Educator Mathangi Subramanian to release book on bullying in US schools

‘Bullying: The Ultimate Teen Guide’ to be published in April.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: As the problem of schoolyard bullying continues to persist in America, writer and educator Mathangi Subramanian is set to release a book next month entitled “Bullying: The Ultimate Teen Guide” as a way to address and, hopefully, solve the problem.

Mathangi Subramanian (courtesy of USIEF)
Mathangi Subramanian (courtesy of USIEF)

Subramanian’s experience in the field of education is extensive. She holds an Ed.D. in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York, where she earned numerous awards and commendations such as the Jacob Javits Fellowship, the Teachers College Office of Policy and Research Fellowship, the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, and the Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowship.

She also interned at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind “Sesame Street,” and was hired full-time for five years. During her tenure there, she helped to shape the show’s programming on platforms all around the world, including in India, where she has also spent time as both a student and researcher.

A former high school teacher in southern Texas, Subramanian is also an adjunct professor at the Teachers College, and has been published in some of the most widely read academic publications, including Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, Current Issues in Comparative Education, and the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures. Now, she is hoping that her writing will reach an even wider audience, and will help solve one of the biggest problems currently facing young America.

In writing “Bullying: The Ultimate Teen Guide,” Subramanian aims to address the questions of what causes bullying, and how it affects its victims. The 232-page book is divided into three sections, each one dealing with the following issues: “What makes a bully, the impact bullying has on victims, perpetrators, and witnesses, types of bullying, such as sexual harassment and dating violence, “cyberbullying, what to do if you are bullied, strategies to combat bullying at school and elsewhere, [and] resources” that people can turn to when they find themselves facing the problem.

The book features “a diverse collection of teen voices,” and tells several stories in an effort to paint as wide-ranging a picture of bullying as possible. Subramanian and her publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, say the book is different from other anti-bullying works because it offers up a plan of action; instead of just describing the problem, “Bullying: The Ultimate Teen Guide” offers up solutions for those who are going through the very same things discussed in the book.

On Friday, Quartz.com published a piece, written by Subramanian, in which she talks about the importance of telling stories to children; unlike most books on the subject of bullying, hers actively avoids trying to talk at the readers, but rather hopes to engage with them through the use of narratives, in order to connect and better convey its message.

Speaking to young girls across India, Subramanian discovered that they all thought of themselves as nothing more than future housewives, instead of “pirates or detectives or super heroes, like I used to.” Subramanian uses the vignette to illustrate a point about the power of stories, saying that children use these stories to unlock their own imaginations and discover new things about themselves, but that the power of these stories is limited by the realities they face every day.

In America, the reality for many children is bullying and Subramanian wants to change that.  In publishing her new book on bullying, Subramanian hopes to not only tackle that problem, but introduce a new Indian American voice into the landscape of books meant for, and written about, kids. Subramanian’s book is the exact opposite of what she says currently dominates the publishing landscape: a serious book about a serious subject, but one that kids can read and learn from.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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