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Critical incidents in early school leavers' transition to adulthood Young, Roberta Elaine 1991

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CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN EARLY SCHOOL LEAVERS' TRANSITION TO ADULTHOOD BY ROBERTA ELAINE YOUNG B.A. Simon Fraser U n i v e r s i t y , 1976 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1991 @ R. ELAINE YOUNG, 1991 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date SEPTEMBFR 30. 1991 DE-6 (2/88) i i ABSTRACT T h i s s t u d y e x p l o r e d t h e c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s t h a t h i n d e r e d and f a c i l i t a t e d e a r l y s c h o o l l e a v e r s ' ad ju s tment t o l i f e beyond h i g h s c h o o l . In a l l 393 i n c i d e n t s were i d e n t i f i e d t a k e n f rom 21 p a r t i c i p a n t s d u r i n g a s e m i - s t r u c t u r e d i n t e r v i e w u s i n g a l i f e l i n e t e c h n i q u e . I n c i d e n t s were o r g a n i z e d i n t o 10 major and 3 8 s u b o r d i n a t e c a t e g o r i e s . These c a t e g o r i e s c e n t r e d a round d e v e l o p m e n t a l t a s k s o f a d o l e s c e n c e and a d u l t h o o d , t h e f u l f i l m e n t o f needs , s e l f - h a n d i c a p p i n g s t r a t e g i e s , p o s s i b l e s e l v e s t h e o r y and o t h e r c o p i n g s t r a t e g i e s . E a r l y s c h o o l l e a v e r s were seen t o have t h e same d e s i r e t o s u c c e s s f u l l y comp le te a d u l t t a s k s , but were h i n d e r e d by a p o o r l y d e v e l o p e d s e l f - i d e n t i t y , i n a b i l i t y t o meet t h e i r b a s i c needs , and m a l a d a p t i v e c o p i n g p a t t e r n s . I m p l i c a t i o n s f o r program deve lopment , c o u n s e l l i n g , and r e s e a r c h c o n c e r n i n g e a r l y s c h o o l l e a v e r s was o u t l i n e d . i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE ABSTRACT i i TABLE OF CONTENTS i i i LIST OF TABLES v i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v i i i CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 BACKGROUND OF THE PROBLEM 1 THE PROBLEM 3 THE CONSTRUCTS 4 DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONS 8 ASSUMPTIONS OF THE STUDY 10 THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY 11 OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY 11 CHAPTER 2 THE LITERATURE REVIEW 13 INTRODUCTION 13 EDUCATIONAL BASED RESEARCH 14 A DEVELOPMENTAL FRAMEWORK 21 DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS OF EARLY ADULTHOOD . . . . 29 THE CONSTRUCTION OF SELF 41 CHAPTER 3 METHOD 51 INTRODUCTION 51 POPULATION AND PARTICIPANTS 51 i v DATA GATHERING TECHNIQUES 55 PILOT INTERVIEWS 58 DATA COLLECTION 60 DATA ANALYSIS 65 CHAPTER SUMMARY 68 CHAPTER 4 THE RESULTS 70 INTRODUCTION 70 THE CATEGORIES 71 THE SUBORDINATE CATEGORIES 75 CRITICAL INCIDENTS LEADING TO LEAVING SCHOOL . 7 6 CRITICAL INCIDENTS FACILTIATING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A TENTATIVE IDENTITY . . . 83 CRITICAL INCIDENTS HINDERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF TENTATIVE IDENTITY 88 CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN MAINTAINING A STABLE WORK HISTORY 94 CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN ESTABLISHING INTIMACY . 102 CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN MOVING OUT OF HOME . . . 109 CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN PARENTHOOD 115 CONCLUSION: L IFE TASKS OF ADULTHOOD 118 CRITICAL INCIDENTS HINDERING FULFILMENT OF BASIC NEEDS 119 CRITICAL INCIDENTS FACILITATING NEEDS V FULFILMENT 128 CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN DEVELOPING AN ADULT SELF-CONCEPT 136 CHAPTER SUMMARY 144 CHAPTER 5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH. . . 146 SUMMARY 146 CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS FOR PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT 148 COUNSELLING IMPLICATIONS 159 RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS 162 CONCLUSION 165 REFERENCES 166 APPENDIX A: CONSENT FORMS 17 3 APPENDIX B: THE L IFE LINE 178 APPENDIX C: THE TRANSCRIPT 18 0 APPENDIX D: VALIDITY CHECK MATERIAL 198 v i LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1 73 Categories and Frequency of C r i t i c a l Incidents Reported 73 TABLE 2 75 Basic Categories of Events By Percentages 75 v i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My appreciation goes to a l l f a c u l t y members i n the Department of Counselling Psychology e s p e c i a l l y to my advisor Dr. B i l l Borgen, for whom I have utmost respect, and to my committee members Dr. Norm Amundson and Dr. Larry Cochran. To the associates and s t a f f of YES Canada Burnaby, I am gr a t e f u l for the support and encouragement provided me during the data c o l l e c t i o n stage. On a personal l e v e l I thank my family, both chosen and r e l a t i o n a l and my community who put up with my moods and my pr i n t e r , providing encouragement and help at every turn. May I give back to a l l of you, what you have given to me. 1 C r i t i c a l Incidents i n Early School Leavers* Transition to Adulthood CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND OF THE PROBLEM. We l i v e i n a world where understanding complex technology i s necessary i n order to adjust to adult r o l e s of maintaining a career, b u i l d i n g an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p and, for most adults, having children. In addition to developing these rol e s , young people are expected to develop a personal i d e n t i t y and p o s i t i v e self-concept within a world where academic s k i l l s are increasingly necessary so that one might f e e l i n control and secure i n the world. However, about 3 0% of students who begin high school never graduate. (Dropping Out, 1990; Gow & McPherson, 1980; Radwanski, 1987; Sul l i v a n , 1988; Young & Reich, 1974). Although i t would be presumptuous to believe that our secondary schools are the only i n s t i t u t i o n s which adequately prepare young people for p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the modern world, i t i s obvious that schools are funded and supported by society to a s s i s t students to cope i n t e l l e c t u a l l y and academically with the complexities of modern adult l i f e . When students leave school before graduating, they 2 enter the world at a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l of readiness than those who complete high school (Marini, 1984). On a personal l e v e l , the early school leavers 1 earning power i s l e s s , job s a t i s f a c t i o n lower, and periods of unemployment longer and more frequent than for t h e i r graduating cohorts (Dropping Out. 1990; S u l l i v a n , 1988). Federally and p r o v i n c i a l l y funded i n s t i t u t i o n s , such as s o c i a l assistance, r e t r a i n i n g and remedial programs, are used more by those who leave school early than by those who graduate from high school (Dropping  Out, 1990). F i n a l l y , there are the national and i n t e r n a t i o n a l economic costs of having a less s k i l l e d workforce i n a highly competitive market economy (Dropping Out. 1990). Two decades ago Levens (1970) su c c i n c t l y outlined the problem "...the dropout, [early school leaver] f i r s t robs society of much needed s p e c i a l i z e d and highly educated man [sic] power, and secondly cheats himself of income and job s a t i s f a c t i o n through lessened chances of employment." ( p . l ) . The economic argument for keeping students i n school longer, although powerful, provides only one dimension to the problems encountered by those who leave school early. The development of an independent i d e n t i t y , the a b i l i t y to develop meaningful intimate 3 r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and the a b i l i t y to provide a stable environment f o r children, are less well documented. The r e l a t i v e lack of information about i d e n t i t y formation, r e l a t i o n s h i p and family development, r e f l e c t s the way i n which research has been c a r r i e d out. Numerous studies have been conducted into the causes and economic consequences of leaving high school early. On the other hand, few researchers have focused on what happens for early school leavers as they make a t r a n s i t i o n to l i f e beyond school. In order to understand how or i f we can a s s i s t i n making the t r a n s i t i o n to adulthood easier and more complete for those who drop out of high school, we have f i r s t to understand what happens to them during that t r a n s i t i o n . THE PROBLEM This study describes major incidents i n the l i v e s of early school leavers who have returned to a high school equivalency program. As an exploratory study, i t i s designed to a s s i s t i n the understanding of the whole experience of t r a n s i t i o n from leaving high school to entering the equivalency program using the perspective of the early school leavers studied. The research question for t h i s study i s : What are the c r i t i c a l incidents that hinder and f a c i l i t a t e early 4 school leavers' adjustment to l i f e beyond school? More s p e c i f i c a l l y , t h i s study describes the experience of early school leavers who have returned to complete high school graduation requirements at an adult equivalency program. THE CONSTRUCTS In order to understand the research problem, d e f i n i t i o n s of the major constructs of i t are necessary. The c r i t i c a l incident technique was i n i t i a t e d by Flanagan (1954) who defined an incident as "...any observable human a c t i v i t y that i s s u f f i c i e n t l y complete i n i t s e l f to permit inferences and predictions to be made about the person performing the act." (p.327). To be c r i t i c a l , according to Flanagan (1954), the incident "...must occur i n a s i t u a t i o n where the purpose or intent of the act seems f a i r l y c l e a r to the observer and where i t s consequences are s u f f i c i e n t l y d e f i n i t e to leave l i t t l e doubt concerning i t ' s e f f e c t s . " (p.327). Although Flanagan's (1954) d e f i n i t i o n s are abstract, the s p e c i f i c techniques developed by him help to make c r i t i c a l incidents more concrete and c l e a r l y defined. In t h i s study, c r i t i c a l incidents were defined by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . In order to be defined as c r i t i c a l , 5 the p a r t i c i p a n t s had to f i n d the event important enough to be placed on the l i f e l i n e which was completed as a cent r a l focus of the main interview. Most incidents i d e n t i f i e d by the partic i p a n t s led to s h i f t s i n f e e l i n g which were evident from the l i f e l i n e . In addition, the researcher f a c i l i t a t e d the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of c r i t i c a l incidents through the use of questions l i k e "So what was the next s i g n i f i c a n t thing that happened to you a f t e r leaving school?" By a s s i s t i n g the par t i c i p a n t s to i d e n t i f y and pl o t the c r i t i c a l incidents i n t h e i r l i f e during t r a n s i t i o n , these events were made much more clear and concrete for both p a r t i c i p a n t s and researcher. To hinder i s defined by Webster 1s (1976) as "To keep back or behind; to prevent from s t a r t i n g or moving forward; to check; obstruct." (p. 1070) In order to a s s i s t p a r t i c i p a n t s i n understanding what t h i s construct meant, they were often asked to t a l k about incidents or events that held them back or stopped them from f e e l i n g at home or f e e l i n g good about themselves. Part i c i p a n t s r e a d i l y understood these synonyms and responded well to them. To f a c i l i t a t e according to Webster 1s, (1976) i s "To make easy or less d i f f i c u l t ; to free from 6 d i f f i c u l t y or impediment." or "To lessen the labour of; to a s s i s t ; a i d . " (p.812). Participants were often asked what incidents helped them to f e e l better about themselves or about what they were doing i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n from early school leaving. Again, pa r t i c i p a n t s r e a d i l y understood t h i s concept and responded well to i t . The terms dropout and early school leaver are used to mean the same thing i n t h i s study. Although there i s confusion i n some of the l i t e r a t u r e about whether there i s a difference between these two terms, which i n turn has led to confusion about the d e f i n i t i o n of a dropout, t h i s researcher has chosen to keep the d e f i n i t i o n simple and i n agreement with most of the current research. I have therefore adopted the Su l l i v a n (1988) d e f i n i t i o n of dropout "...a person who l e f t secondary school for whatever reason p r i o r to graduating." ( p . l ) . Except i n two cases where the part i c i p a n t s did not report attending secondary school, a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s f i t the Su l l i v a n (1988) d e f i n i t i o n . In the two cases mentioned, i t i s my opinion that the par t i c i p a n t s f i t the intended meaning of the d e f i n i t i o n , even though they l e f t school before beginning secondary education. I 7 Adjustment to early adulthood has been defined by s o c i o l o g i s t s i n terms of the roles taken on by i n d i v i d u a l s i n t h i s segment of t h e i r l i v e s . Marini (1984) defines these as moving from student to worker, intimate partner and parent. Developmentally, early adulthood comes af t e r the end of the adolescent search for i d e n t i t y (Erikson, 1968; Kegan, 1982; Levinson, 1978) whereby the young adult comes to an understanding of her/himself as an independent i n d i v i d u a l . Adjustment, then, can be seen both i n terms of the a b i l i t y to take on the tasks of adulthood and i n terms of the degree to which one has developed i d e n t i t y . C r i t i c a l incidents supplied by the p a r t i c i p a n t s are expected to centre on the tasks of early adulthood. Because developmental t h e o r i s t s p o s i t that e f f e c t i v e achievement of adult tasks i s based on the establishment of a secure i d e n t i t y , data gathered may r e f l e c t problems i n i d e n t i t y formation. These d i f f i c u l t i e s can be seen to r e s u l t from underlying threats to basic needs (Maslow, 1954; 1962) and to the formation of a p o s i t i v e s e l f schema (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Oyserman, & Markus, 1990). The purpose of t h i s study i s to look at the pa r t i c i p a n t ' s whole l i f e between the time that they 8 i d e n t i f y as having dropped out of high school and the time of the main interview. Since a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s were drawn from a group of students taking a f e d e r a l l y sponsored equivalency program, l i f e beyond school i s defined as beginning when they l e f t school and ending when they entered the equivalency program. L i f e beyond school encompasses a l l of the incidents the p a r t i c i p a n t s considered c r i t i c a l within those parameters. DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONS The findings of t h i s study w i l l apply p r i m a r i l y to the approximately 56% of early school leavers who eventually return to school (Larter & Eason, 1978). I t i s assumed that the patterns outlined by these p a r t i c i p a n t s w i l l be followed by others i n equivalency programs across Canada. This research may also provide some general information on the nature of the dropout experience for a l l those who leave school early. Since the data was gathered through interviews, there are also l i m i t a t i o n s on the accuracy and d e t a i l of the information given by p a r t i c i p a n t s . A number of p a r t i c i p a n t s admitted being unclear about the d e t a i l s of events i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n due to the passage of time or the abuse of drugs and alcohol. In addition, 9 although a number of pa r t i c i p a n t s reported l i v i n g on or near downtown streets where p r o s t i t u t i o n i s rampant only one mentioned work i n the sex trade. A reading of the l i t e r a t u r e available on p r o s t i t u t i o n (Newman & Caplan, 1982; Weisberg, 1985) would indicate that some other p a r t i c i p a n t s may have been sex trade workers and chose not to discuss that work with me. In general, though, part i c i p a n t s seemed to provide information honestly and concretely throughout the interview and l i f e l i n e process. Their s t o r i e s tended to be d e t a i l e d and included many events which were d i f f i c u l t to discuss and which involved i l l e g a l or amoral acts. Overall, the data c o l l e c t e d , although s e l f report data, seemed honestly and accurately given. ASSUMPTIONS OF THE STUDY In t h i s study, the assumptions are the foundation for the research. F i r s t of a l l , I assume that no matter how many innovative and e x c i t i n g programs are created to keep high school students i n school, some w i l l drop out before graduating. I f t h i s were not an assumption, then a study such as t h i s one would hardly be important. Secondly, there i s an assumption that the period of t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school w i l l d i f f e r for those who leave school early and that 10 achievement of l i f e tasks may be more d i f f i c u l t for the dropout. The purpose of the study i s to explore t h i s assumption. Volunteer p a r t i c i p a n t s were also assumed to have honestly and f o r t h r i g h t l y t o l d t h e i r s t o r i e s from t h e i r own perspective. Participant's s t o r i e s would be assumed to r e f l e c t any c u l t u r a l or gender differences which existed. These c u l t u r a l and gender differences became part of the analysis and report of events. F i n a l l y , i t i s assumed that some major l i n e a r patterns w i l l develop from the s t o r i e s of p a r t i c i p a n t s . THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY If we are to understand and a s s i s t those who have l e f t school early to develop themselves and take a productive adult place i n Canadian society, we must understand what happens to them during the time that they are out of school. Not to understand or a s s i s t these young people i n making a successful t r a n s i t i o n from leaving high school to l i f e beyond high school severely e f f e c t s our society's p o t e n t i a l . This study began an exploration of the nature of dropout's t r a n s i t i o n and provided a s t a r t i n g point for subsequent research and program development. 11 OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY An introduction, including background to the problem, problem statement, d e f i n i t i o n of constructs i n the problem statement, delimitations and l i m i t a t i o n s of the study and importance of the study have been presented i n Chapter 1. In Chapter 2, the l i t e r a t u r e relevant to the study w i l l be reviewed and c r i t i q u e d . In Chapter 3 , the method used to c o l l e c t the data w i l l be discussed. More information about the s p e c i f i c population and participants, the use of the c r i t i c a l incident technique, v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y checks, p i l o t study information and data analysis procedures w i l l be outlined. Chapter 4 w i l l outline the findings of t h i s study and make reference to the l i t e r a t u r e presented i n Chapter 2. Conclusions, implications for counsellors and educators and a general summary w i l l be presented i n the concluding chapter, Chapter 5. 12 CHAPTER 2 THE LITERATURE REVIEW INTRODUCTION The period of t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school has been studied by educators and other s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s , including psychologists. Since t h e i r studies have had d i f f e r e n t goals, beginning assumptions and frameworks, they have emphasized d i f f e r e n t aspects of t h i s t r a n s i t i o n . In t h i s review of the l i t e r a t u r e various types of studies w i l l be considered, as the c o l l e c t e d data bridges the gap between the educators who are interested i n implications for the school system and psychologists (and other s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s ) whose inte r e s t s are i n the adjustment and development of young people. This review of the l i t e r a t u r e w i l l begin with an overview of what the educational research has to say about dropouts. Many studies have contributed information to t h i s section of the l i t e r a t u r e review, which centres around what educators know about dropouts and what i s known about what happens to those who leave school early a f t e r they leave school. Next a developmental framework i s provided based on the theories of Erikson (1968), Kegan (1982), Levinson (1978) and other l i f e span t h e o r i s t s . This section i s 13 followed my a more i n depth analysis of the l i f e tasks of young adulthood. Next Maslow 1s (1954, 1962) theory of needs i s presented. This i s followed by a review of self-schema theory as i t i s presented by Markus (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Markus & Wurf, 1987; Oyserman & Markus, 1990) and by De Charms (1968, 1976). Although the l i t e r a t u r e reviewed for t h i s study i s wide and varied, i t f i t s well the experiences being described by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The basic sequence of exploration was followed i n Chapter 4 when r e s u l t s were presented. EDUCATIONAL BASED RESEARCH Introduction Since studies about dropouts have t r a d i t i o n a l l y been c a r r i e d out by educators, they are biased by the premise that i f educators could i d e n t i f y the students who dropped out and design interventions for them, the dropout problem would be solved (Tidwell, 1988). Although t h e i r arguments have included the economic and s o c i a l consequences of dropping out, (American Association of School Administrators, 1979; Dropping  Out. 1990), these arguments are used to dissuade students at r i s k from leaving school or to gain government support for stay-in-school programs. 14 What We Know About Dropouts Educators have shown that dropping out of school before graduation i s a complex i n t e r a c t i v e process involving the student, the school, the family and class background of the student, and a va r i e t y of other factors (Pittman, 1986; Price-Waterhouse, 1990; Young & Reich, 1974). The process of disconnection from school may have begun at any point i n the early school leaver's hi s t o r y . Even when a c r i t i c a l event, such as a argument with a teacher or administrator, led to p h y s i c a l l y leaving school, most students who dropout have a long h i s t o r y of school related d i f f i c u l t i e s . I t i s important to understand the process of dropping out i n order to see how the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts are formed within the school and home context. The t y p i c a l dropout can be i d e n t i f i e d as having lower academic achievement and more poorly developed reading and/or math s k i l l s (Barrington & Hendricks, 1989; Dropping Out, 1990; Gadwa & Griggs, 1985; Radwanski, 1987; Sul l i v a n , 1988; Young & Reich, 1974). These poor school related s k i l l s i n t e r a c t with a less p o s i t i v e attitude to school, manifested i n behaviour l i k e increased truancy and tardiness (Beauchemin, 1986; Dropping Out, 1990; Levens, 1970; Radwanski, 1987; S u l l i v a n , 1988; Young & Reich, 1974), which leads to a disconnection between student and school (Edmonton Public Schools, 1988; Levens, 1970; Naylor, 1990; Pittman, 1986; Reconnecting Youth, 1985). In s o c i a l terms, the dropout t y p i c a l l y f e e l s less popular with her/his peers, and with teachers (Dropping  Out, 1990; Gow & Mcpherson, 1980; Sulli v a n , 1988). Poor s e l f confidence and the i n a b i l i t y to concentrate on long term goals are also indicated (Dropping Out, 1990; Larter, & Eason, 1978; Sulli v a n , 1988; Young, & Reich, 1974). Overwhelmingly, students who leave school early have much less family support for continuing i n school than do t h e i r cohorts. Dropouts often have older s i b l i n g s who have dropped out and experience a general lack of a family t r a d i t i o n of education (Dropping Out, 1990; Gadwa & Griggs, 1985; Radwanski, 1987; Sul l i v a n , 1988). Further, S u l l i v a n (1988) has reported that problems at home are the most frequently mentioned reasons for leaving school. Many dropouts come from a lower socio-economic group than do t h e i r cohorts (Gadwa & Griggs, 1985; Naylor, 1990; Sullivan, 1988). Gadwa and Griggs (1985) and Levens (1970) suggest that dropouts cope with 16 f e e l i n g out of place i n a middle-class school environment and decide to quit when they can no longer cope with that environment. Svec (1987) noted that dropouts are more l i k e l y to challenge i n j u s t i c e s i n the school, and that these challenges lead them into c o n f l i c t with the school environment and eventually they withdraw from i t (Larsen & Shertzer, 1987; Naylor, 1990). In a study of psychological stress among 1,038 students i n Saskatoon, D'Arcy and Siddique (1984) found that stress i s lower for students who have open and caring r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r f a m i l i e s , good rel a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r family, peers and teachers, high l e v e l s of involvement i n school a c t i v i t i e s , and lower than average use of drugs and alcohol. I t can be seen from comparing the r e s u l t s of t h i s study with the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts outlined above, that p o t e n t i a l dropouts are probably experiencing a high l e v e l of stress within the school environment. This high stress, combined with a seemingly minor argument with a teacher, for example, may lead to the student leaving school. Lower academic achievement, disconnection from school, poor self-confidence, less meaningful 17 rel a t i o n s h i p s with peers, less supportive family background, socio-economic class c o n f l i c t between student and school, high l e v e l s of psychological stress and continued c o n f l i c t with school a u t h o r i t i e s creates a s i t u a t i o n where the po t e n t i a l dropout f e e l s marginal and uncomfortable at school. According to S i n c l a i r and Ghory (1987), "These marginal learners learn and contribute only a f r a c t i o n of what they can and thus use only a portion of t h e i r p o t e n t i a l at school." (p.14). So the process of leaving school continues u n t i l the student f i n a l l y completes the paperwork and leaves the building. What Happens to Dropouts a f t e r Leaving School? In a 1988 a r t i c l e on career preparation, W h i t f i e l d discusses the t r a n s i t i o n from school to work as a process of changing from a student-centred culture, where students are the product and centre of the educators' energy to a product-centred culture where the former student i s valued for what s/he can produce rather than for just being i n the workplace. The energy and d i r e c t i o n of the educational research on t r a n s i t i o n r e f l e c t s t h i s view. There i s an indifference to the person once s/he ceases to be a student. 18 Only one study of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts also discusses the t r a n s i t i o n period (Price-Waterhouse, 1990). As an educator interested i n the t r a n s i t i o n from school to l i f e beyond school for a l l young people, the r e s t r i c t i o n of studies to factors leading up to leaving school i s p a r t i c u l a r l y f r u s t r a t i n g . Many of the studies discussed e a r l i e r a c t u a l l y contact early school leavers during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to learn t h e i r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and discover t h e i r feelings about leaving school. Discussing the early school leavers' present s i t u a t i o n seems an obvious add i t i o n a l focus for these researchers, but l i t t l e information i s gathered on the dropouts' immediate experience. The Price-Waterhouse study (1990) established focus groups to discuss dropouts' reactions to leaving school and to t h e i r l i f e since leaving school. Although i t was reported that most p a r t i c i p a n t s were r e l i e v e d when they l e f t school, the report also stresses that these dropouts now regretted having l e f t school before graduating. Dropouts focused on problems i n employment, not graduating with friends, and drug and alcohol abuse. They expressed a willingness to counsel others to stay i n school. Although t h i s study does present a framework for understanding the 19 t r a n s i t i o n experience, the focus group s t y l e seemed to e l i c i t a group think mentality. Once one member of the group indicated that school was boring, other group members echoed that sentiment. More det a i l e d research i s necessary i n order to discover i n d i v i d u a l themes and differences i n those who leave school early. Leaving school early e f f e c t s the entry into the l i f e tasks that accompany adulthood. Although t h i s t r a n s i t i o n i s a process, (Marini, 1984) i t can also be seen i n terms of the l i f e tasks considered to be important during t h i s t r a n s i t i o n . Leaving school early means that the young person i s expected to enter the adult r o l e s of worker, lover and parent before her/his age cohorts and, perhaps, before his/her time. Conclusion Educational research into the dropout s i t u a t i o n i s la r g e l y r e s t r i c t e d to learning what causes students to leave school early. The underlying philosophy i s that i f educators can keep students i n school u n t i l they graduate, then they have done t h e i r job. As a counsellor interested i n working with young people, I would l i k e to take a wider view. This study i s premised on the idea that no matter how perfect schools become, some students w i l l leave before they graduate. 20 Therefore, i n addition to understanding what changes may be made to keep students i n school, we also need to understand what happens for those i n d i v i d u a l s who leave school early. This research i s necessary i n order to provide them the support they need to complete l i f e tasks during t h i s youth to adult t r a n s i t i o n . A DEVELOPMENTAL FRAMEWORK Introduction A number of l i f e span psychologists have theorized that as we grow, we develop through stages or l e v e l s of functioning. The most famous of these theories i s Erikson's model (19 68) but other t h e o r i s t s such as De charms (1976), Gould (1978), Kegan (1982), and Levinson, (1978) have agreed that a developmental context i s useful i n understanding human behaviour. Although there are some d i f f i c u l t i e s i n using a developmental approach, for example that the research has been based primarily on heterosexual male experiences and that stage theories tend to assume a hierarchy of development, these theories do provide a powerful and r e a l i s t i c framework within which to understand human behaviour. Identity Development During adolescence, t h e o r i s t s generally agree that i n d i v i d u a l s are undergoing processes of d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n from family and peer culture and of f i n d i n g out who they are as i n d i v i d u a l s (Erikson, 1968; Kegan, 1982). This process i s an i n t e r a c t i v e process between the i n d i v i d u a l and the society or culture of embeddedness (Kegan, 1982) that surrounds the i n d i v i d u a l at that developmental point. During adolescence the i n d i v i d u a l seeks to learn what parts of him/herself are to be retained and what parts are to be discarded (Erikson, 1968; Gould, 1978; Levinson, 1978). The successful development of an early adult i d e n t i t y i s dependent on the constructive r e s o l u t i o n of e a r l i e r stages of development. According to Erikson (1968) the i n d i v i d u a l must have developed a sense of t r u s t , basic autonomy, personal i n i t i a t i v e , and industry (that i s being able to follow through on a task). Once these have been developed, the i n d i v i d u a l i s ready to begin building a healthy i d e n t i t y . Kegan (1982) and Levinson (1978) both point out that the development of i d e n t i t y also requires a stable family s i t u a t i o n . As the adolescent or young adult begins exploring his/her world, s/he s t i l l needs the support of the family just i n case the explorations become too dangerous. The development of an in d i v i d u a l i d e n t i t y , then, i s a complex and d i f f i c u l t task for many adolescents, but f o r those who have i n s t a b i l i t y i n t h e i r family, or have had d i f f i c u l t y with t h e i r peer r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the task of forming a cle a r sense of s e l f may be insurmountable. Since t h i s i n i t i a l i d e n t i t y development sets the basis for self-assuredness, i t anchors the young person's l i f e . Without a well established i d e n t i t y , the youth w i l l f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t to master the tasks of adulthood (Erikson, 1968; Kandel, Raveis, & Kandel, 1984). Roles Which Provide Continuity From Childhood In order to develop a healthy i d e n t i t y that i s consistent with one's personality, the young person i s expected to keep some things consistent with how they were e a r l i e r i n t h e i r l i f e . Two roles which commonly remain constant during adolescence are the rol e s of student and of part-time worker. For the early school leaver, these two rol e s are much less l i k e l y to be held consistent during her/his t r a n s i t i o n . V a l l e s , and Oddy (1984) studied the return to school of a group of 34 school refusers, that i s students who were continually truant or refused to attend school. Since increased truancy and r e f u s a l to attend school are 23 often precursors to leaving school early, V a l l e s and Oddy's (1984) study provides important insights to the p o t e n t i a l dropout's s i t u a t i o n . They found that an early return to school was h e l p f u l i n encouraging i d e n t i t y development i n the early school leaver. They showed that the longer young people remained out of school, the more anxious and dependent on t h e i r parents they became. In addition, S u l l i v a n (1988) reported that the younger dropouts were more l i k e l y than older to return to school. Part-time work during the high school years i s an acceptable r o l e for students. Such work helps the student disengage from the family of o r i g i n and e s t a b l i s h him/herself as an independent i n d i v i d u a l . However, as D'Amico (1984) pointed out, t r a i t s required by employers, such as perseverance, dependability and consistency, were correlated with high G.P.A. students. By combining part-time work involvement (less than 2 0 hours per week) with f u l l - t i m e school, most students a c t u a l l y stayed i n school u n t i l graduation. For early school leavers, t h i s study seemed to indicate that the reverse was true. Neither the r o l e of part-time worker nor the r o l e of f u l l - t i m e student provided them with any continuity during t h i s time. 24 Roles Which Chancre From Childhood In order to es t a b l i s h a separate i d e n t i t y , the young person must make changes i n her/his r o l e as a member of the family of o r i g i n and as a member of his/her peer group. Kegan (1982) provided a useful understanding of how these two cultures of embeddedness furnished a place where one could hold on or f e e l a sense of belonging and also l e t go or contradict. As the young person develops his/her adult s e l f s/he must contradict both the family and peer group so that an in d i v i d u a l i d e n t i t y may be developed. One overwhelming finding of the dropout studies i s that dropout's family background d i f f e r e d from the middle-class nuclear family i d e a l . Although many of these fa m i l i e s may s t i l l be int a c t , i t i s common for the early school leaver to come from a family where educational values are not supported and encouraged as they are i n non-dropout families (Barrington & Hendricks, 1989; Gadwa & Griggs, 1985; Radwanski, 1987; Sull i v a n , 1988). High school graduates, have been shown i n the D'Arcy, & Siddique (1984) study to have open and s a t i s f y i n g r elationships with parents while school absentees reported high l e v e l s of f r i c t i o n at home (Valles, & Oddy, 1984). Radwanski (1987) reported a higher incidence of one parent families among dropouts. Although sing l e parent f a m i l i e s have not been shown to be any less stable than two parent families, the stress on younger family members to take on parenting roles or to be more independent may be a contributing factor i n reports that problems at home i s the most commonly quoted reason f o r leaving school early (Edmonton Public Schools, 1988; Radwanski, 1987; Sul l i v a n , 1988). Without the s t a b i l i t y i n the family, the young person may miss the support of the family i n the holding on function (Kegan, 1982) so that l e t t i n g go of the family may be made more d i f f i c u l t or impossible. For Kegan (1982), separation from the family of o r i g i n immediately precedes entry into the peer group culture. During t h i s time, the i n d i v i d u a l begins to b u i l d an i d e n t i t y f i r s t with the peer group (the holding on function) and then establishes him/herself as an i n d i v i d u a l separate from that culture (the l e t t i n g go function). Most of t h i s process occurs within the environmental context of the junior or senior high school. In 1989, Connolly completed a study into the s o c i a l s e l f e f f i c a c y of Canadian high school students 26 and learned that those who were emotionally disturbed had lower l e v e l s of s o c i a l adjustment and lower estimates of s o c i a l s e l f e f f i c a c y . Although her primary focus was to t e s t a measurement of s o c i a l s e l f -e f f i c a c y , the findings indicated that f o r p o t e n t i a l dropouts, who have lower self-esteem and a less developed sense of who they are, a b i l i t y to be a part of the peer culture may be impaired. V a l l e s , and Oddy (1984) noted that school refusers or p o t e n t i a l dropouts lacked a s o c i a l l i f e . "They tended to have fewer friends, to be more r e t i c e n t , to go out s o c i a l l y less often, to be more lonely and to be more s e n s i t i v e to c r i t i c i s m . " (p.39). Whether the early school leaver found that trouble f e e l i n g accepted by his/her peer group led to leaving school or whether leaving school led to separation from the peer group, early school leavers did not have the peer group culture to a s s i s t i n building an independent i d e n t i t y . Without the s t a b i l i t y of the family or a group of friends, i t i s u n l i k e l y that the young person can e f f e c t i v e l y b u i l d the strong sense of i d e n t i t y needed to take on adult tasks. And as Marini (1984) points out, leaving school hastens the t r a n s i t i o n to adulthood which has a whole new set of developmental 27 tasks. Conclusion The task of developing a separate i d e n t i t y i s based on discovering what parts of the personality continue from childhood and what parts do not. This task of deciding what i s "me and not me" (Erikson, 1968) requires the person to compare him/herself with those around him/her. If there i s no group with whom the i n d i v i d u a l can compare s e l f , then development of a separate i d e n t i t y becomes very d i f f i c u l t . DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS OF EARLY ADULTHOOD Introduction Developmental t h e o r i s t s recognize a number of l i f e tasks (Cantor, Markus, Niedenthal & Nurius, 1986; Cantor, Norem, Niedenthal, Langston & Brower, 1987) which give meaning and d i r e c t i o n to one's l i f e during young adulthood. I t i s understood that i n d i v i d u a l s view and respond to these l i f e tasks i n d i f f e r e n t ways according to whether they see them as comfortable or as threatening to s e l f - i d e n t i t y (Cantor, et a l . , 1986). In young adulthood, many of these l i f e tasks are r o l e r e l a t e d (Kandel, Raveis, & Kandel, 1984; Marini, 1984) and achieved within the context of the outside society. The l i f e tasks of young adulthood are recognized 28 to be the development of a career (Levinson, 1978; Marini, 1984), establishment of a constructive intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978; Marini, 1984), establishment of an independent residence and s t y l e of l i f e (Levinson, 1978), and introduction into the parenting r o l e (Marini, 1984). According to Levinson (1978), whose research was based s o l e l y on male development but has been recognized to have some v a l i d i t y f or women as well, these tasks were usually completed by the age of 30. As Marini (1984) pointed out, though, i f people began the process early, by ending t h e i r formal education before t h e i r cohorts the process of entering and working through these adult l i f e tasks also began early. Kandel, Raveis, and Kandel (1984) have studied the adjustment i n young adulthood of former high school absentees. Even though t h e i r study involved 318 American absentees, rather than Canadian dropouts, t h e i r findings seem applicable to the Canadian experience. These researchers found that former absentees earned less, had more marital and work problems, experienced more problems with abuse of alcohol and drugs, had lower psychological functioning and had greater l e v e l s of delinquency than did t h e i r 29 cohorts. Kandel, Raveis, and Kandel (1984) concluded that an i n a b i l i t y to f u l f i l the r o l e of student (by repeatedly being absent from school), lead to greater d i s c o n t i n u i t i e s i n subsequent r o l e s . Participants often experienced long periods of unemployment, many job changes and longer periods of time " j u s t l o a f i n g around" than t h e i r cohorts. Because the l i f e tasks of young adulthood are conducted within a s o c i a l context, they can e a s i l y be la b e l l e d and assessed. Unlike i d e n t i t y development which i s c a r r i e d on both i n t e r n a l l y and externally within the peer group, the successful completion of l i f e tasks i n young adulthood occur within a s o c i a l context and are celebrated openly by the society. North American society has t r a d i t i o n a l ceremonies to celebrate heterosexual marriages and the b i r t h of children. Career establishment usually necessitates p h y s i c a l l y going to a work place, and est a b l i s h i n g a separate residence means moving out of the family home. In order to gain a greater appreciation for the l i f e tasks of adulthood, each w i l l be discussed i n greater depth. Working and Not Working For many dropouts the f i r s t l i f e task they choose 30 to tackle, once they leave school, i s f i n d i n g employment. In modern i n d u s t r i a l society, work i s intended to give structure, meaning, and status to the i n d i v i d u a l (Borgen, & Amundson, 1984; Patton & Noller, 1984; Radwanski, 1987; Super, 1963). Unfortunately those who leave school before graduation are often i l l -prepared to f i n d and r e t a i n work (Amundson, & Borgen, 1987; Patton, & Noller, 1984; Reconnecting Youth. 1985). In addition to having fewer job search and employment based s k i l l s , the dropout faces a society where there are fewer jobs to choose from (Larsen, & Shertzer, 1987; Sul l i v a n , 1988; Tidwell, 1988). Whereas for dropouts of the 1960's there was a chance to work t h e i r way up within a corporate structure (Dropping Out. 1990; Levens, 1970; Young, & Reich, 1974), today, the dropout i s increasingly at the mercy of economic up and down swings. As S u l l i v a n (1988) reports "During the next recession i t i s l i k e l y to be the dropouts who w i l l be the hardest h i t . " (p. 65). Our society provides l i t t l e assistance for those who are having d i f f i c u l t y making the t r a n s i t i o n from school to work. As Hargroves (1986) noted "In the U.S. [and Canada], unlike some European countries, few 31 i n s t i t u t i o n s e x i s t to help students move from classroom to t r a i n i n g to employment. High school ends. Work begins." (p. 207). So, i f the society provides r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e support for unemployed youth, from where do they get support? Amundson, and Borgen (1987) found that family and friends support were most mentioned by unemployed pa r t i c i p a n t s as being h e l p f u l during t h e i r time without work. These findings were confirmed by Marak (1987) i n her q u a l i t a t i v e study of young unemployed. The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the dropout population, however, indicate problems i n the family and d i f f i c u l t i e s i n developing relationships with peers. For those who leave school early, finding that f i r s t job may be a lonely and d i f f i c u l t f i r s t task of adulthood. Svec, (1987) argued that the psychological pathology which i s often thought to accompany those who leave school early i s a c t u a l l y due to the combination of dropping out and being unemployed. Two studies of unemployed youth indicated that they have lower s e l f -esteem, higher rates of depression and more external locus of control (Donovan, Oddy, Pardoe & Ades, 1986; Patton & Noller, 1984). Super (1963) and Donovan et a l . (1986) both theorize that for those who leave 32 school early, unemployment has had a negative impact on the development of i d e n t i t y . This i n turn weakens the e f f i c a c y f e l t by the young person i n dealing with his/her other l i f e tasks. Intimacy Often early school leavers are thought to s t a r t dating e a r l i e r than t h e i r cohorts (Marini, 1984), and t h i s has led to the conclusion that they are more successful at establishing and maintaining intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s . However, developmental t h e o r i s t s have been c a r e f u l to define intimacy as more than simply i n i t i a t i n g a sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p . Erikson (1968) noted that "the youth who i s not sure of h i s [her] i d e n t i t y shies away from interpersonal intimacy or throws him [her] s e l f into acts of intimacy which are promiscuous without true fusion or r e a l s e l f abandon." (p. 135). Although the opportunity for r e l a t i o n s h i p s may present themselves to dropouts e a r l i e r than to t h e i r cohorts and although they may be sexually active at a younger age, (Marini, 1984), t h e i r a b i l i t y to form l a s t i n g , mature and f u l f i l l i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s may be negatively affected. In order to form t r u l y intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s (Erikson, 1968), the person must develop an independent i d e n t i t y . As we have seen, the 33 l i t e r a t u r e indicates that many dropouts have not achieved i d e n t i t y formation or have a f r a g i l e i d e n t i t y . In looking at the t r a n s i t i o n period, researchers need to d i f f e r e n t i a t e between sexual encounters and t r u l y intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Establishing; Separate Home and L i f e Style Levinson (1978) has included esta b l i s h i n g a separate home and l i f e s t y l e from the family of o r i g i n as an important l i f e task i n young adulthood. For many dropouts, e s p e c i a l l y those with a background of family d i f f i c u l t i e s , the establishment of t h e i r own home may provide the s t a b i l i t y needed to develop an independent i d e n t i t y . For others, often pushed out by t h e i r family of o r i g i n , the establishment of a home on t h e i r own may be a frightening l i f e task. Whatever the f e e l i n g around that experience, i t seems useful to include es t a b l i s h i n g a home and l i f e s t y l e as one of the l i f e tasks of young adulthood. Entry Into Parenthood Although becoming a parent i s often a r o l e not achieved u n t i l middle adulthood, there i s evidence that some dropouts begin the parental r o l e e a r l i e r than t h e i r cohorts (Marini, 1984). Since the developmental t h e o r i s t s (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978) assume that 34 parenthood emerges a f t e r the establishment of an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , t h i s experience too may d i f f e r for the early school leaver. Parenthood may not emerge from the security of an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p . Again, the r o l e of parent brings r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s that may or may not tax the early school leavers 1 a b i l i t y to cope. Conclusions The basic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts combined with the d i f f i c u l t i e s they may have i n completing l i f e tasks of early adulthood indicate a d i f f e r e n t developmental pattern for those who leave school early. As Levinson (1978) puts i t : If a man's early adulthood i s dominated by poverty, recurrent unemployment, and the lack of a reasonably s a t i s f a c t o r y niche i n society, h i s adult development w i l l be undermined. His energies w i l l go to simple s u r v i v a l rather than the pursuit of a dream or the creation of a l i f e structure that has value for himself and others, (p. 337) MEETING BASIC NEEDS Introduction Maslow (1954; 1962) introduced a theory of needs in order to help us understand human behaviour. Like the developmental theories described e a r l i e r , t h i s theory was based on the concept that needs develop i n a h i e r a r c h i c a l manner. As one s a t i s f i e s a lower l e v e l 35 need, the next highest need asserts i t s e l f . Lower l e v e l needs, ph y s i o l o g i c a l , safety, belongingness, and self-esteem, are based on deficiency motivation. The i n d i v i d u a l i s motivated to f u l f i l these needs immediately and often without conscious thought. Higher l e v e l needs, on the other hand are oriented toward growth. They require self-awareness and contemplation. Borgen and Amundson (1984), i n t h e i r work with the unemployed, have posited that unemployment causes the i n d i v i d u a l to tumble down the hierarchy of needs. For the dropout, though, the question remains, how f a r up the hierarchy have they t r a v e l l e d and how does that t r a v e l , or lack of t r a v e l , modify t h e i r development? In the section which follows, the theory of needs w i l l be presented i n more d e t a i l . Lower Level Needs Survival, which Levinson (1978) noted as the aim of those coming to young adulthood a f t e r experiencing a traumatic and discontinuous past, was the basic drive underlying the lower l e v e l needs outlined by Maslow (1954). F i r s t of a l l , the human being required the s u r v i v a l of the body, that i s , enough food and water to keep him/her from starvation and, Maslow (1954) argued, enough sexual a c t i v i t y to ensure the s u r v i v a l of the species. Next, the i n d i v i d u a l needed to f e e l safe from harm and from pain. This safety included the kind of safety that i s provided for the c h i l d i n i t s family of o r i g i n . "He [the child] seems to want a predictable and orderly world." (p.86), (Maslow, 1954). Survival, then, begins to e x i s t for the c h i l d on two l e v e l s . There i s the s u r v i v a l of the body and the s u r v i v a l of an environment within which s/he can grow through the developmental hierarchy. The t h i r d l e v e l of s u r v i v a l need i s the need for belongingness and love. This need began to assert i t s e l f as the c h i l d grew, having s a t i s f i e d his/her p h y s i o l o g i c a l and safety needs. Although t h i s l e v e l of need was framed within a s o c i a l context, i t was s t i l l a s u r v i v a l need i n that without belongingness and love human beings have been known not to survive. Likewise the need fo r self-esteem represents the another lower l e v e l need. Maslow (19 62), c a l l e d the f i r s t four needs deficiency needs and made a d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i n the constructs used by the deficiency and growth motivated thinkers. Lower l e v e l needs, Maslow (1962) outlined 37 required the i n d i v i d u a l to be dependent on, rather than to control his/her own environment. Other human beings were r e l i e d upon to f i l l t h e i r needs rather than recognizing others as complex wholes. Deficiency motivated people are more a f r a i d of t h e i r environment, think i n polarized terms, and use instrumental learning to survive i n t h e i r environment (Maslow, 1962). Growth Needs Aesthetic and cognitive needs and the need for s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n were according to Maslow (1954; 1962) the growth needs. In order to move from deficiency needs to growth needs, people must be assured of basic s u r v i v a l and safety. They must f e e l that they belong and have a sense of esteem so that they can begin to think beyond day to day s u r v i v a l and r e f l e c t on t h e i r l i v e s . The s e l f - a c t u a l i z e d person must have a firm i d e n t i t y , an openness to experience, and a clearer, more e f f i c i e n t v i s i o n of r e a l i t y . (Maslow, 1962). Rather than operating from a perception of fear the s e l f - a c t u a l i z e d person i s free to act on the world and to control his/her environment. I m p l i c i t i n t h i s outline of the differences between the actualized and non-actualized person i s the operation of self-awareness. In order to become 38 oriented to the higher l e v e l need, the i n d i v i d u a l must become aware of who s/he i s . The a b i l i t y to take the time to be introspective i s necessary i n order to understand and imprint one's own personality on the environment. I t i s important to understand that f o r the i n d i v i d u a l who i s not having lower l e v e l needs met and i s expending a l l his/her energy j u s t to survive, that growth through the hierarchy i s impossible. Motivation, comes from the fear of the environment and behaviour patterns may appear random and i l l thought out. Conclusion I t seems l i k e l y that many dropouts w i l l enter the adult world without having met a l l of t h e i r lower l e v e l needs. While t r y i n g to survive i n a h o s t i l e world, dropouts w i l l encounter incidents where they w i l l use behaviours to escape or to block out the e f f e c t of that experience on self-concept. U n t i l lower l e v e l needs are met and dropouts have an opportunity to develop an awareness of s e l f , they cannot move from deficiency to growth oriented needs. THE CONSTRUCTION OF SELF Introduction So f a r we have learned that the dropout may have a 39 battered and i l l defined i d e n t i t y , have d i f f i c u l t y s u c c e s s f u l l y completing the l i f e tasks of young adulthood and be working hard to f u l f i l s u r v i v a l needs. Within t h i s h o s t i l e context, however, a l l of the par t i c i p a n t s have survived the worst that l i f e has handed to them. The question becomes what gives these early school leavers the strength to survive, to continue to t r y to f u l f i l l i f e tasks and s u r v i v a l needs when others might not? Frankl (1967) suggested that when an i n d i v i d u a l finds meaning i n his/her l i f e , s/he i s able to continue to survive under the worst conditions. The development of meaning may come from what one gives to l i f e , from what one takes from the world, or from the stand we make i n our l i v e s . I t i s inherent i n how we see ourselves and how we describe ourselves to others. I t i s our construction or conception of s e l f . Day-to-day s u r v i v a l and the attempted completion of adult l i f e tasks may provide meaning for dropouts. Svec, (1986), suggested that those who leave school early may act u a l l y be protecting t h e i r s e l f concept. He argued that many dropouts may leave school to save face. Although previous information may indicate that the in d i v i d u a l had a poorly developed i d e n t i t y , a l t e r n a t i v e l y i t may be that s/he has developed a negative i d e n t i t y . Erikson (1968) argued that given the choice, an i n d i v i d u a l would rather have a negative self-concept than no self-concept at a l l . Although dropouts may not l i k e themselves or may hold themselves i n low esteem, they w i l l preserve what l i t t l e i d e n t i t y , p o s i t i v e or negative, they have developed. Possible Selves Theory While the arguments of Erikson (1968) and Svec (1986) indicate that adolescents may a c t i v e l y preserve negative self-concepts, rather than nothing at a l l , these arguments have r e a l l y been expanded and developed i n possible selves theory. Self-schemas or possible selves are dynamic and i n d i v i d u a l i z e d conceptions of s e l f (Markus, & Wurf, 1987). As such, they operate on a number of d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s i n order to provide continuity and meaning to experience. Oyserman & Markus (1990) reported on a study of 238 young people exhibiting three d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of delinquent behaviour. The study found that for the most delinquent youth, the feared s e l f , that i s the most dreaded self-construct of the i n d i v i d u a l , and the expected s e l f , the s e l f that helps one avoid the feared 41 s e l f are out of balance. The feared s e l f was as well developed as for the less delinquent cohorts, but that the expected s e l f was not well developed at a l l . Oyserman, & Markus (1990) concluded Although these delinquent youth have the type of feared selves that might be associated with the avoidance of delinquent a c t i v i t y , many of them seem to be missing the expected possible selves that could provide the organizing and energizing v i s i o n of how they might avoid criminal a c t i v i t y , and what they might expect i f they do. (p. 122-123). Maslow (19 62) outlined the fear that overwhelms the person who i s f i g h t i n g for s u r v i v a l needs. Both Kegan (1982) and Erikson (1968) discussed the need for r e f l e c t i o n and self-awareness i n order f o r the in d i v i d u a l to develop a healthy i d e n t i t y . The development of an expected possible s e l f seems to require a s i m i l a r kind of r e f l e c t i o n and s e l f -awareness. If the partic i p a n t s have not moved up the hierarchy of needs enough to s a t i s f y t h e i r s u r v i v a l needs, and f i n d time for r e f l e c t i o n , then they may be behaving merely to escape from the feared s e l f i n the best way possible at that moment. Fear i s a powerful stimulus and immediate escape, rather than r a t i o n a l thought, i s a t y p i c a l response even for those who are usually functioning from growth needs. For a young / / person who has constantly f e l t threatened and a f r a i d of the outside environment and has not had time to r e f l e c t or develop coping mechanisms, the quickest route out of the s i t u a t i o n w i l l be the one most l i k e l y chosen. Self-Handicapping The young adult that has been described so f a r i n t h i s review of the l i t e r a t u r e has had a very d i f f i c u l t l i f e . Basic needs have not been met and s e l f - i d e n t i t y may be only t e n t a t i v e l y formed i f formed at a l l . In addition, s/he has l i k e l y not established a cle a r reinforcement pattern. Within the family, care may have been inconsistent or absent, with rewards f o r good work coming at some times and absent at other times. Work and school, which provide reinforcement and reward for r i g h t a c t i v i t y may not have been a constructive force i n the young adult's l i f e (Donovan, et a l . 1986). E f f e c t i v e coping patterns based on feedback from i n d i v i d u a l s i t u a t i o n s can not be formed with such a chaotic reinforcement hi s t o r y (Berglas & Jones, 1978; Cantor, et a l . , 1987; Jones & Berglas, 1978). Jones and Berglas (1978; Berglas & Jones, 1978) and others (Cantor et a l . 1986) have theorized that out of a chaotic hi s t o r y of reinforcement grows a tendency toward self-handicapping behaviour. The i n d i v i d u a l i s 43 unsure of what constitutes r i g h t action and unsure of his/her own competency. S/he uses a defensive strategy to excuse f a i l u r e and take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r success (Berglas, & Jones, 1978). S p e c i f i c a l l y , the i n d i v i d u a l may abuse drugs and/or alcohol, become an underachiever or otherwise conduct him/herself so that f a i l u r e at a task i s assumed to be due to the self-handicapping behaviour rather than to the s e l f (Jones, & Berglas, 1978) . Drugs and alcohol abuse are p a r t i c u l a r l y good s e l f handicapping strategies because the e f f e c t s of both can be euphoric and because society reinforces the concept that one cannot be responsible for one's actions while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (Jones, & Berglas, 1978). Given the poor reinforcement hi s t o r y and the fear of a c t u a l l y becoming the feared s e l f , the young adult i s struggling f o r s u r v i v a l with no cle a r d i r e c t i o n . Patterns of behaviour are based on escape from the feared s e l f or on short term strategies which, when analyzed, have no common c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that would be recognized as a consistent self-schema. The young person, uses underachievement, alcohol and/or drugs to help escape from the s i t u a t i o n . In doing so, s/he i s a c t u a l l y r e i n f o r c i n g a negative self-schema, while 44 providing no long term coping strategies. I t has been noticed by many educators that there seems to be a c o r r e l a t i o n between drug and alcohol abuse and dropping out of school (Friedman, Glickman & Utada, 1985; Mensch & Kandel, 1988). Obviously, abuse of these substances impairs cognitive functioning and therefore f a c i l i t a t e s defensive self-handicapping. Mensch and Kandel (1988) found that i n a comparison of drug use among dropouts who never completed a high school equivalency program, those who did complete the equivalency program and those who graduated from high school, the equivalency program graduates were most l i k e l y to have used drugs. Mensch and Kandel (1988) concluded Among dropouts, those who go on to obtain a GED [General Equivalency Diploma] are the most deviant and most l i k e l y to use drugs. Since they also score higher i n academic a b i l i t y t e s t s than do terminal dropouts, dropouts who acquire a GED may have l e f t school not because they were incapable of doing academic work but because t h e i r l i f e s t y l e s were incompatible with s c h o l a s t i c success, (p.111). In other words, these part i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study are at high r i s k of using self-handicapping strategies to cope with t h e i r fear of f a i l u r e . 45 Becoming an Agent So f a r the l i t e r a t u r e has painted a depressing picture of a young person unsure of s e l f and unable to take control of his/her l i f e . Like a pawn (De Charms, 1976), s/he i s pushed around by the environment and by others i n the environment. S/he i s uncommitted, externally and negatively motivated, defensive, a f r a i d and avoidant of challenge. For some young people, t h i s way of seeing the world w i l l survive for many years. In the fear of t h e i r environment and the work to survive, these young people f i n d meaning i n being the pawn. For others, they s t a r t to assert t h e i r independence. As they begin to approach adult tasks, and grow older, they become more disenchanted with the self-handicapping strategies they have developed (Tz u r i e l & Haywood, 1985). Slowly, the i n d i v i d u a l begins to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for her/his actions and to see the world from a more r e a l i s t i c vantage point. De Charms (1976) would describe t h i s as the beginning of moving toward becoming an o r i g i n or an agent. B a s i c a l l y , the i n d i v i d u a l i s beginning to take control of the environment and to see that s/he can have an e f f e c t i n the world. The movement from pawn to o r i g i n , 46 then i s a turning point i n the meaning that one makes of l i f e . The o r i g i n i s i n t e r n a l l y controlled, sets goals for him/herself, acts to f u l f i l those goals, sees him/herself r e a l i s t i c a l l y within the environment, has a sense of personal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and increased s e l f -confidence (De Charms, 1968; 1976). As the i n d i v i d u a l moves from the pawn dimension to becoming more of an o r i g i n , s/he begins to develop a framework within which s/he can act on reinforcement feedback. Once able to act on the world, s/he moves away from functioning i n fear and out of basic needs. Through input from those around her/him a p o s i t i v e i d e n t i t y begins to develop. Conclusion For those who leave school early, development and completion of the l i f e tasks of adolescence and early adulthood i s d i f f e r e n t and often much more d i f f i c u l t than for t h e i r graduating cohorts. In t h i s review of the l i t e r a t u r e , the basic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the dropout have been traced, an explanation of developmental, need, and s e l f theory has been presented and a p r o f i l e of the dropout during t r a n s i t i o n has been framed. From the information gathered by educators, much i s known about the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that lead young people to leave school before graduating. We also understand the theories that psychologists and other s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s have put forward to a s s i s t i n understanding what normally happens i n the t r a n s i t i o n from student to adulthood. The l i t e r a t u r e indicates that achievement of adult tasks w i l l be more d i f f i c u l t f o r those who leave school early. I t does not, however, give any clear description of the t r a n s i t i o n experience for those who have l e f t school before graduating. The focus of t h i s study i s to f i l l t h i s gap i n the research by providing an in-depth, q u a l i t a t i v e study of the c r i t i c a l incidents that hinder and f a c i l i t a t e early school leavers 1 adjustment to l i f e beyond school. In the following chapter, the method used to conduct t h i s study w i l l be described i n further depth. 48 CHAPTER 3 METHOD INTRODUCTION This study i s designed to learn what are the c r i t i c a l incidents that hinder and f a c i l i t a t e early school leavers' adjustment to l i f e beyond school. In order to provide the richness of data needed to explore what i s a r e l a t i v e l y unresearched topic, a q u a l i t a t i v e approach was used. This chapter w i l l present s p e c i f i c information o u t l i n i n g the population, p a r t i c i p a n t s , data gathering techniques, how incidents were extracted and recorded, and a n a l y t i c a l procedures. POPULATION AND PARTICIPANTS Population The p a r t i c i p a n t s for the study were drawn from associates (students) i n the Youth Employment S k i l l s (YES) Canada Incorporated equivalency program. YES Canada i s a f e d e r a l l y funded organization which provides upgrading and career development for young adults. Using one organization from which to draw par t i c i p a n t s , strengthens the study because i t i s designed to describe one s i t u a t i o n extremely well. Instead of c o l l e c t i n g information which may have shown the differences between programs or between cycles 49 (times) i n the program, information gathering was r e s t r i c t e d to one location and one cycle of students. Since the context i n which the data was c o l l e c t e d was kept constant, differences emerging from the data are more l i k e l y due to the i n d i v i d u a l differences among par t i c i p a n t s , rather than between programs or times. In addition, a c c e s s i b i l i t y to the p a r t i c i p a n t s was easier than i t would have been through a number of d i f f e r e n t agencies. Indeed, YES Canada s t a f f members proved to be h e l p f u l i n encouraging p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h i s study and to be supportive of the researcher. Because of t h e i r openness i n discussing the YES Canada program and organization, I learned early about the goals and objectives of the program. The YES Canada Program focuses on improving the self-esteem of students or associates, as well as helping them to obtain a high school graduation equivalency diploma, explore career choices, and develop e f f e c t i v e job search s k i l l s . As a researcher, t h i s helped to deepen my knowledge of the experiences the p a r t i c i p a n t s were having as the research was being conducted. Some i n i t i a l interviews conducted with YES Canada associates i n a previous cycle indicated that the program i t s e l f had a strong influence on those who completed i t . In order to avoid p a r t i c i p a n t s ' tendency to discuss the p o s i t i v e aspects of the YES Canada program, the i n i t i a l interviews were c a r r i e d out within the f i r s t month of the three month program cycle. This also enabled some v a l i d i t y checks to be done before the cycle ended. During some of the v a l i d i t y checks, i t became cl e a r that pa r t i c i p a n t s had been affected p o s i t i v e l y by the YES Canada program. The influence of the program was controlled e f f e c t i v e l y by the researcher through c o l l e c t i n g most of the data early i n the cycle. The r e s u l t s of t h i s study w i l l apply d i r e c t l y to the approximately 50% of early school leavers who return to and complete high school. Because the study describes one group completely and i n depth, subsequent researchers can assess how applicable the findings are to groups with whom they work. I t seems reasonable to assume that some of the developmental trends w i l l e x i s t i n groups of dropouts who never return to school. Results from other studies (Borgen & Amundson, 1984; Cochran, 1985) have shown that the r e s u l t s of q u a l i t a t i v e research can be useful to populations outside of the geographic and demographic parameters within which the data was gathered. 51 Par t i c i p a n t s Twenty-one volunteers were selected from the sixty-three associates i n the cycle s t a r t i n g March 1991 and ending May 1991. While two p a r t i c i p a n t s had not completed elementary school, three had completed grade eight, four had completed grade nine, f i v e grade ten, s i x grade eleven and one had completed grade twelve but needed more academic c r e d i t s to further her education. Ten p a r t i c i p a n t s were male and eleven female. They had l e f t school between one and eleven years before the main interview took place. When the main interview was held t h e i r ages ranged from seventeen to twenty-five. The o r i g i n a l intent of the study was to r e s t r i c t p a r t i c i p a n t s to those having l e f t school only four years previous to the interview, but t h i s was not f e a s i b l e due to the nature of the population from which pa r t i c i p a n t s volunteered. The major concern, that p a r t i c i p a n t s who were out of school longer would be less l i k e l y to remember events, proved not to be the case. Memory seemed to have more to do with the content of l i f e during t r a n s i t i o n than years i n t r a n s i t i o n . Although, i t was hoped that the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the study would r e f l e c t the diverse c u l t u r a l background 52 of Canadian society, only one pa r t i c i p a n t spoke of cross c u l t u r a l differences. Although not s p e c i f i c a l l y asked about t h e i r c u l t u r a l backgrounds, none of the other p a r t i c i p a n t s discussed c u l t u r a l c o n f l i c t s or referred to any c u l t u r a l f e s t i v a l s or t r a d i t i o n s other than those present i n mainstream North American society. The generalization of the r e s u l t s of t h i s study to c u l t u r a l minorities i n Canada would be i n v a l i d . DATA GATHERING TECHNIQUES The C r i t i c a l Incidents Technique During the Second World War, Flanagan, (1954) c o l l e c t e d c r i t i c a l incidents e l i c i t e d from those t r a i n i n g to be p i l o t s . From t h i s information, important c r i t e r i a for the se l e c t i o n and t r a i n i n g of p i l o t s and f l i g h t crew were gathered. Subsequently, many studies have used t h i s approach (Andersson & Nilsson, 1964; Broughton, 1984; Cochran, 1985; Flanagan, 1978; Klei n , 1989; Tjosvold, 1990). Through analyzing s p e c i f i c observable behaviours or incidents considered important or c r i t i c a l by those experiencing them, the c r i t i c a l incident technique gives the researcher definable data that can be e a s i l y analyzed and i s relevant and important to the pa r t i c i p a n t s . 53 Andersson and Nilsson (1964) provided evidence that the c r i t i c a l incident technique was a v a l i d and r e l i a b l e method for carrying out research. They reported that data c o l l e c t e d and analyzed by t h i s method was comprehensive and complete, r e l a t i v e l y r e s i s t a n t to interviewer differences, had stable c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of categories, and good i n t e r - r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y . Travers' (1964) concerns that r a r e l y occurring events would be c l a s s i f i e d and that c l a s s i f y i n g i n general would be problematic d i d not appear to be the case i n the Andersson and Nilsson (1964) c r i t i c a l analysis. In order to minimize these d i f f i c u l t i e s , however, additional v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y checks were outlined by Andersson and Nilsson (1964). These checks of v a l i d i t y and i n t e r -r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y have been b u i l t into t h i s research study. In conclusion, t h i s technique was used because i t provided a useful method to gather and categorize the data, was amenable to q u a l i t a t i v e and r e l a t i v e l y unstructured data gathering procedure, seemed to f i t well with the l i f e l i n e technique, has been widely used by other researchers, and has been shown to be a v a l i d and r e l i a b l e research technique. 54 The L i f e Line Technique The use of a l i f e l i n e i n therapy has a long and well recognized his t o r y . As a research technique, i t seems only now to have been explored. Work on unemployment by Borgen and Amundson, (1984) lent c r e d i b i l i t y to the argument that t h i s technique could be very powerful i n developing patterns and defining p a r t i c i p a n t ' s f e e l i n g s h i f t s . In t h i s study, the l i f e l i n e was very useful i n e l i c i t i n g f e e l i n g s h i f t s and making patterns more concrete. In addition, by structuring the interview around the task of f i l l i n g i n the l i f e l i n e , p a r t i c i p a n t s were encouraged to work more slowly and de l i b e r a t e l y . A number of parti c i p a n t s rethought and changed dates of incidents as they worked through the process. Sometimes, af t e r some events were remembered, other events, sometimes equally c r i t i c a l but seeming to be more deeply buried, were revealed. The l i f e l i n e technique, then, worked well to i d e n t i f y the incidents that were c r i t i c a l to the pa r t i c i p a n t s . However, because the l i f e l i n e also shows f e e l i n g s h i f t s , c r i t i c a l incidents were set within the developmental context of the pa r t i c i p a n t s . Rather than providing the clea r cut incidents discussed by Flanagan, (1954), events were often described as more long term influences which were composed of s p e c i f i c events. Thus, i n analyzing and reporting on r e s u l t s a range of incidents may be grouped within a category. Aside from t h i s , the l i f e l i n e technique and the c r i t i c a l incidents worked e f f e c t i v e l y together to frame these young people's events completely and c l e a r l y . PILOT INTERVIEWS Before conducting the study, p i l o t interviews were conducted with three dropouts, two who had l e f t school f i f t e e n years ago and one who was then a student i n the YES Canada program. The goal of the p i l o t interviews was to contrast and compare d i f f e r e n t interview sequences, to see whether r e c o l l e c t i o n of events was d i f f i c u l t for those who had l e f t school years before, to see i f the interview procedure worked for a quiet and i n a r t i c u l a t e subject, and to ensure that the pa r t i c i p a n t s did not f e e l led by the interviewer. The p i l o t interviews revealed that p a r t i c i p a n t s were highly motivated to discuss the c r i t i c a l events i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n i n d e t a i l . An interview with a supposedly i n a r t i c u l a t e and quiet young man continued for more than two hours, leaving p a r t i c i p a n t and researcher exhausted. During the p i l o t interviews, the 56 l i f e l i n e was used i n one case as a focus f o r the interview and i n another as a separate step i n the interview process. When i t was noted that focusing the interview around drawing the l i f e l i n e provided equally as d e t a i l e d data i n a shorter time, i t was decided to make the l i f e l i n e the central focus of the main interview. When partic i p a n t s i n the p i l o t interviews were asked whether they f e l t led by the researcher, a l l answered that they f e l t they had directed and determined what information would be given. A l l had f e l t encouraged and accepted by the researcher, allowing them to discuss a l l c r i t i c a l incidents, even negative experiences, i n depth. General feedback from p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the p i l o t interview indicated that the interview format and s t y l e productively met the goals of the study. DATA COLLECTION The Main Interview Most of the data were gathered at the main interview which lasted between f o r t y - f i v e minutes and two hours, depending on the length of the period since leaving school and the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' a b i l i t y to r e c a l l events. Most interviews lasted about one and one-half 57 hours. Except for two interviews, a l l interviews were held at the o f f i c e s of YES Canada and a l l were tape recorded. The interviews held outside of YES Canada were done at the convenience of the researcher and the p a r t i c i p a n t and did not d i f f e r i n content or q u a l i t y from those held at YES Canada. The interview began with an explanation of c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , exactly what was expected of those p a r t i c i p a t i n g , and the signing of consent forms. Afte r the paperwork, the l i f e l i n e and tape recording procedures were explained and the context statement, adapted from Broughton (1984) and the f i r s t question, were read. People sometimes report d i f f i c u l t i e s i n making the t r a n s i t i o n from school to l i f e beyond school. Leaving school can be both s t r e s s f u l and enjoyable. Whatever else, school leaving leads to major changes i n one's l i f e . Some things seem to work better than others to achieve a desirable s e t t l i n g i n following leaving school. The period of adjustment to l i f e beyond school may or may not be over for you. By sharing your experiences so f a r , you w i l l help i d e n t i f y p o s i t i v e and negative factors e f f e c t i n g your t r a n s i t i o n from leaving 58 school early to f e e l i n g at home with your l i f e beyond school. Please think back to s p e c i f i c incidents that helped or hindered you " f e e l i n g yourself" or achieving a desirable adjustment to l i f e beyond school. What I am interested i n are concrete events rather than opinions and theories. 1. Think back to when you made the decision to leave high school. Describe how you came to make t h i s decision including what happened j u s t before, at the time and shortly a f t e r you made the decision not to continue with high school. Usually, t h i s f i r s t question was enough to begin the interview. After the pa r t i c i p a n t had discussed events which occurred around the decision to leave school, the par t i c i p a n t was asked to plot the feelings s/he had about leaving school on the l i f e l i n e graph. After p l o t t i n g the f i r s t incident on the l i f e l i n e , which often took some time, the researcher would ask the pa r t i c i p a n t to r e c a l l the next event that they remembered a f t e r leaving school. The interview usually progressed naturally from t h i s point. The researcher used a number of prompts to make 59 ce r t a i n that incidents were developed completely (Broughton, 1984; Flanagan 1954), to b u i l d rapport with the p a r t i c i p a n t s , and to make c e r t a i n that the pa r t i c i p a n t s were not being biased by the researcher (Borgen & Amundson, 1984). F i r s t of a l l , p a r t i c i p a n t s were asked the following questions once an event was i d e n t i f i e d . 1. Did the incident change your thinking or feelings over a period of time? How long did the e f f e c t of the incident last? 2. What led up to the incident? 3. What exactly happened at t h i s time? 4. How long a f t e r you l e f t school did t h i s event occur? Most of these questions were answered as a natural part of p l o t t i n g the l i f e l i n e information. Participants were encouraged to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s i n as much d e t a i l as they wished. For those who j u s t needed to t a l k , I became a useful l i s t e n i n g post. Following the unstructured interview approach used by Borgen and Amundson (1984), I used many minimal responses (uh huh, yes, I see) i n order to e l i c i t information while not leading p a r t i c i p a n t s i n a p a r t i c u l a r d i r e c t i o n . Although many pa r t i c i p a n t s were 60 thereby encouraged to t a l k more than the desired one hour time l i m i t , they also provided well thought out and thorough information. Most pa r t i c i p a n t s expressed having learned something about themselves and t h e i r l i f e from p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the main interview even though t h i s was not one of the goals of my research. The V a l i d i t y Checks After interviews were transcribed and one page summaries prepared from the t r a n s c r i p t s and l i f e l i n e s , I returned to YES Canada i n order to complete v a l i d i t y checks of the data. The goal of the v a l i d i t y check was to s a t i s f y the concerns of Travers (19 64) and to s a t i s f y the recommendations of Andersson and Nilsson (1964), s p e c i f i c a l l y , to make ce r t a i n that p a r t i c i p a n t s had given the correct story, that there were no incidents misinterpreted by the researcher, and that there were no important incidents omitted. In addition, p a r t i c i p a n t s were given an opportunity to look through t h e i r l i f e l i n e s , summaries and t r a n s c r i p t s which, I think, helped them to once more r e l i v e and r e f l e c t upon t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n experience. Participants were asked to read t h e i r summaries and to comment on the accuracy of the summary i n terms of the c r i t e r i a outlined above. They were then asked 61 to skim through t h e i r t r a n s c r i p t s and to look at the l i f e l i n e s . They were asked to r e f l e c t once more on the information given and to add to or correct the data they had given. F i n a l l y , they were asked to f i l l out a short demographic questionnaire. Once t h i s was fin i s h e d , p a r t i c i p a n t s were reminded i t would be the l a s t time they would be meeting with the researcher and asked again i f there were any incidents they wanted to add. These v a l i d i t y checks usually took about 15 minutes. V a l i d i t y checks were completed with 15 of the 21 p a r t i c i p a n t s . Eleven of these were conducted at YES Canada o f f i c e s and the other four were conducted at restaurants and homes i n the lower mainland. No s i g n i f i c a n t changes were made to the incidents recorded i n the main interviews. One p a r t i c i p a n t thought about another c r i t i c a l incident i n his t r a n s i t i o n . A number of p a r t i c i p a n t s took photocopies of t h e i r t r a n s c r i p t s or t h e i r summaries as they considered them very accurate. I was unable to obtain v a l i d i t y checks with 6 p a r t i c i p a n t s . Some partic i p a n t s had moved and some did not acknowledge my telephone c a l l s . Two p a r t i c i p a n t s did not show for scheduled appointments. After experiencing four no shows for these two p a r t i c i p a n t s , and seeing that the v a l i d i t y checks were not supplying much extra or d i f f e r e n t information from the main interview, I stopped a c t i v e l y seeking v a l i d i t y check meetings. DATA ANALYSIS Recording and Extracting Incidents A l l 21 main interviews and 13 of the 15 v a l i d i t y check interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Subsequent to the t r a n s c r i p t i o n , data were transferred to note cards with t i t l e s provided by the l i f e l i n e s . Information with regard to the category, source, conditions surrounding the incident, incidents leading to the event, the length of the e f f e c t of the incident, provided primarily from t r a n s c r i p t s of the main or v a l i d i t y check interviews. Feeling s h i f t s were also recorded from the l i f e l i n e s . The note cards and the transcribed material were colour coded by gender as the researcher wanted to hig h l i g h t any gender differences which were present i n the data. A n a l y t i c a l Procedures According to Flanagan (1954) the goal of t h i s step i s "...to summarize and describe the data i n an e f f i c i e n t manner so that i t can be e f f e c t i v e l y used for many p r a c t i c a l purposes." (p.344). He suggested that 63 to increase the usefulness of the analysis, researchers need to e s t a b l i s h the general frame of reference, use inductive processes to develop the s p e c i f i c categories, and s e l e c t a l e v e l of s p e c i f i c i t y through which one reports the r e s u l t s . Having developed a developmental and task-oriented frame of reference through which to int e r p r e t the data, and using a subjective, inductive procedure the f i r s t sort was conducted. These r e s u l t s were roughly written up f o r further analysis. During t h i s time, a l i n e a r pattern was expected to be discovered, but r e s u l t s revealed c l u s t e r s of events which pa r t i c i p a n t s experienced at d i f f e r e n t times during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . Subsequent sorts of data and discussions with other researchers, friends, and advisors helped to s o l i d i f y and define the categories u n t i l a l o g i c a l order emerged. Some of these categories revealed a range of adjustment and contextual trends which were important to understanding the r e s u l t s . Then, following the procedure outlined by Flanagan (1954), headings were assigned to the categories. Inter-rater R e l i a b i l i t y Once categories were established and t i t l e d , a r e l i a b i l i t y check was conducted to insure that the 64 categories developed by the researcher made sense to other researchers and to lay individ u a l s who might read the research findings. Andersson and Nilsson (1964) outline the i n t e r - r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y check and have established the guidelines for acceptable l e v e l s of r e l i a b i l i t y . In accordance with the Andersson and Nilsson (1964) procedure, 5% of the cards were given another rat e r . In the case of t h i s study, I used two raters, one a graduate student and one a lay person. In doing t h i s , I hoped to make certai n that the t i t l e s being used to categorize the data were understandable to both the psychologically minded and the general population. The cards used i n these checks were randomly selected by an uninvolved t h i r d person. Each rater took approximately an hour to sort the 23 cards into the categories given to them on work sheets f o r the purpose of recording t h e i r categorization. These work sheets were checked against my categorization and an i n t e r - r a t e r percentage score of 84 was achieved over a l l . Problems i n i n t e r - r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y centred around whether the incidents were long or short term i n nature, and on the f a c t that, i n one case, the information provided on the card was 65 incomplete. Overall, the i n t e r - r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y proved acceptable for studies of t h i s kind. CHAPTER SUMMARY The intention of t h i s chapter was to present information which would allow interested p a r t i e s to understand the process of t h i s research study completely and i n depth. I t began with a des c r i p t i o n of the population and part i c i p a n t s i n the study, continued with an outline of the techniques used, and concluded with a discussion of the phases of the research. I t i s hoped that interested researchers w i l l be encouraged to use the techniques discussed herein to r e p l i c a t e t h i s study and produce other s i m i l a r studies. Further information about the methods used i n t h i s study including information from the main interviews, l i f e l i n e s , demographic questionnaires, and v a l i d i t y checks w i l l be included i n the appendix. In the next chapter the r e s u l t s of the study w i l l be presented. 66 CHAPTER 4 THE RESULTS INTRODUCTION This chapter i s organized into two major segments. In the f i r s t segment a l l categories w i l l be introduced and the eight basic categories w i l l be explained i n further depth. In the second segment of t h i s chapter, the subordinate categories w i l l be completely outlined and explained. The order of theories discussed i s the same as i n the l i t e r a t u r e review. The f i r s t category i s r e l a t e d to leaving school, followed by the developmental tasks of adolescence and adulthood, then basic needs, and f i n a l l y self-concept development, including coping strategies w i l l be discussed. In order to discover what the c r i t i c a l incidents are that hinder and f a c i l i t a t e dropouts' adjustment to l i f e beyond school, 444 c r i t i c a l incidents were i d e n t i f i e d from the l i f e l i n e s of the 21 p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study. These incidents were written on cards, using d i r e c t quotations from the l i f e l i n e s as t i t l e s and quotations from the interviews to provide more information about the event. After a number of sorts of the cards, 8 basic categories and 3 8 subordinate categories seemed to develop from the data c o l l e c t e d . Subsequently, some of the cards which described 67 t h e same event e x p e r i e n c e d by the same p a r t i c i p a n t over a p e r i o d o f t ime , were grouped t o g e t h e r . A f i n a l t o t a l o f 393 c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s a re r e p o r t e d i n t h i s s tudy . C r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s l e a d i n g t o l e a v i n g s c h o o l have been s e p a r a t e d from the remainder o f t h e c a t e g o r i e s as p a r t i c i p a n t s were g i v e n no o p p o r t u n i t y t o d i s c u s s f a c t o r s which h e l p e d them t o remain i n s c h o o l . S i n c e t h e i n t e n t o f t h i s s tudy was t o r e p o r t on the t r a n s i t i o n f o r the se young p e o p l e , t h i s c a t e g o r y p r o v i d e d a c o n t e x t and s t a r t i n g p o i n t f o r t h e r e s e a r c h e r and p a r t i c i p a n t . The f i n d i n g s r e g a r d i n g l e a v i n g s c h o o l a re r e p o r t e d because they a re u s e f u l t o educa to r s i n t h a t they d e s c r i b e some of the u n d e r l y i n g reasons f o r l e a v i n g s c h o o l e a r l y . THE CATEGORIES Of the e i g h t b a s i c c a t e g o r i e s t h a t emerged from t h e da ta c o l l e c t e d , f i v e r e l a t e d t o t h e deve lopmenta l t a s k s o f ado l e s cence and a d u l t h o o d . These b a s i c c a t e g o r i e s i n c l u d e d e s t a b l i s h i n g o n e s e l f as a worker , d e v e l o p i n g a t e n t a t i v e i d e n t i t y , moving out o f home, d e v e l o p i n g an i n t i m a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p and becoming a p a r e n t . The l a r g e s t number o f c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s were c e n t r e d around f u l f i l m e n t o f b a s i c needs. Other c a t e g o r i e s emerged around the development o f a f i r m 68 self-schema and, as discussed e a r l i e r , the act of leaving school early. While some of the categories of events are r e l a t e d to a s p e c i f i c point i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' t r a n s i t i o n , others describe a long term change i n the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experience. As each of the basic constructs are discussed i n t h i s section, they w i l l be defined i n terms of t h e i r s p e c i f i c i t y to one incident. The subordinate categories centred around s p e c i f i c incidents or longer term f e e l i n g s h i f t s described i n the l i f e l i n e . The following table provides information with regard to the categories of events discovered and the frequency of t h e i r occurrence. The i n c l u s i o n of the leaving school category provides useful information based on the experiences of p a r t i c i p a n t s . Although i t was not the goal of the research to discuss events leading to leaving school, p a r t i c i p a n t s , used the leaving school experience to begin t h e i r discussion. 69 TABLE 1 Categories and Frequency of C r i t i c a l Incidents Reported HINDRANCES: FACILITATORS: 1. Leaving school (29) Disconnected 5 Arguments 4 Pushed Out 11 L i f e Choices 7 Peer Problems 2 1. Leaving School (0) 2.Tentative Identity (24) Continuity 13 Separation 11 2.Tentative Identity (40) Mistrust of others 2 Lacks separation 32 Lacks d i r e c t i o n 3 3. Stable Work Hist.(12) Jobs over 6 mos. 12 4. Intimacy (4) Long term pos. 4 5. Moving out (8) Long term home 8 3. Stable Work Hist.(57) Short term jobs 3 6 Unemployed 4 F i r e d / l a i d o f f 7 Q u i t / l a i d o f f 10 4 . Intimacy (19) Short term 16 No rel a t i o n s h i p s 0 Long term neg. 3 5. Moving out (48) Short term homes 38 Running away 6 Expelled f r . home 4 6. Parenthood (81 Pregnancy 6 Live b i r t h s 2 6. Parenthood (4) Miscarriages 3 Abortions 1 7.Needs F u l f i l l e d (47) 1 need f u l f i l l e d 27 Stable p o s i t i v e 17 Growth tendency 3 7.Needs F u l f i l l e d (39) Threat Physiology 8 Threat Safety 8 Threat Belonging 15 Threat Esteem 8 8. Adult Self-Concept(22) 8. Adult Self-Concept(32) Development of 22 Neg. Self-Schema 5 Feared Self 4 Self-Handicapping 23 70 Of the 393 incidents described i n t h i s study, 29 deal with the process of leaving school and so are outside the r e a l focus of t h i s study. Of the 3 64 c r i t i c a l incidents i d e n t i f i e d by par t i c i p a n t s as occurring during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school to entering the YES Canada program, 239 were hindering and 125 were f a c i l i t a t i v e of p a r t i c i p a n t s ' f e e l i n g at home during that time. To discuss t h i s information i n another way, when the category of leaving school i s not included i n the percentages, for every f a c i l i t a t i n g events, there were two incidents that hindered the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' development. For these p a r t i c i p a n t s , l i f e was not easy a f t e r they dropped out of school, and i n many cases, t h e i r very s u r v i v a l i s a mark of t h e i r tenacity and t h e i r courage. The category of leaving school was not included i n the percentage data because i t i s out of the range of the study and because there was no attempt to learn more about events that kept these students i n school. The information about leaving school provides a s t a r t i n g point for the discussion of the t r a n s i t i o n and i s reported simply because i t was gathered by the researcher. The following table outlines by percentage, the incidents reported by the pa r t i c i p a n t s . The percentages, help to make clea r the rel a t i o n s h i p s between the basic categories. The table does not include the 29 incidents which were i d e n t i f i e d by par t i c i p a n t s as contributing to t h e i r early e x i t from school. Following Table 2, the 38 subordinate categories are discussed using information from the p a r t i c i p a n t s 1 t r a n s c r i p t s and l i f e l i n e s . TABLE 2 Basic Categories of Events By Percentages Category; F a c i l i t a t e Hinder Total 1. Leaving School NOT INCLUDED IN PERCENTAGES 2. Tentative Identity 7% 6% 13% 3. Stable Work Hist. 3% 16% 19% 4. Intimacy 1% 5% 6% 5. Moving out 2% 13% 15% 6. Parenthood 2% 1% 3% 7. Needs F u l f i l l e d 13% 11% 24% 8. Adult Self-Concept 6% 9% 15% Totals 34% 66% 100% THE SUBORDINATE CATEGORIES The remainder of t h i s chapter w i l l focus on the s p e c i f i c r e s u l t s of the study as they have been categorized into 38 subordinate categories. In most cases, the subordinate categories have been organized from l e a s t to most p o s i t i v e outcomes. Introductions and conclusions to sections w i l l also a s s i s t the reader to understand the si g n i f i c a n c e of the data presented. CRITICAL INCIDENTS LEADING TO LEAVING SCHOOL Introduction Although each student who leaves school must f i l l out forms on the day they leave school, the l i t e r a t u r e indicates that school leaving i s a process (Larsen & Shertzer, 1987; Price-Waterhouse, 1990; S i n c l a i r & Ghory, 1987). Since every p a r t i c i p a n t was asked to begin his/her story with leaving school, that incident i s common to a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s . However, some par t i c i p a n t s began t h e i r interview with when they had l e f t a regular elementary or high school and then t o l d of subsequent experiences i n alternate schools. These subsequent school leaving experiences are included i n the basic category of leaving school since patterns emerge with some partic i p a n t s over and over again. Five subordinate categories are included within t h i s framework. The subcategories, disconnected or unable to connect with school, arguments with teachers and administrators, pushed out or asked to leave school, had to choose between school and another a c t i v i t y , and c o n f l i c t s or problems with peers at school, w i l l be discussed below. Disconnected With School Five p a r t i c i p a n t s (2 males and 3 females) reported 73 f i v e incidents where they f e l t they had to leave school because they couldn't connect with i t . In one case, the p a r t i c i p a n t was placed i n a grade higher than he should have been and couldn't complete the work load. In the other cases, e s p e c i a l l y when the pa r t i c i p a n t s were returning to an alternate program, the f i r s t month of returning to school was characterized by an attempt to f i t i n and make friends. This was followed by a period of increased absenteeism and f i n a l l y by leaving school. This pattern was present i n a l l three p a r t i c i p a n t s who returned to alternate schools. Arguments With School Personnel Three par t i c i p a n t s , (2 males and 1 female) reported having l e f t school four times due to a c r i t i c a l incident where an argument occurred with a teacher or an administrator. In two cases the pa r t i c i p a n t f e l t unjustly accused by teachers or administrators. In the two other cases, the par t i c i p a n t s f e l t that teachers put them under too much pressure and didn't take them seriously. Although each one of these part i c i p a n t s i d e n t i f i e d a s p e c i f i c incident which "caused" them to leave school, most incidents seemed to be the f i n a l incident i n a process of f r u s t r a t i o n and increasing marginalization for these 74 p a r t i c i p a n t s . This i s r e f l e c t e d i n the content of one par t i c i p a n t ' s description of the incident. "I t o l d my teacher he was an ass hole, you know, and he didn't l i k e that, so I threw the books i n his face and t o l d him where to go and l e f t . . . I had a very bad temperament." The c r i t i c a l incident i s the argument with the teachers, but underlying t h i s i s the s e l f -statement that the pa r t i c i p a n t "Had a very bad temperament." Pushed Out Of School For f i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s , (2 males and 3 females), eleven incidents of f e e l i n g pushed out of school were c i t e d . In two cases, being kicked out of school became a pattern that occurred over and over again. A male par t i c i p a n t , was registered and expelled from school 5 times during the f i r s t 15 months of h i s t r a n s i t i o n period. "I don't think I l i k e d school too much anyways, so i t doesn't hurt me too much to get kicked out." Although i t may be argued that being pushed or kicked out of school, represents a pattern s i m i l a r to that described by those disconnected from school, t h i s pattern d i f f e r s from the former i n that the decision to 75 leave school i s not made by the student. In a l l cases, the p a r t i c i p a n t s indicated that being pushed or kicked out of school was the end point of a process which included absenteeism or the breaking of school r u l e s . Because the decision to leave school was made by an administrator, rather than the student, the f e e l i n g of f a i l u r e i s greater for these p a r t i c i p a n t s . "There was a great sense of f e e l i n g low." Explained one pa r t i c i p a n t "I r e a l l y didn't want to f a i l . " School and L i f e Choices i n C o n f l i c t Our society places a high value on having students complete high school. Sometimes, however, students are forced to make d i f f i c u l t choices between completing school and doing something else important i n t h e i r l i v e s . For 6 female participants, 7 leaving school incidents were pr e c i p i t a t e d by other events i n t h e i r l i v e s . Within t h i s category, there was a wide v a r i e t y of s p e c i f i c incidents. One pa r t i c i p a n t decided to l i v e on the street with the friends she had made, one decided to take care of her a i l i n g father, one l e f t school due to pregnancy and morning sickness, and one found a job. For two parti c i p a n t s , l e g a l b a r r i e r s prevented them from continuing i n school. One pa r t i c i p a n t was 76 forced to choose between l i v i n g with her drug addicted mother or returning to school, and one was t o l d that she could not attend school and continue to support her s e l f with Unemployment Insurance benefits. This same p a r t i c i p a n t was l a t e r denied entry to an upgrading program by Employment and Immigration Canada. Problems With Peers at School For many dropouts, part of not f i t t i n g i n at school revolves around f e e l i n g uncomfortable with the peer group. Since i t i s within the peer group that one f i r s t begins to es t a b l i s h a sense of what i s not me and what i s me, being rejected by peers can cause a serious threat to the development of the dropout's own i d e n t i t y (Erikson, 1968; Kegan, 1982). Two par t i c i p a n t s , both female, mentioned that not f i t t i n g i n with peers was a major reason for leaving school. In the case of one par t i c i p a n t , who was two years older than others i n her grade, she f e l t that she had nothing i n common with her classmates. In the other case, the pa r t i c i p a n t didn't f e e l accepted or popular with her peers. This lack of belongingness led her to begin skipping out and f i n a l l y she l e f t school to l i v e with a male f r i e n d who accepted her. 77 Conclusion School leaving i s a complex process involving the dropout, school a u t h o r i t i e s , peers, and society at large. There seem to be some patterns from which we can learn. E s p e c i a l l y for alternate school students, there appears to be a honeymoon period when they f i r s t return to school. I f we could use t h i s time to reconnect them with the school, i t may have the e f f e c t of keeping them i n school longer. Secondly, i t i s important for a l l educators to recognize the stress f e l t by students, e s p e c i a l l y high r i s k students. They are p a r t i c u l a r l y s e n s i t i v e to d i s c i p l i n e or to i l l thought out comments. While we can not create a school atmosphere where d i s r e s p e c t f u l behaviour by such students i s condoned, perhaps we can create an atmosphere where mutual respect i s encouraged and where win-win c o n f l i c t resolution becomes the norm. Feeling pushed out of the school i s a common complaint of dropouts. Much of the administrator's time seems to be taken up with d i s c i p l i n e and management of troubled students. We need to f i n d ways to change t h i s model so that encouragement for the completion of high school becomes the goal. In addition, we need to work to eliminate the l e g a l 78 b a r r i e r s that make i t d i f f i c u l t for some students, e s p e c i a l l y females, to complete high school. Although educators recognize that students d i f f e r i n l e v e l s of maturity during the high school years (Kegan, 1982), they must also recognize that some students are l i v i n g independently while attending high school. Special services may have to be created to a s s i s t these students to stay i n school. F i n a l l y , educators need to work toward a s s i s t i n g a l l students to b u i l d stronger and more constructive peer r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Even i f major changes are made i n a l l of these areas, some students w i l l leave school before graduating, but perhaps the prevalence rates w i l l be lowered. CRITICAL INCIDENTS FACILTIATING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A TENTATIVE IDENTITY Introduction As was outlined i n the l i t e r a t u r e review, the major task of adolescence i s the formation of a separate i d e n t i t y . Normally t h i s i s c a r r i e d out as an in t e r a c t i v e process where the adolescent immerses him/her s e l f i n the peer culture and decides what of that culture s/he wishes to r e t a i n and what s/he wishes to lose. This i s a contradictory procedure. F i r s t of a l l , one must f e e l accepted and stable i n one's environment, and secondly, one must work to separate oneself from that environment (Kegan, 1982). I t should be noted that as an adolescent task, t h i s development of i d e n t i t y i s tentative (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978) and must be d i f f e r e n t i a t e d from the firm development of a self-schema discussed l a t e r i n these r e s u l t s . C r i t i c a l incidents that f a c i l i t a t e the development of a tentative separate i d e n t i t y , then include those si t u a t i o n s which provide continuity and those which show the development of an independent l i f e . The subcategories i n t h i s section, then include continuity i n work/peer group or family and establishment of a sense of s e l f separate from family or peer group. Continuity i n Work/Peer Group or Family During the l a t e teenage years many young people enter a time when they move in and out of the family home, when the peer group becomes more individuated and friendships become fewer i n number but deeper i n meaning (Erikson, 1968; Kegan, 1982). Part-time or f u l l - t i m e work may sustain the young person during t h i s time and providing consistency and an safe introduction into the adult world. For nine par t i c i p a n t s (4 males and 5 females) 80 t h i r t e e n c r i t i c a l incidents coming early i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school to enroling i n YES Canada, were c i t e d that indicated a continuity i n friendships and i n family r e l a t i o n s h i p s . None of the p a r t i c i p a n t s indicated a continuity of work during t h i s time, although one p a r t i c i p a n t reported working on a correspondence course which she f i n i s h e d and which provided her with consistency during the f i r s t year a f t e r leaving school. Continuation of friendships was reported i n four incidents. Unfortunately, two p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t the friends that they had chosen during t h i s time were not constructive to t h e i r development. "I was involved i n a r e a l l y bad crowd." was the evaluation of one p a r t i c i p a n t . Friendship continuity was not r e s t r i c t e d to human friendship, one p a r t i c i p a n t discussed the importance of her dogs i n giving her a sense of acceptance and s t a b i l i t y . The work of insuring that they were looked a f t e r helped her to develop her i d e n t i t y . Like many young people, s i x p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned moving back home with family members. For a l l but one of the p a r t i c i p a n t s who reported moving i n and out of home during t h e i r early t r a n s i t i o n , the incident 81 occurred when help was needed. "I said l i k e I need help now and boy did I ever need the help and they understood i t . " This family support provided the par t i c i p a n t s with acceptance and s t a b i l i t y , allowing them to understand themselves better. These incidents also helped the young people to make steps into independent adulthood. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that for half of the sample no i n d i c a t i o n was given that there was a re l a t i o n s h i p between the family, and the young person. For these pa r t i c i p a n t s , they either never l e f t the family of o r i g i n during t h e i r early t r a n s i t i o n or had l e f t (or been l e f t ) by the family before they dropped out of school. Separation From Family and Peer Group Contradicting the continuity of the family/peer group and work situations i s the second part of developing an independent i d e n t i t y . From comparing ourselves to the family and peer group we are able to begin b u i l d i n g a sense of who we are that i s d i f f e r e n t from them. Nine parti c i p a n t s (5 males and 4 females) reported eleven incidents of separating from the family or from friends. These incidents also tended to occur early i n the 82 t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school. In 7 cases, the incident centred around a decision point, which required the par t i c i p a n t s to r e f l e c t and evaluate what had happened i n t h e i r l i v e s and to make some decisions about friends and family based on that r e f l e c t i o n . "I'd been thinking t h i s whole 6 months ... I'd been thinking a l o t ... who I didn't need i n my l i f e and what I didn't need i n my l i f e . " or i n the case of another p a r t i c i p a n t "I had some time to myself, I had time to think things through. Try to get some of my values and my morals sunk into my head." This time and i n c l i n a t i o n to r e f l e c t seems important i n i d e n t i t y development. I t i s important to note that a separate i d e n t i t y begins t e n t a t i v e l y and does not emerge quickly. For most of the nine participants who reported r e f l e c t i o n and thoughtfulness about who they were and what they wanted i n t h e i r l i v e s , t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n indicates that they didn't always follow up those decisions with appropriate behaviour. For example, the p a r t i c i p a n t who talked about getting her values together, subsequently began associating with a "bad crowd" and became addicted to cocaine. For her, another time of r e f l e c t i o n occurred two years l a t e r i n her t r a n s i t i o n 83 when she decided to act on her values and her morals. This l a t e r decision point and time of r e f l e c t i o n helped her to e s t a b l i s h a clear and firm adult self-schema rather than a more tentative separate i d e n t i t y . Conclusion Levinson (1978) suggests that i n order to attempt the tasks of adulthood, the youth must f i r s t have developed at least a tentative i d e n t i t y . Other developmental t h e o r i s t s (Erikson, 1968; Kegan, 1982) suggest that a firm i d e n t i t y i s necessary i n order to successfully f u l f i l adult tasks. Given the lack of continuity i n the l i v e s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , i t seems hard to believe that a separate i d e n t i t y , whether tentative or firm, could have been developed. With a c l e a r sense of s e l f , these part i c i p a n t s are expecting themselves to successfully complete adult tasks which require them to assert t h e i r i d e n t i t y i n r e l a t i o n to work, re l a t i o n s h i p s , having a family and moving out of home. CRITICAL INCIDENTS HINDERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF TENTATIVE IDENTITY Introduction While continuity i n the environment and searching f o r the me and the not me i n the environment help to 84 contribute to i d e n t i t y formation, there are a number of factors which are i n d i c a t i v e of not developing a separate i d e n t i t y . These factors, according to Erikson's (1968) theory, emerge from previous unresolved stages of development. Mistrust, lack of autonomy, and lack of d i r e c t i o n are r e s u l t s of poor re s o l u t i o n of stages e a r l i e r than adolescence. Each of these was used as a subcategory i n the data analysis and each i s discussed below. Mistrust of Others Although mistrust of others seems to be evident i n the behaviours of many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , only two p a r t i c i p a n t s (1 male and 1 female) a c t u a l l y expressed t h e i r mistrust of others as a c r i t i c a l incident during t h e i r early t r a n s i t i o n . For one p a r t i c i p a n t , t h i s mistrust extended to a mistrust of r a c i a l groups other than her own. For the second par t i c i p a n t , who documented an abusive family of o r i g i n , h i s mistrust of others became a s u r v i v a l s k i l l which helped him to t h r i v e within the street culture. Later i n h i s t r a n s i t i o n , he saw that t h i s mistrust hindered h i s a b i l i t y to reenter the conventional world. Lack of Separation From the Family of Origin In order to successfully complete the tasks of 85 adulthood, an i n d i v i d u a l must be able to separate him/herself from the family of o r i g i n . For twelve pa r t i c i p a n t s , (4 males and 8 females), gaining autonomy from the family was d i f f i c u l t . P articipants reported a t o t a l of 35 separate c r i t i c a l events i n which they were asked to s a c r i f i c e t h e i r independence, i n t e g r i t y , and s e l f worth for family i n t e r e s t s . For 8 of these 12 p a r t i c i p a n t s , (2 males and 6 females), incidents described and t h e i r l i f e l i n e s show a progressive drive for autonomy. Eventually, these p a r t i c i p a n t s were able to become independent, even though development was somewhat discontinuous, often including times of forced i s o l a t i o n from the family. I t should be noted that during periods of i s o l a t i o n , f e e l i n g s for the p a r t i c i p a n t s were very intense, leading one p a r t i c i p a n t to attempt suicide. Two p a r t i c i p a n t s (1 male and 1 female) chose to cease working on the tasks of adulthood i n order to a s s i s t t h e i r f a m i l i e s . Although one might assume that they would f e e l r e s e n t f u l about t h e i r s i t u a t i o n , because they made the choice, resentment was not present. These part i c i p a n t s f e l t very good about t h e i r decision. A s i m i l a r pattern emerges for these two p a r t i c i p a n t s . After the period of commitment to the 86 family, there i s a negative time where the p a r t i c i p a n t expresses a loss of l i f e ' s meaning. "Everything I did c i r c l e d around my father. I l e f t school because of him, I d i d t h i s because of him and now he's gone.... I mean I didn't lose my father, I l o s t myself." Both pa r t i c i p a n t s expressed the need to figure out who they were a f t e r t h e i r r o l e as family care takers disappeared. For the two remaining p a r t i c i p a n t s , (1 male and 1 female), involvement i n the family of o r i g i n led to a negative time according to t h e i r placement of these incidents on t h e i r l i f e l i n e s . The negativity of t h e i r experience seems due to the resentment they f e l t as they were c a l l e d on to support the family emotionally or keep family secrets. The f a c t that they didn't take on these tasks w i l l i n g l y seemed to take t h e i r energy for the tasks away and make them f e e l more negative about the events. One p a r t i c i p a n t ' s negative state lasted f o r about f i v e and one-half years, u n t i l her mother was reestablished i n her career. T i t l e s on her l i f e l i n e before her mother's career reestablishment r e f l e c t that she sees herself as fused with her mother. Moving her mother's business into the house i s c a l l e d moving shop 8 7 into the house, a loan made by her mother i s refe r r e d to as loan, and stress a r i s i n g from he mother's loan i s refer r e d to as stress. During t h i s part of the interview, I found myself constantly having to c l a r i f y what were c r i t i c a l incidents for her mother and what were c r i t i c a l incidents for her. However, t i t l e s a f t e r her mother i s reestablished i n her career r e f l e c t the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s development (taking a s o c i a l sciences course, working on adult basic grade 12). For these pa r t i c i p a n t s , the lack of awareness regarding over-i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with t h e i r family of o r i g i n has caused delayed development and more negative a f f e c t . For them, autonomy from the family of o r i g i n was not achieved at the time of the main interview, and some adult tasks, l i k e intimacy and parenthood had not yet been considered. A f i n a l point must be made here, regarding gender differences. Since females represented two-thirds of the group that have d i f f i c u l t y separating from the family, i t may be posited that sex-role s o c i a l i z a t i o n operated to encourage young women to be more involved and to give more to the family. While t r a d i t i o n a l l y , females have been expected to nurture and serve the family to a greater extent, i t should be noted that 88 based on the responses of these p a r t i c i p a n t s , while more young women f i n d gaining autonomy d i f f i c u l t , young men are equally as l i k e l y to be deeply committed to family as are young women. Lack of Goal Direction Lack of d i r e c t i o n i s a major aspect of the early t r a n s i t i o n experiences of a number of p a r t i c i p a n t s . For 3 par t i c i p a n t s (2 males and 1 female) periods of boredom or relaxation l a s t i n g over a month were described as c r i t i c a l incidents. These periods were characterized by a lack of focus or d i r e c t i o n i n the pa r t i c i p a n t s ' l i v e s . Conclusion More than hal f of the par t i c i p a n t s have been hindered i n t h e i r development of a separate i d e n t i t y by t h e i r commitment to and over-involvement i n the family of o r i g i n . In addition, mistrust of others and lack of d i r e c t i o n i n l i f e have negative consequences fo r a minority of par t i c i p a n t s . The most devastating b a r r i e r to beginning adult tasks occurs when the p a r t i c i p a n t remains unaware that s/he i s carrying a family burden or secret. Those who are working with dropouts i n t r a n s i t i o n to adulthood need to understand and be sen s i t i v e to the burden that family secrets and duties 89 may place on the young person. CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN MAINTAINING A STABLE WORK HISTORY Introduction As the adolescent moves from high school to l i f e beyond high school, s/he i s faced with a number of l i f e tasks, the f u l f i l m e n t of which has come to s i g n i f y adult adjustment i n our society (Levinson, 1978; Marini, 1984). These tasks, the establishment of a career, an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , a separate residence * and a family, are those which take up the time and the energy of young adults. The accomplishment of these tasks requires at lea s t a tentative, independent sense of s e l f that i s supposed to be established by the end of adolescence (Erikson, 1968; Kegan, 1982). As has been shown i n the previous section, the development of an independent i d e n t i t y i s a f r a g i l e and d i f f i c u l t process for those who leave school early. One could hypothesize, therefore, that these p a r t i c i p a n t s would have d i f f i c u l t y i n undertaking or s a t i s f a c t o r i l y completing the tasks of young adulthood when judged from the context of modern middle class North American society. Career establishment i n young adulthood includes f i g u r i n g out what kind of job one wants to do, where to get t r a i n i n g or experience i n that job, how to obtain information about seeking employment, and f i n a l l y securing an entry l e v e l p o s i t i o n i n the targeted i n t e r e s t area. Successful career development assumes that there w i l l be a pattern of s i m i l a r jobs or that an i n d i v i d u a l w i l l remain i n one job for a period of time. In t h i s category, a range of experiences are presented and successful completion of the adult task i s defined i n terms of the length of time jobs were held by p a r t i c i p a n t s . This approach varies from the Flanagan (1954) where c r i t i c a l incidents are i s o l a t e d . I t however, r e f l e c t s the patterns evident from the l i f e l i n e data and expresses the process of development of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Short Term Jobs Only one p a r t i c i p a n t did not work during the period of t r a n s i t i o n . For the other p a r t i c i p a n t s (10 males and 10 females) 36 short term jobs were considered important enough to be included on the l i f e l i n e . I t should be noted that during the interviews, some pa r t i c i p a n t s mentioned that they had not included i n s i g n i f i c a n t or i l l e g a l work that they had done during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . I f these less s i g n i f i c a n t and 91 i l l e g a l jobs were included, the number of short term jobs would probably be increased s i g n i f i c a n t l y . In the case of f i v e of these jobs, p a r t i c i p a n t s gave few d e t a i l s of the job i t s e l f , often saying l i t t l e more than that i t was "just a job" or i t gave them money to l i v e . Construction or farm labour jobs were held by s i x male pa r t i c i p a n t s amounting to ten jobs i n t o t a l . Restaurant jobs were held by seven pa r t i c i p a n t s , (3 males and 4 females). Male pa r t i c i p a n t s delivered pizzas. One p a r t i c i p a n t worked h i s way up from waiting tables to managing a restaurant fo r a short time. Females were waitresses or helped i n simple food preparation, Three part i c i p a n t s became apprentices, one man an e l e c t r i c a l apprentice and one woman a hair dressing apprentice. The t h i r d p a r t i c i p a n t became an independent businessman i n the construction trades a f t e r f i n i s h i n g h i s apprenticeship. Other jobs included babysitting, warehousing, trucking, and o f f i c e work for women. Men were involved i n r e t a i l sales or were employed i n family businesses. Entry l e v e l jobs are becoming increasingly d i f f i c u l t to obtain and the wage d i f f e r e n t i a l between males and females i n these jobs i s wide. The i n a b i l i t y of most par t i c i p a n t s to stay i n a job longer than s i x months indicates that preparation i s needed fo r early school leavers i n terms of how to secure employment and how to maintain oneself i n a job once one i s found. Unemployed When Work Was Wanted The stress of unemployment has recently been studied by a number of researchers (Borgen & Amundson, 1984; Donovan, et a l . , 1986; Kelvin, 1981; Patton & Noller, 1984). Most of the research indicated that stress can be e s p e c i a l l y high for young people who have not yet established t h e i r careers. However, only three p a r t i c i p a n t s , (1 male and 2 females) reported the stress of unemployment as a negative c r i t i c a l incident on t h e i r l i f e l i n e s . Participants reported f e e l i n g "stressed out," "depressed" and "angry" because they couldn't f i n d work. "So I started f e e l i n g r e a l l y depressed and then I started drinking..." For most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , however, unemployment stress was not widely reported. Most often the p a r t i c i p a n t s would work at short term jobs, have periods of unemployment, and then f i n d other short term jobs. Fired/Laid Off At Employer's Request Being f i r e d or l a i d o f f was experienced by seven pa r t i c i p a n t s (3 males and 4 females) i n seven jobs. 93 Reasons f o r being dismissed ranged from being caught s e l l i n g drugs at work to unavoidable business slow downs. Two partic i p a n t s mentioned being dismissed but gave no further information or reasons. Four of the pa r t i c i p a n t s indicated that they weren't worried about being out of work, because they could c o l l e c t U.I. benefits. Quit/Laid Off At Participant's Request The number of times part i c i p a n t s quit or asked to be l a i d o f f from short term jobs may be i n d i c a t i v e of the a v a i l a b i l i t y of jobs they were seeking, t h e i r r e l a t i v e l y low expectations about those jobs, t h e i r poor work s k i l l s , t h e i r desire not to work for a period of time, or a number of other factors. Eight p a r t i c i p a n t s (4 males and 4 females) mentioned q u i t t i n g t h e i r jobs or asking to be l a i d o f f . Their reasons f o r leaving spanned a wide range of reasons which included wanting more time for the family, problems with the employer, desire to further education goals, and being unable to arrange transportation back to the job s i t e . In t o t a l , ten jobs were l e f t v o l u n t a r i l y by the pa r t i c i p a n t s . Jobs Held Over Six Months For the purposes of t h i s study, long term has been 94 defined as a condition that l a s t s longer than s i x months. This d e f i n i t i o n was arrived at a f t e r analysis of the t r a n s c r i p t s and l i f e l i n e s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s indicated that they defined "a long time" as a few months. Although s i x months may seem a short term commitment to an adult, the restlessness of youth should be recognized as a factor i n t h i s d e f i n i t i o n . In addition, for t h i s group of pa r t i c i p a n t s , l i m i t e d access to jobs, schools, and s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s may contribute to increased i n s t a b i l i t y , as does a h i s t o r y of i n s t a b i l i t y i n the family of o r i g i n . Q uitting school may also reinforce student's subsequent lack of staying power i n other situations, encouraging short range views of the past, present and future (De Charms, 1976). In terms of successfully completing the l i f e task of career establishment for these p a r t i c i p a n t s , employment l a s t i n g longer than s i x months seems a f a i r c r i t e r i o n . Eight p a r t i c i p a n t s (4 males and 4 females) reported staying i n a t o t a l of twelve jobs for over s i x months. Half of those jobs were dead end jobs such as babysitting, restaurant work, warehousing, or r e t a i l sales. One p a r t i c i p a n t held three long term jobs, which led him to a career i n construction and to 95 opening h i s own business. In another case, a serious accident prevented a pa r t i c i p a n t from continuing i n the career d i r e c t i o n he wished to follow. F i n a l l y , one pa r t i c i p a n t worked as a courier but quit that job to look a f t e r her father. Records of the incidents show that i n most cases, the p a r t i c i p a n t s who established long term jobs were conscientious about them. Some took upgrading courses while on the job, some worked long hours, and a l l seemed to have l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t y keeping to a work schedule. Although i n some cases, the jobs f i n i s h e d , i n most cases part i c i p a n t s quit t h e i r long term jobs, often revealing i n the interviews that i n hindsight t h i s had not been a good decision. "So, I qu i t i n August. I'd say that was one of the worst mistakes, I've made." Conclusion Unemployment has been viewed as a s t r e s s f u l l i f e event by many researchers (Amundson, & Borgen, 1987; Borgen & Amundson, 1984; Kelvin, 1981). Although some par t i c i p a n t s were negatively affected by periods of unemployment, most seemed to accept the pattern of having short term jobs and then being unemployed. Less than h a l f the partic i p a n t s (8 out of 21) stayed i n jobs f o r longer than 6 months during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . In terms of the l i f e task of establishing a career, an even smaller number of partic i p a n t s seemed to have enough continuity i n the kind of work they were doing to e s t a b l i s h a career d i r e c t i o n . One would have to examine the economic s i t u a t i o n i n the province c a r e f u l l y i n order to understand why unemployment seems not to a f f e c t these p a r t i c i p a n t s to the extent one would expect from the l i t e r a t u r e . Over the l a s t f i v e years, B.C. has generated large numbers of r e l a t i v e l y u n s k i l l e d jobs i n the h o s p i t a l i t y and tourism industries. Perhaps the r e l a t i v e l y large number of jobs i n these industries has taken the stress o f f of those at the lower end of the job market. However, from the information presented by these pa r t i c i p a n t s , i t i s clear that they are f a i l i n g to develop the kind of career d i r e c t i o n that i s expected of them as young adults. Being without long term employment may severely e f f e c t t h e i r a b i l i t y to s o c i a l i z e and develop intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s , a f f o r d to move out of home, and est a b l i s h a family of t h e i r own. If we are committed to helping a l l young people to successfully e s t a b l i s h themselves i n a career area, we must develop programs to a s s i s t early school leavers to 97 understand and develop a sense of career continuity. CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN ESTABLISHING INTIMACY Introduction The development of adult intimacy i s confusing for many modern young people. Many of them have come to confuse intimacy with sexual experience and a c t i v i t y . The developmental t h e o r i s t s (Erikson, 1968; Gould, 1978; Levinson, 1978) provide us with a d e f i n i t i o n of intimacy which i s not r e s t r i c t e d to sexuality. Within the parameters of successful completion of the adult task of building an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , they argued, one would hope to observe re l a t i o n s h i p s of shared b e l i e f s , values and interests which develop over time to include sexuality. For many of the part i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study, e s p e c i a l l y for the females, sexual encounters occur with frequency. Sometimes these encounters are considered intimate by the par t i c i p a n t , and sometimes not. In order for a r e l a t i o n s h i p to be defined as intimate within the bounds of t h i s study, i t must be s i g n i f i c a n t enough to be included on the l i f e l i n e , and i t must be sexual rather than platonic i n nature. Again, i t should be noted that the i s o l a t i o n of incidents used by Flanagan, (1954) i s being s a c r i f i c e d 98 here to better understand the developmental process experienced by p a r t i c i p a n t s . To maintain consistency with the d e f i n i t i o n s of long term and short term jobs established e a r l i e r i n t h i s chapter, relationships are considered long term i f they l a s t longer than s i x months. This d e f i n i t i o n as also intended to approach the d e f i n i t i o n s of the developmental t h e o r i s t s (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978), although further study would be needed to assess feel i n g s of intimacy for these p a r t i c i p a n t s . Negative and p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s are defined by the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s l i f e l i n e drawing. Negative re l a t i o n s h i p s cause the l i f e l i n e to drop fo r most of the duration of the r e l a t i o n s h i p , and p o s i t i v e ones cause the l i f e l i n e to stay stationary or to improve over the time of the r e l a t i o n s h i p . Short Term Relationships As with the data c o l l e c t e d concerning employment patterns, many more partic i p a n t s reported having short term r e l a t i o n s h i p s . These were more often characterized by sexual contact than by the deep understanding and commitment to the partner which characterize adult intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Seven female and three male participants discussed sixteen d i f f e r e n t short term re l a t i o n s h i p s . As with the data c o l l e c t e d on short term jobs, some pa r t i c i p a n t s indicated that there had been other r e l a t i o n s h i p s of l i t t l e s i g n i f i c a n c e that were not entered on the l i f e l i n e . Short term rel a t i o n s h i p s were described i n a number of ways. Some contacts were made at bars and lasted a short time. Some were deeply s i g n i f i c a n t although short term. Feelings at the end of these re l a t i o n s h i p s ran from one extreme to the other. One pa r t i c i p a n t expressed r e l i e f "That was a r e a l l y high point i n my l i f e because I started doing things for myself instead of for other people." One p a r t i c i p a n t f e l t " l i k e somebody kicked me i n the gut." when she learned that the re l a t i o n s h i p was ended. The v a r i e t y i n these re l a t i o n s h i p s , l i k e the var i e t y i n the reports of short term jobs, may be the r e s u l t of experimentation or to the lack of s t a b i l i t y i n the l i v e s of these p a r t i c i p a n t s . Without information from cohorts who have not dropped out of school, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to t e l l whether the par t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study had more short term rel a t i o n s h i p s than the norm. 100 No Reported Relationships Of the part i c i p a n t s , 8 (6 males and 2 females) did not discuss intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Two male par t i c i p a n t s mentioned that they had wanted to es t a b l i s h a re l a t i o n s h i p , but t h e i r l i f e l i n e s did not show that they had ever succeeded i n doing so. Five of the p a r t i c i p a n t s who didn't report a r e l a t i o n s h i p , held long term jobs. One wonders whether the energy put into f i n d i n g and maintaining work l e f t these pa r t i c i p a n t s unable to work concurrently at esta b l i s h i n g a re l a t i o n s h i p . One par t i c i p a n t , who was very involved i n family struggles, had neither r e l a t i o n s h i p or job during her t r a n s i t i o n . Again, i t can be speculated that the over-involvement with her family l e f t her no energy or time to invest i n work or other r e l a t i o n s h i p s . I t i s d i f f i c u l t to assess why more than h a l f of the male partic i p a n t s i n the study did not report having a r e l a t i o n s h i p . Perhaps men were more hesitant to discuss t h e i r relationships with a female interviewer, perhaps they did not es t a b l i s h any re l a t i o n s h i p . One can also speculate that sex-role s o c i a l i z a t i o n of men makes them less l i k e l y to think about forming rel a t i o n s h i p s u n t i l other adult tasks are 101 successfully accomplished. A drawback of using a c r i t i c a l incident method i s that we have no information about incidents that p a r t i c i p a n t s didn't think c r i t i c a l . Did the male par t i c i p a n t s j u s t forget to t e l l the interviewer about relationships? We cannot know unless another data c o l l e c t i o n method i s used. Long Term Negative Relationships Negative rel a t i o n s h i p s r e s u l t i n g i n physical abuse were reported by three female p a r t i c i p a n t s . In one case the p a r t i c i p a n t was abandoned by her male f r i e n d a f t e r she became pregnant. "And then when he l e f t and he took a l l my hopes with him." In the second case, the p a r t i c i p a n t was married and the r e l a t i o n s h i p took almost two years to reach the point of physical abuse, whereupon the p a r t i c i p a n t took her daughter and l e f t her husband. In the f i n a l case, the abuse began immediately a f t e r the p a r t i c i p a n t became involved with her male f r i e n d and continued for more than two years u n t i l the time of the interview. "So i t was security and so I went back to him. So from that time i t ' s been l i k e he h i t s me and he won't l e t me go out and he says I don't dress wel l . " The pa r t i c i p a n t s reported a number of c r i t i c a l incidents during which the l i f e l i n e would drop. Half 102 of the reported incidents brought the pa r t i c i p a n t s to minus 10, which was the lowest point on the l i f e l i n e . This point was described by the researcher as being the worst point one could imagine, where l i f e was hopeless. For two of the pa r t i c i p a n t s , suicide attempts were made af t e r the abusive incidents they described. Long Term Po s i t i v e Relationships Three female parti c i p a n t s discussed four r e l a t i o n s h i p s that were both long term and p o s i t i v e . One p a r t i c i p a n t married, one had recently moved i n with her male fr i e n d , and one l e f t a long term p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p with a male f r i e n d when she r e a l i z e d she was a lesbian. Subsequently, she moved i n with her female lover. A l l of these part i c i p a n t s outlined a number of p o s i t i v e incidents involving t h e i r partners. In a l l of these cases, the par t i c i p a n t s reported sharing common interes t s , b e l i e f s , and values with t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n t others. The commitment to work through differences which arose between the partners was also reported by research p a r t i c i p a n t s . For these three female pa r t i c i p a n t s , an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , as i t i s defined by the developmental t h e o r i s t s (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978) seems to have emerged. 103 Conclusion For f i v e of eleven female pa r t i c i p a n t s , long term negative or long term p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s were formed during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school to entering the YES Canada program. One p a r t i c i p a n t established both a negative and a p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p during t h i s time. On the other hand, four of ten male and one of eleven female parti c i p a n t s reported no r e l a t i o n s h i p s during t r a n s i t i o n . About h a l f of the p a r t i c i p a n t s described one or more short term r e l a t i o n s h i p s . These rela t i o n s h i p s tended to be defined i n primarily sexual terms rather than i n terms of in-depth intimacy described by Erikson (1968) and Levinson (1978). Only three female p a r t i c i p a n t s seemed to e s t a b l i s h intimate p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s . CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN MOVING OUT OF HOME Introduction The establishment of a permanent residence away from the family of o r i g i n i s , l i k e the establishment of a career and r e l a t i o n s h i p , an important task of young adulthood. For many young adults, t h i s process involves moving back and f o r t h from the independent residence to the parent's home. This pattern of going away from the family and being able to return to i t 104 from time to time i s an e s s e n t i a l part of the process. As i n the creation of an independent i d e n t i t y , (Kegan, 1982), the young person needs to f e e l secure enough to experiment and to return should things get too d i f f i c u l t i n the outside world. Again, to maintain consistency with the work and r e l a t i o n s h i p s categories, a long term residence i s considered to be one l i v e d i n for longer than s i x months. I t i s important to note that e s t a b l i s h i n g a long term residence does not imply that p a r t i c i p a n t s l i v e d on t h e i r own. For most pa r t i c i p a n t s , long term residences were established with roommates, friends, or, i n some cases, more distant family members such as aunts and uncles. Again, i t also needs to be stressed that the l i f e l i n e was used to e s t a b l i s h the length of time i n p a r t i c u l a r residences rather than the points i n time outlined by c r i t i c a l incidents. Short Term Residences As might be expected from the pattern set by p a r t i c i p a n t s i n tending toward short term jobs and short term rel a t i o n s h i p s , the majority of the p a r t i c i p a n t s reported having several short term residences away from home. Fourteen p a r t i c i p a n t s (6 males and 8 females) reported moving a t o t a l of 38 105 times during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . In each of these cases, the p a r t i c i p a n t stayed i n the new residence less than 6 months, sometimes moving back to the family of o r i g i n , sometimes on to another short term residence, or sometimes on to a longer term residence. A wide var i e t y of l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n s were described by the p a r t i c i p a n t s , including moving i n with s i g n i f i c a n t others, roommates, l i v i n g alone, house s i t t i n g , l i v i n g i n hotel rooms, and l i v i n g communally. Two male parti c i p a n t s moved back and f o r t h between the lower mainland and other points i n B.C., where they stayed with other family members, or with friends. During t h e i r discussions of these periods i n t h e i r l i v e s , they seemed to have been caught between c i t y and country l i f e or between r i v a l factions i n t h e i r f a m i l i e s of o r i g i n . One female p a r t i c i p a n t reported moving eight times i n less than three years, although she maintained that her l i f e was stable and quiet during t h i s time. Despite the number of short term residences reported and the var i e t y of l i v i n g arrangements described, l i v i n g on t h e i r own for any length of time helped the pa r t i c i p a n t s to es t a b l i s h t h e i r independence. " I t was a l l r i g h t , I started l i v i n g my 106 own l i f e , ..." The longer the time spent away from the family of o r i g i n and the more stable the l i v i n g arrangement, the more able the par t i c i p a n t s seemed to assert t h e i r independence. P a r t i c u l a r l y f o r the par t i c i p a n t s who were unable to f i n d s t a b i l i t y i n t h e i r family, moving out on t h e i r own helped them to provide the s t a b i l i t y they needed to grow. Running; Away From the Family of Origin Four p a r t i c i p a n t s ( 1 male and 3 female) ran away from family c o n f l i c t s by moving out of the family home either with or without the parent's knowledge. In two cases, the move was a short term response to a c r i s i s . In the two other cases, p a r t i c i p a n t s ran away from the family because of repeated sexual or emotional abuse to which they were subject. A l l but one of these pa r t i c i p a n t s returned to the family home a f t e r running away. Expelled From the Family Home Three females part i c i p a n t s and one male pa r t i c i p a n t were evicted from the family home by t h e i r parents. In two cases, arguments occurred between mothers and t h e i r daughters which resulted i n the daughters being asked to leave the home. In both of these cases, the partic i p a n t s f e l t upset about having 107 to leave. "Well my mom and I were always f i g h t i n g and I was getting kicked out of the house and she was always t e l l i n g me I was a bum and I was no good..." S i t u a t i o n a l dilemmas arose for the other two p a r t i c i p a n t s . In one case, the father r e a l i z e d he could no longer support h i s sons and so made provisions for the younger son, while asking the older son, the p a r t i c i p a n t , to move out. F i n a l l y , one parent arranged a t r i p to Toronto for her daughter a f t e r learning that her daughter was addicted to cocaine. Establishment of a Long Term Residence For seven part i c i p a n t s (1 male and 6 females) s e t t i n g up of a residence away from the parents was i d e n t i f i e d as a c r i t i c a l event. Two p a r t i c i p a n t s moved i n with other members of the family for longer than s i x months and reported that t h i s move helped them to sort out t h e i r p r i o r i t i e s . Two p a r t i c i p a n t s who had l i v e d i n group homes af t e r being with t h e i r parents set up t h e i r own apartments. Two other p a r t i c i p a n t s moved away from the towns or c i t i e s where they had gone to school and where t h e i r parents l i v e d i n order to escape from the family and/or the community. F i n a l l y , one p a r t i c i p a n t found a compatible roommate and moved with that roommate a number of times. 108 In a l l of these cases, the s t a b i l i t y of having a long term residence was recognized and appreciated by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The l i f e l i n e s indicated that the establishment of long term residences led p a r t i c i p a n t s to have stable p o s i t i v e times. This i n turn enabled p a r t i c i p a n t s to understand and r e f l e c t upon themselves as they l i v e d on t h e i r own and became responsible for themselves. "Well, I was f e e l i n g sort of better about myself. I was getting my l i f e on track again, planning i t out. I wanted to...set up my goals again." Conclusion While establishing a residence on one's own i s an important part of growing up, i t can also be a d i f f i c u l t task for some young people. L i v i n g costs have r i s e n at a rapid rate over the l a s t f i v e years, e s p e c i a l l y i n Vancouver. Although only one-third of the p a r t i c i p a n t s reported establishing long term residences separate from the family of o r i g i n , many described short term residences that helped them to e s t a b l i s h independence. Many of the residences p a r t i c i p a n t s described were i l l - k e p t and unclean, and i t must be recognized that the housing c r i s i s i n the lower mainland hinders the a b i l i t y of these p a r t i c i p a n t s to successfully maintain a home on t h e i r own. Independent l i v i n g s k i l l s have not been taught to these young people and so the young person i s l e f t to do the best s/he can on her/his own. The s t a b i l i t y of a permanent residence i s important i n the development of independence fo r the young adult (Marini, 1984). For many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s group of dropouts, stable l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n s and relationships were not experienced i n t h e i r family of o r i g i n and so e s t a b l i s h i n g a separate residence i s p a r t i c u l a r l y c r i t i c a l i n order to bring s t a b i l i t y into t h e i r l i v e s . Participants report that independent l i v i n g programs which help them to learn l i f e s k i l l s were p a r t i c u l a r l y useful i n helping them to achieve s t a b i l i t y and independence. CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN PARENTHOOD Introduction In mainstream society, the young adult develops a sense of s e l f , then establishes an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , and, i f heterosexual, gets married. The f i n a l adult task i s to begin a family (Erikson, 1968; Marini, 1984). For t h i s group of early school leavers, the developmental pattern i s d i f f e r e n t . None of the male pa r t i c i p a n t s reported having long term intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s , getting married, or s t a r t i n g a family. Half of the female par t i c i p a n t s , on the other hand, experienced at least one pregnancy. Being pregnant was not correlated with nor necessarily follow the establishment of an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p . Pregnancy Six pregnancies were reported by f i v e female p a r t i c i p a n t s . In f i v e cases, the fathers were not consulted i n choosing to terminate or continue the pregnancy. However, i n f i v e cases, the decision about terminating the pregnancy was well thought out and a l l options were considered. "I didn't know what to do...I was adopted when I was a baby, so my f i r s t thought was d e f i n i t e l y , I'm keeping i t . . . . I can't keep i t , I don't have the money, I'm on welfare r i g h t now....Maybe I ' l l get an abortion and then I thought no...." Two par t i c i p a n t s considered suicide as an a l t e r n a t i v e to deciding about whether or not to have the c h i l d . Miscarriages Three pregnancies ended i n miscarriages, one a f t e r an abortion appointment had been scheduled. The par t i c i p a n t began drinking and partying because she didn't care about the baby anymore: "Nobody cares about me, so why should I care about something inside me?" In another case, the miscarriage occurred early i n the pregnancy, while the pa r t i c i p a n t was running away from home. This p a r t i c i p a n t hadn't yet considered whether she wanted to have the baby or not. The f i n a l p a r t i c i p a n t ' s miscarriage occurred at almost f u l l term when the pa r t i c i p a n t had already decided to keep the baby. S t i l l , she considered i t a r e l i e f . "I wasn't even going to think about that anymore. I t was a l l over and done with." Abortions One abortion was reported, although at least one other pregnant p a r t i c i p a n t mentioned that she had had one abortion before deciding to keep her c h i l d . In the case of the one abortion, the pa r t i c i p a n t and her mother were brought closer together because her mother supported her decision to terminate the pregnancy. Live b i r t h s Two daughters were born to two female p a r t i c i p a n t s during the t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school to entering YES Canada. In both cases, the babies were wanted by t h e i r mothers and having them changed the pa r t i c i p a n t ' s behaviour patterns. In one case, the p a r t i c i p a n t spent her pregnancy looking for a husband with whom she could s e t t l e down. Although her marriage eventually ended i n separation, she continued to seek a partner who would 112 provide a stable family s e t t i n g for her daughter and her s e l f . In the second case, the daughter was welcomed by the mother because she f u l f i l l e d the pa r t i c i p a n t ' s need for love. "Having a c h i l d . Having somebody who I know loves me for who I am and what I am and i s n ' t going to be a l l judgemental towards me." This p a r t i c i p a n t also began to s e t t l e down and take better care of herself so that she could protect her daughter. Conclusion Even though these part i c i p a n t s may not have a well developed sense of s e l f , and have not successfully established an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , they tended to seriousl y consider whether they wanted childre n or not. For a l l f i v e of these par t i c i p a n t s , t h i s decision was the f i r s t reported decision where a l l options were considered. The two partic i p a n t s who became mothers found t h e i r l i v e s permanently changed. Both young women consider t h e i r respective daughter's welfare as well as t h e i r own when making decisions. CONCLUSION: LIFE TASKS OF ADULTHOOD Those who leave high school before graduation have d i f f i c u l t y successfully achieving a career, e s t a b l i s h i n g an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , and maintaining a residence away from the family of o r i g i n . They also 113 experience a d i f f e r e n t t r a n s i t i o n to parenthood than i s theorized by the developmental t h e o r i s t s (Erikson, 1968; Levinson, 1978). From the s t o r i e s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , i t i s obvious that they expressed the same desires for achieving adult tasks as do t h e i r graduating cohorts. I t i s cl e a r from the number of incidents described, that they expend a great deal of energy i n t h e i r attempts to achieve them. However, without basic s t a b i l i t y and security, such as offered by the families of those who graduate from high school, most dropouts are unable to adequately complete the l i f e tasks of adulthood. CRITICAL INCIDENTS HINDERING FULFILMENT OF BASIC NEEDS Introduction Maslow, (1954; 1962) developed a hierarchy of needs, i n which he theorized that u n t i l an i n d i v i d u a l had t h e i r lower l e v e l needs met, they cannot have the security and s t a b i l i t y to consider higher l e v e l or growth needs. In the l i t e r a t u r e o u t l i n i n g the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts, (Gadwa & Griggs, 1985; Su l l i v a n , 1988), i t seems that basic needs have not been met by the family of o r i g i n . When these lower l e v e l needs are not adequately met, Maslow (1954; 1962) argued, the i n d i v i d u a l becomes t o t a l l y involved i n 114 meeting those needs i n the best way s/he knows how. Insight into how p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study met or did not meet t h e i r lower l e v e l needs w i l l help us to understand t h e i r coping behaviour more f u l l y . Threats to Physiological Needs The most basic of these lower l e v e l needs i s the need to l i v e . Within the context of western i n d u s t r i a l society, we tend to assume that a l l i n d i v i d u a l s are able to feed themselves, clothe themselves, and l i v e i n decent shelter. Unfortunately, s i x p a r t i c i p a n t s (5 males and 1 female) had t h e i r p h y s i o l o g i c a l needs threatened from either i n t e r n a l or external forces during the course of t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . Internal threats to the l i f e of p a r t i c i p a n t s came i n the form of suicide attempts which were made by about h a l f of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Attempts at suicide were often mentioned i n the course of the interview but not marked as c r i t i c a l incidents on p a r t i c i p a n t ' s l i f e l i n e . However, two pa r t i c i p a n t s (1 male and 1 female) repeatedly attempted suicide. For one p a r t i c i p a n t , the f i n a l suicide attempt was a major change point i n h i s l i f e , and although he has now been diagnosed with a terminal i l l n e s s , he i s o p t i m i s t i c about l i v i n g on. In the other case, the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s l i f e l i n e continues 115 to be unstable and suicide continues to be a consideration for her. Another pa r t i c i p a n t ' s l i f e was threatened by external circumstances surrounding h i s job. This p a r t i c i p a n t l e f t t h i s job a f t e r having a close c a l l and ending up on compensation benefits. "Jobs, I took a new meaning to them as i n dangerous and not dangerous." For these par t i c i p a n t s , merely being a l i v e i n the face of these threats was an accomplishment. Two other part i c i p a n t s reported d i f f i c u l t i e s i n getting good food. One stayed i n an empty apartment bui l d i n g where there was no food, and the other i n an old house where the food i n the fridge was s t a l e and rotten. Although both of these p a r t i c i p a n t s were able to return home af t e r experiencing the threat to t h e i r basic need to l i v e , they reported that t h e i r experiences not having hunger needs met had made them less sure of t h e i r a b i l i t y to survive i n the world. These threats to phys i o l o g i c a l needs were not concentrated at one point i n the part i c i p a n t s • t r a n s i t i o n period. Some partic i p a n t s experienced threats to t h e i r p h y s i o l o g i c a l needs throughout t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n and into t h e i r time at YES Canada. One par t i c i p a n t , f o r example, reported that he would have 116 to leave the program because he and h i s mother had been evicted. Unless he went out and found work, they would have no place to l i v e f or the remainder of the month. Threats to Safety Needs To be safe i n our own homes i s another important basic need that i s often taken for granted by many i n our society. The need for physical safety, and, Maslow (1954; 1962) argued, the need for s t a b i l i t y and security as a c h i l d i n the family was not met i n a number of the partici p a n t ' s s t o r i e s . Five p a r t i c i p a n t s (1 male and 4 females) reported clear and consistent threats to t h e i r safety and s t a b i l i t y during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . Three pa r t i c i p a n t s explained that being taken into care often means a lack of safety and s t a b i l i t y . "When I came back my clothes would be gone," one young woman reported about her experience i n a group home. Another p a r t i c i p a n t talked about "Being tossed around from group home to foster home." Although some foster homes and group homes provide s t a b i l i t y f or ind i v i d u a l s r e s i d i n g i n them, the reports of these p a r t i c i p a n t s indicate that most seem to add to the chaos of being an unsure adolescent. Threats to security of the home due to v i o l e n t 117 behaviour was apparent i n the cases of the three p h y s i c a l l y abusive relationships mentioned e a r l i e r and i n the s t o r i e s of two other female p a r t i c i p a n t s . One p a r t i c i p a n t was beaten up by a family f r i e n d . "He woke up and t r i e d to get h i s way with me and he punched out my front teeth." The p a r t i c i p a n t ' s brother encouraged hi s f r i e n d to " . . . h i t her again, she deserves i t . " Another p a r t i c i p a n t and her family f e l t threatened by neighbours. Threats to Beloncrinorness and Love North American society believes that i t i s up to the parents and the family to protect c h i l d r e n from threats to p h y s i o l o g i c a l and safety needs. Once those needs fo r protection and safety are met, however, there i s much more controversy about what i s a family and what i s a s o c i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i n insuring that other basic needs are met. The need for belongingness and love and for self-esteem are f u l f i l l e d within both the family and i n the society at large. Eight p a r t i c i p a n t s (4 males and 4 females) recounted f i f t e e n incidents which were threatening to t h e i r f e e l i n g s of being accepted and loved by s i g n i f i c a n t others. Seven incidents involved parents or those who were i n custodial care of the 118 p a r t i c i p a n t s . Three of these incidents centred around being d i s c i p l i n e d . Although the par t i c i p a n t s only presented t h e i r side of the story, i t was clea r that they were affected by the i s o l a t i o n from those for whom they cared. 11 I just didn't have anywhere to stay really...my family ganged up on me." In one case love between a foster father and the pa r t i c i p a n t was threatened when the pa r t i c i p a n t was d i s c i p l i n e d and another resident of the foster home reported the beating to the Ministry. Rejection or i s o l a t i o n by parents also threatened the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s feelings of love and acceptance. " I said l i s t e n dad I'm r e a l l y hurting...he came home and while he was t a l k i n g to me he was changing and then he went out again and I said to h e l l with you..." For another pa r t i c i p a n t , although h i s mother had placed him i n a foster home, she refused to sign the adoption papers when the partici p a n t • s foster parents wanted to adopt him. "When my mom said that she wouldn't sign i t , a l l three of us, [participant and two foster parents] i t was l i k e the love that we had a l l cracked. Like i t was the happiness that I had was ju s t shot out the window." After t h i s incident which sent h i s l i f e l i n e from the most p o s i t i v e (+10) to the most negative 119 (-10), he f e l t h i s only choice was to l i v e and work on the s t r e e t s . One female p a r t i c i p a n t found acceptance i n the "wrong crowd" even though her parents t r i e d to keep her meeting "People who l i v e d with t h e i r parents l i k e normal people, r i g h t . " Later when the same p a r t i c i p a n t was incarcerated i n an open-custody centre, she was barred from receiving the birthday g i f t s her mother sent to her. Although one can understand the security implications of allowing foreign objects into a j a i l , the p a r t i c i p a n t f e l t hurt by not being able to accept these symbols of love and support from her mother. Four p a r t i c i p a n t s had t h e i r needs f o r acceptance and love threatened by friends, lovers, or partners of t h e i r parents. One female p a r t i c i p a n t ' s need for acceptance by her mother was threatened when a new man fr i e n d came into her mother's l i f e . "I had trouble getting to know him, so that was kind of depressing." Two pa r t i c i p a n t s f e l t out of place with o l d friends or with the peer group of which they had once f e l t a part. One p a r t i c i p a n t f e l t betrayed when h i s lover refused to t e l l him that he [the lover] was dying. Feelings of love and belongingness are not only a v a i l a b l e from other people, but also from pets. For 120 two p a r t i c i p a n t s , the deaths of t h e i r animals was traumatic and threatened t h e i r sense of love and belongingness. "And he was my baby....It was always knowing that my cat was going to be there was a security blanket and when I l o s t him I ju s t f e l l apart." In both cases, the lack of understanding from human friends exacerbated t h e i r feelings of loss . Threats to Self-Esteem Needs Poor self-esteem i s a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of many dropouts (Dropping Out. 1990; Larter, & Eason, 1978; Sul l i v a n , 1988; Young, & Reich, 1974). Many of the dropouts i n t h i s study have not held themselves i n high esteem and, therefore, threats to t h e i r f r a g i l e s e l f -regard are p a r t i c u l a r l y damaging. Seven p a r t i c i p a n t s (5 males and 2 females) experienced incidents that threatened t h e i r p o s i t i v e views of themselves. Four of the partic i p a n t s (2 males and 2 females) threats to self-esteem came from poor performance i n school programs. One pa r t i c i p a n t went through a high school graduation ceremony but then never graduated, one was forced to transfer into an easier program i n techni c a l school and then nearly f a i l e d the easier course. Another student who was highly motivated to go on i n school, found i t d i f f i c u l t to complete the 121 necessary lessons i n the time available to her. F i n a l l y , one pa r t i c i p a n t reported having quit a previous cycle of the YES Canada program. "I r e a l l y , r e a l l y , f e l t r e a l l y bad about myself and s t u f f , f or not being able to do i t . " For three other part i c i p a n t s other factors threatened t h e i r esteem. One pa r t i c i p a n t was unable to pay a car loan, one was unable to f i n d a job, and another was not accepted by h i s female friend's family. "They just c r i t i c i z e d me to death. They went crazy and they said we don't want you near him." These incidents were a l l reported as making the par t i c i p a n t s f e e l bad about themselves. Conclusion Many of the partic i p a n t s i n t h i s study have been hindered i n t h e i r development by the i n a b i l i t y to get even t h e i r most basic needs properly met. I f these lower l e v e l needs are not provided for i n the family of o r i g i n , i t leaves the young adult i l l - p r e p a r e d to be successful at achieving adult l i f e tasks. Although s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s cannot be held accountable when the family i s unable or unprepared to meet the lower l e v e l needs of t h e i r children, the importance of meeting the basic s u r v i v a l needs must be recognized. I f society i s 122 concerned about a l l i n d i v i d u a l s meeting t h e i r p o t e n t i a l , (Maslow, 1954; 1962), then our s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s must support and meet dropout's lower l e v e l needs. CRITICAL INCIDENTS FACILITATING NEEDS FULFILMENT. Introduction The early school leavers who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n t h i s study have been less able than t h e i r cohorts to form a strong independent i d e n t i t y such as that outlined by Erikson (1968). They have also shown an i n a b i l i t y , i n most cases, to begin a career, e s t a b l i s h an intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p , or move out on t h e i r own. Parenthood does not emerge out of a long term stable heterosexual r e l a t i o n s h i p , but out of heterosexual encounters often with males who were not even named. S t i l l , these part i c i p a n t s have survived l i f e experiences that would exhaust the resources of many more protected young people. Survival has not been taken for granted by most of these p a r t i c i p a n t s , instead i t has become a d a i l y struggle. For these dropouts, the f u l f i l m e n t of needs provides some reward and encouragement to face adult l i f e tasks. Incidents Where One Lower Level Need Was Met Maslow's (1954; 1962) theory notes that once a 123 need has been met, the person ceases to t a l k about that s p e c i f i c need. When analyzing the c r i t i c a l incidents offered by partic i p a n t s i n terms of basic s u r v i v a l needs being met, i t i s in t e r e s t i n g to note that no par t i c i p a n t s discussed the meeting of ph y s i o l o g i c a l needs. I f we accept Maslow 1s (1954; 1962) theory, we can surmise that a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s are currently having t h e i r p h y s i o l o g i c a l needs met. Of the 21 parti c i p a n t s , 14 (7 males and 7 females) reported 27 incidents where t h e i r needs for safety, belongingness, and self-esteem were f i l l e d . So i t should be noted that for the majority of pa r t i c i p a n t s , there were times during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n where basic needs were threatened and times when they were met. Even t h i s inconsistent meeting of needs motivated pa r t i c i p a n t s to work on adult l i f e tasks. One p a r t i c i p a n t mentioned two incidents where she was kept from harm. In the f i r s t instance, a f t e r having an abortion, her mother r e a l i z e d that the pa r t i c i p a n t was addicted to cocaine, and her mother provided her with a safe and stable home. "She brought me back into the house and showed me ... and b a s i c a l l y gave me back a l i f e . " Three months l a t e r , though, when her mother asked her to leave home, the p a r t i c i p a n t 124 moved i n with a g i r l f r i e n d and was informally adopted by that family. Her f r i e n d kept her away from drugs and alcohol and "She helped me straighten out my l i f e . " Expressions of acceptance and love were experienced by 11 parti c i p a n t s (5 males and 6 females) recorded i n 18 separate incidents. Feeling accepted by friends and co-workers constituted 11 of the c r i t i c a l incidents. For three part i c i p a n t s t h i s occurred while they were l i v i n g on the downtown streets. " A l l these s t r e e t people, I belonged with them and I l i k e d them and I f i t i n and i t was wonderful." For other p a r t i c i p a n t s just finding a f r i e n d or renewing old friendships made them f e e l loved and accepted. Families or foster parents reinforced the par t i c i p a n t s sense of belongingness i n seven reported incidents. Being accepted into the foster family and being taught how to drive provided an important sense of belonging for one pa r t i c i p a n t . For three other p a r t i c i p a n t s , g i f t s given to them at Christmas or on birthdays symbolized love and a f f e c t i o n from parents. One p a r t i c i p a n t reported that when h i s s i s t e r ' s friends accepted him, he began to f e e l better about himself. "I r e a l l y appreciated those guys." Reinforcement of self-esteem occurred for seven 125 p a r t i c i p a n t s (3 males and 4 f e m a l e s ) , a l l o w i n g them t o b u i l d on the s t r e n g t h s t h a t they were a l r e a d y a t t r i b u t i n g t o themse lve s . S e l f - e s t e e m boos t s came from h a v i n g b race s removed from t e e t h , from a f a v o u r a b l e e v a l u a t i o n , and a r a i s e i n pay a t work, and from j u s t f e e l i n g a t home. Courses and programs p r o v i d e d a boos t i n s e l f - e s t e e m f o r f o u r p a r t i c i p a n t s , a l l o f whom f i n i s h e d the programs they s e t out t o comp le te . One p a r t i c i p a n t , i n summing up the e f f e c t o f t h e YES Canada program, f o r example, s a i d , "I l ook a t myse l f as somebody who i s v e r y s t r a i g h t , d e c e n t , h e ' s got r e s p e c t f o r p r e t t y w e l l everybody as l ong as t hey have r e s p e c t f o r h i m . " T w o - t h i r d s o f the p a r t i c i p a n t s , r e p o r t e d some i n c i d e n t s t h a t were p o s i t i v e i n n a t u r e . These i n c i d e n t s c e n t r e d around the f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e i r b a s i c needs . T h i s p o s i t i v e feedback h e l p e d them t o s u r v i v e t h e d i f f i c u l t i e s o f t h e i r d a y - t o - d a y l i v e s and r e i n f o r c e d p o s i t i v e s e l f - s t a t e m e n t s and p o s i t i v e i d e n t i t i e s t h a t were f o rm ing . These p a r t i c i p a n t s may have been d e a l t some d i f f i c u l t c i r c u m s t a n c e s i n l i f e , but l i k e most human be ing s , w i t h a l i t t l e b i t o f encouragement, they have s u r v i v e d . 126 Stable P o s i t i v e Times Maslow (1954; 1962) discusses two kinds of growth needs, competency or mastery and s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n . In order to achieve a growth rather than s u r v i v a l o rientation, one must have a l l lower l e v e l needs met and be able to have time to r e f l e c t on oneself. This self-awareness, i s needed i n order to e s t a b l i s h an i d e n t i t y , recognize mastery or competency, and look toward a c t u a l i z a t i o n . Having a stable environment i s an important part of t h i s process because s t a b i l i t y can give p a r t i c i p a n t s an opportunity to f e e l that basic needs are met and begin to develop an awareness of s e l f . Thirteen par t i c i p a n t s (7 males and 6 females) reported seventeen periods of s t a b i l i t y l a s t i n g from one month to approximately two years i n time. Participants often t i t l e d these times on t h e i r l i f e l i n e s as a mellow period, or a vacation time, or a time of l i v i n g comfortably. These times were charted as p o s i t i v e on the l i f e l i n e s and were often marked by stable times i n work or school. In eight cases, work gave pa r t i c i p a n t s a f e e l i n g of security and structure so that they could " B a s i c a l l y j u s t l i v e and not be sad, not be happy j u s t move on." 127 One p a r t i c i p a n t , who was caring for her father at t h i s time, reported that the whole year the family was extremely happy. Another p a r t i c i p a n t used the mellow time to explore h i s own i n t e r e s t s . "...I was educating and developing myself as a person i n the world." The sense of development and forward movement provides a key change i n the tendency of the p a r t i c i p a n t s to react to the environment. During these stable times, they seem able to begin to consider being proactive. For two par t i c i p a n t s , school s t a b i l i z e d them. These periods of s t a b i l i t y were shorter than the work rel a t e d periods outlined above, but s t i l l provided structure and commitment. In one case, the school attended was a s p e c i a l theatre school for str e e t people. Attending t h i s school meant that the p a r t i c i p a n t had to continue u n t i l the performance at the end of the program. Completing t h i s course was a major struggle for her, but she did i t because she f e l t she couldn't l e t her friends down. Other p a r t i c i p a n t s reported s i x incidents where they found stable times a f t e r leaving school or jobs. "I kind of stayed home and relaxed for awhile.... I thought about my l i f e , you know." During these times, the p a r t i c i p a n t s were often on U.I. benefits and so 128 f e l t l i t t l e pressure to f i n d work. They were i n safe and comfortable l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n s and had t h e i r basic needs taken care of. Within t h i s environment, as posited by Maslow (1954; 1962), they began to grow. Emergence of a Growth Oriented Tendency Three male parti c i p a n t s started to plan and reach out f o r opportunities to develop t h e i r i n t e r e s t s . For one, returning to school provided an opportunity f o r increasing h i s knowledge, for another taking a vacation with a f r i e n d was considered educational, and for the t h i r d facing h i s terminal i l l n e s s helped him to grow. Each p a r t i c i p a n t expressed the incident from a sense of knowing who he was i n the world. For example the t e r m i n a l l y - i l l p a r t i c i p a n t said, "The only way i t i s going to run me down i s i f I allow myself to become run down. But i f I'm going to have the same kind of strong mind and strong heart and strong everything, I'm going to l i v e past everybody." This w i l l to survive and grow in the face of serious d i f f i c u l t i e s i s provides an i n s p i r a t i o n a l message. Conclusion Most of the dropouts i n t h i s study had some d i f f i c u l t y r i s i n g beyond the lower l e v e l s of the need hierarchy (Maslow, 1954; 1962). Much of the time spent 129 i n the t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school early to entering YES Canada was dotted by incidents that threatened some lower l e v e l needs. Two-thirds of the p a r t i c i p a n t s also reported incidents where lower l e v e l needs were met. The f u l f i l m e n t of lower l e v e l needs, and the creation of stable p o s i t i v e times lead to growth oriented needs emerging for some of the p a r t i c i p a n t s . I t cannot be stressed too strongly, the importance of b u i l d i n g a safe, secure environment for those early school leavers with whom we work. CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN DEVELOPING AN ADULT SELF-CONCEPT. Introduction The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study have been shown to have had l i t t l e success i n building a tentative i d e n t i t y early i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . Without t h i s tentative i d e n t i t y development which usually emerges by the end of adolescence, i t can be hypothesized that the p a r t i c i p a n t s would have d i f f i c u l t y i n building a p o s i t i v e , firm, adult self-concept l a t e r i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . The l i t e r a t u r e review i n Chapter 2, informs us about the kinds of behaviours we can expect from those who have not established such a p o s i t i v e self-concept. Maslow (1954; 1962) discussed the power that fear may 130 play i n motivating those who are t r y i n g to survive i n a h o s t i l e environment. Erikson (1968) outlined how the adolescent, i n seeking an i d e n t i t y , would rather develop a negative s e l f - i d e n t i t y than no i d e n t i t y at a l l . Markus' self-schema theory (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Oyserman & Markus, 1990) and the r o l e of s e l f -handicapping (Berglas & Jones, 1978; Jones & Berglas, 1978) have helped us to understand what appears to be random or negative behaviour i n the l i v e s of dropouts. For the early school leavers i n t h i s study, c r i t i c a l incidents were reported that showed them t r y i n g to escape from the feared s e l f by any means possible, including self-handicapping behaviour. De Charms, (197 6) provided us with information about how agency works i n the l i v e s of children who are merely surviving. For many of them, there i s l i t t l e or no chance to develop an awareness of s e l f , or to develop a cognitively-based, consistent l i f e plan. De Charms, (1976) found that, although disadvantaged young people often act l i k e pawns, they can be trained to be o r i g i n s , and he argued, t h i s i s a more constructive way to cope i n the world. For the part i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study, s e l f -handicapping, escaping from the feared possible s e l f , 131 and acting l i k e a pawn was the only way they could cope. These behaviours and ways of experiencing the world may have kept them from developing a proactive, consistent, and thoughtful plan of how to achieve young adulthood l i f e tasks. On the other hand, these coping patterns are well established because they have helped them to survive through a d i f f i c u l t t r a n s i t i o n . P a r t i c i p a n t Describes a Negative Self-Schema Five incidents were reported by four p a r t i c i p a n t s (3 males and 1 female) of actual times when they f e l t down on themselves. "I couldn't keep i t a l l together so what would happen i s that I would r e a l l y get down about not being able to keep school together. And I would sleep a l o t and that's depression." or "I sort of looked down on myself as a nothing, a nobody, a dropout." Pa r t i c i p a n t Describes a Feared Self-Schema Four pa r t i c i p a n t s (1 male and 3 females) a c t u a l l y described being a f r a i d of who they were becoming. "I hung around with losers for awhile...I didn't r e a l l y l i k e i t . But the guy I was with, I wasn't r e a l l y smart enough to t e l l him d i f f e r e n t . " In each of the four cases, the partic i p a n t s took i n i t i a t i v e s to escape from becoming more l i k e the s e l f they feared. Each of them 132 changed d i r e c t i o n i n t h e i r l i v e s quickly a f t e r reporting these incidents, i n d i c a t i n g that they were determined not to come any closer to the s e l f that they feared becoming. Development of a Self-Handicapping Strategy Although a very few p a r t i c i p a n t s d i r e c t l y expressed the development and commitment to a negative self-schema or talked about t h e i r feared selves, t h e i r widespread use of self-handicapping behaviour indicated that they may have been acting to escape t h e i r feared selves. As discussed e a r l i e r , most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study acted or reacted to the environment rather than working from a consistent, cognitive plan. Therefore, c r i t i c a l incidents need to be analyzed i n order to a r r i v e at the motivating constructs underlying them. Nine p a r t i c i p a n t s (3 males and 6 females) discussed twenty-three instances of self-handicapping behaviour. These behaviours included cocaine addiction, alcohol abuse and underachievement, a l l of which are categories of behaviour outlined by Jones and Berglas (1978) as self-handicapping. These behaviours allow the blame for d i f f i c u l t i e s to be placed outside of the i n d i v i d u a l and allow p a r t i c i p a n t s to r a t i o n a l i z e 133 t h e i r inappropriate a c t i v i t i e s . Five p a r t i c i p a n t s (2 males and 3 females) reported that they had problems with alcohol during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . In a l l of these cases, the behaviour they described showed that t h e i r drinking was enabling them to f a i l at the tasks they had undertaken "I was bringing my bo t t l e to school and going to the 7-11 at lunch time and getting more mix, you know....I figured well i f I go back the drinking w i l l slow down." And from another p a r t i c i p a n t , "I used to s i t down with my good f r i e n d Jack Daniels....I used to go to the bar and spend whatever money I had or whatever money I could s t e a l . " Many of the participants who abused alcohol expressed that they were not i n control of t h e i r behaviour during the drinking episodes. Cocaine became the drug of choice for four female p a r t i c i p a n t s . Like alcohol, the drug allowed them to be not responsible for t h e i r behaviour. " I t was great! I had no worries when I was high, l i k e no worries i n the world." Participants l a b e l l e d times when they were addicted to cocaine as "high times" on t h e i r l i f e l i n e . Generally, they would describe these times as having been p o s i t i v e while they were using the drug but negative i n retrospect. Of the four p a r t i c i p a n t s 134 addicted to cocaine, two v o l u n t a r i l y entered formal d e t o x i f i c a t i o n programs, one went through d e t o x i f i c a t i o n i n prison and one stopped using the drug a f t e r becoming t e r r i f i e d at a cocaine party. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that a l l of these previously addicted par t i c i p a n t s volunteered during the interview that they were now opposed to the use of hard drugs. In the case of one male pa r t i c i p a n t , h i s handicapping behaviour was that he appeared not to be serious about anything. Being too casual allowed him to cope with l i f e ' s d i f f i c u l t i e s and to not take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for what happened i n h i s l i f e . In h i s case, he was highly reactive to the environment and admitted that he needed to change hi s view of the world before he would be able to complete h i s schooling at YES Canada. Development of an Adult Self-Concept In order to f e e l good about oneself and to succ e s s f u l l y attempt and execute the l i f e tasks of adulthood, part i c i p a n t s needed to change how they saw and acted i n the world. Self-handicapping behaviour was addressed and changed by a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s who used i t . P a r ticipants increased t h e i r l e v e l of s e l f -awareness and started to move from the defensive 135 p o s i t i o n of the pawn to the more proactive stance of the o r i g i n (De Charms, 1968; 1976). Taking control of l i f e i s not an easy or f a s t , rather i t i s a process that works over time. Ten p a r t i c i p a n t s (6 males and 4 females) discussed twenty-two incidents where they began to take control of the s i t u a t i o n rather than continuing to have the s i t u a t i o n control them. A l l of these p a r t i c i p a n t s made decisions to return to school or to other courses during t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . "Because I am going back to school, i t was my idea, i t gives you a sense of d i r e c t i o n and s e l f worth, you know." Participants expressed a desire to s t a r t and f i n i s h something and to make a better l i f e f or themselves. For two male parti c i p a n t s t h e i r movement to more origin-type behaviour came during the time they were i n jobs. "I was competing inside myself...Break a world record. Every day I would set a goal f o r myself." "I learned what I wanted and how to get i t and stopped putting myself down. I stopped allowing people to say well you can't do t h i s or you need t h i s or you need that. And i t was l i k e , no, I don't need that anymore." Being i n the work environment allowed both of these young men to t r y o r i g i n behaviour (De Charms, 1968; 136 1976) and to get p o s i t i v e feedback on how others f e l t about them. As the o r i g i n behaviour continued to grow, two p a r t i c i p a n t s , both male, began to take a stand which came from t h e i r b e l i e f s and values. One p a r t i c i p a n t confronted h i s mother with h i s homosexuality What I said to her was you got a choice, you accept me f o r who I am or you disown me....It gave me more space to breathe.... The more I found out I could do more, the more I wanted to do more." The other p a r t i c i p a n t also stood up to h i s mother and described f e e l i n g strong i n " f ighting back." Conclusion The development of self-schemas, negative s e l f -concepts, self-handicapping behaviours and defensive coping strategies requires much more study. Since the goal of t h i s research was to learn what the c r i t i c a l incidents i n high school dropouts t r a n s i t i o n from leaving school early are, int e r p r e t a t i o n must be made from the behaviour to the cognitive constructs which may underlie that behaviour. Whatever the motivation for drug and alcohol abuse and for not taking l i f e s e riously, the behaviour helped these p a r t i c i p a n t s to survive i n a harsh and threatening environment. 137 A l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study were a c t i v e l y continuing to develop t h e i r s k i l l s through t h e i r work i n the YES Canada high school equivalency program. For them, l i f e as a dropout was no longer acceptable to them and they had made the choice to grow. This decision, i n and of i t s e l f , indicates the strong desire of these young people to keep working on the l i f e tasks of adulthood. They are courageous and strong young people, who should be commended for t h e i r a b i l i t y to survive and to continue to s t r i v e for a more secure l i f e for themselves and t h e i r c h i l d r e n . CHAPTER SUMMARY This chapter has presented the r e s u l t s of the study i n r e l a t i o n to the l i t e r a t u r e c i t e d i n Chapter Two. The process of leaving school, the development of i d e n t i t y , the work on young adult l i f e tasks, operation of the hierarchy of needs, and of self-concept development have been described with reference to the s p e c i f i c information given by p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the research study. In the next chapter, implications for further research, s o c i a l and educational change, and counselling these participants w i l l be discussed. 138 CHAPTER 5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH. SUMMARY The purpose of t h i s research study was to investigate the c r i t i c a l incidents which hinder and f a c i l i t a t e adjustment for those who leave school early. Twenty-one pa r t i c i p a n t s were interviewed using the c r i t i c a l incidents technique (Flanagan, 1954; 1978). Part i c i p a n t s were also asked to complete a l i f e l i n e which indicated t h e i r feelings about how negative and po s i t i v e c r i t i c a l incidents had seemed to them. Recordings of the interviews were transcribed and index cards were developed which outlined the incidents using p a r t i c i p a n t generated t i t l e s from the l i f e l i n e s and d i r e c t quotations from the t r a n s c r i p t s , as well as additio n a l information about the depth of e f f e c t and longevity of the incident. Thus, 393 c r i t i c a l incidents were i d e n t i f i e d . These incidents were organized into categories according to the events that were described by the par t i c i p a n t s . The events described by the pa r t i c i p a n t s centred around, the l i f e tasks of adolescence and adulthood as theorized by developmental psychologists (Cantor, et a l . , 1987; Erikson, 1968; Gould, 1978; 139 Kegan, 1982; Levinson, 1978). Other events were described which showed that p a r t i c i p a n t s were having d i f f i c u l t y i n meeting t h e i r basic needs (Amundson & Borgen, 1987; Maslow, 1954; 1962). The i n a b i l i t y to consistently have basic needs f u l f i l l e d has led p a r t i c i p a n t s to develop unhealthy self-handicapping behaviours and to operate from a well developed feared s e l f (Berglas & Jones, 1978; Jones & Berglas, 1978; Markus & Nurius, 1986; Oyserman & Markus, 1990). The eight basic categories described i n t h i s study can be summarized as c r i t i c a l incidents f a c i l i t a t i n g leaving school early, c r i t i c a l incidents f a c i l i t a t i n g and hindering the development of a separate i d e n t i t y , c r i t i c a l incidents f a c i l i t a t i n g and hindering progress toward successfully completing l i f e tasks of adulthood, C r i t i c a l incidents f a c i l i t a t i n g and hindering the f u l f i l m e n t of human needs, and c r i t i c a l incidents f a c i l i t a t i n g and hindering the development of a constructive self-concept. Within each of these basic categories, subordinate categories were i d e n t i f i e d and discussed. V a l i d i t y checks of the data were conducted with 15 of the 21 p a r t i c i p a n t s , a l l of which confirmed the truthfulness and completeness of the data o r i g i n a l l y 140 given. Inter-rater r e l i a b i l i t y was established at 84% by two ra t e r s . Differences were due to the whether the incidents were considered to be short term or long term i n nature and to the incompleteness of the information, p a r t i c u l a r l y with regard to context, on two of the cards. A f u l l discussion of the method used i n t h i s study i s presented i n Chapter Three of t h i s t h e s i s . The data was presented i n Chapter Four and conclusions were developed for each of the basic categories. In t h i s chapter, some of these conclusions w i l l be review and the implications for general program development, school programs, work/school programs, counselling and research implications w i l l be discussed. CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS FOR PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT Introduction Because t h i s research study was exploratory i n nature, the implications of the l i t e r a t u r e and the data presented are wide ranging i n scope. Not a l l of the implications of t h i s research study w i l l be outlined here, nor w i l l current programs be reviewed. I t i s recognized that many good programs do ex i s t f o r dropouts, and that many of them have i n s t i t u t e d the c r i t e r i a to be outlined i n t h i s chapter. More s p e c i f i c 141 research and evaluation of the current programs needs to happen, but t h i s i s not the goal of t h i s study. Overall Program Development In order to give focus and structure to the implications which w i l l be presented here, i t i s important to outline the basic c r i t e r i a for a l l programs established with the goal of a s s i s t i n g young people through the t r a n s i t i o n from early school leaving. As was seen from the research presented here and from the l i t e r a t u r e reviewed, dropouts have s p e c i a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which leave them at a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l of readiness than t h e i r graduating cohorts. A l l programs which have the goal of a s s i s t i n g early school leavers adjustment to l i f e beyond school must take these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s into consideration. Programs must a l l insure that basic needs are consistently and completely met. Participants must f e e l that they are safe, that they belong and that programs enhance t h e i r self-esteem. A l l programs must feature c l e a r and consistent reinforcement and reward patterns, so that the p a r t i c i p a n t s are encouraged to give up self-handicapping behaviour and b u i l d a h i s t o r y of being rewarded for mastery and for competence. The more e x p l i c i t t h i s reinforcement pattern i s made, the 142 better. Self-handicapping behaviour of any kind must be d i r e c t l y confronted and not allowed to continue. Group interventions should be used wherever f e a s i b l e i n order to reinforce belongingness, sense of community, self - r e s p e c t and respect f o r others, and to help keep the peer group large and varied. Support systems, e s p e c i a l l y friends and family members should be strengthened and s i g n i f i c a n t others be a c t i v e l y included i n programs. Creative programs, using such vehicles as psychodrama, art work, journal writing, and music should be considered along with more t r a d i t i o n a l methods. Participants should be educated and assisted to deal with adolescent and young adulthood developmental tasks. This developmental framework w i l l help professionals to assess the s p e c i f i c kinds of support needed by i n d i v i d u a l p a r t i c i p a n t s . For example, some young adults may have successfully found and maintained work, but have no idea how to form a r e l a t i o n s h i p . Support groups on s p e c i f i c issues could be e s p e c i a l l y useful i n helping young people to deal with s p e c i f i c developmental task problems. F i n a l l y , for a l l programs, opportunities to develop more constructive coping patterns must be 143 provided. De Charms (1976) work on o r i g i n b u i l d i n g should be included as a part of a l l programs. Each p a r t i c i p a n t needs to be taught how to become more i n t e r n a l l y controlled, to take personal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , to improve r e a l i t y perception, to set goals, strategies and plans for themselves and to improve s e l f -confidence. Other interventions which help the p a r t i c i p a n t to become more self-aware should also be i n s t i t u t e d . The r e s u l t s of t h i s study indicated that given a stable environment, free from threats to t h e i r basic needs, early school leavers w i l l put a great deal of energy into the l i f e tasks of adulthood. A l l programs must provide an atmosphere which allows for the s t a b i l i t y needed to develop e f f e c t i v e adult coping mechanisms. In addition, we can be e f f e c t i v e i n a s s i s t i n g young people to successfully complete adult tasks by supporting them and teaching them what we know about these tasks. School Based Programs The most obvious way to end the problem of dropping out of high school i s to keep students i n school. Schools need to adopt a stay-in-school attitude f o r a l l t h e i r students. In addition to the 144 development of a stable, safe, consistent environment that remains the basis for a l l programs, a l l students should be encouraged and trained i n using constructive communication s k i l l s , and i n win-win c o n f l i c t r e s o l u t i o n . Through the i n s t i t u t i o n of a guidance curriculum or through other channels, a l l students should be educated about adult l i f e tasks and learn the l i f e s k i l l s that they w i l l need to successfully complete those tasks. A climate of mutual respect and a v i s i o n of school as a functioning community should be promoted. A l l students should be encouraged to be a c t i v e l y involved i n s o c i a l issues that develop within the school and the community. Social issues such as family violence, sexual assault, drug and alcohol addiction, and other l i k e issues should be discussed openly within the school. Administrators, counsellors, teachers, and other school s t a f f must understand and contribute to the stay-in-school atmosphere. School must also recognize the p a r t i c u l a r needs of marginal students. Dropouts need to be i d e n t i f i e d early (Larsen & Shertzer, 1987), and because the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts are so well known, there i s no doubt that these students can be i d e n t i f i e d and 145 helped before they begin high school. Once i n the high school, though, the marginal student must be made to f e e l comfortable and connected to the school. As soon as s/he enters grade eight s/he should be encouraged to take part i n ext r a - c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t i e s (Larsen & Shertzer, 1987), and be paired up with a suitable peer helper. That helper would be responsible f o r showing the new student around the school, and a s s i s t i n g quick adjustment to the changes high school brings. The involvement of the family i n the education of the marginal student i s important. I t must be remembered that the high stress f e l t by marginal students within the school system, i s probably also f e l t by t h e i r parents. Special e f f o r t s to encourage parent's involvement i n school a c t i v i t i e s should be made, including the establishment of a parent support group for marginal students (McRae, 1974). Issues that add to the stress of being i n school for marginal students should be reduced, either through providing smaller class sizes or more learning support for them. Support groups to stay-in-school may prove p a r t i c u l a r l y useful i n a s s i s t i n g marginal students to deal d i r e c t l y with problems that keep them from f e e l i n g comfortable i n school. 146 In one study (Sansone & Baker, 1990) a committee approach to the early school leaving problem was described. Administrators, teachers, counsellors, school s t a f f and marginal students were part of a committee set up to deal s p e c i f i c a l l y with the needs of marginal students. Such a program would seemingly f u l f i l many of the basic needs of the marginal student, e s p e c i a l l y belongingness, and self-esteem. In addition, i f such a committee were given power to implement changes i n the school structure, i t could be an e f f e c t i v e vehicle for change within the school. A l l school s t a f f , p a r t i c u l a r l y administrators, need to express e x p l i c i t l y and i m p l i c i t l y that each student i s an important part of the school community. Before a marginal student a c t u a l l y leaves school, every e f f o r t should be made by a l l involved to allow him/her to stay. Obviously, educators cannot keep a l l students i n school. In some cases, where one student threatens the safety of another, to keep the b u l l y i n school would undermine the whole philosophy. In the cases of those who leave school, e x i t interviews should be arranged with the student and with his/her family (Larsen & Shertzer, 1987). Feedback from such interviews could be invaluable to the dropout, to 147 his/her family and to the school i t s e l f . Many educators have provided insights into e f f e c t i v e interventions that can be used i n the schools to keep marginal students connected. This short review has mentioned some of them. More than that, t h i s review has provided general guidelines about how the school can develop and maintain a stay-in-school at t i t u d e for a l l students. Work/School Programs Combining work with a study program has been a popular way to a s s i s t marginal students to s t a y - i n -school while also working on an adult l i f e task (Hargroves, 1986; Larter & Eason, 1978). Work/school programs need to be established through a close co-operation between employers and educators. School d i s t r i c t s need to provide support for employers so that they understand the d i f f i c u l t i e s encountered by marginal students. Employers need to provide consistent, competency based rewards and a workplace that encourages and a s s i s t s the marginal student. In addition, sponsorship and mentoring programs need to be developed between schools and employers. The school component of the work/school program needs to provide a work related s k i l l s i n addition to 148 academic s k i l l s . Information about the expectations of employers and support groups to discuss on-the-job problems should be included i n the school curriculum. Early data from the post high school t r a n s i t i o n study (Amundson & Borgen, raw data) indicates that those who graduate from high school have higher expectations of the work world. They tend, for example, to work i n semi-skilled occupations rather than the u n s k i l l e d occupations reported by the part i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study. Work/school programs, then might encourage and teach job seeking s k i l l s that would be appropriate f o r semi-s k i l l e d or lower management type jobs. These jobs are sometimes higher paying and often more secure than the jobs discussed by the dropouts i n t h i s study. Outside the School Framework After dropouts leave school they become involved with a number of d i f f e r e n t organizations and i n a number of d i f f e r e n t venues. Whether we meet them i n the malls, the street, group homes, foster homes, or i n prison, we must work with them where they are. Whatever t h e i r s o c i a l network or support system, whatever t h e i r community, or l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n , helpers need to strengthen and support whatever i s stable i n that environment. 149 Again, programs must provide for basic needs, including providing t r a n s i t i o n houses and emergency safe houses close to where dropouts l i v e . Needle exchange programs, free condoms, and free self-defense programs must be provided to those at r i s k for sexually transmitted diseases or violence. Support and education programs must be provided to a s s i s t early school leavers to adjust successfully to adulthood. Often young dropouts f i n d themselves s e l l i n g drugs or becoming pro s t i t u t e s i n order to support themselves. We must provide a l t e r n a t i v e employment for these young people. Small community economic development projects, e s p e c i a l l y worker controlled businesses, should be encouraged. By developing businesses that are worker controlled, young people w i l l be encouraged to t a l k personal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and f e e l a sense of belonging to a business venture. In foster homes and group homes, more professional support needs to be provided. These homes must be safe, secure and stable. Staff members need to understand the complex issues facing the dropout. S p e c i f i c programs such as those outlined e a r l i e r need to be provided. Daily programs i n l i f e s k i l l s , drug and alcohol r e h a b i l i t a t i o n , and other support groups 150 need to be provided. Similar programs to those suggested f o r the school/work programs should be attempted. Conclusion When designing programs for those who have l e f t school early, one must take into consideration the developmental tasks of adolescence and adulthood which face the young person. A l l programs must provide for the basic needs of the par t i c i p a n t s , including provision of a safe, stable and consistent environment. Schools should foster a stay-in-school attitude for a l l students. Work/school programs need to provide a f l e x i b l e and integrated approach whereby dropouts can understand the work world and be supported i n t h e i r work experiences, as well as learning academic s k i l l s . Programs outside of the school should work with dropouts within the context and s t a b i l i t y of t h e i r own community. A l l programs must foster constructive coping behaviours while d i r e c t l y confronting self-handicapping behaviours. The development of self-awareness, community involvement, personal control, goal s e t t i n g and planning, accurate r e a l i t y perception, and s e l f -confidence (De Charms, 1976) should be promoted. 151 Programs need to be c a r e f u l l y and c r e a t i v e l y developed and evaluated i n order to insure t h e i r effectiveness for early school leavers. COUNSELLING IMPLICATIONS As counsellors, we are trained to provide s p e c i f i c services to a broad range of populations. When working with dropouts, we need to recognize that dropouts often have a number of deeply ingrained psychological d i f f i c u l t i e s . As with the programs that we develop for dropouts, we need to insure that the early school leaver has his/her needs met. I t seems that as long as the i n d i v i d u a l i s working from a s u r v i v a l framework, l i t t l e growth can occur. Therefore, i t i s important for us to advocate for our young c l i e n t s , and to speak strongly i n support of improved s o c i a l welfare and other support programs. Counsellors should be prepared to do in-depth work with those who have l e f t school early. A developmental context should be used to ascertain the needs of the young person. Reparenting may be necessary f o r those who have not had a stable childhood, and building a s o l i d i d e n t i t y , improving self-esteem, sense of mastery or competence w i l l also be goals of counselling for dropouts. 152 Work with the family or with the young person's support group can be useful i n r e p a i r i n g or es t a b l i s h i n g healthy personal boundaries. These personal boundaries are necessary so that the young person does not become over nurturant i n r e l a t i o n s h i p s and can form equal and constructive intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Once boundaries are established, the counsellor should a s s i s t the young person to successfully approach adult l i f e tasks. Group work can also be useful i n helping to repair personal boundaries. Decision making, l i f e and career planning should be a major focus of counselling interventions. E s p e c i a l l y for young women who become pregnant, opportunities should be used to focus on long term and short term planning. These s k i l l s should be taught within the context of s e t t i n g personal meaning and structure for the young person's l i f e . Part of t h i s process revolves around building self-awareness and moving from being a pawn to being an o r i g i n (De Charms, 1976). Part of t h i s i s also confronting s e l f -handicapping behaviour and building a p o s i t i v e and concrete possible s e l f . F i n a l l y , i t must be recognized by counsellors that 153 most dropouts have deep and d i f f i c u l t losses that they have never had time or s t a b i l i t y to grieve. Depression, s u i c i d a l tendencies, and self-abusive ideation may be present i n many early school leavers. The losses they have suffered must be grieved i n order fo r them to successful achieve a happy, healthy adulthood. The counsellor must be prepared to conduct in-depth g r i e f work with these young people. Counsellors who hope to work e f f e c t i v e l y with early school leavers must provide a wide range of i n -depth counselling services. They must always provide a safe, consistent, and stable environment where dropouts can f e e l supported i n mastering the tasks of adolescence and young adulthood. Counsellors should use a developmental framework i n order to understand the s p e c i f i c psychological needs of the c l i e n t . They should be prepared to a s s i s t i n decision making, career and l i f e planning, as well as re p a i r i n g and strengthening personal boundaries and helping c l i e n t s through grieving t h e i r losses. Indeed, t h i s i s a challenging and diverse c l i e n t group, which w i l l demand a great deal from t h e i r care takers. RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS In an exploratory study, the implications for 154 further research are many and varied. By reading the r e s u l t s of t h i s study, an interested researcher may f i n d a number of issues that would require further research and development. Studies that further c l a r i f y and expand on the t h e o r e t i c a l basis for my r e s u l t s would a s s i s t i n quantifying the data. For example, developmental l i f e tasks seem to figure prominently i n the c r i t i c a l incidents reported by the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study. One could inquire as to whether pa r t i c i p a n t s f e e l that they have been successful i n achieving these l i f e tasks. In the case of intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s , do dropouts f e e l that t h e i r r elationships are s a t i s f y i n g for them? For those that have not established r e l a t i o n s h i p s , what has held them back? In terms of need theory, one could ask what i s the l e v e l of the hierarchy that most dropouts act from? Do they f e e l that t h e i r basic needs are being threatened and do they act out of a need to survive and to escape from aversive stimulus? What i s the difference between those who have "tumbled down the hierarchy" (Borgen & Amundson, 1984) and those who have never gotten beyond t h e i r basic needs? Studies into the r o l e of poor reinforcement patterns i n helping to develop negative 155 or feared possible selves and i n promoting s e l f -handicapping behaviour should also be explored. Research with d i f f e r e n t populations of dropouts need to be c a r r i e d out. This study provides data on a group of dropouts i n a p a r t i c u l a r equivalency program. Other groups of dropouts never return to school, and t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n may be quite d i f f e r e n t from those who do. This study did not explore the c u l t u r a l differences between dropouts and, i n the context of the Canadian mosaic, c u l t u r a l differences may a f f e c t the t r a n s i t i o n for some early school leavers. Further research using the l i f e l i n e methodology i s overdue. This technique may provide an extremely powerful way of getting accurate information from p a r t i c i p a n t s . For adolescents, who often tend not to think i n a l i n e a r pattern, the l i f e l i n e can keep them on track and uncover hidden or semi-hidden events that may not be uncovered i n an interview alone. We need to learn how to better interpret the wealth of data that comes from t h i s approach. As we create programs for early school leavers, we need to continue to research the effectiveness of the programs we develop. C l i n i c a l examples of useful interventions must be presented, studied, evaluated and 156 reported to other care takers who work with early school leavers. Although, not a research focus, per se, c l i n i c i a n s must continue to work as advocates and s o c i a l a c t i v i s t s for young people who leave school early. CONCLUSION Obviously, the opportunities for research and program development are endless. I f t h i s study has f u l f i l l e d i t s goal, i t w i l l be the beginning of many studies into the e f f e c t of leaving school early. 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Elaine Young (Researcher and M.A. Candidate i n Counselling Psychology) Dr. William Borgen (Advisor; Dept. of Counselling Psychology, U.B.C. Dr Norm Amundson (Committee Member; Dept. of Counselling Psychology, U.B.C. 168 I hereby acknowledge the receipt of a copy of t h i s form Thank you for your assistance. R. Elaine Young (Researcher and M.A. Candidate i n Counselling Psychology) Dr. William Borgen (Advisor; Dept. of Counselling Psychology, U.B.C. Dr Norm Amundson (Committee Member; Dept. of Counselling Psychology, U.B.C. APPENDIX B: THE L IFE LINE 1 7 0 <9o5 M APPENDIX C: THE TRANSCRIPT 172 005M Co: Explains the l i f e l i n e . CI: So each red l i n e i s a year. Co: And each l i t t l e block i s a month. CI: Okay. Co: Reads context statement. And reads the question about leaving school. CI: W i l l l e t ' s see now. What happened was that I was a trouble maker i n school. In grade 11 ac t u a l l y , and 14 days before school ended. I was going to King George, my teacher and I got into an argument and I c a l l e d him a fucking ass hole r i g h t i n front of the c l a s s . And then he sent me to the p r i n c i p a l but I didn't go to the p r i n c i p a l , I just went home for the day. And I went back to school the next day, and my f i r s t c l ass teacher said report to the p r i n c i p a l ' s o f f i c e and then uh. And he said sorry J but we are going to have to l e t you go. And I said what about my c r e d i t s and he said well, you can have your English c r e d i t but I'm a f r a i d we can't give you anything else. I'd got suspended e a r l i e r i n the year and so t h i s was l i k e the f i n a l draw. Co: Okay so i n that month. Well i t was a c t u a l l y just a day or two, but say the month before you l e f t school how were things for you. Were they pretty good or were they down? CI: Actually I was having fun. Up u n t i l the day that I got kicked out of school, l i k e I didn't know how to react. I figured l i k e well I'm not r e a l l y out of school, I s t i l l don't f e e l l i k e I'm out of school. So I'd have l o t s of fun. I'd go out during the day and I'd f i n d that I'd leave around school hours and come home around when school would end. But I was having l o t s of fun. I was going out with my friends every day. Co: So that was a f t e r you l e f t school? 173 CI: Yeah. Co: But what about before you l e f t school? CI: Before I l e f t school I was having trouble with that teacher. Co: So was that a couple of months. CI: No i t was a couple of weeks. Co: Okay so l e t ' s look at that f i r s t month before you l e f t school. So a p o s i t i v e 10 i s l i k e r e a l l y , r e a l l y high and a negative 10 i s l i k e ready to jump o f f the bridge. CI: So maybe I was around a 0 because I r e a l l y didn't have an opinion on what I wanted to do. Co: Okay so do you want to put a l i t t l e dot there at the 0? CI: Okay, r i g h t here. Co: Yeah, okay and then the day that you l e f t school they said to you sorry J t h i s i s i t . CI: Well I'm not r e a l l y sure what I was thinking because i t was 14 days before the summer holidays and I couldn't convince myself that I wasn't not i n school. Co: You couldn't believe i t . CI: Yeah, but I wasn't i n tears or anything. I ju s t uh, oh I'm out of school. And so I r e a l l y didn't think anything of i t . Which surprised me. Co: So i t sounds l i k e i t was around the same then, maybe a 0. So do you want to put that i n and maybe give these a t i t l e . CI: Okay, yeah. Now how do you s p e l l that excused? Co: Okay excused from classes. Okay and then the month a f t e r you said that you were getting together with friends and going out al o t . So was that good? 174 CI: Well the friends was good but at home my dad said that well you know you should get a job now. Well why should I get a job. I f I were s t i l l i n school I'd be out i n 14 days and then I'd have summer holidays. So what's the point of getting a job? I t ' s not going to prove nothing. I'm not going to get anything out of i t . Co: So i t sounds l i k e you were a l i t t l e divided l i k e on the one side there were your friends and everything and then on the other t h e i r was your father saying, okay come on get a job. Get i t together. CI: The only thing that pissed me o f f was that he wanted me to get a job .and I didn't see any point to i t whatsoever. Co: Okay, so would you say that that time was more p o s i t i v e or more negative? CI: Well my parents wise i t was more negative, but the decisions that I had made i t was more p o s i t i v e because i was going away to m i l i t a r y camp i n the summer. Co: Okay, so you had made a decision about that. CI: Yep, i n 2 0 days. Co: That sounds pretty important. CI: I was excited. Co: Well okay, where would that be? CI: Well l e t ' s see. Maybe around a hmmm. What would be excited? Co: Well i t ' s a l l your own r a t i n g scale. CI: I t would be about 4. Co: Okay so can you just put a t i t l e there f o r me that i s meaningful to you. Okay so you decided to go to m i l i t a r y camp there and you were excited about i t . Okay and then what happened? 175 CI: Well I got back from m i l i t a r y camp. Co: Well f i r s t you went to m i l i t a r y camp r i g h t and how long did that last? CI: Eight weeks. Co: Three weeks. CI: No eight weeks. Co: Okay 8 weeks so that was l i k e two months and what was that l i k e ? CI: And uh, I f i n i s h e d my t r a i n i n g . So i t was great, I had the best 8 weeks of my l i f e . Co: Really so that would be up around a ten. C l : Yep that's exactly what i t would be. For those two months, a ten. Co: Okay and t e l l me more about why that was such a p o s i t i v e experience for you. C l : Well l e t ' s see. At camp I was a s a i l i n g i n s t r u c t o r and uh, I'm a pretty advanced s a i l o r and I taught l i t t l e kids how to s a i l . Like anywhere from 13 to 18 and i t was l i k e a rank structure. Cadets, you know cadets. Co: Uh huh. C l : And I was l i k e a senior ins t r u c t o r there so I had al o t of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Co: Yeah, so you got some recognition. You got some r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and a l l of those made you f e e l l i k e yeah t h i s i s i t , eh? C l : Not l i k e yeah t h i s i s i t , but t h i s i s p o s i t i v e . I had, l i k e I knew i t was going to end. Because you can only do i t u n t i l you are 19 and I'd been going to camp for l i k e f i v e years and that was my f i r s t year of in s t r u c t i n g . So i t was d i f f e r e n t . I t was a nice change and being a trainee you got to be an in s t r u c t o r . 176 Co: Uh huh, but you knew i t wasn't going to l a s t . CI; Yep. Co: But you got a choice of going into the armed forces though? CI: Yeah, i t was my choice, my decision but I decided not to go there. Co: Okay so great. So you came back from camp. That would have been some where around September would i t ? CI: Yep, September exactly. And then I came back and within a week, my mom said J you should think about getting a job. And now I thought well yeah maybe I should get a job. I thought about going back to school, but then I thought Christ, I couldn't stand going back for a whole year and learning a l l the same thing over again just because 14 days got screwed up. Yuck. Co: Uh huh. CI: So I thought well, I'd be i n school f o r another three, well another two years and so my whole l i f e has been delayed by a year. So I figured well, yeah maybe I w i l l get a job. And I knew that I should go back to school again but I decided to get a job. Co: Okay, so where does that decision point. CI: That decision point i s r i g h t here i n September. Like when I got back from camp I didn't want to get a job but I had to. So I would say that that i s maybe around negative 1. And then the month a f t e r that some president from the company came i n for inspection and he gave me 100% on service. I t ' s the only 100% he's given i n three years. Co: Wow!. CI: And then I got a r a i s e and s t u f f l i k e that. So then I kind of l i k e d working because t h i s was the f i r s t job I've ever had and I was l i k e 17 years o l d and i t was the f i r s t job I've ever had so l e t ' s see, I'd say 177 that raised me to a p o s i t i v e 6. Co: Okay so t h i s was getting the job and t e l l me a b i t more about where the job was at. C l : Robson Street Pizza Hut. Co: Okay, and that was the evaluation and r a i s e , okay. So you were doing pretty well for yourself there. Feeling pretty good. C l : Yeah, well I was only working weekends so, you know, I didn't uh. I t was kind of nice because well I was going out with the manager. I think that was one of the reasons why I got the r a i s e but... Co: You were going out with the manager. C l : Uh huh. And so I figured t h i s job i s n ' t too bad and i t was easy work. Because I didn't have to do much when she was there right? Because I got away with everything. And then a l l the waiters quit and I was l i k e the t h i r d senior waiter so I got any s h i f t I wanted. Any time I wanted to work. So then b a s i c a l l y a l l I did was work weekends. And I did a l o t of r i d i n g my bike I rode my bike alot and I went with my mom a l o t . I did s t u f f with my mom. Co: Okay, okay. C l : And I helped her with her business and that was kind of l i k e a mellow period. Co: So how long did t h i s period l a s t ? C l : Oh, okay where are we r e l a t i v e to t h i s l i s t now? Co: Well t h i s i s October r i g h t . C l : October November December and t h i s i s my birthday here. So i t lasted probably r i g h t t i l l December and so i t would be a four, no a two or a three. Co: So that was a mellow period and you were hanging out with your mom a b i t and helping her out with her business. And things were pretty s e t t l e d . You f e l t 178 pretty s e t t l e d at work. What else was going on during that time? CI: Nothing. Co: Nothing, i t was easy. CI: Yeah, i t was the easiest time I ever had a c t u a l l y . Nothing going on at work and then came December. And then came December and my birthday. Boy I was excited because I was turning 18 and I was so excited I could not wait. My mom was going to buy me a car. Co: So that was a plus 10. CI: That was a plus 10 and then she l o s t her business and I had to move i n with my step dad. I guess i t wasn't that bad. And then... Co: Okay, l e t ' s put those dots i n even though they are not f u l l months, because I think they are pretty s i g n i f i c a n t . C l : Okay so that's the car, B day. And then step r i g h t well was i t a six, no maybe a 4. Co: Okay and was i t a f u l l month? C l : And then a f t e r that. Co: T e l l me about t h i s time, because I'm s t i l l not clea r , was that a month i n there. C l : Yeah, i t was a month. I t was just a few days before my birthday and I had the car picked out. And then my mom l o s t her business and i t happened a l l within three weeks i t was l i k e gone. And so my mom had to s e l l her house and my mom didn't know where to l i v e and I didn't know where to l i v e either because I was I'm 18 now. And I kind of f e l t so sorry f o r my mom because she kind of l o s t everything that she had. Everything. She l o s t her car, her house, the marina, her boat, everything. And then I said well maybe I ' l l move i n with my step dad to give my mom a l i t t l e break for awhile because she i s so used to s p o i l i n g me, I suppose, s h e ' l l s t i l l want to s p o i l me. 179 So I moved i n with my step dad and I r e a l l y hated i t . I hated i t so much. Co: So where would your mom losing her business be i n here? C l : Just before December. Co: Okay so r i g h t around the same time as your birthday and how did you f e e l about that? C l : Uh, pretty awful. I f e l t bad for my mom too. Do you want me to put that i n here too? Co: Sure because i t sounds l i k e there was a l o t of s t u f f i n there. C l : I f e l t even worse about my mom losing her business than I did about moving i n with my dad. Co: Okay, so then you moved i n with your step dad and things came up a b i t but they were s t i l l pretty awful. C l : Yeah, yeah. Co: And then what happened? C l : And then my mom bought a house on the North Shore and t h i s was the next month. So I was kind of excited for my mom. Actually, I was r e a l l y excited for my mom. Probably a 7. And then she says...okay house. And then she said well you can move i n i f you want. And I said well no, work and cadets i s down town, you know, so who the h e l l wants to l i v e on the North Shore. So I decided that I would stay at my step dad's and work i t out there. So I increased my hours at work and I was and I would be working every day that I possibly could. And even when I wasn't working I'd say well I won't go home, I ' l l go to the l i b r a r y , I ' l l go to the museum, I ' l l go to the planetarium. I ' l l go do something for fun. I'd go to the stock exchange and just watch the people go by and the p r i c e s . Co: Uh huh. C l : I'd go do that and I was having l o t s of fun, 180 because I was educating and developing myself as a person i n the world. Co: Did you see yourself as developing yourself? Like was that your intent or were you just having trouble with your step dad? C l : No, I wanted to. And I think that, that was the month I learned how to play chess. And I love playing chess and the f i r s t time I played well somebody beat me i n three moves to check mate. And so I decided screw t h i s , I'm going to learn to play chess. So that's when I decided to s t a r t doing things and looking at things, and looking at things that are educational, j u s t f o r fun. Co: Right. C l : And then I was having an okay time during that time. And I was learning s t u f f about myself and about cadets and so l e t ' s see, I was about a f i v e here. Co: Okay so that's working hard and learning a l o t . And that would have been about. C l : January. So then l e t ' s see my mother says at the end of January she's moving to Saskatchewan to s t a r t a new business. And I was l i k e oh well, my mom i s moving away. Well I didn't mind anyway because I was l i v i n g with my step dad. And we were l i v i n g over there, but she wouldn't be l i v i n g here so I wouldn't be able to go v i s i t her. But then she said J don't worry because when I leave, I'm going to leave you the car. And so I thought well okay, that's a b i t better. So she had bought herself a car af t e r the business. And I thought okay s h i t that's great. So I was kind of happy that she was moving away. I wanted her to move away so that I could have her car, okay. And I was pretty excited about getting the car f i n a l l y . Co: So you were sad about your mom moving away but the plus was that you got the car. C l : Okay so do you want me to put them on d i f f e r e n t lines? 181 Co: Well no, because t h i s was happening at the same time, so which was the most important? C l : The car of course at the time. Co: (laughs) okay, so what was that l i k e ? C l : I t was probably a three i f I averaged i t out. And plus i t was a chance for her to make some money fo r the family. And then i n February, my mom decided that she wasn't going to move away. So then one weekend I was d r i v i n g her car and I smashed i t up. I smashed the h e l l out of i t . Co: Oops. C l : Yeah, that was my second time doing i t too. Like my f i r s t time was over here and that was my mom's other car. So then my mom said you know J i t ' s about time you learned some r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and so you are going to pay for t h i s . And I thought s h i t , I have to pay for t h i s . I have to spend a l l my hard earned money... Co: Paying for the God Damned car. C l : Paying for that damned car and on top of that, I had to pay for the other guy's car because my mom was paying something l i k e $1800 for a year of insurance because of the f i r s t accident. So my mom said J we're not going to deduct t h i s . You are paying for both cars cash. I was r e a l l y pissed o f f and I said screw t h i s , but there goes a l l my money and then my step dad, the dink says J you know I'm going to s t a r t charging you rent. And I'm l i k e what the h e l l i s going on here? Co: You're l i k e ready to grow up f a s t , r i g h t . C l : I know I thought, l i k e what do you mean you are going to charge me rent. I l i v e here too, you know. And he said no, I'm charging you rent and so I said well i f I'm paying rent I'm going to move out. And uh, and then I decided uh, well t h i s i s probably about the same month, well i f I'm paying rent then I'm moving out. Well I paid rent for a couple of months r i g h t and 182 then I decided i f I'm paying rent I don't have any ru l e s . So I thought l i k e i f I'm paying rent then I shouldn't have to l i v e by h i s r u l e s . So I would go out and not c a l l and I'd leave for the weekend and not t e l l him where I was going. I figure i t ' s my r i g h t , r i g h t I'm paying rent. Co: Uh huh, uh huh. C l : And uh, then he goes, how come you don't c a l l you are r e a l l y irresponsible and I'm l i k e I'm t r e a t i n g you l i k e a room mate. I pay rent, you know i f you don't want me to pay rent then things w i l l be d i f f e r e n t . But I figured that was f a i r . So i f I was helping him out, you know l i k e i f he was asking me to help him buy the groceries... Co: Yeah. C l : You know that would be a d i f f e r e n t story. But he s p e c i f i c a l l y said you know you are paying the rent. Co: Yeah, yeah, so about when did t h i s happen? C l : Oh probably about the same time. But I was happy because I wanted to pis s him of f r e a l bad and every time I pissed him of f I just loved to s i t back and l i s t e n , because I didn't l i k e my step dad that much. So I was kind of happy that I was p i s s i n g o f f my step dad and I would purposely be a couple of days l a t e paying the rent, because i t would just p i s s me o f f so much. Co: So that was the same time as your mom's car. C l : Probably i n between, can I put i t i n between there? Co: Yeah, sure. C l : And I was happy and I was excited. The t h r i l l and the adrenalin of p i s s i n g someone o f f . And then I decided, well you know you are being a r e a l dink you know. So I'd had enough so I decided to move out and then you know. I t o l d my mom and my mom said "Oh no, no, no, don't move out I'm absolutely sure we can work 183 something out with M ." So I said "Okay mom whatever you want." I mean I love my mother so I'm going to do what she says and uh. And then so I ended up staying there. So what i s this? Co: Well i t looks l i k e February and a h a l f . C l : Okay. Co: Well actually, i t ' s year a f t e r you l e f t school, which i s not quite r i g h t , so we'll have to make some adjustment. 'Cause you l e f t school i n June? C l : Yeah. Co: Okay so we w i l l have to make some adjustments to t h i s but we'll do that l a t e r . C l : Okay so my mom convinced me to stay i n . So I figured yeah okay that's no problem. So I kept doing the same thing, except I'm not going out too much so I'm staying i n and that's okay. Working a l o t so there I was about a 0 again. And then I said mom you know sorry, screw t h i s . I can't handle i t I'm moving out. I j u s t can't obey these stupid rules a l l the time. And then I said that and I found t h i s place and then I said now I'm moving out t h i s month. And M said "Oh no you're not moving out u n t i l you pay me your rent." And I said "Screw you buddy," because I'd had enough. I'd had had enough of that s h i t . So I was so excited about leaving, but I wasn't that excited. I guess I was about a 5. Co: Okay. C l : And then my step dad says when are you going to give me my money, when are you going to give me my money and he was r e a l l y p i s s i n g me o f f because I was also paying for the cars at t h i s time. And uh, I ju s t f i n i s h e d paying for i t l a s t week. And that put me i n kind of a bad mood. Like I'd get pissed o f f r e a l l y e a s i l y . And then what happened a f t e r that? Okay and uh, and my dad started asking me for money but I think he has kind of given up now, because he knows that I'm not going to pay i t . And then my mom went away f o r l i k e three weeks. Actually that almost brings us up to 184 date. That almost brings us up to date. Co: Okay, so how do you f e e l about your mom being away? C l : Oh she's back now. She's s t i l l l i v i n g i n North Vancouver. Co: So how did you f e e l when she l e f t ? Was that a big deal? C l : Well she t o l d me that she was only gone fo r three weeks and she's back so i t wasn't a big deal. Co: Okay. C l : I t was l i k e she wanted me to go with her and I laughed at her. You want me to leave now. And uh, ... Co: So what brought you to YES? C l : Well I was going to King Edward Campus for awhile taking the same G.E.D. program there and i t was r e a l l y grim. Like no i n s t r u c t i o n a l technique what so ever. I t was l i k e you did your work and you could say excuse me I don't understand t h i s and they would say well the manual over there....So I'd s i t there and look and the manual and the answers were i n the manual so I would always cheat and then I was taking t h i s course and I was taking i t with a f r i e n d . And I was thinking t h i s r e a l l y b i t e s , you know and then I l o s t i n t e r e s t because i t was so boring. Like i t was r e a l pathetic. And then he went to Langara, he's gone to Langara now and he's at night school and uh, and one of the professors that worked there or something said something l i k e I can get your f r i e n d grade 12 english or something l i k e that. And my f r i e n d gave me the number and I said okay, three months, sounds cool and ... Co: So i t wasn't a decision l i k e I need t h i s to get a better job to make more money or whatever. I t wasn't l i k e you thought you r e a l l y needed the education. I t was just l i k e three months, okay. C l : Well I thought, well I thought. Well I l i k e school. Well I l i k e school. I don't know what I 185 thought but i t ' s not act u a l l y getting the education but I thought going to school. That's what I l i k e . Co: Well what I would l i k e you to do now i f you can do t h i s i s to look at t h i s and t h i s i s . I t looks to me seeing as we are i n March now, that maybe we need to compact t h i s somehow, that s t u f f r e a l l y i s n ' t as spread out as i t i s there. But that's a l r i g h t too, i f i t looks r i g h t to you. C l : Maybe t h i s would be. I could see, maybe the evaluation and r a i s e could go back here and these could go back one. This could go back here and t h i s would be back here so i t ' s just a year. Co: Okay well maybe because I t ' s j u s t one thing we can put i t together by drawing the l i n e s so that you j o i n the l i n e s together according to the date that they happened and then well look at the pattern. Cause i t looks l i k e you got a l o t of ups and downs there too. C l : Should I go up and then down or down and then up. Co: Well which ever one came f i r s t . C l : Boy that's a steady drop. (joins lines) Co: Does that look about right? C l : Wow that's r e a l l y i n t e r e s t i n g . I didn't have much of a down period, I l i k e d my up period better. Co: So from that what would you say are some of the po s i t i v e things since you've been out of school? C l : Camp, recognition at work, getting car, my birthday, my mom buying a house, working, learning a l o t and doing a l o t of s t u f f on my own, moving out, paying rent. Oh no, that was paying rent and p i s s i n g my dad of f and then moving out. Co: Okay does that seem f a i r l y accurate to you? C l : Yeah, a c t u a l l y i t does. Co: How about the negative things. 186 C l : Negative things. Getting a job. A c t u a l l y now that I look at the t h i s i s more accurate. Losing yeah that's about r i g h t , that's about r i g h t , and that was the k i l l e r . Co: What was the k i l l e r ? C l : Paying for the car, paying f o r both of them. Co: Okay that r e a l l y got you down. You said that t h i s part might not be r i g h t , the getting a job part. C l : Yeah, well I was kind of l i k e . Well I wasn't disappointed that I had to get a job, but going out and f i n d i n g a job, you know. I t ' s l i k e why can't the job come to me. Like why the h e l l wouldn't anybody want to h i r e me? Co: Uh huh, uh huh. Oh you are r e a l l y blushing about that. C l : Yeah, I'm kind of conceited. Co: So what i s a l l of t h i s taught you. What have you learned? C l : I've been keeping myself busy. That's not bad i s i t ? Co: No, no. I just want to know what you are thinking. C l : Not much act u a l l y . Co: No, what about relationships with people. You talked about your parents and your family are there any other s i g n i f i c a n t r elationships around? C l : A c t u a l l y there have been quite a few. I have a g i r l f r i e n d i n V i c t o r i a . I see her almost every weekend. And I was going out with the manager at Pizza Hut and uh, I saw her almost every single day. And then I have a g i r l f r i e n d on the North Shore that l i v e d about three blocks away from my mom's house. Thank God they didn't know about each other. And I had a steady g i r l at cadets. And so I had about four g i r l s during 187 t h i s time. Co: Okay but none of them were s i g n i f i c a n t enough to change t h i s . C l : Nope. Well there was one of them that did J _ but she was way over here. Co: Before you l e f t school. C l : A l l r i g h t . Co: Anything else that you would l i k e to add to th i s ? C l : Well a c t u a l l y when you were mentioning about g i r l s and s t u f f l i k e that. Actually, l i k e r i g h t around. Actually, I've been having fun a l l year. Co: Yeah, i t ' s been a great year. C l : No i t hasn't been a great year but i t has been an in t e r e s t i n g year. Co: Interesting how? C l : Like I haven't had a lack of anything, l i k e the only thing I'm having problems with. Was l i k e l i v i n g with my mom, l i v i n g with my mom was hard. L i v i n g with my mom I l i k e had champagne tastes on a beer income and I have champagne tastes on a beer income and I spend money fa s t e r than when I get i t . Co: And you are s t i l l working at Pizza Hut are you? C l : Yep I sure am and my mom pays for l i k e h a l f the rent. So i t only costs me l i k e $150 and so i t ' s l i k e and I do other things on the side. Co: That aren't taxable. C l : That's r i g h t . And uh, so I don't r e a l l y have problem with anything, the only thing I have problem with. This i s the only thing that r e a l l y bothers me i s that my room mate i s kind of f r u i t y . Well he i s f r u i t y and i t bothers me because when I have friends over i t kind of bothers me. But that's the only thing that 188 bothers me because i t ' s my house too. Co: Okay great, well i s there anything? Just looking at t h i s one more time i s there anything? Does i t look pretty accurate to you? Does i t look pretty r i g h t on? Well a l l r i g h t . So i t didn't take very long eh. APPENDIX D: VALIDITY CHECK MATERIAL 190 V a l i d i t y of Data Check: The purpose of t h i s meeting i s two f o l d ; one to confirm that the information c o l l e c t e d so f a r i s true and v a l i d as remembered by the p a r t i c i p a n t and presented by the researcher and two to c o l l e c t some further information with regard to the p a r t i c i p a n t s . The v a l i d i t y check of the data: 1. Participants w i l l be asked to read the abstract of the transcribed data and to confirm that i t i s correct. In order to set the context for t h i s confirmation, they w i l l be asked to pretend that t h i s i s a condensation of t h e i r story and comment on any incidents that are included that are not p a r t i c u l a r l y important or are omitted and are important. 2. Participants w i l l be asked to look through or skim over the t r a n s c r i p t and confirm that i t r e f l e c t s t h e i r true story. 3. Participants w i l l be asked to look at the l i f e l i n e and confirm i t ' s accuracy. 4. Participants w i l l be asked whether there are any other incidents which they could add to the information c o l l e c t e d . 5. The v a l i d i t y check proper w i l l be taped and l a t e r transcribed. Demographic information: 1. Participants w i l l be given a short questionnaire to f i l l out and return to the researcher. 191 Demographic Information Questionnaire: Pa r t i c i p a n t Number Last School Grade Completed Age at School Leaving Age Now (Please c i r c l e the most correct answer) As A High School Student I: 1. F e l t comfortable at school. YES NO 2. F e l t connected with school l i f e . YES NO 3 . Enjoyed the academic work at school. YES NO 4. Was a better than average student. YES NO 5. F e l t that school was boring. YES NO 6. Never f e l t I f i t i n at school. YES NO When you l e f t school, what was your l i v i n g situation? 1. I l i v e d at home with both parents. YES NO 2. I l i v e d at home with one parent. YES NO 3 . I l i v e d i n a foster home. YES NO 4. I l i v e d on my own. YES NO 5. My l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n was unstable. YES NO 6. I was happy with my l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n . YES NO During the time between leaving school and entering Yes Canada, how would you describe your l i v i n g situation? 192 Thinking back on the experiences that happened to you during the time between leaving school and beginning the YES Canada Program, please l i s t the important incidents or feelings that helped you f e e l at home or happy with who you were. Thinking back on the experiences that happened to you during the time between leaving school and beginning the YES Canada Program, please l i s t the important incidents or feelings that stopped you from f e e l i n g at home or happy with who you were. 193 V005M Co: Okay does i t sound l i k e you? C l : Yeah. Co: Yeah, okay anything that you f e e l l i k e i s overemphasized there? C l : No, not r e a l l y , i t a l l sounds r i g h t . Co: Yeah, are you blushing a l i t t l e b i t ? C l : Yeah, i t sounds so r e a l . Co: Oh, okay, the next thing to look at. Now t h i s I don't expect you to read word for word i s your t r a n s c r i p t . What I am looking for here i s yeah I d i d say these things and yeah a l l the pages are me and you know l i k e you know, i t makes sense. I'm ju s t going to put t h i s on pause. So i s t h i s yours? C l : Yeah that's me. Co: Every single page? C l : Yeah i t ' s hard to believe I said a l l that. Co: Well some of them have been longer. C l : Seriously. Co: Yep, there's your l i f e l i n e . Anything that you want to add or change about that. C l : (reads from l i f e l i n e ) . Yeah that sounds pretty accurate. Co: That looks pretty accurate. C l : That looks pretty accurate too. Co: Okay, great, one f i n a l thing and that's to f i l l out t h i s l i t t l e form and i f you want we can do these questions down here o r a l l y or i f you just want to write i n the answers you can. Great, so the f i r s t one i s how would you describe your l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n during your 194 t r a n s i t i o n . C l : Well I was l i v i n g with my step father and then uh, he wanted me to pay rent and I didn't want to pay rent because I thought he was doing i t to be a p r i c k and uh, i t was a l r i g h t l i v i n g with my step dad. I t wasn't the greatest and then I moved out and then the f i r s t few months of l i v i n g on my own i t was great. But i t was lonely because I didn't have my mom or my dad to t a l k to and uh, l e t ' s see I've been i n t h i s course f o r three months now so i t , was just within two months of me moving out on my own that I started t h i s course and i t was uh. i t was kind of lonely but I learned a l o t about myself. I developed myself more as a person. Co: Okay so would you say that your l i v i n g s i t u a t i o n during your t r a n s i t i o n was pretty stable then? Or d i d you move around a l o t or... C l : Yeah I guess i t was stable. Co: Okay and thinking back on the experiences that have happened to you during t h i s t r a n s i t i o n period from leaving school, what do you think has helped you to f e e l comfortable i n the world and to f e e l more l i k e who you are. C l : Oh that's a hard question. I don't think one person helped me, I think. I don't know that's a hard question, I just kind of learned myself. I don't know how I learned. Co: Is there anything that stands out as s i g n i f i c a n t f o r you i n terms of your learning. C l : No, I just kind of made i t . Man's i n t u i t i o n . Co: Man's i n t u i t i o n , great, I'm going to write that down. The next question i s was what stopped you from f e e l i n g good about who you are and from f e e l i n g at home and comfortable. C l : Yeah, f e e l i n g bored and lonely i n my new place. Co: Okay so that was r e a l l y tough and that was around the time that we did the interview? 195 C l : No, yeah, huh. I'd just started the course then. Co: That's r i g h t . C l : Well when I just started the course here I was getting pretty good. Co: So you had already learned how to cope with that. C l : Yeah, I was just learning. Learning how to cope with i t . Co: Okay great. This i s probably the f i n a l time that we w i l l be meeting one to one so before I l e t you go, uh I want you to think about i f there's anything i n the data that you need to add to or anything that you would l i k e l e f t out. C l : No, I can't think of anything. Co: No, eh, well that's about a l l . 

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