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Results tagged “Jennifer Skuza”

Different kinds of smart


Jennifer-Skuza.jpgYouth perceive and process information in very different ways. In fact, their learning styles are based on those two fundamental cognitive functions. Learning styles theory suggests that how much individuals learn has more to do with whether the educational experience is geared toward their particular style of learning than whether or not they are "smart." So, we should ask, How is this youth smart? rather than, Is this youth smart? Here are some general learning style classifications.

Bringing the social and emotional learning to after-school programs

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgWhy is social and emotional learning important to youth development? I thought about this recently when I attended our symposium on this subject.

The symposium was a wonderful opportunity for more than 400 people who work with and on behalf of children, youth and families to learn about social and emotional learning (SEL) and identify ways to help young people thrive. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Roger Weissberg, defined social and emotional learning as a process through which children, youth, and adults learn to recognize and manage emotions, demonstrate care and concern for others, develop positive relationships, make good decisions, and behave ethically, respectfully, and responsibility.

Communications skills for thriving in a global world

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgThe first step to thriving in a global world may be letting go of the concept of "common sense".

Anytime I have said or heard "Use your common sense!" there was a hint of judgment in it. Well, common sense is really cultural sense, common only to those who share a cultural lens, core values and patterns of behavior.

Starting with that fundamental insight, there are endless possibilities in how you can work with young people to help them sort out their own viewpoints and those of others. We can guide young people to developing thinking habits that lean toward openness in getting to know new people, experiences and ideas and to create new connections among them. That is one step toward knowing how to thrive in a global world.

Facilitating acculturation for immigrant youth

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgUnless you have had a similar experience, it may be difficult to understand the everyday lives of immigrant youth.

Imagine Ana for a moment. She is a 14-year old girl who moved to the US from Guatemala over a year ago. These days she feels exhausted by the amount of energy she pours into her daily life. Especially in school, she feels lonely because of seemingly insurmountable language barriers. Her experience is also mixed with feelings of accomplishment that come with living in a new culture. She finds relief in her relationships with people around her.

Tips for building right-brain skills for 21st century thinking

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgAs we explore what it takes to thrive in the 21st century, it is hard to ignore the growing amount of literature that suggests the right side of the brain is needed more than ever. Right-brain abilities - artistry, empathy, design, big-picture thinking, creating something that the world didn't know was missing -- are hard to outsource or automate and in high demand in workplace and community settings. Left-brain abilities -- the logical, linear, analytical, spreadsheet kind of skills -- are important but not sufficient for success.

So what does this have to do with the field of youth development? The answer is that it is directly related.

Olympic spirit: Motivation for inclusive learning environments

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgAll eyes are on London this summer for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games. Like many people across the globe, I find the Games to be so inspiring. I am particularly drawn to the Olympic spirit of diversity and inclusion and that same spirit motivates me in my youth development profession.

In fact, each time I build a youth program, I ask myself this question: How can I build an inclusive learning environment? We know from research that programs serve youth best when the learning environments in which they function are intentionally inclusive. But the word inclusive can be rather hollow if you are not sure how to apply it. Here are some tips to consider when building inclusive learning environments.

Can learning make people happy?

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgDo you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter, and you lose track of time? If you answered yes to that question, then you have experienced flow.

Flow describes a sense of effortless spontaneous action that people feel in moments that stand out as some of the best in their lives. The concept stems from the seminal research of Mihály Csikszentmihalyi.

How do young people learn? We don't exactly know

Jennifer-Skuza.jpgA number of researchers have argued that youth are a distinct group of learners compared with children and adults, yet surprisingly little research has been put forth on the experience of youth learning. Most research on learning has focused on either children or adults; and adult learning principles misguidedly remain the core philosophy for most educators and youth workers who work with youth audiences.

As stated by Knud Illeris, youth learning is "...a gradual transition from the uncensored, trusting learning of childhood to the selective and self-controlled learning of adulthood". Research on the experience of youth learning is important because it could provide a foundation for understanding how young people learn.

Ideal learning environments: An impossible dream?

Thumbnail image for Jennifer-Skuza.jpgIs it possible to build the ideal learning environments described by the thinkers in our field? Or is it better to strive for a "happy medium" between theory and the realities of practice?

Now and then I like to dust off and reread literature that shaped my thinking. Milbrey McLaughlin's report, Community Counts: How Youth Organizations Matter for Youth Development influenced my thinking on how to build intentional learning environments and put into perspective the value of community.

Don't let borders get in the way of learning

Thumbnail image for Jennifer-Skuza.jpgCultural education is an important part of preparing youth to thrive in a global world. Today's youth have greater opportunities for interactions with people from different cultural backgrounds and world views than previous generations have had. These opportunities might be seen as obstacles to effective interaction and learning if youth are not equipped with the cultural abilities to bridge these differences and reap the tremendous value rooted in intercultural interactions.

The nonformal learning environments found in many youth programs are ideal places to nurture this cultural learning. Unbound by the rules and expectations faced by schools, they have the potential to be relaxed enough so that youth feel comfortable sharing personal experiences and challenging their own and others' thinking.

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