A Youth’s Perspective on Learning and Engagement
The Ottawa training team had the pleasure of hosting Sarah, a Grade 9 student, in our office on Nov. 2, as part of the Take Our Kids to Work TM program. This is an annual program in which Grade 9 (or equivalent) students – about 250,000 every year in Canada – are hosted by parents, friends, relatives and volunteers at workplaces across the country on the first Wednesday of November. The program is the flagship program of The Learning Partnership, which is a national charitable organization dedicated to building stakeholder partnerships to support, promote and advance publicly funded education in Canada.
According to the Learning Partnership, “Take Our Kids to Work TM supports career development by helping students connect school, the world of work, and their own futures.”
Sarah had a chance to learn about the training work we do at Delaney + Associates. We invited Sarah to spend some time looking at our website. She liked it! Whew… that means a lot coming from a young person. Then, we talked a bit about adult training in the context of the engagement training we deliver. Sarah helped us with training administration by compiling a post-course evaluation summary, making course certificates, setting up our course files for 2017, and preparing materials for an upcoming trade show exhibit (HealthAchieve 2016). Oh… and she ate chocolate and walked the office dog with us, too.
Sarah also agreed to be interviewed about her thoughts on learning and decision making. When it comes to the most important thing about learning, Sarah was quick to confirm what many of us know to be true: learning has to be enjoyable. Success comes with teachers who enjoy what they do and are passionate about their subjects. Her Grade 7 math teacher was that type of teacher – sharing his passion for numbers and finding ways to motivate his students to excel.
Sarah also said it’s important to know the “why” behind something. A lot of this was starting to sound very much like the principles of adult learning, and it occurred to me that kids and adults have a great deal in common when it comes to success factors for learning – good confirmation for the training practices we strive to follow here at D+A.
It was really interesting to hear Sarah talk about youth and decision making. Her take on things is that young people tend not to offer their opinions, unless someone really reaches out to them. Students, for example, are used to not being part of most school-related decisions – beyond selecting their courses.
That’s a sobering reminder when engaging youth. Without the practice of providing input, they may need support in developing the skill. And, it will take some work and creativity to find the best ways to engage them.
When asked how she would get young people involved in decision making, if she were in charge of the world, Sarah had a very high-level idea: get young people involved in politics and decision making by having an elected youth parliament so young people can help make decisions about issues that affect youth. This would lead to better decisions and build decision-making skills. Variations of youth parliament are common in the European Union.
Hmmm… sounds like a good idea for leadership development, too.
Thanks for joining us, Sarah!