Helping Young People Who Don’t Fit in the Traditional Model of Education Benefits Everyone

Teacher and student solving a problem“The ethos of the program is its magic: we have a low-pressure, high-performance model for
success. We don’t make anybody do anything; we just offer information, support, and encouragement. We don’t try to change our participants. Rather, we adapt to who they are and what they want. We work for them, not the labour market. And the front-line people, the facilitators, make this all happen. They are patient, caring, and have a lot of expertise in career development and education.”

Peter Wilkins is a Faculty Research Liaison for the Training Group at Douglas College. He is one of several “parents” of the Reboot Plus program.

How Reboot Plus Was Born

“I’ve been with Reboot the longest of anyone, but it and Reboot Plus were the result of collaboration and iteration.”

“The program originally started as ‘Education Reboot’ offered through the ‘School of Work’ through Burnaby Schools. The idea was to try to introduce some essential skills training to high-school students. A district principal came up with an idea of working with students who didn’t graduate on time.”

“We wanted to introduce hope-centred career development alongside essential skills, and then we discovered how much the students loved coming to the College. We introduced a post-secondary exposure component with a lot of guest speakers. Students then gained access to the library, the gym, and other parts of Douglas. We made it up as we went along, but we had a real commitment and I think our enthusiasm crossed over to the participants.”

“The School to Work program was eventually collapsed, which could have meant the end of Reboot. But we found a new facilitator and ran a few cycles of Education Reboot and set up Reboot for Newcomer Youth with the Burnaby Schools Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) program. PEERs Employment & Education Resources were the evaluation company for that project, out of which Reboot Plus was born.”

What Makes Reboot Plus Different

“I guess the biggest surprise is that other programs for atypical youth have not been run like Reboot Plus all along. It’s not rocket science. We just focus on positivity, community, and feeling good.”

“The struggles our participants face are failures of the educational system not of the participants themselves. It’s key to find out who the participants are and what they want out of life in a way that respects them. Otherwise, we are fitting square pegs into round holes. If a person’s motor has broken, you won’t get them to perform better by trying to make them go faster. You have to help them fix the motor.”

By Focusing on Equity, Everyone Wins

“We found that treating this demographic as worthy of receiving enriched programming like that usually reserved for “elite”, “gifted” youth works a treat. The true test of an educational institution is how well they deal with this group. There’s no particular talent required to make already advantaged people successful. The real challenge is making those who don’t appear to fit the system successful.”

“Imagine what it would be like to have the 10-15% of young people who struggle to graduate from high school being happy contributors to society. Support the people who face the most barriers; it will help everybody in the end.”

The Demographics of Students in Need of Support is Growing

“It’s not easy being a young person in the End of Days. Anxiety and depression are way up and increasing, and why not? The decline of political systems, effects of climate change, and broad economic inequality are not conducive to good mental health. Meanwhile, the pressures to achieve are higher than ever. It’s just not a good situation.”

We Have Successfully Ported This Program Across Canada

“We learned that while each place has its culture and specific issues, they all experienced delivering Reboot Plus in a way that mirrored our experience in BC. We learned that people across the country are ready for Reboot Plus. There’s a demand for a program with our kind of approach.”

“Although we have a small sample size, Reboot Plus participants overwhelmingly love the program. The participants we work with tend to be both very intelligent and talented; they just haven’t fit into high-school. We have lots of stories of participants coming out of their shells, opening up to their educational and career possibilities, and re-investing in themselves.”

“It’s been a pleasure to work on the Reboot Plus project. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my sense of what counts for success. It’s challenging and sometimes nerve-wracking, but there’s no other game in town.”

With funding from the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, we are examining whether a hope-centred education and career development program can help youth find their purpose.

Le projet Reboot Plus est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada