THE DOUBLE MESSAGES IN YOUTH PARTICIPATION
Current pedagogical and psychological trends are focusing on avoiding double messages in educational and developmental processes. A double message is given when something is said in the active communication, but at the same time we act oppositely; This shall cause within the receiver a contradiction ,difficult to attend and give the expected response. I give a clear example: a child hits another child unintentionally and his parent replies shouting and threatening that he has done something wrong and has to apologize. On one hand, the intention of the message is directed towards the reconciliation and repentance, taking a responsibility for his actions. On the second hand, it is a threat, violent and imperative. Therefore, which of these two messages should child take as a model? Will the young person you ask for forgiveness because they have understood the seriousness of their action or due the threat of their parent?
This daily example of parenthood serves as an example of the reality that young people live, and even more so when it comes to Youth Participation.
Example 1: life in community is more effective if it incorporates elements of cooperation, solidarity and mutual support. I speak of the advantages of collaborative work, of teamwork, of associationism, tolerance etc., and for this, strategies of collaboration, based on the approach to the other in equality, to foster empathy, the peaceful resolution of conflicts through of a mutual understanding, avoiding judgments, the bias of stereotypes and prejudices.
At the same time, we are invited to compete, to achieve success through an individual effort, to excel above the rest, to achieve your personal goals as an achievement of material goals. If you are not with the good ones, you are then with the bad ones, if you are not up to the level that you are expected to be, then you have failed, the doors are open for some but not for others. “ Are you going to be left out? “
Example 2: Leisure, as a ideal time and opportunity for a persons growth and development during the childhood and youth. Free time is a time of great value in emotional development and the formation of pro-social values.
Meanwhile, the entertainment and leisure industry trades with an entertainment that bases its strategy on becoming essential, programmed obsolescence and fills our free time with a catalog of activities, consoles and virtual realities that again offer us competition, individualism and hedonism as values main. This industry and Neg-Ocio sells heroes that deliver us from evil, not collective action, social justice. One can be a virtual hero with only the elemental reflex ability of one hand.
Example 3: Now let´s focus on Youth Associations or Youth Participation and collective grouping as a common meeting space for the achievement of a common goal, what we call associationism. Being at the young age ,is characterized by being in a period in which experimentation, the search for new realities, the contrast with the learned and the critique of a dominant power becomes more than evident. A time also of an overwhelming skill in the management of the TICs, with access to great amount of information, freshness and energy of its actions, that could motivate a strong identification with its surroundings and, therefore, a strong bond with its group of peers, with links between young people without the need for a physical presence, something that could favor a network of relationships and immediate response supports.
But the practice of associationism lies in another direction. Present structure is established in which a single person, who is supposed to lead the group, becomes responsible for everything and in an unequal initial position. Also a board of directors and positions that force a single form of social organization, preventing each association from establishing its own structure and at an associative, slow pace and ineffective protocols (annual meetings, very busy board meetings ...). We want young people to practice associationism in their Leisure time and offer them a not very convincing panorama, rather distant from their idea of Leisure.
I believe that these double messages show that we are not prepared for young people to be protagonists of their own development; that we are somewhat afraid of losing control.
What would happen if we changed this and accompany the youth in the group processes, facilitating spaces of encounter, both punctual and habitual, facilitating spaces for debate, if we value that critical spirit, and approach them clearly and openly show the ways to decision spaces as citizens? Let us unite the forces between the associations, the groups, the organized society to respond to the dreams and wishes of the young people. Let us be facilitators, accompanying accomplices or witnesses. Let us be influenced by their opinions and attitudes , let us contagion of their vital energy, let them take the reins, the steering wheel or the console command of the participation
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Mojo de Caña