Tag: connecting with youth

Part 1 of my interview with The Los Angeles Examiner

February 19th, 2011

Author of The Teen Age: 40 Reflections on Relating With Teens, Andrew F. Robinson, M.Ed is the founder of People Change People and creator of Epic Training. He provides coalitions and organizations with breakaway, uncommonly powerful approaches to working with teens. We had the privilege of interviewing Andrew to get his insights on reaching teens.

EBB: What needs to change in environments where adults work with teens (schools, programs) to make relationships stronger and healthier?

AFR: Few things are nearer to my heart than this question and few things grieve me more than what I see happening under the auspices of education. If, like Rip Van Winkle, I could fall asleep for twenty years, here’s what I would long to see when I awoke:

1. Schools employing interactive, relationship-based approaches that engage and captivate teens at a personal level.

2. Teachers who fuel the learning process by enflaming a student’s natural curiosity.

3. Learning environments that have shed teach-to-the-test tactics in favor of unbounded creativity, divergent thinking, and regard for human ingenuity.

If our country is serious about transforming education, these three ingredients must be at the heart of the transformation process.

EBB: Given all the risks and dangers presented to teens, what can educators and parents do to help teens make better choices?

AFR: Commit to finding points of entry into the relationship. This takes determination on the part of the adult. Study teens and you’ll discover these entry points. But you have to be intently focused and committed, like when you lock yourself out of your house. You check every door and window to see if one is unlocked. The same is true with teens.

I introduce groups to the following three phases to help them strengthen their positive influence in the life of teens—C.P.R.

1. Crystallize your message— Sharpen your focus to the essentials

2. Personalize your methods— Increase relevance and meaning for teens as they take ownership

3. Relationalize your approach and build trust with students— Teens will connect with your message as they connect with the messenger.

EBB: What do educators and parents need to know about the adolescent brain?

AFR: Can you imagine hosting Thanksgiving while remodeling your kitchen? You could get the job done, but it wouldn’t be pretty. A similar remodeling process is underway between the ears of every 12-25 year-old. Functions like logical, forward thinking and impulse control don’t perform as well as they will in adulthood. I devote several sections of my book to this remodeling process and what we can do about it.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Interview with the author of The Teen Age: 40 Reflections on Relating With Teens – Los Angeles Parenting Teens | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/parenting-teens-in-los-angeles/relating-with-teens-interview-with-the-author-of-the-teen-age-40-reflections-o#ixzz1ES7JQOHz

    Announcing The 6Teens Project

    August 4th, 2010

    Dear friends, clients, and other acquaintances:

    I am excited to announce The 6Teens Project, an ever-expanding trove of short, thematic videos in which teens discuss with candor the people and learning environments they find most helpful. Each video is designed to be a patch of a larger quilt which taken as a whole can help us better understand adolescents and how to serve them. The 6Teens Project is an opportunity for teens to help shape a conversation about what adults can do to better understand and connect with them. I trust you will find their responses as fascinating and inspiring as I do.

    It’s simple and free to access The 6Teens Project videos:

    1. Watch – Videos are available on The 6Teens Project Channel. You can also watch the videos on YouTube.

    2. Subscribe – Receive new episodes as we post them. (Just click Subscribe on Vimeo or YouTube.)

    3. Participate – Share this resource with others and let me know how it has informed your work.

    In response to The 6Teens Project I have enhanced my training workshops to incorporate not only cutting-edge brain development research but also insights from teens themselves into how to build meaningful, lasting connections with them, as expressed in 6Teens discussions.  If you are interested in learning more about these workshops send me an email.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer!

      Relational Literacy

      July 7th, 2010

      I recently posed the following question to a group of teens participating in People Change People’s The 6Teens Project: “How would you like adults to respond when you make a poor decision?” One student, whom I’ll call Heather, answered, “We don’t want them to think this one choice is who we are.” For example, if she cut class, she would like her teacher to not view her as Heather: the girl that cuts class.

      Heather made a great point. We ought not to define a person by one decision. Such a narrow focus will overlook valuable aspects of Heather’s character, such as how she responds to her poor choice and the corresponding consequences. Our scope of inspection needs to be broader. We would be foolish to attempt to understand a novel by reading only the first sentence of each chapter. (I tried that in middle school. My grade on the quiz corresponded directly to my knowledge, or lack thereof.)

      People are like books: between two covers a reader finds conflict, success, failure, and beauty. Our reading literacy, as I mentioned in May’s newsletter, is a gauge of our ability to plumb the depths of a book and comprehend the complexity of plot, character development, argument, and intent. Doing so requires that we develop more than merely our ability to read words. Likewise, the ability to read people—what I call Relational Literacy—requires comparable, if not superior skills. Relational Literacy is the measure of our capacity to truly understand and connect with another person.

      Relational Literacy requires two indispensable elements:

      1. A desire to learn. We welcome surprising twists and turns in a good book. We ought to do the same with people.

      2. Understanding finite events in their larger context. Hold loosely to the actions of another as you would the cryptic lines of a poem. We gain clarity only by reading and rereading the lines with a tenacity to understand.

      Developing our Relational Literacy helps us better understand people; their successes, failures, joys, and sorrows. It is true that our choices are in many respects the ink we use to write our life’s story. But we need to patiently let the plot unfold in others. We do well to extend the same patience and empathy to our own life story.