Bored, Passive, Lazy – Not Here!
Many adults don’t get it. In survey after survey, adults’ image of the “typical teenager” is “bored, passive and lazy.” The TYDE (The Youth Development Experience) research project is revealing a much different picture of youth: as energetic, motivated, and capable of taking charge. In high quality youth programs, young people create poignant artwork, run stimulating activities for other youth, lobby government officials, and carry out other impressive projects.
A central finding of the research is that youth also “develop themselves.” They are not simply taught, they are the architects of their own development and change. The TYDE research shows that participants in effective programs:
- Develop motivation
- Learn to respect and work with people who are different from themselves
- Learn to function as members of teams
- Develop skills for managing emotions
- Make connections with adults who have resources
- Develop “real world” skills
This newsletter provides a sample of what the project shows about some of these topics. It also describes findings on the role of adult advisors in creating conditions for youth development. More information may be obtained at:
Becoming a Strategic Thinker
Life is like a game of chess. But they don’t teach us that in school. TYDE shows that youth in good programs develop abilities to think strategically. At a basic level, they learn that hard work pays off. They learn how to organize their time and effort to get a project done.
At a more advanced level, youth in good programs become strategic thinkers. In working on projects, they learn to anticipate things that can go wrong: “If I do this, I’ll get frustrated,” “If we do that, there won’t be enough time left for the most important step”. They develop insights into how others think, and they learn to be effective in working with them. For example, we found that youth in leadership programs learned how to influence government officials. Youth working with children learned how to be effective as role models. Youth in arts programs learned how to create art, music, and theater that had impact.
The TYDE findings show that these strategic skills then transfer to other parts of young people’s lives: to decisions about college and career, to achieving other goals they want to achieve.