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Showing posts from October, 2014

When times are bad

By Nicole Pokorney

This blog post isn't going to be research-filled or one of great insight and wisdom, but one that comes from my heart. As I sit to write this week, I am reminded that ten years ago, a student I worked with passed away in a sudden accident. He was a senior in high school. I was six years into full-time youth ministry and had been in the youth development field for over ten years. I was on a bus full of youth headed back to the church from a service project when I received the call. Nothing had prepared me for having to break the news to the high school students on the bus. When we arrived at the church, youth had started to gather and within two hours, over 200 youth congregated in the basement of the church.

There are no words to describe the pain and suffering of the student's family or the confusion and loss that was felt by the countless youth that rotated through the church and funeral doors. It is even hard to describe the effect it had on me and…

WeConnect: A global youth citizenship curriculum

Citizenship is a concept commonly used in the field of youth development. It typically refers to young people being positively engaged in their communities. But what happens when you add global to citizenship?

By adding this word, the scope of youth citizenship grows vastly and helps us re-imagine the arena in which youth live, learn, work and play. Global citizenship has been described as a continuum that ranges from being aware of the interdependent nature of our world, to understanding how local and global issues affect the lives of people around the world, to taking action to create a more equitable world. We see global citizenship as an outlook on life, a belief that people can make a difference, and a way of behaving that follows suit.

Jessica Pierson Russo and I have developed a resource for youth-serving organizations and schools entitled WeConnect: A Global Youth Citizenship Curriculum. It's a program model and curriculum designed to show youth that they are participants …

Your source for youth development research

I want you to know about a valuable educational resource. We have a new trove of research papers, presentation recordings, and analysis about youth development research available on our website. These resources are curated by our Extension faculty specialists in youth development, STEM education,program quality,culture and diversity,program evaluation,citizenship and leadership and much more.

It's valuable for:
practitionersresearchers university of college studentssupporters and stakeholders If you are practitioner, you can use this collection in your scholarship, to keep informed about program quality, find seminal works about positive youth development or identify studies that show how youth programs make a difference in young people's lives. This resource may also help support your goal of becoming a more actively engaged scholarly practitioner.

Researchers may use this site to stay abreast of current literature in the field and to see what types of issues practitioners are…

Skills development should not be our primary goal

To what extent does skill development matter for youth and their futures? What else do they need to follow their dreams in education?

In a past blog entry, I used the capabilities approach as a framework to understand the various conditions that may influence whether or not a youth may translate his or her STEM knowledge into a STEM career. I offered that scenario as an example, but this doesn't mean we expect all youth in STEM clubs to pursue STEM professions. If we measured the effectiveness of STEM programs by the number of engineers we produced, we'd be painting an incomplete picture.

When I talk about capabilities, I'm referring to the freedom young people have to make choices to achieve their goals and accomplish something that's important to them. I think it's more important for them to be able to address and overcome obstacles than it is to learn marketable job skills. This is particularly so for youth who face additional constraints on their freedom on ac…

Breaking habits and building creativity

Creativity is on the decline in the U.S. I am learning that creativity takes practice--actually, it takes a LOT of practice--and that sharing ideas is a far better strategy than holding ideas close.

In a prior blog post, Mark Haugen challenged us to improve our programs by changing a habit. I'm taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Creative Problem Solving. It's a way to learn more about sparking creativity in our youth, (a 21st century skill) and maybe to become more creative myself.

The notion of change is inherent in the course syllabus. Each week, an assignment calls on us to do something different -- in other words change a habit. These Do Something Different (DSDs) assignments (e.g., talk to someone different, or eat something different) tug at something inside, a deep exploration of my core habits and values. Although relatively simple in design, they push me outside of my comfort zone. While in certain moments it can be very uncomfortable, the experiences …