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Re-engaging Disconnected Youth

Transformative Learning through Restorative and Social Justice Education – Revised Edition

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Amy Vatne Bintliff

As many young adults continue to disengage with learning each day, teachers and administrators struggle to find ways to re-engage secondary students with their schooling and communities. Re-engaging Disconnected Youth profiles a program that succeeds in doing so, one that can serve as a model for others. In a Midwestern alternative school, three teachers built a curriculum around hands-on learning, restorative justice Talking Circles, and multicultural education, in the hopes that it would re-engage and inspire youth. Drawing on Adult Transformative Learning Theory, the book is an in-depth, qualitative study of the ways the program transformed adult and youth perceptions of trust, connections, schooling and human rights. It breaks down stereotypes about youth labeled «at-risk» and provides evidence that it is never too late to become passionate about learning. This new revised edition includes updated research and a chapter exploring the impact of the program on middle school youth.
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Chapter 2. Heading West: Hands-on Learning and Outdoor Education Increases Student Motivation

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HEADING WEST

Hands-on Learning and Outdoor Education Increases Student Motivation

Over the course of the five separate Westward Bound summer school courses, hands-on learning and living within a natural setting were key elements of our program. In this chapter, I will provide a brief history and rationale for the inclusion of these elements. Using qualitative research methods, such as in-depth interviews during and after the course, as well as journal evidence, this study explores the following questions:

We begin by looking at the rationale, research, and experiences that guided our decision to include hands-on learning and experiences in nature as essential components of our program.

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