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Showing posts from February, 2012

Can citizenship programs help to solve the bullying problem?

Bullying is in the news again. It may have contributed to yet another school shooting in Chardon, Ohio this week. Bullying is not a product of a modern age, but has been increasingly scrutinized in the past decade. After the Columbine High School massacre U.S. Secret Service officials found that bullying "in terms that approached torment," played a part in two-thirds of the 37 premeditated school shootings they analyzed.

The effects and causes of bullying are complex. According to Limber, individual, familial, societal and community factors play roles, and the impacts can be physical, emotional and psychological for victims, perpetrators, and witnesses.

With such a complex topic, how can the field of youth development make an impact? I believe that an emphasis on citizenship in out-of-school time youth programs can contribute to a solution.

In 2010, National 4-H began to shape a 4-H Citizenship Mission Mandate to ensure that the 4-H Youth Development Program can provide the…

Intentionality means more than just paying attention to youth

For years I have talked about becoming more intentional about how we think about and work with youth. Too much of our efforts often go to trying to get attention for youth and the issues that impact their lives, and not enough goes into being intentional about our work on their behalf.

Paying attention means selectively narrowing or focusing consciousness to sort out what is important. Paying more attention to youth may help us spend more time thinking about them but it does not help us act more effectively without a clearer purpose or goal in mind. Paying attention to our children is helpful, it is not enough.

Intentionality, on the other hand, is purposeful. It has an end in mind. It is much more than simply paying attention to what is happening (though that is a critical foundation). Intentionality is about knowing what we want for young people and working to support their learning and development in purposeful ways.
Intentionality around and with youth means designing the conte…

Creating global citizens out of generation Y - are we prepared?

In 2009, the youth population was recorded at nearly 3 billion strong, almost half of the world's population! Generation Y is technologically savvy, generous, diverse, and global. However, in his book, Generation iY, Tim Elmore takes a reality check on youth. Through interviews, literature and many other methods, his research describes youth as overwhelmed, overly connected, overprotected and overserved. Tim writes, "These kids really do desire to change the world; they just don't have what it takes to accomplish their lofty dreams". His bottom line? Adults are not prepared to lead youth into the future!

Never before has there been a greater need for competent and skilled youth workers to prepare our youth for citizenship and careers. Youth workers must be flexible and transformative to access global challenges, such as meeting the needs of the growing youth population, addressing economic realities and developing vocational opportunities. In her recent Youth Develop…

What would you ask young people?

If we created a regular poll of young people in Minnesota, what would we ask? What would they want to be asked?

During the late 1970's and early 80's, Diane Hedin and I and a few others did something called the Minnesota Youth Polls out of the Center for Youth Development and Research which existed at the time at the University of Minnesota. The (sometimes) annual polls collected data from young people around the state about various topics that were relevant to them, such things as:
their views on school and school disciplinethe threat of nuclear wartheir future aspirationspolitics and public issues We would analyze the data, choose the best quotes, and write up and print these youth polls and then disseminate them for free.

With today's technology, it would be much easier to do this now. I remember doing by hand, a "content theme analysis" on every open-ended question on every survey from the youth polls, and we had to talk about the number and percentage of re…

Is youth work a career?

Is youth work something you do while you figure out what you really want to do, or is it a career? Most definitions of career include three elements: a defined occupation that is taken on over time with progressive achievement.

While many other things may also make up a career, the issues of time and progress are most distinct. In other fields, there is no push to leave direct work to join administration without a path of promotion, clear expectations of and preparation for management. Further, there is credibility in remaining in your chosen position. Is youth work somehow different from other fields? If it is, why is it?

Good youth workers often become supervisors and managers without adequate preparation in leadership. Practitioners leave the field because of narrow opportunities for promotion and little expectation of improvement in pay. Funding shifts, low wages for frontline staff, and murky professional pathways impede the development of the workforce and introduce a great de…