We have long received our information, therapy, films, and even vegetables from authoritative sources: from insiders, trained or ordained to dispense this knowledge or cultural products. Most of the rebels in this book are changing that equation.
—from Republic of Outsiders
Republic of Outsiders is the story of the growing number of Americans who disrupt the status quo. It's about the outsiders who, freed of middlemen and armed with new technology, are able to make their unusual ideas go viral. They include everyone from amateur filmmakers who crowdsource their work to transgender and neurodiverse activists and "alternative" bankers. These outsiders create and package new identities in a process acclaimed author Alissa Quart dubs "identity innovation." They push the boundaries of who they--and we--can be and what we can do. They even turn co-optation to their benefit.
In a brilliant and far-reaching account, Quart introduces us to those who have created new structures to keep themselves sane; fulfilled; and, on occasion, paid. This deeply reported book shows how and why these groups now gather, organize, and create new communities and economies. Republic of Outsiders is a critical examination of how to make rebellion or amateurism a strength rather than a weakness.
'Quart's message, thoughtful, often eloquent and bracingly frank, injects common sense into the overwrought rhetoric of parenting.' --L.A. Times
'First-class literary journalism.' --Publishers Weekly
For parents and educators as well as adult readers with "gifted" pasts, the dilemma of the gifted child is a pivotal one. While kids who are superior learners can benefit from enriched early education, America's gifted and talented kids can also be corroded by "giftedness." In fact, being called "gifted" and trained from early ages can have long-term effects in adult life, from debilitating perfectionism to performance anxiety and lifelong feelings of failure.
In Hothouse Kids, we traverse the country meeting gifted kids and prodigies and "former" gifted kids, clarifying what early enrichment worked for them and what went too far, in stories both droll and tragic. Exploring the overhyped world of baby edutainment and "better baby" early education programs, she takes a hard look at the claims about educational toys and baby sign language.
Taking readers inside the ever-more elite world of IQ testing, Hothouse Kids reveals the proliferation of new categories of giftedness, including "terrifyingly" and "severely" gifted and examines the true value of such testing. Profiling the explosion of kid competitions-from Scrabble(tm) and chess to child preaching-she looks at the pressure to excel so early in life and the prodigy hunters who search science and math fairs for teens to hire for Wall Street investment firms: the encounters are sometimes sparkling and sometimes quite gloomy. Looking at the professionalization of play, Hothouse Kids visits with kids who've been identified as prodigies-from a four-year-old painter whose works sell for $300,000, to an eight-year-old professional skateboarder who is backed by nine corporate sponsors. Surveying expert assessments of the necessary role of unstructured play in child development, Hothouse Kids delves into disappearance of recess and the pitfalls of children's overstuffed schedules. Finally, the book profiles the growing divide in opportunities for wealthy kids versus those from middle and lower income families who are losing out as gifted programs at public schools are gutted.
How should parents and educators draw the line? How much enrichment is too much, and how much is too little? What are we doing to our gifted kids? Alissa Quart's penetrating in-depth book illuminates Americans' quest for specialness and precocity, dark and light.
In this chilling and thought-provoking expose, Alissa Quart takes readers on a tour of the unsettling new reality of marketing to teenagers, introducing the disturbingly savvy advertisers who have targeted younger and younger minds and wallets. But beyond the most glaring examples of print ads and commercials, Quart writes, are the quieter yet no less worrisome forms of teen branding: the teen consultants who work for corporations in exchange for product; the teen "memoirists" who consider the selling of their own stories a necessary part of branding themselves; the girls obsessed with cosmetic surgery who will do anything to look like women on TV; the boys who trick themselves up as their favorite brand-covered video-game action heros; and those teens simply obsessed with admission into the name-brand college of their (or their parents') choice. Readers also meet the pockets of kids attempting to turn the tables on the cocksure corporations that cynically strive to manipulate them.