Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal About Generation Z's New Path to Success

336p. Perseus/Basic. Apr. 2019. Tr $30. ISBN 9780465094523.
RedReviewStarShankar (anthropology & Asian American studies, Northwestern University), mother of two Gen Z children, first developed an interest in spelling bees when on an ordinary weeknight she sat folding laundry while the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals aired on ESPN. Intrigued by the intense contest and the confidence and drive of the participants, the author embarked on a research project that explored what she argues are unique aspects of childhood today, such as increased competition, differences between U.S. and non-U.S. parenting styles, and the effects of prolific social media usage. Shankar believes a key trait of Gen Z is finding reward in winning rather than effort, citing the generation as goal-oriented, productive, highly organized, and socially aware. Using interviews with bee participants, judges, and parents of competitors, Shankar ushers in a unique view of not only the tournament itself but what makes the younger set tick.
VERDICT A fascinating study into today's generation through the eyes of the Bee as well as an intriguing ethnographic study of young Asian Americans who have taken the competition to new heights in recent years.Julia M. Reffner, Richmond, VA

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