With colleague, Dr. Paul Clarke, Associate Dean of Education at the University of Regina, we are working on a project that focuses on youth perspectives on positive and negative deviance and their sense of safety in schools and other built environments, such as parishes and congregations.
In a Western Canadian city and in four different school settings (two faith-based and two public), we conducted focus groups with 70+ high school students (grade 11 & 12 students) to better understand how they form their opinions (their influences and critical capacities), how they process and filter social media, and how their local and global heroes and villains are determined. In addition, 366 students from these four schools (Grades 9-12) responded to a survey that sought to gauge their levels of tolerance, their sense of safety, hope (etc.), and to gain their advice for how “adult guardians” in places like school might best help keep them stay safe and foster respect.
One of many interesting, and in this case surprising, findings was the extent to which Grade 9-12 students continue to be influenced or polarized by their parents’ ideologies, opinions, editorializing, and general engagement with the world and world events. We expected to see much more peer influence than these students registered with us. Respected adults in their lives (i.e., coaches, teachers, parents of peers) and their own parents STILL make a difference. Perhaps there is a need for congregational leaders to remind parents of this possibility; even, with age, as their youth become seemingly indifferent to the meal-time conversations, late night conversations, and the “advice offerings” of their parents. We found they are still listening in and doing an incredible amount of sorting in this VUCA world of ours (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous). https://hbr.org/2014/01/what-vuca-really-means-for-you.
Professor Kim Cameron from University of Michigan has put books and articles on my reading list for two decade: First his work on declining organizations, then on competing and compelling values and then more recently his work on positive deviance, positive organizational studies and positive leadership.
Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance builds on his research and consultative work to focus on building climate, relationships, communications and meaning making such that strategic leadership yields sought after results. His positive leadership assessment at the end of this book is “gold” for the reflective parish leader..
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