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Showing posts from January, 2012

Where do culture and research meet?

By Josey Landrieu I'm part of a large research team working with Latino youth who participate in community-based after-school programs. Among other things we want to understand how culture might impact the experiences of young people in youth programs, especially Latino youth. I find myself reflecting on two things. First, what is the impact or relationship between culture and the program experience of the participants? And second, where do culture and research meet? In other words, how does culture influence not only the experience of the youth but also how does it affect our research process? How is culture part of our work? I haven't lost sleep over it, but I'm pretty close. And this is where I need your help. How do we anchor ourselves as culturally relevant researchers while trying to understand the cultural experiences of young people? The definition of culture varies with a person's perspective. Consequently, no single definition is universally accepted b

Problem youth or problem adults?

By Cecilia Gran Have you ever heard of the word "ephebiphobia?" I hadn't until I ran into it when I was looking for information on the subject of youth rights. It means the fear and loathing of adolescents and it results in an "irrational, exaggerated, and sensational characterization of young people" Coined by Kirk Astroth , a 4-H outreach agent in Montana, today ephebiphobia is recognized as a major issue in youth engagement throughout society. Sociologists, government agencies, educators, and youth advocacy organizations use the word to describe any loathing, paranoia, or fear of young people or of that time of life called "youth". This reminded me of a piece of curriculum content we cover in the Youth Work Institute's Culturally Responsive Youth Work Matters course on adultism. In this piece, we focus on adultism and internalized adultism -- how young people are discriminated against in adult-defined institutions and how young people s

Fostering positive youth development in nature spaces

In his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder , Richard Louv used the term "nature-deficit disorder" to describe the alarming lack of connection between American youth and their natural environments. Other researchers have documented the multiple ways this nature-disconnect is contributing to negative outcomes for children . An article in the popular Sports Illustrated describes Americans as becoming "indoor people" . Today, lots of nature program efforts are focused on this "nature-deficit." However, I wonder how we can make the most of these beneficial nature settings for youth. How can we use nature settings or nature spaces to cultivate positive youth development? A growing body of research links youth exposure to nature settings with a variety of positive personal and environmental impacts . Studies have suggested that natural spaces can contribute to positive outcomes via a variety of factors -- sense of h

Developing career pathways for youth workers

There is a perpetual discussion in the youth work field about how to create career pathways and other growth opportunities for staff working in youth programs. We have perhaps millions of people employed across the country in a variety of youth programs ranging from before and after school to out- of-school time to youth development to summer programs and camps. Most of these jobs are part-time, and if they are full-time, the pay is low to moderate and growth opportunities are limited. How do we create more growth opportunities for youth workers? What pathways might we develop to help youth workers pursue a career in the field? The California Teacher Pathway provides an example of preparing young people who want to become teachers to attend community college and then a California State University for their Bachelor's degree and teaching credential. To help them gain more experience, the students are matched with part-time jobs in after school programs while taking academic c

Beyond boring data

By Samantha Grant By now, we are all convinced of the importance of doing evaluation of our programs. I hope we've all begun to collect data to inform our stakeholders and ourselves about how our programs are doing. I have blogged about practical evaluation in youth programs, and the theme of evaluation has been echoed by others  in their posts. Let's assume that you are collecting and analyzing data about your program -- what next? I argue that you must put in as much effort in communicating data as you did in collecting it. Before making choices about how to package your data, think about: What data do you have? Who is the target audience for the data? What do you want your target audience to know? In the fall 2011 issue of New Directions for Evaluation , Stephanie Evergreen makes a case for thinking like a graphic designer when communicating data. She states, "Evaluators have a responsibility to make their work as clear and accessible as possible, both to