High School Dropouts: Including Teens In the Conversation

As the May graduation frenzy winds down, maybe it’s time to think about those teens who never make a traditional high school graduation.

If a teen is empowered, often with help from the adults in her life, leaving high school can mean taking back her education and becoming a self-directed learner.

But for too many teens — nearly a million every year, nationwide — leaving high school means all the hopelessness of dropping out — no job, no college, no creativity, no travel, and an increased risk of poverty, crime, and victimization.

How can we turn this around?  The first step is to ask the teens themselves.  That’s what this video is about.

We’ll say it again:  ask the teens themselves.   They’ll tell you how school isn’t working for them in its current form, if you’ll listen.  When interviewed, up to 40% of teens said they feel unmotivated at school, and up to 75% of teens named school as a source of considerable strain in their lives.  Which is interesting, given that 75% of all school students have a learning style (such as being a hands-on learner or a social learner) that isn’t addressed by the traditional classroom model of lecture, memorization, reading, and writing.

At Open Doors, our teens have said that their solution is to pursue real-world, self-directed learning.   Our teens are not “dropouts,” though they are not in traditional school — they are working, interning, volunteering, creating, writing, researching, and always, always learning.

We look forward to hearing what other teens, like those in this video, have to say.  We hope that more solutions for self-directed learning — the kind of learning that provides real meaning and growth — spring forth from the conversation.  Come to an event to find out more.