Young people are not disaffected they are dispirited.
The Swindon Young People Empowerment Programme (SYEP) was established in 2001 following consultations with a range of professionals working with young people. Initially these consultations revealed that lack of self-esteem was a key common factor for young people labelled as disaffected. As our work developed, we discovered that failure to thrive, depression, anger, poor school attendance and attainment came from their inability to reflect on their own value, potential and self-worth as contributing members of society. We call this “dispirited”, people who have not yet learned to value and respond to the human spirit at its deepest. So we address this in our overall approach to young people’s development.
Developing the spirit
A dispirited young person lacks motivation to engage in learning or positive behaviour. Programmes such as the SYEP, which focus on spiritual development are therefore vital to every child’s education.
The Ofsted document of March 2004, Promoting Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development, (SMSC) states: “Spiritual development is an important element of a child’s education and fundamental to other areas of learning. Without curiosity, without the inclination to question, and without the exercise of imagination, insight and intuition, young people would lack the motivation to learn, and their intellectual development would be impaired.”
The document also refers to a debate in the House of Lords, emphasising that the purpose of SMSC education should be: “ … the training of good human beings, purposeful and wise, themselves with a vision of what it is to be human and the kind of society that makes that possible.”