November 19, 2005

The adult-youth interface

In working with youth, i have found that most youth don't want to be told what to do, but gladly take instruction. When they see the adults giving them a task and then disappearing from sight, or even worse, hanging out and being non-attentive, the youth tend to shut down completely. When privilege is earned, youth have no problem following the leaders, but cronyism and brown-nosed promotion bring automatic resentment.

When groups are assembled, the hierarchy depends on the valued participation of each member, and clearly defined roles help immesely. Rolling up your sleeves and doing the work without the bitching and complaining, with a smile on your face and an attitude of accomplishment also goes a long way. Providing quality listening time, without being judgmental builds trust in the students abilities to make their own judgments. Setting achievable targets and placing rewards that develop value appreciation drive youth toward participation. Authority misplaced breeds contempt.

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