than a distraction to schoolday lessons and homelife.
Youth participation matters more than this. It should be the responsibility of every adult ally of youth to find better metaphors to describe our work.