NUMBER 241• 3 APRIL 2003 • THE RESIDENT COMMUNITY
INDEX OF QUOTES
The environment provided by [residential communities], rightly organised, can be encouragingly successful and these practical notes suggest ways of creating such a healthy living environment. Only people change people; and the qualities required for this are the same as they have always been. Our mistake lies in thinking that the acquisition of skills alone is paramount. Colourless individuals with textbook knowledge achieve little. The residential worker must have a positive personality that can attract and hold youngsters. He must possess other qualities, too, but we shall come to those later. In a nutshell, we influence children if they like and respect us enough to want to be like us. That after all is how a good parent-child relationship works.
We have to remember that the adolescent today must learn to navigate in a world that is almost devoid of signposts as far as behaviour is concerned. Worse, it is full of seductive ideas which influence him to believe that affluence and material possessions form the high road to happiness and fulfilment. The job of orientating him is mainly an educative one in the proper sense of that overworked verb ...
We have to create a cohesive community, with attitudes and values which will later enable the boys to weigh experience and make useful choices, when they have developed enough to leave the school. If these attitudes and values are present in the residential community — and they are achieved only by a total consensus and by involvement which itself produces a sense of identification and belonging — then by living in this environment the youngster will, as it were, absorb through the pores of his being enough of the things that are essential for him to make his way afterwards in a manner that is gratifying to him and not offensive to other members of society.
There is much merit in treating youngsters as normal and responsible until they contradict the proposition. Being precious and pseudo-scientific we tend to follow the medical pattern of the Western world in providing narrow and specific remedies for diagnosed abnormalities. This is a wrong emphasis and a bad starting point. It is far better to concentrate on developing the normal in a tolerant and helpful way, so that personal deficiencies can be grown out of and compensated for, or, at the very least, minimised by other strengths. All life is aimed, basically, at surviving successfully and happily. We have to help our adolescents to grow, and, albeit with humility, prepare them for their journey. Our task can be no other than this. It is extraordinary how we overlook the obvious.
"Ex-Head", in Evans, D. (1985). The best of the gazette.
UK: Social Care Association. pp 95-96