NLA Discussion: Teenagers in ABE
kathleenb at epcc.edu
Thu Nov 11 16:29:50 EST 1999
When I had four simultaneous GED classes going on at one time, I used the opportunity to separate teenage and adult students. Why? The teenagers were recent school leavers and the adults left school up to thirty years before. The teenagers had also attended school for more years than the adults. The adults and teenagers were equally hard-working and determined, but I felt that the adults were facing issues of fear and insecurity with the environment that the teenagers were not, at least to the same extent. I didn't want classes where the youth would dominate the adults (faster to respond, likely to have more book knowledge than the adults, more familiar with schooling rituals).
It succeeds for you because in one class you have a fairly even distribution of ages, so you may have only one teenager in a group of all ages. Whether or not to mix has to do with the totality of the schooling environment.
>>> "Andres Muro" <AndresM at epcc.edu> 11/10 10:28 AM >>>
Hal, et al:
I wonder if examining Quigley's work on resistance is appropriate here, and may be look at the work of Trueba, Gaytan, Ogbu, DeVos et al.
If I understand it correctly, and from the previous posts, the reason many people drop out of K-12 are dispositional. That is, they strongly believe in learning and education, however, the traditional educational environment doesn't favor them. This is not only true for teenagers that drop out, but for adults returning to class after a long period of time. It seems that teenagers and a lot of adults have the same disposition towards traditional educational environments. They find them too rigid and often offensive towards their experiences, values, cultures or traditions.
>From this perspective, teenagers and adults do belong in the same environment. Furthermore, when education becomes rigid and boring, teenagers act up, and adults remain quiet. That does not necessarily mean that adults are learning. It simply means that they are not acting up. The issue is quite clear to me. I think that instruction needs to become rich and meaningful to participants and then everyone will benefit.
In our program we have students ages 18 to 80 sharing the same spaces. We have a lot of HS dropouts and they don't act up. They are really committed to learning. I think that the interaction between teenagers and adults enriches the classrooms. I also think that classes with mixed levels can also be very enriching and productive. Often, these sorts of environments fail, not because the environments are not conducive to learning, but because the instructors do not have the expertise to handle this type of environment. What do you all think?
>>> Hal Beder <hbeder at rci.rutgers.edu> 11/09 10:49 pm >>>
>From what we have observed in our classroom dynamics study,having teenagers
in the classroom can be a significant problem. It's not that they are
teenagers, it is that they often exhibit the same beaviors that caused them
to dropout in the first place. Incidence of class disruption were quite
common in the classes we observed with teenagers and disruption was
virtually non-existent in classes with all adults. Having teenagers in
class places a burden on teachers who are already overburdened with mixed
levels of instruction, open enrollments and large classes. Adult literacy
may be functioning as the safety valve for states who are dropping out
large numbers due to more stringent requirements. Shouldn't K_12 be
meeting is own responsibility for education instead of making it our
At 03:12 PM 11/8/99 EST, you wrote:
>Several states have been fortunate to secure funding for out-of-school youth.
>With alternative or out-of-school youth funding, special initiatives have
>been created to reach the 16 - 21 year old age group. For sure, this age
>brings a unique set of needs that have to be addressed if the program is
>to provide successful learning experiences.
>Combining "over 21" adults and youth in the same classrooms posed some
> and resolved others. The positive result was that the "older" adult had a
>calming effect on the youngert students.
>Dr. Fran Tracy-Mumford
>State Director of Adult Education, DE
>---------- Original Text ----------
>From: <Dwyoho at aol.com>, on 11/8/99 1:58 PM:
>As a former high school principal, I have to bite at this one. The problem
>is indeed a lack of programs for teens who won't or can't be helped in the
>high school but who are not well served in an adult ed classroom either.
>Let me offer this story: One afternoon a gentleman came into our office,
>located within walking distance of the adult ed center, and specifically
>requested enrollment in a GED preparation class, which we don't offer. He
>had been studying in Tennessee, knew his own needs, and wanted to continue
>where he left off. We enthusiastically and cordially referred him to the
>adult ed center. An hour later, he came back. He had walked to the center,
>took one look FROM THE OUTSIDE, and walked back to our office.
>We asked him what happened. His reply, and I pretty well quote, was this:
>"I'm not interested in going to a school where teenagers are hanging outside
>the doors playing their boom boxes".
>Some adult ed centers have been so flooded with teens aged 16-19 that older
>learners are turning away. One of the reasons for this is the failure of
>the high school system and the lack of an alternative. As a principal, I'm
>sorry to say I actually had the birthdays of certain students written on my
>calendar. When they turned 17, mandatory attendance regulations no longer
>applied to them. I would call these select few into my office, hopefully
>with their parents, and strongly suggest adult ed. Usually I was successful
>in frankly, getting rid of disruptive, frustrated, sometimes criminally
>delinquent troublemakers in this way. I felt I had no other alternative,
>other than expulsion, whereby the teen would be barred from attending any
>district program, including adult ed.
>Most of these "pushouts" never show up at the adult ed program, but some
>I talked once with an adult ed instructor who told me she was scratching her
>head trying to figure out why she had to send learners "to the office" and
>use her lunch hour to hold detention hall in an adult ed center.
>That is not to say all teens in adult ed programs represent this type of
>population with many, many needs far beyond an education. But here in SC,
>the legislature has invested, again, in an alternative school program now
>being piloted. But guess what? Many alternative school programs for older
>at-risk teens are being housed in adult ed centers, and the adult ed
>is assigned as the ultimate administrator. Oh, there is usually an
>"assistant director" who does the on line work with the program, but the
>administrative headaches of accountability and the out and out security
>problems of troubled teens are in the lap of the adult ed director.
>High quality, highly specialized alternative programs for these teens are
>answer. But they are expensive. The bottom line is, the "system" will not
>make a sustained investment in these young adults. So we see an erosion of
>resources in the adult ed sector, already disgracefully under supported, and
>more generally the continued phenomenon of young adults 16-25 running amok
>all over the country.
>Does adult ed bear the moral responsibility to take on this cause? I think
>not. But I predict the problem will fall to us by default. Debbie Yoho,
Graduate School of Education
10 seminary Pl.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
732-932-7496 ext. 213
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