Monday, September 26, 2016

The Construction of Adolescence

The Construction of Adolescence by Nakkula and Toshalis discussed the relationships between youth and the adult influences in their lives, particularly educators. It was very informative. It used several useful vocabulary words to detail the relationships between youth and adults and the influences that they have on each other. Ten vocabulary words from the text are theoretical thinking, tested knowledge, theoretical imagination, construction of adolescence, meeting of the minds, interpsychological development, scaffolding, zone of proximal development, reciprocal transformation, and applied developmentalists.
Looking at my childhood, I would list 10 people who helped me to develop cognitively and personally. The first person would be my mother. She was the only family member who I interacted with on a frequent basis. I would also list the babysitter that I had from 3 to 8 years old. Her name is Karen. She was a friend of my mother's and was like a second family to me as well as her son, Christopher, who I called Tofur. I would also list my best friend, Kane. I will list my grandmother and two aunts even though I saw them infrequently because they lived in another state. I also was certainly influenced by my teachers. Of the teachers who most influenced me, growing up, I would list my first grade teacher, Mrs. Sterling, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Traibush, and my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Whitely.

Mr. Whitely was my favorite teacher in elementary school. He was an unusual teacher. He was 75 years old and every year he would say that it was his last year teaching. Then, he would just show up on the first day of class which was okay. They never brought another teacher in because they always knew he would change his mind at the last minute. This made me realize that he must really love teaching. He used more progressive teaching methods than most of the other teachers. He used to start class with brain teasers every morning. When we learned math, we didn't just learn the traditional requirements. He went into different bases and other intriguing concepts. He would give us difficult puzzles to solve. We sat at tables instead of desks. The tables were arranged in groups, so that we interacted more with other students. He also would rearrange the tables periodically. This not only gave us a class to sit with different students, but gave us a different perspective on the classroom. For some of the top students, he allowed us to be officers and tutors for the rest of the classroom. This allowed him to make use of some extra support from the students, but it also helped the students to help each other and help monitor each other's behavior. I had the opportunity to be one of the officers and tutors. I was gratified by this special attention as I rarely felt special in my classes. His class also played baseball every year against the teachers. They usually won. Our year, we lost. However, it was actually a really good experience for me. I had never played baseball before, so he made me a coach. At the time, I didn't know this was a common technique for players that aren't very good. Still, it made me special just to be involved and, I think, gave me a little more confidence in sports.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Ted Talk

Mellody Hobson is a prominent businesswoman. She is Chairman of the Board for Dreamworks Animation. She is one of only two black women who is a Chairman of the Board for a publicly traded company.
In her Ted Talk, Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?, Hobson discusses the issue of race. She begins the talk by relating a story of being mistaken for kitchen help when arriving at a reception with the only black senator in the U.S. congress. This story allowed Hobson to transition into the issue of race. She cited several relevant statistics regarding this issue in the U.S. For example, even though white men are only 30% of the population, they hold 70% of corporate board seats. She cited a study by Scott Page of the University of Michigan. Page's study showed that getting together a group of diverse thinkers can be helpful for solving complex problems. For example, a dairy farmer helped to solve the smallpox epidemic. She says that diversity can be good for business.

I agree with this. I actually feel more comfortable in a diverse environment. I think, in a diverse environment, there can be more tolerance for individual differences. There can be fewer expectations that everyone be the same. People have the opportunity to learn from each other.

Being different can sometimes make someone feel invisible. I cannot relate to Hobson's experiences of race. However, I can relate to feeling different. I grew up in a lower-middle class family, but I lived in a very wealthy town. Most of the students I went to school with were very rich. They were generally nice people, but I often did not share issues that I faced at home or in my community because my stories would be too difficult for them to relate to.

Hobson spoke about bringing discussions about race to the forefront even though it might make people uncomfortable. Open discussions can make people feel less invisible. In my case, discussions about economic inequality might have made me feel less invisible. Many other issues are just as important such as gender and disability.

At Youth in Action, youth are encouraged to share their personal stories and to discuss difficult topics. Sharing personal stories in a nonjudgmental and compassionate environment can help people to feel heard and less invisible. Sharing these stories can bring up large topics for discussion such as oppression. It is important for youth to understand these issues so that they can feel empowered to change them.

Hobson said it is especially important to tell young people what her mother told her, "You can be anything." This can encourage people to follow their dreams.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Youth In Action

I think empowering youth to be leaders and catalysts for change is an excellent idea. I agree with Adeola A. Oredola and members of Youth in Action that youth are some of the best people to make changes in society. I remember being young and how much energy I had and how passionate I felt about things. I saw that energy and passion in a lot of young people around me. If that energy isn’t harnessed into something positive, it can become negative. Given the right opportunities, that energy can fuel positive change in society. Young people are generally more open to change and more willing to take risks. When we get older, we can sometimes cling to the safe and familiar. There are countless examples of movements such as the political and social revolution of the 1960s and 1970s that were fueled by young people. hippies-on-bus-two-old-hippies-blog.jpg

Even today, the economic revolution against income inequality inspired by Bernie Sanders has been supported largely by young people. Although sometimes these revolutions can occur spontaneously, it can also be helpful to educate youth about the social issues that they are facing and that are present in their society so that they have a framework for making positive change and don’t just internalize the problems that they see around them. Helping youth to become active participants in improving the world around them, like at Youth in Action, is not only empowering, but it can also help to build skills that can be useful in the job world or in life, in general.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Youth Work: Preparation for Practice

     I enjoyed this week’s reading “Youth Work: Preparation for Practice” by Jason Wood, Sue Westwood, and Gill Thompson. I though the article had an interesting discussion of different aspects of youth work. It is interesting to have an article specifically on the area of youth development. The article discussed different areas of youth work and different aspects of youth work. I tend to think of youth work as primarily after school and summer programs, but really it is more broad than this. In general, youth work does seem to encompass any kind of work with youth that is outside the regular school system. However, the article mentioned the ways that youth work has changed over time. For example, youth development can now sometimes include areas that are integrated into the school system. It also overlaps in many ways with social work. According to the article, youth work sometimes focuses especially on at risk and high need youth. The article also pointed out that youth work can involve working with policy as well as specifically with youth.

     Although my interests have changed over time, I think, right now, I am most interested in working with policy, programs, research, and grant writing. I would like to work with bringing programs such as alternative therapy to youth using grant writing and other fundraising techniques, using the opportunity to integrate research using surveys as well as advocating for policies to help youth and other high need populations. To me, in youth work as well as social work, there are two important aspects of the job. One, is to work with the individual in order to improve their situation. The other is to work with policies and programs to change the context that the individual is struggling with. I think I have been more attracted to the policy area lately because I have the type of mind that tends to see the big picture and because I see it as way to impact the largest number of people while empowering the individual. In social work, the goal can be to work oneself out of job. In other words, to empower the individual and change systems in such a way that the social worker is no longer needed. I don’t think this is the same case as with youth work because I think there will always be a need to work with youth in order to enhance lives and educate. However, for particular high risk populations, changing the way the system operates and addressing oppression can go a long way towards empowering people and eliminating suffering. I think youth work is especially important because it tends to address the social and emotional needs of individuals in addition to the educational needs. The traditional education system tends to be more limited in that it addresses mostly just the educational needs of youth. I think that the social and emotional needs of youth can be just as important or even more important, in some cases, than education. People who have higher social and emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life. Addressing these needs allows the youth worker to address the whole individual. In this way, youth work is a holistic practice. 


I like hanging out with my friends. 

I'm learning how to hula hoop. 

I love going to the beach, sometimes to hula hoop!
I love my cat, Sunshine.