In The Means to Grow Up, Robert Halpern describes the pedagogical importance of "apprenticeship"—a growing movement based in schools, youth-serving organizations, and arts, civic, and other cultural institutions. This movement aims to re-engage youth through in-depth learning and unique experiences under the guidance of skilled professionals. Employing a "pedagogy of apprenticeship," these experiences combine specific, visceral, and sometimes messy work with opportunity for self-expression, increasing responsibility, and exposure to the adult world.
Grounded in ethnographic studies, The Means to Grow Up illustrates how students work in unique ways around these meaningful activities and projects across a range of disciplines. Participation in these efforts strengthens skills, dispositions, and self-knowledge that is critical to future schooling and work, renews young peoples’ sense of vitality, and fosters a grounded sense of accomplishment. In unearthing the complexities of apprenticeship learning, Halpern challenges the education system that is increasingly geared towards the acquisition of de-contextualized skills. Instead, he reveals how learning alongside experienced adults can be a profoundly challenging and complex endeavor for adolescents and offers readers an exciting vision of what education can and should be about.