March 5, 2021

I Love this Article!

Last December, New York Magazine published an article The Littlest Hustler: Portrait of a New York childhood, in the extreme. The article tells the story of “tween” Alex Goldberg who through grit, perseverance and force of personality views the world as his kingdom. I’ve thought about this terrific article over the past six months and my graduate students debated it.

Alex’s adventure ended hours later, at Nobu, where the pool crowd had migrated to feast on junket sushi. He had been chatting up Venus and Serena Williams at a nearby table, and mugging for cameras with a cigar hanging from his lips while eating a bowl of ice cream. Then the faces at his table went blank. Alex looked up and saw what they saw. His mother.

But Alex isn’t like other boys his age. He’s had free rein over the streets of Nolita since before he can remember, and he quickly learned the rules of that playground, turning his relationships with the neighborhood’s shop owners into access to free gourmet meals and designer clothes and trendy sneakers, then turning those freebies into even better stuff (like courtside Knicks tickets), and leveraging those perks into even more valuable things, like connections to athletes, rappers, nightclub owners, and so on.

This article is a reminder that long before Web 2.0 there were kids kids who were competent, clever, resourceful, responsible and eager to learn.

I wish I was as cool as Alex! I love that kid!

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “I Love this Article!

  1. This kid is an outlier. He’s able to leverage more social connections due to his locale than most students (such as those in suburban locations). I do agree that there were (and still are obviously) kids who can leverage their off-line social networks but what about the masses? I think what you are getting at is that kids today are too dependant upon their on-line social networks to really do anything constructive like making a connection to get a job, learn how to cook or that you need to give something to get something.

    I think we, as educators, need to realize the power of social learning and stop treating education as something isolated from the real world.

  2. Brian,

    You make an excellent point about is geographic location. Homer Price (fictional) was an outlier. Tom Sawyer was an outlier. I’d like a lot more outliers.

    Even kids online could learn a thing or two from Alex.

    Parents hysterical about raising their kids in the real or virtual world can learn a thing or two as well.

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