Monday, December 08, 2008

thoughts about the keynote speech

Youth Support services Conference

The whole service conference was on last week, and I'm rounding up some of my thoughts from the speakers. On the whole, the conference wasn't very web relevant (apart from me -- I was looking at people's web needs during break time) but one of the key note speakers did exhort us briefly to use the web and not fear it (good man).

This was the other speaker, and he was a lot more traditional in his view of young people and youth work. However, some interesting insights:
  • Deprived of actual war or threat, young people recreate a war in their heads This is more of an interesting thought experiment than a statement of fact. One to turn around and ask the person with a problem; are you approaching this problem as if it were a war? Is that the right response?
  • Young people see themselves as threatened and expendable - "I might be wasted any minute." This is about the exaggerated sense of threat that many people feel, especially young people about violence other young people. We are widely told that violent crime, assault, etc. , all these are very rare but we all know victims -- how to square that experiential anomaly? The speaker tried statistics, but didn't convince.
  • Young people don't want to do the shitwork that their parents did I hear this one. That's why we went to school, that's why we put the hours in. "Improve work" is part of the solution, but there are also complicated issues of status, gendered behaviour, and social climbing tied in with this. It's a challenge.
Useful stuff for the website? perhaps. With Connexions coming in, we have much more careers stuff, and so unpacking the shitjobs concept might help that content; bullying and personal safety information could benefit from advice aimed at lowering young people's perception of threat rather than the actual threat, and from encouraging ideas that don't draw on the easy roles of war (innocent victim, savage agressor, traumatised bystander) but instead focus on rethinking schoolyard conflict.