Just as we were winding down the last ‘school’ year in June, I published an article in Rabble, called “Many teens find school stifling, stressful and depressing. So why don’t we reinvent it?” (actually, the Rabble editor had changed it to “So why don’t we fix it?” and I had to request that they use the term ‘reinvent’, since I would argue there’s no fixing a broken system). Since most Canadians were heading into Deep Summer Mode, I didn’t widely publicize it at the time.

So in a week when we are gearing up to launch a new pilot program, with a fantastic new program manager, and still seeking out furniture for an additional room we have acquired, I feel like this is the moment to share the article.

The full article can be found here. Here are a few paragraphs from it:

“’Quietly, in the background, teens are dropping like flies.’”

This statement comes from one of the newest teens to join Compass, an articulate young woman we’ll call Teagan. Teagan suggests that if parents were really willing to listen to young people, they would find that more kids than they think suffer from “complications from school,” a list that might include mental illness, an inclination to vandalize, or simply not having a clue what their interests or passions are. While school works for some, for many kids it’s a stressful place to spend seven hours a day. And then it follows you home.

The truth is that we expect things of young people that we as adults would not choose for ourselves. Ironically, schools are simply not structured around how we best learn. Research does not support age-segregated learning, time limits, discrete subjects, external rewards or learning not based on interest — which is the way most schools are modeled.

Learning is something you do. It’s developing habits of mind based on intrinsic motivation — not something packaged and delivered before the age of 18.

In truth, we do not trust that young people want to learn. What might happen if we gave them our trust?”