Holme and Gronlund define subcultures as groups of individuals that, through a value or belief system, make conscious decisions to further differentiate themselves from the other cultural groups to which they might otherwise traditionally belong (Holme and Gronlund, 2005). For example, a child may be born African American and immediately be identified with that culture, but decisions that are made after that, such as religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or other aspects of worldview, may place that child within more narrowly defined subcultures.
It is important for educators to have a thorough understanding of both the evangelical Christian and Goth subcultures, albeit for differing reasons. The evangelical Christian subculture, which consists of several Protestant churches, is critical because it is a growing and influential group. According to the US Census Bureau, 43 percent of Georgians identify themselves as evangelical Christians, a figure that closely resembles the 47 percent nationally that identify as evangelicals (Spengler, 2004 and US Census Bureau, 2003). Evangelical Christians must be understood not only because of their power as a group, but also because of their traditionally negative view toward public education. Many evangelical Christians are openly opposed to the secular nature of public education, and many Georgia parents do, in fact, enroll their children in private religious schools. It is important for the public school educator to be conscious and respectful of the strong belief system that may be held by evangelical Christian students, while also remaining mindful that unwavering support of the public school system may not exist in the students' homes.
The Goth subculture is important for educators to understand primarily because of the stereotypes that exist about it and because of the underlying factors that may drive students toward the lifestyle. The Goth subculture is defined by a macabre style of dress and makeup - typically black clothing and nail polish, perhaps with mascara and even a white foundation makeup on the face - and the use of Christian and sometimes pagan symbolism (Robinson, 2006). The Goth subculture is present in Georgia, with sizable populations in areas such as Atlanta and Athens (Ford, 2006).
History demonstrates that other students may be fearful of students who adopt the Goth lifestyle and research has shown that the students who adopt the lifestyle are often troubled, frequently dealing with feelings of isolation, depression, and even the desire to self-harm (Vince, 2006).
Naturally, it is pointless and even counterproductive to paint all evangelical Christian and Goth students with the same brush. Without doubt, there are evangelical Christian students whose parents believe strongly in public education, just as there are certainly Goth students who are well adjusted psychologically. However, there are certain beliefs, values and tendencies that run through these groups. Because it is the job of an educator to teach - and to also make a genuine effort to understand - his or her students, it is important to gain an understanding of these two critical subcultures.
The research methodology for this paper will focus on the analysis of both