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News & Views - June, 1994 Issue #28 

FEEDBACK PLEASE
Emotional Growth Schools

This is a newsletter with a focus on Emotional Growth schools and programs, yet it seems everyone has their own different definition of what they are. Some seem to think of them as therapeutic schools, others talk of mileau therapy, while still others seem to see a variation of Residential Treatment Centers. 

Then there are those who talk of whole child education where cause and effect, responsibility, and trust are taught right along with Math, English and Science, while others talk of character education. Re-Parenting is a term that comes up from time to time, as does treatment, reality therapy, learning through overcoming challenges, affective education and experiential education. 

In my view, all these definitions are limiting because they tend to focus on form, structure and tools. To understand Emotional Growth schools and programs as a general category, I think you have to look at the problems and needs that exist in our society that inspired the creation of these schools. Specifically, that growing percentage of teenagers who do not seem to be able to act in an age-appropriate way emotionally. These are not necessarily "sick" kids in that they need treatment for a serious mental disorder, but their inappropriate behaviors and attitudes have reached a point to where some kind of residential intervention is needed. 

In a sense, many kids only need to "grow up," in that they lack a sense of cause and effect, how to predict consequences, the value of honesty, how to trust other people, how to make positive and constructive decisions, etc. Since children's unmet needs vary widely, the choice of solutions should and do vary widely. The form solutions have taken vary from emotionally and physically intense wilderness survival programs, to long term working ranch settings, to group home and family living situations, to fully accredited college-prep whole child education boarding schools, to residential treatment centers which look more like, and act much like, a family and/or school setting. 

One common denominator is most Emotional Growth schools and programs seem to be some form of hybrid joining elements of traditional boarding schools, family living situations, and residential treatment techniques in new and unique ways. They have been created as solutions for children who for some reason need out-of- home placement, but need more structure and mentoring than a traditional boarding school offers, less treatment than a residential treatment center offers, and/or more practice in living as part of a family. These schools and programs have had the effect of filling in the gaps between the services provided by residential treatment centers, group and foster homes, and regular boarding schools. 

So, what are Emotional Growth schools and programs? I see Emotional Growth schools as the residential type solutions to increasingly unmet needs in how we as a country raise our children. They are responding to the unmet needs of our children who are falling through the cracks during the turmoil of a society transitioning between old values and forms to whatever new values and forms we will eventually adopt. -LON 

Copyright 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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