Respecting Young People’s Capacity

Often because we don’t see it we just don’t know what is possible for a young person. We can provide support in a context where young people can test the limits of their capacity. That doesn’t mean letting them go off on their own. It’s being in relationship with them. So, instead of saying, "Be careful". We can ask them, "Does that feel safe for you?" We can guide them in learning about their own sense of safety in the world. They need to learn to assess those things for themselves.

– Community educator

We are more likely to share our power with young people when we wholeheartedly respect their wisdom and capacity. Young people flourish when the adults in their lives care deeply about their well-being and believe they can succeed, or grow and learn from their mistakes.

When we ensure that students have agency in the school and classroom, we are often witnesses to remarkable moments of achievement. We can see the tremendous pride, passion and engagement of students when they have opportunities to reflect, learn and act autonomously. This experience underscores a basic equation: that student leadership is a direct result of student ownership.