If you only listened to the media, you’d think young people today are all problems and no positives. Clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller and educator John Hendry aren’t having a bar of it.
Although they aren’t downplaying the issues facing young Australians, they’re quick to point out that young people are now generally smart, responsible and socially aware, among many other positive qualities. They have a great deal to give including from a leadership perspective, if we can find a way to give them meaningful opportunities to do so. In fact, giving young people a say may go a long way towards addressing the mental health and wellbeing concerns that seem to be resistant to outside intervention.
The student climate strikes are of course touched upon, not only in terms of the engagement and tenacity of the young protesters but also the many attempts by older people to play down or dismiss this movement. Both Andrew and John also believe that engaging with young people could lead to great strides toward ending racism and sexism, as well as making a kinder world generally.
Throughout the episode, the idea of truly listening to young people is continually returned to. It’s very easy to fall into the pattern of being prescriptive towards young people, to believe you have all the answers and that your job is simply to transmit them to the next generation. In reality, young people have some of the most innovative solutions to the problems we face as a society, but we must be open to hearing them.
Listen to the episode: Teen Matters: why we need to start listening
Read about Five teens who changed the world
Feature image Source: Wikimedia Commons