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How Do We Provide the Vision?

As I travel throughout the United States, working with high schools, correction systems, and at-risk youth programs, I have come to understand one of the basic qualities of a successful program. At least one adult instructor or counselor is a great visual artist. I don't mean in the traditional sense as a painter or photographer, but in the reality that they have the ability to create a picture in the mind of a young person in which that youth sees him/herself continuing a meaningful life.

So many young people are provided no vision of a future that interests them, much less excites them. Do we teach parents, many having lost their vision, how to paint the picture? Is the picture unrealistic because no map to get there has been drawn?

In the truly successful programs that I encounter, the kids can see a career path that they are not only walking, but also using to build a lifestyle that they control. A gifted artist has helped them come to that visualization.

How many career-oriented youth programs can you call to mind in which one or more of the following actions occur?

1. There is always a waiting list of kids wanting to get into the class.

2. Graduates of the program come back to regularly meet with the instructor or to mentor existing students.

3. There is an unusually high partnership and involvement with local industry.

4. There is an unusually high placement/employment rate of graduates.

5. The instructor appears less "stressed out" than other instructors do.

6. Other teachers are always hanging around that instructor and can't explain why.

7. That class always seems to get the money, materials, and support others don't.

8. That classroom is always shown to visitors.

These are actions that occur in successful programs.

How do we learn to provide this vision, to become this artist? I don't know if there is an easy answer. For some instructors it is already part of their personality. Most of the ones that I have had the pleasure to observe really work hard gathering the visual aids to help them, like a painter purchases good brushes. They have done the hard, upfront work, gathering a network of supporters of like vision. They love the work, and concern for financial rewards is secondary. They have fun, and so do their students. They maintain discipline with empathy. They are so consistent in their style that trust can be readily established at many levels with both students and peers. Once a successful team is created, the energy from accomplishment maintains the team, even if the team members change.

If more of us were to focus on becoming this type of artist, we would really improve the lives of young people in a lasting way.

The National Center for Construction Education and Research, an affiliate with the University of Florida, is a member of the ACTE Business-Education Partnership, a coalition of more than 50 organizations dedicated to supporting career and technical education programs. For more Information, about NCCER, visit, or call 382-334-0911. To learn more about the Partnership, call Steve Ackley at 1-800-828-9972.

By Kurt Morauer, director for training program development at the National Center for Construction Education and Research
COPYRIGHT 2001 Association for Career and Technical Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:teaching self esteem
Author:Morauer, Kurt
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
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