Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.
You can view Carol's tweets on Twitter and sign up to follow by using this link:
I spent a terrific day last week at the Summer School Christine Percival runs with her team at Strathclyde University. Over the summer they run 4 two day summer schools for 4th year pupils from a variety of secondary schools in Scotland. The pupils have an intensive two week experience aided and abetted by mentors – mainly young people, not much older than them, who are mainly university students. Some of the cohorts involve students from different parts of the world.
What I really like about Christine’s philosophy is that it is about creating a challenge curriculum. The young people (250 in each cohort) are given a series of progressively harder challenges over the period – culminating in a ‘mega challenge’ which last two and a half days. I was one of the visitors to view their work on the last afternoon. I particularly enjoyed talking to young people about their mega challenge projects. These varied a lot to cater for young people’s interests. For example, there was an engineering challenge which involved making an electric Lego car and a bridge, strong enough to bear its weight, out of spaghetti and cardboard. The language challenge was a ready, steady cook type of activity which they had to carry out in French. Another team I spoke to had been involved in a legal challenge. This involved going to the sheriff court to hear about two cases and then being involved in an enactment of the case. The team had to conduct a mock trial before a real live judge.
The young man who had taken me round was a joy to talk to. He seemed smaller and younger than many there and he was ecstatic about the benefits of the programme. He had signed up for the health challenge and this involved him in martial arts. He told me how gruelling the programme had been but over the two weeks he had seen a great improvement in his fitness so he felt all the hard work had been worthwhile.
Every single young person I spoke to was so positive about their experience. They all thought they had been stretched and learned a lot. They all said the found it much more relevant and interesting than school. They all loved the fact that they had been treated as adults and trusted to get on with much of the work. And what about confidence? You could feel how energised and motivated these young people were; how they were leaving after two weeks feeling much more capable and with a strong sense of ‘can do’.
Policy makers interested in young people’s confidence – take note.