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EYHC 2011: Learning & Vulnerability


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(Wellbeing) This presentations was facilitated by Brian Tranter from the Bridge Youth Service.

Taking risks is a fundamental aspect of our ability to learn and mature as healthy well developed humans. When we do not receive nurturing we struggle to feel safe in ourselves to take risks in learning. One of the many aspects of homelessness for young people is loss of nurturing. It is in nurturing that we are able to develop a sense of our own security, our place in the world and a place we can adventure from to take risks knowing there is a safe place to return to.

This is not about a deficit it is about a need not being met. It is about nourishment and growth and the consequences of missing that nourishment.

A challenge for those working with young people experiencing homelessness is to work with them in ways that promote their sense of security of themselves without taking on a parental role. A parental role promotes dependence within the relationship which is inappropriate for workers and young people.

Young people experiencing homeless have little sense that there is a safe place to return to, particularly in regard to returning to people who will nurture them or possibly even give a hug and let them know that they are alright regardless of what they have been doing.

When we are adolescent our ability to learn is directly affected by our ability to struggle through new information. It is in the ability to take a leap from not knowing, and accepting that we don’t know in order to take that leap, that we are able to have a chance to learn and a chance to move to knowing. It is in the struggles and the movement that learning occurs.

Young homeless people are not in a position to consider taking a leap, nor are they in a position to accept that they do not know in a way that proposes they could. In talking to young homeless people who struggle with schooling and education they will tell you things like they are dumb or that the school and the teachers don’t give them a chance or both.

Clearly if you think you are dumb then why would you attempt something that you cannot do? It is self-defeating. If you believe the teachers don’t give you a chance it provides a way to lay blame somewhere. The blame lay elsewhere and can stay there. This supports a causal explanation of life. This understanding of life is limiting in itself and is devoid of the consideration of human complexities.

So how do workers, educators, youth workers and carers develop ways to assist these young people to begin to develop a sense of security in themselves so that they might begin to take the leaps, enter the struggles and begin the movements involved in learning?

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EYHC 2011: Learning & Vulnerability

  1. 1. Self Nurturing Behaviours• Healthy,• Safe• Constructive
  2. 2. Belief• A process in which the young person• Owns and believes• In the self-nurturing ideas.
  3. 3. A safe place• In the area of struggle.
  4. 4. Intentions• Friendships• Trust• Connection• I can• I am here• Love• Belief
  5. 5. Consequences• Focus on learning rather then teaching• ‘Looking after yourself’