Engaging young people throughout society is a constantly evolving practice that requires consistently engaging the critical perspectives of children, youth, and adult allies. It also requires that anyone committed to youth engagement stay committed to re-inventing their approaches to youth engagement, as young people themselves constantly evolve. This means acknowledged that worked in 2008 won’t work in 2010, let alone using what happened in 1998! And I’m talking about every place that wants young people to be engaged, including at home, in schools, at our community programs, and in our national efforts.
Adults struggle with this reality, as we seem to treasure sameness and familiarity as we grow older. We want the consistency and commonness of our youth, where homogenization ruled. That doesn’t work anymore, and will work even less in the future. We rely on the fixtures of our studies and practices from the past, looking to “research-proven” examples to guide our well-meaning intentions, instead of acknowledging the variations, demolitions, and re-imaginations of youth today.
There can be a danger to constant evolution: failure, temporary-ness, and non-sustainability are the hallmarks of radically re-invention in many, many examples. However, it is absolutely vital that we dream bigger, better dreams and get beyond what we think we know will work. Evolution.