An anthropologist uses spelling bees as a lens to examine the unique and diverse traits of Generation Z--and why they are destined for success
At first glance, Generation Z (youth born after 1997) seems to be made up of anxious overachievers, hounded by Tiger Moms and constantly tracked on social media. One would think that competitors in the National Spelling Bee -- the most popular brain sport in America -- would be the worst off. Counterintuitively, anthropologist Shalini Shankar argues that, far from being simply overstressed and overscheduled, Gen Z spelling bee competitors are learning crucial twenty-first-century skills from their high-powered lives, displaying a sophisticated understanding of self-promotion, self-direction, and social mobility. Drawing on original ethnographic research, including interviews with participants, judges, and parents, Shankar examines the outsize impact of immigrant parents and explains why Gen Z kids are on a path to success.
Basic Books; April 2019
- ISBN: 9780465094530
- Read online, or download in secure ePub format
- Title: Beeline
- Author: Shalini Shankar
Imprint: Basic Books
In The Press
"In this engaging book, Shalini Shankar tells the story of the extraordinary kids who participate in competitive spelling bees, and through them, in turn, the story of Generation Z. Shankar shows us how these kids become entrepreneurs of their own lives, and do it with amazing discipline, poise, and good spirit."—Sherry Ortner, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA
About The Author
Shalini Shankar is professor of anthropology and Asian American studies at Northwestern University. A Guggenheim fellow and National Science Foundation grant recipient, she is the mother of two Gen Z children. Shankar splits her time between Evanston, Illinois, and Brooklyn, New York.