The Young Adult Pow Wow

This Friday the Young Adults in Transition Program is having an all-day community meeting.  The primary members of that community (about ten young adults and five staff members – though, in truth, the community extends to an additional ten participants and six staff) will come together to discuss how we relate to one another, what our shared goals are and why it is that we have all agreed to be a part of this program in order to achieve those goals.

As a start to that meeting, we will be outlining the guiding philosophy of the program, what we believe to be the core idea or tenets that drive our work.  As a program, these are the truths we hold dear and make up the foundation from which we operate.  These tenets can serve as a template not only for the Young Adults in Transition Program, but for human development, learning and growth in a more general sense.

Core Tenet 1:  Effective Growth Occurs When People are Calm and Regulated

Change and learning happen when we are at our best – when we are physically and emotionally calm, present and engaged.  To the extent that we are operating from a place of peace and confidence, the more we are able to stretch, expand and move beyond our present awareness and abilities.  It’s like trying to do a crossword puzzle while waiting impatiently in line at a stuffy post office, as opposed to over a lazy Sunday brunch in the park.

 Core Tenet 2: Learning and Growth Should be Person-Centered

When we control our path, when we are given the opportunity to shape our course, we have higher investment in the process of growth and are more committed to the end results.  The feeling of self-direction, self-determination and agency empowers us to be our best selves.  We all find pleasure and passion in various activities or ideas, and when we are acting from or towards those interests, we are most likely to devote the energy and excitement needed for learning.  A love of war-based video games can lead to an appreciation of and desire to learn more military history and strategy, if that interest is validated and supported.

Core Tenet 3: Meaningful Learning and Growth Arises from Emotional Experience

If growth and learning are to last and to create meaningful change in us, then that process must contain an emotional investment.  Our emotions shape who we are and how we experience the world and growth is more intense, more rapid and more sustainable if paired with emotionality and personal experience.  It is the difference between learning statistics about poverty and visiting a homeless shelter.

Core Tenet 4: Effective Learning and Growth Happens in the Context of a Warm, Empathetic Relationship

Lasting growth and learning does not happen in isolation, it happens in dynamic, in dialogue or in relation to another.  We all strive for connection and belonging, and to the extent that we can experience these ideals with a supportive person is the extent to which our learning is rich and robust.  Think of your most impactful school experience and you’re likely to be thinking of a person – a teacher or coach – rather than a lesson or class.

Core Tenet 5: The Goal of Learning and Growth is to Become an Active, Engaged Person

Content is not the goal.  Skills are not the goal.  There is no limit to the vastness of knowledge and circumstance in the world – no way to be prepared for every circumstance, to know every possibility, to always have the right answer.  What we are striving for is flexibility, adaptability, and most importantly an active engagement in our own lives and the world in which we live.  Curiosity and a hunger to satisfy it – that is what makes growth a lifelong process and what defines a life-long learner.


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