Why We Need Holistic Youth Development Right Now

Whether we are teachers, parents, or youth workers, there are two things we tend to do with youth during the school day and after school:

  • Treat all youth the same
  • Approach youth in parts instead of as whole people.

However, there are many parts to young people. They include:

  • Mental—Thoughts, mindsets, ideas, knowledge, and intellect
  • Emotional—Feelings and emotions
  • Interpersonal—Interactions and exchanges between people
  • Physical—The literal world including home, schools, and places
  • Environmental—Ecosystems with air, objects, and interactions
  • Recreational—Fun, entertaining, healthy, or other activities
  • Spiritual—Soulful interactions within and around
  • Social—Gatherings, ideas, shared attitudes and activities among people
  • Intrapersonal—The interior dialogue, feelings, ideas, and external activities done with just yourself
  • Natural—Things happening in the outdoor world outside of obvious human control
  • Cultural—Collective identities, activities, attitudes and outcomes among groups of people

By treating young people as if they are just one side of themselves at a time, we teach them to betray their whole selves; which is to say, they learn to see themselves as dissected humans, simply as parts of themselves instead of as whole people.

The challenge of all schools, afterschool programs, summer camps, and even businesses is to stop parsing out the parts of young people as if they were Legos, and instead to start treating them as whole people who are more capable, more thoughtful, and more caring than we see, say, and treat them.

To learn more, check out my booklet called A Short Guide to Holistic Youth Development.

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