Lifeboat Kids & Educational Alternatives:

In recent years I’ve encountered a difficult phenomenon in our culture: learners, usually between the ages of 14 and 24, who feel lost and adrift in the world of their own education. They are restless, unhappy, frustrated, and they have a difficult time seeing the point of the education that often feels like it’s being force-fed to them. They want “off” of the conveyor-belt educational trajectory they perceive themselves to be on.

Their education, rather than functioning as a foundation from which they can springboard into their future, feels more and more like a weight around their necks. They have a deep-seated feeling that something is very, very wrong with things, educationally speaking, and they respond to this in a number of ways: skipping school, failing classes deliberately or out of sheer lack of motivation, falling in with a social group of likewise angry, frustrated or lost individuals, who, staunchly invested in their rejection mode, may not have a culture of healthy behavior (but at least life’s interesting, and that, at least fleetingly, appeases the restlessness). Scholastically, they have checked out.

Because these learners so often seem to feel lost, desperate and adrift, we’ve dubbed them “Lifeboat Kids:” the ones to whom we would like to extend an educational lifeboat. They need to know that they have options.

My educational consulting work with these learners is highly individualized, and is almost always done privately.

Sometimes one session is all it takes, because once someone understands their options, they can take their education into their own hands and go forward as a matter of conscious choice. A high level of engagement emerges naturally in this process.

Other learners need more time, space and steady support to get clear of the systemic noise they feel is continually coming at them from all directions. We create this space by affording them positive engaged experiences, as well as time to reflect on them. In time an opening and releasing usually results, allowing individuals the chance to clarify their own intentions naturally.