Adolescents are in a very difficult place in our society. We constantly urge them to act like adults. However, one of the main differences between the actions of adults and the actions of children is the degree of personal choice and responsibility they carry. If a child doesn’t go to school, we may punish them, but we also hold their parents or guardians responsible. If an adult doesn’t go to work, they bear the burden of the consequences. This means that we, as adults, spend a great deal of our time weighing benefits against consequences in order to make the best decisions for us.
However, when teens do this, they are often chastised for not doing what they were told to do. This creates a stressful situation which plays out in the young person’s heart and mind, as well as in their relationships with peers and adults.
These particular stresses are magnified when a teen is responsible for an infant. Traditional school settings do not address this reality, and many young parents leave school even if they do have child care arranged, because the tension between having to act like an adult in most of their life and being treated like a child in school is too great.
By viewing young people as whole beings whose bodies are not divorced from their minds and whose identities as parents are integral to their identities as students and workers, we will create an atmosphere which allows students to relax, let down their guard, and learn. We will give students a safe place to experiment with making adult decisions, and provide a forum for processing the outcomes of those decisions.