I have spent the last few months here in New York City working with the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. They are national leaders in the Educating for Sustainability movement, providing training, resources and network leadership for hundreds of schools across the country.
While here I’ve been building out their youth voice focus, and I have some interesting products coming. One of them is a series of case studies of schools that have strong youth voice elements. I have compiled the following checklist to help me think about their informing beliefs, and thought I should share it here. I’d love to here what you think! Authentic Youth Engagement is…
- Collective Activities are led by youth and adults together – not individually
- Connected Activities embody interdependence and model it among youth and adults
- Empowering Youth voice is a driving force throughout activities
- Equitable Adults recognize young people have differing backgrounds that require different approaches
- Focused Activities are appropriately outcome-driven
- Healthy Respectful disagreement, speaking up, and other avenues that equalize disparities between youth and adults are at the core of the activity
- Learning Young people gain skills, knowledge and tools to be effect agents of change
- Mutually Beneficial Young people and adults acknowledge each other’s dreams, actions, outcomes and reflections
- Relevant Activities are responsive to the lives of young people
- Responsible Adults and youth develop and sustain their capacity to be “response-able”
- Substantive Activity design and outcomes are designed to impact individuals, organizations, communities and society
- Self-Motivated Young people feel driven to participate
I might be wrapping up a white paper on authentic youth engagement in sustainability education within the next week – let me know if you’d like to see a draft by emailing adam at freechild dot org.