Young people grow up in high pressure environments. There is pressure at home, pressure at school, and pressure throughout our communities. Buy stuff, get good grades, be like everyone else, please your parents… it’s a steam cooker.
Many youth programs seek to appeal to youth by replicating this pressure. We bring in high energy speakers, we load up in action packed agendas, and we strive to engage youth with the steam they feel from the cooker of their daily lives. The hype involved with these approaches is all around, everywhere.
The danger to this hype is that: it’s hype. At the end of the day when young people go home, when they look themselves in the mirror, find their eyes alone at night, that’s when decisions about life are made. The hype melts away and reality sets in.
We must teach beyond the hype and reach into the hearts and minds of young people with real learning. Rather than assuming children and youth can only be appealed to through the lowest common denominator we must work together to find our higher minds, our truer selves. Only then can we successfully engage young people in authentic, effective and sustainable social change.