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Dropouts and the experience of invalidation in the high school Thomson, Vicky Renee 1992

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DROPOUTS AND THE EXPERIENCEOF INVALIDATION IN THE HIGH SCHOOLBYVICKY RENEE THOMSONB.A. Simon Fraser University, 1990A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Counselling Psychology)We accept this thesis as conforming THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAApril 1992© Vicky R. Thomson, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature) Department of -71- ae,", oh yThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate  (^ c<DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTThis study explores the areas of invalidation experienced bystudents in the school system prior to their leaving schoolbefore completing grade 12. In total, 251 key incidents andfeelings were identified from 20 participants during a semi=structured interview using early recollections, interviewquestions and story construction. Key feelings andincidents were organized into 7 major and 22 subordinatecategories. These categories centered around the need forcaring relationships, emotional security, belonging andaffiliation, and a sense of relevance and meaning to life.Dropouts were seen to have frustrated needs in findingsignificance in their school lives in interpersonal andacademic areas. Implications for improving high schools,counselling and future research are outlined.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTS^PAGEABSTRACT ^  iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ^ iiiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  viiCHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ^  3.BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM ^  1LOCAL CONTEXT OF THE DROPOUT PROBLEM ^ 4SCOPE OF THE STUDY ^  6DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONS ^  7ASSUMPTIONS OF THE STUDY  8OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY ^  10CHAPTER 2. THE LITERATURE REVIEW ^  11INTRODUCTION ^  11THE CHARACTERISTICS OF DROPOUTS ^ 11REASONS FOR DROPPING OUT ^  18RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING HIGH SCHOOLS ^ 24BASIC NEEDS AND SELF-ESTEEM ^  25PERSONAL VALIDATION ^  37^CHAPTER 3. METHOD ^  42INTRODUCTION  42ivPOPULATION & PARTICIPANTS ^  42PILOT INTERVIEWS ^  46DATA GATHERING METHODS ^  48DATA ANALYSIS ^  57SUMMARY ^  60CHAPTER 4. RESULTS ^  61INTRODUCTION  61THE CATEGORIES ^  62CARING RELATIONSHIPS ^  62EMOTIONAL SECURITY  79BELONGING & AFFILIATION ^  83AUTONOMY ^  85COMPETENCE  89CONTENT ^  93SELF-WORTH  97THE CATEGORIES AND THE LITERATURE ^ 100PERSONAL VALIDATION ^ 113SUMMARY ^ 117CHAPTER 5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS ^ 119SUMMARY ^ 119CONCLUSIONS 120COUNSELLING IMPLICATIONS ^ 132RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS 136SUMMARY ^ 138VREFERENCES ^ 139APPENDIX A: CONSENT FORMS ^ 144APPENDIX B: THE TRANSCRIPT ^ 145LIST OF TABLESTABLE 1 ^  64Categories and Frequency of Key Feelings Reported .. 64TABLE 2 ^ 115Comparison of Categories to Validation Themes ^ 115viviiACKNOWLEDGEMENTSMy appreciation is extended to the faculty members inthe Department of Counselling Psychology for their concernand assistance throughout an exciting and stressful time.The staff and students at North Surrey Work & Learn areparticularly appreciated for their immediate acceptance,support and encouragement. They present a model fordesigning programs to assist young people in completingbasic education and in providing a sense of respect andwarmth for all who enter their doors. I am grateful as wellto all the young people who left other schools in thedistrict and those from The Door who gave their time to thisproject.On a personal level, I thank my family for theirsupport and encouragement through late nights, misseddinners, and frustrated moods. Their support enabled me.CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTIONBACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEMOur world is one of complex and rapid technologicalchange. Our young people, more than any generation beforethem, face a future of increasing demands and knowledgerequirements in order to fulfil productive and satisfyinglife roles. Whereas their forbearers were adequatelyprepared for work and personal roles simply by the examplestaught by their parents, our children require, not only abasic education, but in many cases advanced skills andtraining in order to become productive members of society.It appears, however, that in this age of growing demand forever-increasing levels of education, the challenge ofkeeping up with technological and societal change has notbeen met. Approximately 30% of the youngsters entering highschool each year never graduate (Dropping Out, 1990;Radwanski, 1987; Sullivan, 1988), and are thereforeconsidered to be ill-equipped to meet the challenges lifeholds for them. Dropouts have become a major source ofconcern.There are two major terms used to describe those who donot complete the designated basic education assumed to beattained by the end of grade 12: early school leaver anddropout. These terms will be used interchangeablythroughout this study and for the sake of simplicity2Sullivan's (1988) definition of a dropout will be adopted.This definition states that a dropout is "a person who leftsecondary school for whatever reason prior to graduating"(pg. 1).Historically, leaving school early was not considered aproblem. In the first half of this century, for example,only a minority of students completed grade 12; however,even those with low education levels found almost certainemployment in the unskilled labour force and livedproductive lives while retaining a sense of self-worth basedon making a worthwhile contribution to society. Society,however, has been changed drastically in the wake oftechnology, as has the labour force:Although the dropout rate may be roughly the samenow as in 1900, the demands placed on youngstershave not remained static. The skills necessary tomaintain even a bare sustenance level in today'stechnological and information-based society arebarely served by even a high-school diploma.(Elkind, 1984, pg. 139-140)As the need for a more skilled labour force increased,the need for a higher level and quality of general educationalso rose. The effects of youngsters meeting a bare minimumlevel of education are more pronounced and obvious than theywere at the turn of the century.3Because there are increasing numbers of youngpeople attaining higher educational levels, thosewho do not attain a minimal level becomeincreasingly more disadvantaged. These youngstersthen, become unemployed because the jobs that maybe obtained with their lack of training arevanishing.^(Elkind, 1984, pg. 2)It has been suggested that the tendency is for growthin the labour force (in the service sector specifically) tobe the greatest in the more sophisticated services(finances, insurance, real estate, health care, education)where employability is increasingly tied to educationallevels (Radwanski, 1987).The career ladder has been truncated, and youngpeople who start at the bottom with inadequateeducation and few skills will at best stay at thebottom, in low-paid, dead-end jobs. More likely,they will increasingly become altogetherunemployable, as those marginal jobs steadilydwindle in number. (Radwanski, 1987, pg.23)In addition to the employment issues facing dropoutsindividually, society becomes disadvantaged economically aswell. More individuals with significantly lower incomesmeans less revenue generated for the government in the formof taxes and a heightened need for more expenditures onsocial services. (Naylor, 1990). Granted, a small number ofdropouts does not significantly affect economic trends;4however, when a third of the school population drops out,the effects are sure to be felt in economic and other areas.On a more personal level (where the emphasis of thisstudy is focused), the affective development of the dropoutalso faces serious consequences from leaving school early.Traditional age-related sources of a sense of peer-groupbelonging are lost as the day-to-day contact with friends,parties, school activities and graduation ceremonies aremissed (Statistics Canada, 1990). As an adjunct to higherrates of unemployment, frustration, depression, alcohol anddrug abuse, and criminal activity may be common (StatisticsCanada, 1990). While issues of self-worth and interpersonalfunctioning may become problematic as a result of droppingout, this study investigated the roles of these issues inthe process leading up to and contributing to the act ofdropping out.THE LOCAL CONTEXT OF THE DROPOUT PROBLEMIt is difficult to assess accurately dropout rates dueto the different ways school boards record information aboutenrolment of students and about defining dropouts. However,a national dropout rate of 30% represents an averageCanadian statistic (Dropping Out, 1990).In British Columbia, the average of several methods ofestimating dropout rates results in a figure between 28-35%(Ministry of Education, 1990). The characteristics of these5dropouts range from the gifted to low achievers and from theaffluent to the lowest socio-economic status. However,parents' low level of attained education, a single parenthome, poor academic achievement, and being placed in a basiclevel of school courses rather than a more challengingstream, all contribute consistently toward the likelihood ofdropping out (Ministry of Education, 1990).One of the largest school districts in the province(School Dist. #36 - Surrey) faces a dropout rate of up to48.2% (Wideen, et al. 1990). The highest incidence ofwithdrawal rates occurs in the senior high school years andconsiderable variation may occur between high schools withinthe same district (Wideen, et al. 1990).Clearly, national, provincial and local data present analarming picture. Even while allowing for flaws in thedata, the overwhelming numbers of students who do not attaina grade 12 level of education leads to the conclusion thatsomething is fundamentally wrong with the educationalsystem. It is the premise of this study that a majorcontributor to this malfunction is the lack of attention tothe affective development and emotional well-being of thestudents in the educational system.6THE SCOPE OF THE STUDYThis study examines the problem of high school dropoutsin terms of their affective development and sense ofemotional security. The basic questions this study aims toanswer concern why students drop out of school, and whataspects of emotional and personal validation were lacking intheir school experiences.In seeking to answer these questions, emotionalconcerns are identified and compared to those specified in aself-validation model developed by Ishiyama (1987, 1988).In this model, five psychological themes and components ofvalidation are identified. These are: 1) identity andbelonging; 2) competence and autonomy; 3) self-worth andself-acceptance; 4) security, comfort, and support; and5) love, fulfilment and meaning in life.In order to fully ascertain the pervasiveness of theseissues in the former students' school experiences, thisstudy attempts to provide a clear view of students' schoolexperiences, their reasons for dropping out and specificrecommendations aimed at assisting young people to stay inschool while protecting their sense of validation. Earlyrecollections and story construction are used in a semi-structured interview format.It is hoped that, by illuminating the sources ofinvalidation within students' reasons for dropping out,interventions can be suggested that will assist future7students to remain in school while retaining a sense ofvalidation.DELIMITATIONS AND LIMITATIONSBecause this study relys on interview informationobtained from young people who have rejected the schoolsystem, it is limited by that group of participants. Theirexperiences may not be generalizable to less alienated ormore flexible and resilient students. However, it may bereasonable to expect that the incidents these young peopledescribe are not uncommon within the school system andrepresent the extreme, but nevertheless widespread,experiences of students within our schools. The currentconcern with effective schooling reflects the fact thatsociety is cognizant of the failures of the system and it ishoped that this study may help illuminate a path to improvedservice to our young people.Interview formats pose their own validity problems.Accuracy of memories may not be complete and memory forevents may be coloured by attitudes established before,during or after the decision to leave school. Nevertheless,the individual's construction of the memory is crucial tounderstanding their affective state. Regardless of themotivation or actual behaviour of others involved instudents' memories, the way the event is construed and thepersonal meaning that is derived from it are the clues to8the participant's understanding of the event. From theindividual understanding comes the individual's emotionalreaction and subsequent behaviour. Therefore, it is notimportant whether the students' recall of specific events iscompletely accurate. The impact of each event was colouredby the impressions left by previous events and a cumulativeattitude results. This cumulative attitude and the eventsthat added up to produce it are what the present study seeksto ascertain.ASSUMPTIONS OF THE STUDYIt was assumed from the inception of this project thatit is preferable for young people to complete a basic levelof education and that leaving school early is a detriment,not only to their careers, but to their personal lives aswell. It is assumed that the state of an individual's senseof self-esteem has important ramifications on the decisionsthat person makes and therefore on his/her life situation.It is also assumed that many of the day-to-day activitiesand events taking place in our school system are detrimentalto the self-esteem of many students, often without theirown, or the school personnel's overt awareness of this fact.Young children enter school enthused, curious and excitedabout learning, but this soon gives way to a characteristic"I don't want to go" attitude that hinders not only academicdevelopment, but personal and social adjustment as well. Bythe time a youngster enters high school, he/she is much9closer to the norm when expressing the attitude that schoolis something to be endured, not enjoyed, and that the 'real'and 'important' part of life lies outside those depressingschool buildings and away from those awful creatures thathave become teachers. It is a primary assumption of thisstudy that this attitude is fostered and developed, insometimes minute ways, over the years of schooling that achild undergoes before either completing or leaving highschool and that low self-esteem is a product of theschooling process for those who leave school early, and nota byproduct that occurs after the fact.It is important to note that this study does not placeblame nor judgement on the personnel attempting to servethese young people. Educators, on an individual level, aregenerally interested and caring individuals who are caughtup in a system that does not allow them the resources norfreedom to meet more fully the needs of the youngsters theyare supposed to serve. Teachers, too, began their careersas enthusiastic, excited learners. What they later havebecome may be quite different, not necessarily through theirown doing. They, too, have experienced events androadblocks that have jaded their excitement. Theassumptions underlying this study are that the systemrequires a major overhaul in order to allow teachers to dowhat they have desperately longed to do since their long-lost idealistic days as students-learning-to-become-10educators: to become involved with their students on ajourney of discovery and investigation and to enjoy thevoyage.^This study, does not, however, seek to involveitself with the plight of teachers (although future researchin this area would indeed be fruitful). Rather, it seeks toidentify the specifics involved in the students' decline andhopefully to illuminate a path to assist them to surmountthe difficulties of remaining in school.OVERVIEW OF THE STUDYAn introduction, including the background and localcontext to the problem, scope, limitations and assumptionsof the study, has been presented in Chapter 1.Chapter 2 will deal primarily with a review of theliterature available about the characteristics of dropoutsand their reasons for dropping out of school. As well, themodel of Personal Validation will be presented.In Chapter 3 the method used in data collection will bepresented. Specifics regarding the sample participants, theinterview process, early recollections and storyconstruction, pilot study information, validity andreliability checks, and data analysis procedures will bepresented.Chapter 4 will present the findings of the study.Conclusions and implications will be discussed and anoverall summary presented in Chapter 5.CHAPTER 2. A LITERATURE REVIEWINTRODUCTIONBecause this study sought to ascertain the reasonsstudents drop out of school and information about theirstate of affective well-being, the literature base is verybroad. The research available on dropouts will besubdivided into two main areas: 1) the characteristics ofdropouts and 2) dropouts' own stated reasons for droppingout. Issues of self-validation and self-worth will bediscussed in terms of Ishiyama's self-validation model(Ishiyama, 1987). Other models of self-esteem and basicneeds will be briefly discussed.THE CHARACTERISTICS OF DROPOUTSDropping out cannot be explained in terms of one oreven a few isolated factors. Complex interactions of anumber of divergent factors culminate in the decision toleave school. Many factors may be identifiedretrospectively as far back as early childhood (Cairns,Cairns, and Neckerman 1989), and others are situational andcurrent. While there is no archetypal dropout, theliterature abounds with reported characteristics found inearly school leavers. Any one dropout may exhibit a few ormany of these, but it is not expected that all dropouts1112would fit the same combinations.While individual studies of the dropout arrange data inmany ways, there are three general clusters ofcharacteristics identified. These are: family background,personality or social aspects, and school or academicfactors. While this list is not exhaustive, it provides aconcise picture of the early school leaver.Family Background* Low socioeconomic status* Single parent or large families* Low educational status of parents* Low levels of support for educational or workgoalsMany American studies have also identified racialfactors (Cairns, Cairns, and Neckerman, 1989; Tidwel1,1988;Fine, 1987; Rumberger, 1983a). These studies have focusedon racial groups predominant in the United States, and theirrelevance is therefore limited for the purposes of thisdiscussion, although the fact that minority groups areidentified as at risk for drop out is important. Thecultural and economic difficulties faced by minority groupscomplicate the young ethnic students' experience. Commoncorrelates of minority group status are low socioeconomiclevel and low educational status of parents. This resultsin increased relative risk for minority groups of all kinds.While socioeconomic status is often cited as a factor13increasing the probability of dropping out (Ekstrom, Goertz,Pollack, and Rock, 1986; Rumberger, 1983b), it is probablymore accurately seen as having a moderating effect on othervariables. Many dropouts come from middle class homes andlower SES is often not an overwhelmingly significant factor.The magnitude of the effects of other variables may be muchstronger for youngsters from low SES backgrounds (Rumberger,1983a; Cairns, Cairns and Neckerman, 1989). Low SES itself,while definitely a variable to be considered, is not aspivotal as other variables may be. It's importance lies inits confounding ability. Higher SES families, living inmore affluent communities are more likely to go to schoolswith more resources and community involvement and thereforereceive more supportive and rewarding educationalexperiences. In lower SES families parents are more likelyto spend less time involved in their children's education(and possibly out-of-school activities as well) due to workrestraints, and students themselves may be forced to work tosupplement family income.Family structure is an aspect of society largelyignored in considerations for educational reform. The factthat the majority of today's students live in homes wherethe mother is either out of the home working, or one parentis absent entirely is not reflected in the middle-classvalues present in today's schools. The family of the1950's, with Mother home baking cookies for the children to14eat when they arrive home from school does not exist on alarge scale. Yet schools continue to operate as if thiswere the child's reality (Wideen, et. al. 1990). The harshfacts are that many children come to school hungry,neglected or abused. These children are not capable offunctioning at a level demanding self-acceptance, autonomyand competence because they are concerned with more basicissues of security, comfort and support.The educational levels of both parents have been foundto be important variables affecting the likelihood ofdropping out. Better educated parents would, presumably,not only influence their children about the importance of aneducation, but may be better equipped to provide thenecessary support, encouragement, and consistent,appropriate discipline to ensure a motivated student.Support for educational and career-related aspirations mayalso be more evident in these parents (Rumberger, 1983a;Ministry of Education, B.C. 1990). It has been suggestedthat warm, understanding, and encouraging parents who valueeducation is a prime variable affecting the schoolpersistence of the student (MacDonald, 1989). As familiesare the prime source of a sense of security, self-worth,competence, identity and belonging, it is not difficult tosee why family influences are crucial to a child'sdevelopment in all areas, particularly his/her success inschool.Personality/Social Aspects * Low self-esteem/self-confidence* Low level of social competence/involvement* External locus of control* Lack of ability to defer gratification* More likely to be male, minority, married, orpregnant* More likely to have been labelled a behaviourproblem* More likely to have friends who have dropped out* More likely to work more than 15 hours per weekEarly studies tended to focus on the drop-outthemselves in order to specify targets for intervention.While these personal factors are not to be denied, focus onthem led to the identification of the individual as thecause of the problem and led attention away from societaland educational system contributions. These factors maywell be fostered within the society and educationalinstitutions these individual students find themselves in.These are, however, crucial correlates of the drop-outphenomenon. Finn (1989) outlines a 'frustration-self-esteemmodel' that exemplifies this view. In this model Finndescribes :the school's failure to provide an adequateinstructional and/or emotional environment. Animpaired self-view is seen as resulting fromfrustration or embarrassment. Self-view isoperationalized either as general self-esteem, self-concept, academic self-concept or "personalized1516agency beliefs." (pg. 119)Studies have repeatedly linked low self-esteem ratingsto an increased likelihood of dropping out (Ekstrom, et. al.1986; Combs & Cooley, 1968; Sewell, Palmos, & Manni, 1981).Self-concept is a crucial factor in any kind of success,particularly where interpersonal relationships andaccomplishments are involved. Students who do not have afundamental sense of self-worth and self-acceptance cannotdevelop competence and autonomy. They will be hesitant totry new or unfamiliar tasks and may enter experiences withself-defeating attitudes. The feedback they receive fromteachers, parents and peers may provide a downward spiraleffect, with poor performance being perpetuated by a cycleof negative evaluations. The student him/herself thenbegins to hold lower expectations for self and sets lowerand lower goals for him/herself. A sense of alienation thensets in, with the student recognizing that school is not aplace where he/she is valued and his/her teachers and peersare not a source of validation, support and encouragement.Delinquent behaviours, lack of school involvement or afeeling of belonging, and a tendency to associate withothers who feel the same sense of alienation are commonconsequences. Confounding elements of minority ethnic groupmembership, financial and personal difficulties, and otherout-of-school demands place an even greater stress on the17already troubled student.School-Related Factors * Low achievement/ability levels* Failure/Retention in early grades* Enrolment in basic courses* Irregular attendanceDropouts are typically characterised by lower testscores, more disciplinary problems, higher rates of truancyand tardiness and a generally negative attitude towardsschool (Ekstrom et al. 1986; Swan (1981) stated thatfailure in one or more years of elementary or high school,especially first or second, eighth or ninth grades, servesas an indicator of potential dropout. Half the dropouts inone study had been held back or repeated classes at leastonce (Kaplan & Luck, 1977). Studies have shown a strongcorrelation between learning difficulties, especially inreading and math, and the likelihood of dropping out beforecompleting high school (Radwanski, 1987).Many dropouts report having problems with reading orwriting that affected their ability to keep up with schoolwork. These students may have had unrecognized learningdisabilities that contributed to their increasing sense offrustration as they grew older and progressed through gradelevels where their peers were seen to be much more competentand comparison was much more widespread.18Cairns, Cairns, and Neckerman (1989) found the earlyschool leaver was easily predictable from grade 7measurements. Over 80% of the boys and 47% of the girls whohad low levels of academic performance and high levels ofaggressive behaviour dropped out before completing grade 11.They identified the combination of three factors(aggressiveness, poor grades and being older than peers) ashaving a stronger relationship to early dropout than any onefactor in isolation. This relationship was seen to bemoderated by other factors, including socioeconomic statusand minority group membership.In viewing school-related factors, it is important tokeep in mind the personality and social factors discussedearlier. Early school failure and lowered expectationsleading to streaming into less challenging or prestigiouscourses could result in a drastic reduction in academicself-esteem and a self-concept that does not allow forschool success.REASONS FOR DROPPING OUTThere is no simple answer to the question of why somany students drop out of school. There are many reasonsfor dropping out and any one individual has his/her ownreasons. The reasons cited by former students can, however,be grouped into two broad categories: school-related reasonsand personal/family/work reasons.19School-Related Reasons The literature clearly reflects students' lack ofsatisfaction with the school system. Dropouts' reasons forleaving school early are predominately concerned withschool-related issues, with family and/or economic relatedreasons the next most frequently mentioned ( Cipywnyk,Pawlovich and Randhawa, 1983; Fine, 1986; Mann, 1986; Barberand McClellan, 1987; Tidwell, 1988; Dropping Out, 1990;Ministry of Education, 1990).The single most often reported reason for leavingschool early is that the student felt alienated from and'did not like' school. Students report that they felt thatteachers didn't care about them and that they disliked theirteachers. In fact, "lack of caring by school officials wasmentioned by 87 percent of dropouts" in the AbbotsfordSchool District (Mutadi, 1990). They felt bored at schooland the curriculum had no bearing or relevance to theirlife. They were fed up with being 'treated like children'and didn't like to be told what to do. No one appeared tounderstand the students' plight and no one listened. Therewere too many rules and enforcement of them was unfair(Luby, 1989; Ministry of Education, 1990; Macdonald, 1986;Statistics Canada, 1990; Naylor, 1990; Wideen, 1990). Fine(1985) found that 33% of dropouts simply stated that"school's not for me", and that 21% "did not get on with20teachers". In short, former students describe a wellarticulated sense of isolation and dissatisfaction with theeducation system. Radwanski (1987) cited alienation as acrucial characteristic of dropouts:Students are turned off by a sense that nobodycares, by the impersonal and bureaucratic structuresof today's large high schools, by the lack of aclear sense of purpose or intended outcomes in theirprograms of study, by the inconsistencies of asystem that treats them as adults in some respectsand children in others, by rules and disciplinarymeasures that they perceive as arbitrary or unfair,and by a perception that they are scorned orrejected rather than helped if they encounterserious learning problems. (pg. 94)Poor grades and lack of achievement are also frequentlymentioned as a significant contribution to the decision toleave school early (Luby, 1987; Tidwell, 1988; Macdonald,1989; Ekstrom et al, 1986). In Radwanski's (1987) Ontariostudy, 39 percent of the respondents mentioned poorachievement. However, Radwanski explained that lack ofacademic challenge, individual attention and relevant andinteresting curriculum underlie poor achievement andtherefore saw poor grades as a symptom rather than a causeof dropping out.Students who drop out typically have low levels ofself-esteem and self-confidence.... Many feel that21they were judged by their appearance rather thantheir ability and spent years in school acting outother people's prophecies. A significant numberfelt shame when they did not grasp an academicconcept and pretended they understood subject areaswhich increasingly confused them... Perhaps as aresult of this low self-esteem, the dropout tends tobe very grateful for any attention shown to him, andloyal to the person who has bestowed this attention.A caring teacher, therefore can be a crucial factorin influencing the dropout's view of the value ofeducation. (Radwanski, 1987, pg. 85)Karp (1988) outlined major, secondary and minor factorsinfluencing students' decisions to drop out. She describedthree major factors. The first was academic frustration.This factor included the students' feeling that schools weregeared for the high achiever and that teachers really didnot care about those who had more difficulty learningmaterial. The second major factor dealt with theirrelevancy of school curriculum to the 'real' world. Thethird factor concerned the attractiveness of the rewards ofthe work world compared to the frustration of school.Simply citing poor grades as a reason for leavingschool early, then, is not a particularly revealingstatement. Underlying the underachievement are a host ofother factors which again revolve around feelings ofalienation and isolation.22Personal/Family/Work Reasons Personal, family and work-related reasons for droppingout have been grouped together due to the fact that oftenthe personal or family situation cited also involveseconomic considerations. Marriage, pregnancy, illness of afamily member and dysfunctional family units all presentvery real emotional and economic challenges to the youngsterattempting to finish a basic education. Included in thiscategory also are physical or emotional illness, drug oralcohol dependency, and other more strictly personal issues.Females leaving school because of marriage and/orpregnancy is an increasingly important factor in the dropoutrate (Wehlage & Rutter, 1986). It is, however, also anindication of the holding power of the education system, asthese young parents usually do not attend part-time oralternate programs for very long, if at all, and even morerarely return to school once they have dropped outcompletely.Students who work see many more rewards in their workenvironment than they do in school (Radwanski, 1987).Working offers both freedom and responsibility that may beabsent at home and at school. Students make a consciouschoice between their education and the 'real' world, whichthey see as distinct and unrelated to anything taught intheir classes. Work is seen to offer them what the schoolhas not been able to. Larter & Cheng (1978) found that23early school leavers who had gained employment "talked aboutliking the work itself and the feelings of self-worth andrespect the work provided them" (pg. 44).One area of personal development often cited byresearchers as a correlate of early school leaving is lowself-esteem (Radwanski, 1987; Dropping Out, 1990; Ekstrom etal. 1986). It is the thesis of this paper that low self-esteem is a symptom of years of lack of attention to theaffective development and needs of students. Dropouts donot reject the importance of education (Tidwell, 1988), butthey find themselves unable to function in an environmentwhere their emotional needs are not met. As noted above,they feel alienated, bored and rejected by the system.Children, on the large scale, do not start their school lifewith low levels of self-esteem. Elementary school studentstend to be more content with their life at school, withdissatisfaction rising as the grade level increases(Radwanski, 1978). Children "like elementary school morebecause the 'child-centered' emphasis on self-esteem andaffective development has left them believing that they didwell in school" (Radwanski, 1978, pg. 91). They arrive athigh school bound for an unfamiliar and unsettlingexperience. They now have no classroom teacher with whichto develop a relationship; they are no longer part of oneidentifiable social grouping; they have no sense of being apart of the school. The affiliation and supports found in24elementary school are gone. Students are now expected tosink or swim on their own, with less consideration for theirpersonal needs. Even their counsellors are expected to dealextensively with course scheduling, academic, andadministrative issues rather than attending full-time topersonal and emotional development. The sense of alienationfinds a fruitful environment in which to grow.RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING HIGH SCHOOLSStudents themselves have put forth many ideas toincrease the holding power of high schools. Tidwell (1988)found two broad areas received the most attention from thedropouts: teaching and teacher-related issues andcounselling matters. In the teaching area, former studentscited the importance of increased assistance with math andreading for students who have problems. Lower class sizeswere identified as a problem area, as the interactionbetween teacher and student suffered on a personal levelwith larger classes. Some teachers were seen to be uncaringand insensitive. Counsellors were also seen as too busy toprovide help and more personal counselling was cited as areal need.The influence of individual teacher's attitudes iscited repeatedly (Mutadi, 1990; Mills, 1987; Naylor, 1990;Radwanski, 1987). The presence of one caring adult appearsto be crucial. Radwanski (1987) recommends replacing the25impersonal relationship base of the high school with a morepersonal one. This, he says, "must begin by providing everystudent with an assured and regular relationship with atleast one caring adult in the school system" (pg. 107).This mentoring service should be coupled with increased andopen access to personal counselling services. Radwanski, inshort, calls for a large-scale public relations job to sellthe school system to its consumers, with the sellingfeatures being affiliation, belonging, acceptance andsupport.BASIC NEEDS AND SELF ESTEEMIntroduction Rogers (1951, 1961) developed a model of the fullyfunctioning person as one who has, among other qualities, a'positive self-regard.' Positive self-regard is attainedmore fully when the individual experiences unconditionalpositive regard from others. Other theorists have presentedalternative models of what has come to be known as 'self-esteem', but their commonality lies in the fact that therole of other individuals in producing the level of self-esteem cannot be denied.Karen Horney (1942) argued that individuals construct aself-image or idealized picture of themselves that may ormay not be based on reality. Individuals may envisionpictures of themselves in a particular role (eg. a famous26singer) even though they have little or no real ability inthat area. Erikson (1968) believed that developing arealistic self-image is a critical component to theadolescent life task of identity formation. Erikson furtherexplained that a sense of identity must not only be based ona realistic appraisal of one's abilities, skills, talentsand interests, but also provide a sense of continuity overtime. Therefore, data collected throughout one's childhoodshould combine and contribute to form a stable picture ofone's actual areas of competence. This data accumulatesfrom both one's own self-appraisals and from the messagesreceived from others. There is, then, an integration ofwhat the individual thinks of him/herself and what he/shebelieves others think of him/her. The overall image orpicture that results forms the individual's identity and isbased on appraisals of competence in many areas. Clearlydefined areas of expertise or strong interests and awarenessof capabilities and limitations provide a strong sense ofself-awareness and confidence. If one has received or self-generated many negative appraisals, the resulting identitymay be negatively valued and result in a generally low levelof self-esteem.Gordon Allport (1955) defined self-esteem as thegrowing sense of pride that arises when a child learns thathe/she is able to accomplish some things on his/her own.This was separated from self-image, which he defined as the27incorporation of how the child sees him/herself and howhe/she would like to see him/herself.William James (1890), earlier defined self-esteem asthe discrepancy between the real self and the ideal self.However, as Horney (1942) recognized, the idealized selfmay not be based on realistic appraisals. It may instead bea construction based on what the individual wisheshim/herself to be, regardless of actual abilities orinterests and this may be widely divergent from what he/shesees him/herself to be in day-to-day interactions andsituations. The discrepancy between the two determines thedegree of self-esteem. If the real self is seen as farafield from what one thinks he/she should be, self-esteemwill suffer. The closer the real self isto the ideal self,the more healthy will be the self-esteem that results.Mead (1934) believed that individuals develop theirideas about who they are (their identity or real self) basedon how they are treated and by how they think others seethem. This view of the self has been called the 'lookingglass self' and emphasizes the power of the fulfillingprophecy effect - what we think others think of us becomeswhat we think of ourselves which reinforces and strengthensitself as a self-fulfilling cycle.As children move from concrete and absolute toincreasingly abstract and differentiated conceptions aboutthemselves and the world, changes in their understanding of28their interactions affect their self-concepts or ideas aboutthemselves. Once children become able to understand otherspoint of view, they become more sensitive to the opinions ofothers. Coupled with this new ability is Elkind's (1984)concept of the imaginary audience. In this conception,youngsters become preoccupied with and overly sensitive tohow others see them and believe that they are always 'onstage' or being watched. They come to feel that others areas preoccupied with their appearance or performance as theyare themselves. Elkind also described the 'personal fable';the adolescent's idea that his/her thoughts, feelings, andexperiences are unique to the point that no one else couldpossibly fully understand them, and that they have a specialdestiny. This personal fable may be viewed in a positivelight, but just as often, it may be construed so that theyoungster believes that his/her problems surpass those ofothers and are therefore insurmountable. These adolescentbeliefs contribute to the individual's sense of self-esteemand are impacted on by the particular experiences they faceon a day-to-day basis. What an adult or teacher sees asmerely a comment on performance or effort may be perceivedby the youngster as a public humiliation that places him/herin a position removed from, and probably valued morenegatively than, his/her peers, whose opinion and positiveregard is so crucial.The concept of self-esteem, while crucial, illuminates29the problem only in very general terms and does not specifyparticular areas of concern. Other theorists have specifiedinventories of basic needs that all individuals strive tomeet in order to become (in Roger's words) a 'fullyfunctioning person' with a healthy sense of self-esteem.MaslowThe idea that human behaviour is motivated by ahierarchy of basic needs was made popular by Maslow (1970),who outlined a two-level model. The lower level needs(physiological, safety, belonging, and self-esteem), Maslowexplained, operate on a deficiency basis because failure tosatisfy them produces a deficiency in the individual. Theindividual behaves in such a way as to strive for andmaintain a minimum level in each of these needs areas.However, if the lower-level needs are not met, theindividual will continue to strive to meet those needs andcannot deal with higher-order ones. Thus, a student who isstruggling with issues of physiological security in a homewhere he/she is neglected or mistreated, cannot be expectedto concern him/herself with issues of self-esteem.If physiological and safety needs are met, theindividual is free to deal with issues of belongingness andlove, and finally self-esteem.^The need to belong, Maslowthought, is particularly difficult to satisfy in anincreasingly mobile society. Few people live their lives inthe same neighbourhood and friends change rapidly as people30move. We change jobs, schools, and neighbourhoods soquickly that a secure sense of belonging has little chanceto establish itself. Since Maslow formulated his originalideas, this mobility and constant change have increased tothe point where now even the makeup of one's family is notcertain to remain constant. As a result, the need forbelonging is all the more crucial.Esteem needs involve respect both from oneself and fromothers and manifest in the form of status, recognition,social success, and a sense of self-worth. Esteem then,(again) arises from oneself and from others. A lack ofself-esteem leads to feelings of inferiority, helplessnessand discouragement. Maslow also stressed that anappropriate self-esteem should be based on realisticassessments of abilities and on respect earned on the basisof real competence and adequacy.All of the lower level needs were seen by Maslow asbasic survival needs, without which the youngster would notbe likely to survive.If the lower-level needs are met, the growth needsarise. The need for self-actualization asserts itself whenthe individual is assured of basic physiological safety anda sense of belonging and self-esteem, and has thus acquireda stable sense of identity. Once these are attained, theindividual can look beyond his/her mere survival and pursuemore cognitive pursuits. The person who is able to self-31actualize sees him/herself as an active agent in the worldand can consider aesthetic and philosophical issues. Theindividual who has met all previous needs and is ready torealize his/her potential, but does not utilize his/herresources in moving forward in a meaningful direction willbe as frustrated as he/she would be at the lack of meetingany of the other needs.It may be argued that the present school system expectsstudents to turn Maslow's hierarchy upside down from thethird level. Whereas physiological and safety needs arerecognized, students are expected to self-actualize andoperate on higher-order cognitive and aesthetic levelswithout regard for the prior needs of self-esteem andbelongingness. Once students enter the classroom, they areexpected to leave their personal 'problems' outside andconcentrate on developing academic skills. Those who arestruggling with trying to develop a sense of self-esteem ora feeling of belonging may indeed find it difficult to dothis. Even worse, the sense of self-esteem and belongingmay be attacked during the school day. Each instance ofmisbehaviour or failure in academic tasks provides anopportunity for the student to lower his/her level ofesteem, based on the seemingly negative appraisal fromhis/her peers or teachers to which he/she is particularlysensitive. If the student has any kind of learningdisability or lack of skill in particular areas, these32failures multiply in their effect on his/her esteem,creating a downward spiral that the dropout eventually triesto escape by leaving school (Svec, 1987). The end result ofthis downward spiral may be a persistent and pervasivenegative self-evaluation (Erikson, 1968), which, althoughharmful and uncomfortable, is the only alternative to noself-concept at all (Erikson, 1968).Erikson (1968) and Kegan (1982) outline the need forself-awareness in order to develop a healthy sense ofidentity. If the individual has not moved up the needshierarchy enough to satisfy basic needs, they will not havethe time or capability to examine themselves and be fullyaware of their own identity, and thus may behave in such away as to merely escape the fear that accompanies thestruggle to fulfil basic survival needs. This fear arisesfrom the perception of the possibility that these needs maynot ever be met and is a powerful motivating factor. Theconstant threat of not being safe or of never feeling asense of belonging may produce a general orientation of feartowards the environment which prohibits the development ofmore rational or adaptive coping strategies and this resultsin efforts towards a quick and easy escape.It is easy to see the applicability of this explanationto the dropout's situation. A youngster who feels neitherthat he/she is capable nor loveable is quick to develop adefensive reaction to his/her world and each instance of33rejection or failure accrues force towards the desire tofind an apparently quick and easy escape route. Leavingschool, where these instances originate, is seen as theroute from hell.Wlm. Schutz William Schutz (1966) described three types of socialneeds. The first is inclusion, the need to feel a sense ofbelonging in a personal relationship. A sense of inclusionis attained when the individual finds that both his/her owngoals and those of the group of which he/she findshim/herself a member are congruent.^Individuals findthemselves, as a result of their experiences and thecloseness of the match between individual and group goals,on a continuum that extends from a general sense ofexclusion to a general sense of inclusion.Schutz' second type of social need is the desire forcontrol. This desire manifests itself as desire toinfluence others and to feel some sense of power over one'sown life. The amount of control the group has over theindividual, and vice versa, places the individual on acontinuum ranging from overcontrol to undercontrol. On theovercontrol side, the individual is dependent on authorityor the group to lead and set direction, while on theundercontrol side, there is a lack of leadership anddirection. The ideal on this continuum lies in the middle,with a sense of interdependence, where both the individual34and authority figures lead in some cases and follow inothers. It is important that each individual feel thathe/she has the ability to make at least some things happenand to have some influence on his/her environment. A senseof efficacy, responsibility and power are inherent in theplacement of interdependence.The third social need is affection. This may bedefined differentially as intimacy or respect. Theimportant issue here is that the individual knows thathe/she matters to others. Without the affection and respectof others, inclusion holds little satisfaction in itself.Likewise, control over others and the environment is notgratifying without the respect of the others whom weinfluence. The continuum in this need ranges from smotheredenmeshment, where the individuals are so enmeshed as to bevirtually indistinguishable as separate beings, to theopposite extreme of total avoidance of any closeness, wherethe individual acts so as to avoid the possibility of anysituation where his/her rigid boundaries may be too closelythreatened. Again the ideal falls in the middle, with someprovision for privacy and a separate identity, but with thesupport and positive regard of a friend.Basic Needs, Self-esteem and the Dropout Maslow's belonging and Schutz' need for inclusion arecomplementary and relevant to the discussion of early schoolleavers. Students' level of satisfaction with school35decreases during the high school years, where they findthemselves a part of ever-changing groups in different andquite distinct classes with different and often quitedissimilar teachers who operate under different andsometimes opposing sets of rules for behaviour andperformance. Students have no home base, no real placewhere they belong; they are constantly on the move.Along with the lack of a secure base and a secure senseof where one belongs, the student faces affronts to Schutz'need for affection and respect and Maslow's love and esteemneeds. The relationship between teachers and students inthe typical high school is encouraged to be impersonal.Teachers deal with over 100 students during any given day,and none are afforded the privilege of knowing either eachother or their teacher on an intimate or personal basis.The system demands respect and compliance, and students areexpected to submit to the rules and programs imposed fromabove with little or no input or active involvement.Schutz' control needs are also threatened, as students facea situation where overcontrol dominates. Students mustsubmit to the dictates of the system and come to feel thatthey have no ability to influence their environment.Esteem needs are further threatened by the verystructure of the system. Letter grades are an obvious andvisible indication of failure for many. Other more frequentaffronts to a sense of competence occur on a daily basis36when concepts are not understood or behaviour does not liveup to the expected standard. With teachers facing highnumbers of students in one class, individual and privatediscussions of problems are difficult and rare occurrences.Public criticism and embarrassing comments are often commonplace.Learning styles differ among students and those whosestyles do not match the typical lecture/workbook format maynever have their areas of competence illuminated orrecognized. A student who excels at manual, hands on typeexperiences has few opportunities to prove his/herabilities, except in the lesser valued vocational andelective areas such as Industrial Education or HomeEconomics.Summary As we've seen, a variety of characteristics in thedropouts' personal and school experiences serve to unitethem on many factors. Family background, personality, andsocial aspects can be identified as correlates to thelikelihood of leaving school early. It is the assumptionunderlying this study that one of these characteristics,that of low self-esteem, can be viewed as a school-producedfactor that contributes to the decision to drop out and thatit is one of the most pervasive and critical factors actingto perpetuate the dropout phenomenon. People in theindividual student's daily situation can enhance or diminish37self-esteem, and since school is where most young peoplespend most of their time, its impact can be understood to becrucial. When a youngster's needs are not met in the socialsituation in which he/she spends the majority of his/hertime during a crucial life stage, the effect can be one of'learned helplessness' (Seligman, 1975). Because he/she hasdifficulty moving onward and does not see him/herself asable to affect change in his/her life in its currentsituation, he/she gives up, further lowering his/her alreadylagging self-esteem.To unify the various models of self-esteem and basicneeds discussed and to assess the state of the affectivedevelopment and sense of emotional security of those whochoose to leave school early, the model of PersonalValidation (Ishiyama, 1988) will now be presented.PERSONAL VALIDATIONIshiyama (1988) has provided a model of psychologicalthemes that outlines the components of self-validation(originally designed for use in cross-cultural situations)and unifies the presented models of basic needs and self-esteem.In the validation model, the presence or absence ofsocial reinforcers mediates each of five component areas ofa person's sense of self. Self-validation refers to theaffirmation of all aspects of self through interaction with38the environment. Hence, the importance of the socialreinforcers. The model assumes that people are motivated tomaintain and enhance their sense of self in the stated areasand that events in the form of social reinforcers caninfluence their stability in each dimension. Furthermore,the dimensions are seen as developmental in the sense oftherapeutic goals, and could be extended to compare toMaslow's (1970) hierarchy of needs and Erikson's eightstages of development.At the first level in Ishiyama's model is a sense ofsecurity, comfort and support. This component is concernedwith feelings of physical and emotional security, socialsupport, protection and familiarity with the environment.The lack of this sense leads to feelings of insecurity anddiscomfort and a sense of abandonment.Ishiyama's second component deals with self-worth andself-acceptance versus self-deprecation and self-rejection.Implicit in this dimension is the view that individuals mustattain a healthy sense of unconditional self-acceptance anda positive self-evaluation before attaining positiverelationships with others. A basic sense of self-worth isgained from external sources in a variety of settings ( eg.academic, social, physical) as their influence isinternalized into a concept and evaluation of self.^Ifthese external influences are negative, a negative self-evaluation results. This component concerns a basic39orientation to a favourable or unfavourable self-evaluationand will manifest itself in all areas of validation. Thatis, if a person learns a negative self-evaluation at thisbasic level, his/her ability to develop a positive sense ofvalidation at succeeding levels and in a variety of lifesituations will be affected.The third component of the validation model concernscompetence and autonomy. Throughout the various aspects oflife (social, vocational, physical, academic), experienceslead to an evaluation of one's Ability to be independentlyeffective. Social competence and autonomy are particularlyimportant. The abilities to communicate effectively anddevelop satisfying relationships are crucial to anindividual's sense of satisfaction with life. Autonomy is amajor struggle for adolescents (Erikson, 1964) as theyattempt to break from their reliance on parents and otheradults to meet their needs in order to develop a sense ofpersonal freedom and efficacy. The lack of a sense ofcompetence and autonomy results in feelings of incompetenceand helplessness.Identity and belonging, the fourth theme in thevalidation model, are important issues for people of allages (Erikson, 1968), but the adolescent particularly isconcerned with differentiating a sense of self whileretaining a link and sense of belonging to the group.Identity is a multi-faceted dimension and is influenced by40the issue of belonging. Which groups one feels associatedwith will determine, to a degree, one's sense of identity.A sense of identity, therefore, is built upon feelings ofbelonging and affiliation. If a basic sense of belonging isnot present, a sense of alienation and identity confusionwill result.The fifth and final component of the validation modelis a holistic dimension relating to the quality of life.Love, fulfilment and meaning in life are the core conditionsin this dimension. Both personal and social aspects of lifecontribute to a sense of harmonious existence. Theopportunity to experience and offer love and caring is oneaspect of this component. The other two, fulfilment andmeaning, vary in form and content from person to person, butit is essential that there be some activity or experienceeither intrapersonal or interpersonal, that provides a senseof purpose and value to life. Invalidation in thiscomponent leads to feelings of lovelessness, emptiness andmeaninglessness.While experiencing either validation or the lack of itin the five components of this model, social reinforcers actas active conditioning agents. Attention, praise, money,punishment, pleasurable feelings, and recognition areexamples of social reinforcers that influence people's senseof emotional security, self-worth, competence, identity andbelonging and meaning in life. For example, living up to41one's family expectations of succeeding academically, andexperiencing the resultant rewards, can contribute to asense of intellectual competence and a sense of identity asa scholar. This could contribute to an all-encompassingpassion for learning as a major goal which provides meaningand fulfilment in one's life.Validation and the dropout From a knowledge of adolescent development and thevalidation model, one can predict that normal teenagedilemmas will occur within each dimension of the validationmodel. It may be hypothesized, however, that because thecrucial concerns of identity formation and a struggle forautonomy arise in the adolescent years, the themesreflecting these struggles may arise as relatively morelacking in the youngster's overall sense of validation. Itwas expected then, that the responses of dropouts wouldreflect a higher level of dissatisfaction with issuessurrounding competence and autonomy and identity andbelonging than the other components of the validation model.Once areas of lack of validation are identified, practicalstrategies may then be designed to heighten the school'seffectiveness at meeting these psychological needs.42CHAPTER 3 METHODINTRODUCTIONThis study was designed to ascertain students' reasonsfor dropping out of high school and to determine whichaspects of self-validation were lacking in their schoolexperiences. Qualitative data such as specific schoolexperiences, early memories, and story construction weregathered in order to provide a rich, multi-layered pictureof the early school leaver's affective state and decision todrop out. This chapter will outline details about thepopulation, participants, data gathering procedures andmethods for analysis.POPULATION AND PARTICIPANTSIt is difficult to assess either the size or makeup ofthe total population of early school leavers in any onearea. In addition to the difficulty with varyingdefinitions of dropouts, there is a problem locating theseyoungsters. After leaving school, their paths are diverseand change direction frequently (Young, 1991). There are,however, several community organizations designed to servethese young people in their transition from school to adultlife. One such organization is represented in this study.Identification of dropouts is probably most easilyaccomplished by examination of school records. This was theapproach used to recruit the majority of subjects for this43study.Twenty young men and women were interviewed for thisstudy. Participants were drawn from three sources. Ninesubjects were drawn from the dead files of three highschools in the District of Surrey (#36) in British Columbia.This is a large urban district with a diverse and growingpopulation base. The three schools chosen were selected inconsultation with the Assistant District Superintendent ofschools, who felt that these schools would provide arepresentative sampling of the diverse economic, social andcultural groupings within the district. The dead filesrepresent students who left the school but whose recordswere never requested from another learning institution.Eight participants were drawn from a communityorganization, The Door. This organization is funded by theMinistry of Social Services and Housing (MSSH) and operateson a referral basis for the young people served by MSSH inorder to provide them with needed life and employmentskills. The program participants are from 16-20 years oldand attend work skills and employability classes daily for10 weeks. A work experience placement follows the classroomcomponent. The conditions on which young people arereferred to the program are based on providing themassistance in growing beyond the need for social assistanceand establishing themselves in a self-sufficient role.Three participants were drawn from an alternate grade4410 completion program (Work and Learn) operated by theschool district. The students in this program had eitherquit or been asked to leave the regular day school programand attend the program on a flexible timetable. Theiracademic program is self-paced, individualized and at theirown ability level. The program, while still an educationalone, operates on a very different level from the regular dayschool system and the overall experience of students in thisprogram is vastly removed from any day school program. Workand Learn's basic goal is to provide an alternativeeducational program for those who have not been able tofunction in the regular program. It is not regarded bystaff or students as similar in operation or ambience toregular programs and the youngsters it serves are dropoutsin the true sense of the word because they have rejected, orbeen rejected by, the high school system that this study isconcerned with. Few of the students in this program returnto the regular high school setting. Most proceed eitherdirectly into the work force or continue on an alternatepath to grade 12 equivalency.Three organizations were chosen from which to drawparticipants because it was felt that no one source wouldfully represent the diverse situations early school leaversfind themselves in. Some dropouts do return to school.Some become unemployed and enter the social assistance rolesand others simply enter the ranks of young adults attempting45to find their place in the work world. Drawing subjectsfrom one source would limit the generalizability of thestudy to those who chose that particular path after leavinghigh school. In addition, accessibility to the participantswas easier when only a few participants were required fromeach source. The Door, for example, has only a limitednumber of youngsters enrolled in their program at any giventime. Subjects contacted through the dead files fromschools were extremely difficult to contact and much timewas spent arranging meetings. The alternate program waseasily accessible and participants were eager to share theirexperiences, but again, this focus would have skewed therepresentation.The results of this study will apply to the widespectrum of early school leavers on a very general level.Because the study compiled data from a diverse populationbase and from a variety of sources, the results will beconsidered an amalgam applicable to that diverse population.Names collected from the dead files from the threeschools and from the Work and Learn program were assignednumbers which were then randomly selected for initialcontact. A second random listing was established asalternates. Those youngsters selected in the first randomlisting were then approached by phone and familiarized withthe basic goals and procedures of the study. Interviewswere then arranged. Participants from The Door were spoken46to as a group during a daily meeting and volunteers elicitedin person. Interviews were conducted at The Door, Work andLearn, and in participants homes or at restaurants.Subjects had been out of school for varying periodsfrom five months to three years. One subject had been outof regular day school for 5 months, five for one to one anda half years, seven for two years and seven for three years.Seven subjects were 17 years old, nine were 18 and four were19. Five participants had left school during their gradenine year, eight during grade 10, five during grade 11, andtwo during grade 12.PILOT INTERVIEWSPrior to conducting this study, three pilot interviewswere conducted with three dropouts from The Door (communityorganization). These participants were seventeen andeighteen years old and had been out of school for two tothree years. Because these volunteers were recruited fromone of the sources for the study itself, they are comparablein many ways to the actual study participants The purposeof the pilot interview was to assess the effectiveness ofthe interview strategies in eliciting the school experiencesand associated feelings from early school leavers and tofine tune the mechanics of the interview itself.The interview was conducted as it was for the studyitself. The pilot participants were also asked to evaluate47the interview process itself through three oral questions.These were: 1) Was there any part of the interview that wasdifficult to understand or respond to? 2) Did my commentsaffect your answers at any point? 3) Do you have anysuggestions as to how the interview process could beimproved?The answers to the first question showed that all threerespondents found it difficult to sort out their earliestschool memory from other memories and that they had manyrecollections from their early school years that they couldhave reported. As a result, it was decided to allow studyparticipants to report as many early recollections as theywished, although only the first would be used for dataanalysis, as the first recalled is generally accepted to bethe most revealing (Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1965).During the pilot interviews, subjects were asked toformulate a moral to the story constructed at the end of theinterview. Participants tended to rely on well-knownphrases to encapsulate the lesson learned in their story,often resulting in a less-than-accurate-fit. In the actualstudy participants were asked to relate what the personlearned from all this, rather than for a moral. (Curiously,in the actual study, this difficulty persisted.)All three pilot participants were positive in theircomments about the researcher's style. One participantnoted that if teachers and school staff had related to her48on the same equal and interested basis, she may not havefelt so alone in school and may have stayed longer. Nonereported feeling that their responses had in any way beenled by the researcher.None of the three had any specific recommendations forimprovement.The pilot interviews did crystallize the procedure intoa more clearly defined sequence of events. The participantsappeared to enjoy being asked about their experiences andwere open and willing to share personal details. Thesequence of interview techniques offered a naturalprogression from early school life to high school and thento a fictional but close to real-life summation.It was relatively easy to summarize the invalidationstatements made and to sort them into theme groups. Thestory elements and early recollections tended to be verymuch related and information from the interview supportedand elaborated on the themes outlined in these twoprocedures.The pilot interviews did illuminate the fact that allthree pilot participants reported that their dissatisfactionwith school began around grades six or seven and that thetransition to grade eight was particularly crucial. This isin line with the hypothesis that belonging, identity andautonomy issues would be in the forefront of theadolescent's perceptions of invalidation.49DATA GATHERING METHODSThe methods used for this study are grounded in thebelief that individuals construct their reality in reactionto and in interaction with their environment (Adams-Webber,1979). Behaviour and beliefs are shaped by the manner inwhich individuals make meaning of their lives. In order toascertain their particular construction of their ownreality, individuals stories must first be heard (Cochran,1986). Through their stories, their world may beunderstood. Once understood, their perceptions may bereworked and the story rewritten, or the environment alteredin order to affect the perceptions, and thus the story in amore positive direction. In terms of this study, it isexpected that through illuminating the stories of youngsterswho have chosen to leave school early, the school practisesand sources of discomfort that lead to their decision todrop out will become more clear. It was fully expected thatmany of the school practices that offended or invalidatedstudents were procedures or occurrences that school staffswere not aware were damaging. Once these incidents areclarified, the role of the school in the dropout phenomenonmay be altered so as to positively affect the constructionsof reality and stories of future students.The Interview Participants were guided through a semi-structuredinterview consisting of early recollections, open-ended50interview questions and story construction. Earlyrecollections were requested only in relation to theparticipant's school experience and were requested in theirsimplest, incidental form (ie. a clear memory of aparticular incident, not just general impressions). Theinterview itself consisted of three general questions(supplemental questions and probes in brackets):1) What were some of the things that happened that led youto leave school early? (When did you begin to becomedissatisfied with your school experience?)2) What could have been done to help you stay in school?(What could teachers, principals, counsellors, parents havedone? Would you have accepted help?)3) What can be done to make schools better?Following the interview questions, participants wereasked to visualize a picture of a young boy or girl (tomatch their own sex) standing and looking up at the front ofa school building, on what is obviously his/her very firstday of school. Respondents were asked to generate a story-book type story to follow this picture, as if it were thefirst page in a child's picture book.Early Recollections Prior to the elicitation of the early recollection, theinterview proper began with an explanation of51confidentiality, procedures, and the signing of consentforms.Early recollections were included as an indicator of anencapsulation of attitudes (Cochrane, 1986) toward school.Although early recollections are generally gathered withrespect to early childhood memories, for the purposes ofthis study only school memories were focused on. WhileAdler classified recollections as productions of theindividual (Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956), they represent themeaning inherent in the actual objective circumstances thatthe individual is recalling and as such represent the effectof the situation. This is what this study hoped to obtainthrough the use of this technique: exactly what meaning theindividual has ascribed to the experiences he/she hasundergone in school. The fact that the recollection may ormay not be accurate is irrelevant. The importance in therecollection lies in its ability to encapsulate theaffective results of the school experiences. Through thisthe sources of invalidation may be indicated and exploredfurther in the interview itself. (In fact, in severalinterviews, subjects referred back to the incidents cited intheir early recollection.)As Ansbacker and Ansbacher (1956) explain:There are no 'chance memories': out of theincalculable number of impressions which meet anindividual, he chooses to remember only thosewhich he feels, however darkly, to have a bearing52on his situation.... Most illuminating of all isthe way the individual begins his story, theearliest incident he can recall. The first memorywill show his fundamental view of life, his firstsatisfactory crystallization of his attitude.(Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956, pg. 351)Instead of the individual's primary attitude towardslife, this study sought to ascertain the primary attitudetowards school. It was expected that the major sources ofinvalidation experienced by the former student wouldmanifest in the early recollection, and that this would beborne out again in the interview responses and storyconstruction later in the interview.Another more practical reason for beginning theinterview with early recollections was as an icebreaker: toremove the closeness of events being discussed to anearlier, less threatening stance in order to allow therelationship between researcher and subject to begin morecomfortably. Equally important was to broaden theparticipant's view of their school experiences to includetheir school life from its beginnings, rather than focusingonly on the last year or two when dropping out became anarea of possibility. The entire gamut of educationexperiences from early primary to the day the student walkedout the high school door, was sought as relevantcontributors to the decision to drop out.53The Interview Questions Often the early recollection was enough to get thesubject onto a lengthy discourse about their schoolexperiences. Subjects naturally moved from rememberingincidents from early in their school lives to those thingsthat occurred later and then on to events closer to the timethey dropped out.The interview itself was intended to be particularlyopen-ended and to allow for as much flexibility andexploration of topics presented as possible. The responsesto the three major interview questions determined thedirection of the supplementary probes and clarified theexperiences, feelings and behaviours involved. In this way,a 'thick' description of the dropout's school life wasilluminated. Subjects were encouraged to explain theirdecision to drop out in their own way and often theidentified interview questions were answered in the courseof their discourse.The interview lasted between forty-five minutes and twohours, depending on the subjects ability to recall events,willingness to talk or verbal ability. Most interviewslasted between one and one and a half hours.Participants were extremely obliging and were pleasedto be able to offer their stories. Often the researcher hadto say little during the whole interview, as the informationseemed to feed on itself, triggering other memories,54feelings or experiences as the subject spoke. Theresearcher purposely offered as little input into thestoryline as possible, in order to not lead the direction ofthe interview. Basic interviewing, attending and listeningskills were used throughout. Several participants notedthat they had not previously had the opportunity to discusstheir decision to leave school early with anyone and thatthey found this to be helpful in understanding itthemselves.Written notes, as verbatim as possible, were madeduring the interview. Audio tapes were also made.The Story Once the participant reached a point where he/she feltthat his/her story was complete, they were presented withthe task of composing a story in response to an imaginedvisual stimulus. The following is a typical explanation ofthe task.Imagine that I'm holding up a picture of a littlegirl (boy) and that she (he) is standing in frontof a school, looking up at the front door and itis obvious that its her (his) very first day ofschool. Can you picture that? . . . Now if wewere to pretend that this picture was the firstpage in a child's story book, what would the restof the story be about? Tell me the rest of thestory and what happens to that little girl (boy).Several participants had a difficult time beginning55their story and asked procedural questions such as, "Do youmean like a 'once-upon-a-time' story," or "Does it have tobe true?". All questions were answered with an open-ended"Whatever you'd like." Most subjects then thought for a fewseconds before beginning, several with a wry smile on theirface. The stories were generally quite short and to thepoint and dealt primarily with emotional content. Often thestory brought a sombre tone to the interview, and in thesecases, the researcher made efforts to return the participantto a lighter state of mind before leaving. This was done byfirst asking the subject if he/she could leave that littlegirl/boy behind now and talk about his/her present lifeagain. Positive occurrences in their lives since leavingschool or future aspirations were then discussed.Story morals were elicited at the conclusion of thestory by asking what the little girl/boy had learned fromall her/his experiences. This proved to be an especiallydifficult question for the participants to answer and manysimply answered, "I don't know." Those that did answerusually coined a ready-made cliche that was not particularlyilluminating.The Validity Checks At the conclusion of each interview, the researcherexplained the thesis-writing procedure and informed them of56the approximate date that a summary of findings would beavailable. After explaining very briefly the data analysisprocedures, the subject was asked to assist in circling keywords or phrases in the written notes made by the researcherduring the interview. These words and phrases were used indata analysis. Subjects often summed up the entireinterview in one or two key words, which were then added tothe interview notes.In order to be sure that incidents were notmisinterpreted by the researcher or important eventsomitted, participants were contacted again after audio tapesand written notes were summarized. The words circled duringthe interview were retained during summarization, andverbatim phrasing was strived for. Usually summarizationwas not significantly different from the original interviewnotes.Most validity check meetings were very brief, lastingfrom ten to thirty minutes. Four subjects were not able tobe located after the original interview, and did notparticipate in the validity check.During the validity check, subjects read the summarizedinterview notes and clarified any additional words they feltshould be circled to indicate key incidents or feelings.They also were asked to indicate whether the summarizationaccurately reflected their recollection of the interview andtheir experiences. No major changes to the summaries were57made during these meetings. Several participants beganagain discussing additional incidents that distressed themduring their school careers, or general philosophical issuesabout education and schools.DATA ANALYSISIndividual Analysis Each participant's data from early recollections,interview and story construction was compared to ascertainthe pervasiveness of key feelings identified. Circled wordsand phrases from each technique were placed on index cardsand compared. Often the same words appeared in each of thethree interview sections. It became quickly apparent thatthe three techniques yielded the same key feelings and thatthe interview could be viewed as an integral whole.Duplicate words or phrases were then eliminated andsummaries and word cards assigned a random alphanumeric codeindicating subject and interview section (eg. A3 = subjectA, interview section 3 (story construction)). There was nofurther individual analysis.Analysis of cumulative data Word/phrase cards were then grouped according to majorthemes presented. In incidents where key feeling words wereidentified, similar feelings were grouped together. Incases where incidents were described, the underlying feelingwas used as the basis for grouping.58Once theme groupings were established, headings weregiven to each category, and these were compared to those ofIshiyama's Validation model. If the comparison yieldedlittle or no similarity, it was expected that anotherpattern would emerge.Finally, answers to the three main interview questionswere collated and compared. Answers were analyzed forsimilarity of experiences leading to the decision to dropout, suggestions as to interventions that may have helped,and recommendations for improvement of high schools.The limits of the generalizability of this study to thepopulation of dropouts depends greatly on the strength ofthe reported invalidation in each dimension of thevalidation model. For instance, if all participants were todescribe a strong sense of invalidation in the dimensionrelated to security, comfort and support and little or noinvalidation in the other dimensions, then we couldhypothesize that other groups of dropouts may suffer thesame invalidating experiences. However, if each participantdescribed invalidation in a different dimension, the best wecould hypothesize would be that students who eventuallyleave school early experience invalidation of one kind oranother. It was expected that a pattern (either followingIshiyama's validation model or not) would emerge andilluminate the sources of invalidation encountered by highschool students.59Inter-Rater Reliability Once category headings were established and titled, areliability check was done to be sure that the researcher'sgroupings were not idiosyncratic. Following a procedureoutlined by Andersson and Nilsson (1964), inter-raterreliability was checked by giving two other persons 10% ofthe cards sorted. One of these people was a graduatecounselling student, the other a practising schoolcounsellor. The cards used in this check were randomlyselected by a third, uninvolved person.Each rater was given category headings and 10% of thetotal number of cards (total = 251; 10% = 25). Theresearcher's categorization was checked against the tworaters and a percentage agreement score of 82 was achievedoverall. Disagreements centered around identification ofthe key feeling for cards where incidents were described andthe fact that some feelings could fit into two differentcategories (usually concerning feelings of being appreciatedor loved and affiliation or self-worth). According toAndersson and Nilsson, the level of inter-rater reliabilityachieved was acceptable.SUMMARYThis chapter presented information regarding theprocedures of data collection and analysis used in thisstudy. Population and study participants were described,techniques outlined and a procedural outline offered.Further understanding of the methods used will be obtainedthrough the transcripted session found in the appendix.6061CHAPTER 4 RESULTSINTRODUCTIONData analysis proceeded through identification of keyfeelings within individual interviews, coding of theseverbatim expression of feelings onto index cards, andseveral tentative sortings of these cards (a final total of251 cards). Seven basic categories and 22 subcategoriesdeveloped from the data. Several cards which could begrouped into two categories were given a primary placementbut will also be discussed in the secondary placementcategory.Because analysis of individual interview segmentsshowed that the three interview strategies yielded the sameresults, individual analysis was not continued. The processof beginning with early recollections was deemed to beuseful in broadening the participant's view of their schoolcareer, and the use of story construction likewise wasuseful in providing a natural progression to the interview.The fact that no new information was gleamed from thesestrategies did not hinder their usefulness in other areas.This chapter will proceed to outline the major andsubordinate categories that emerged from the data and todiscuss these categories in terms of the theories presentedin the literature review.62THE CATEGORIESIntroduction Of the seven categories that emerged from the datacollected, five dealt with non-academic and very personaland affective-based issues. Three major categories dealtwith interpersonal concerns. The largest category relatedto the subjects' perceptions of the lack of caringrelationships with adults in the school system. Theremaining categories dealt with emotional security,belonging and affiliation with peers, autonomy, competence,academic content and issues of self-worth. Table 1summarizes the categories, subcategories and frequenciesobtained from the data.CARING RELATIONSHIPS WITH ADULTSOf the 251 key feelings identified during analysis, 83(33%) dealt with the subjects' perceptions of a lack ofclose, caring relationships with teachers and other adultsin the school system.The following describes the primary subcategoriesestablished within the general framework of issuessurrounding lack of a caring relationship with adults withinthe school system. It was an unexpected finding of thisstudy that this became the most frequently discussed sourceof invalidation of dropouts. It was expected that issues ofidentity and belonging, typically adolescent concerns, would63be foremost. The fact that peer relationships and identityissues did not appear more crucial than personalrelationships with adults has great implications, discussedin the next chapter. The subcategories establishedilluminate various different but related sources of thefeeling expressed by so many dropouts: that adults just didnot care about them and they could not function in anenvironment where they were not cared for. The followingare the most frequently described instances depicting thatlack of caring.The key feelings highlighted in this section deal withthe felt lack of an adult in the school system who showedwarmth and concern for the student. Former studentsreported teachers who had neither the time nor, so far asthe student could discern, the inclination to help studentson a personal level. Several subjects (17) reportedunderstanding the teachers' difficulty in relating to over100 students a day, but most participants were more self-concerned and assumed a sense of hostility of varying degreetowards the adults they encountered within the high schoolsystem. Their feelings seemed to have been summed upaccurately by one former student: "Bad attitudes come frombeing hurt." This category describes the depth of thatpain.Not only did students feel that teachers did not likethem, they had many instances to confirm this impression.TABLE 1Categories and Frequency of Key Feelings Reported1. Caring Relationships^(83) 4. Autonomy^(27)Lack/caring^30 Power/unfair 14Lack/respect^11 Lack of power 13Lack/time^11 5. Competence^(27)Lack/listening 10 Lack/ability 14Punishment^7 Compet.not recog. 8Roles/caring^6 Evaluation 5Need/support^4 6.^Content^(27)Humiliation^4 Teach/methods 172. Emotional Security^(38) Teach/attitude 4Humil./peers^21 Continuity 3Fear/depress.^10 Relevance 3Humil./abil.^7 7.^Self-worth^(14)3. Belonging & Affiliation^(34)Peer relat's^21Group memb'shp 136465These instances describe a global but well articulated lackof a sense of being cared for, as well as more specificdescriptions of how adult roles and lack of time andopportunities for personal interaction acted to negate thedevelopment of a caring relationship. In several cases(17), as noted, students reported an empathy with theconstraints of the teachers' and other staff members' dutiesand lamented the fact that adults had either no time tobecome involved with their students or that the pressures oftheir jobs did not allow them the flexibility to do so.Twenty-one event cards were placed in primary positionsin other categories, but could also have been placed in thiscategory, increasing the frequency to 104 (42%). Thesecards were placed in primary categories such as Autonomy(Lack of power), Competency (Lack of ability), Content(Teaching methods), and Emotional Security (Humiliation andFear). It was felt that the main concern in the instancesdescribed was with the primary classification, but that thebyproduct of that event involved a sense of not being caredfor.Thirteen cards placed in the primary category ofAutonomy described instances where school staff members"kept butting into my life and tried to tell me what to do,""wouldn't let me take care of things myself," "treated melike a kid" and "wouldn't believe me." These instances,while concerned with the adults' use of power over the66student, also illuminated a sense of betrayal that the adultdid not care enough about the student to behave otherwise(by having faith in him/her and allowing him/her to interactwith students on a more equal basis).Four cards placed in the Competence category likewisedescribed adults who "thought I was goofing off when Ireally didn't understand," "pushed me when I really didn'tknow it" and who failed to care enough to see that "I neededmore help earlier." In these cases a lack of ability was theprecipitating event, the byproduct of which was again asense of being abandoned and uncared for.Two cards from the Content category described teachingmethods that did not allow for the development of any kindof relationship with the teacher: "The teacher just threwthe book at you and said 'Here, do this' and then left youon your own"; "I wish the teachers had more time just totalk about things with us."Two additional cards from the Emotional Securitycategory illustrated the lack of personal involvementbetween students and teachers: "I was teased, the teachersaw it a lot and never did anything to stop it". In oneinstance, the youngster (in grade 1 at the time of theincident) described a relationship so filled with fear thatshe "was afraid I'd get in trouble for being late, so Ididn't go back after lunch. I just went and hid under thebathroom sink."67These additional 21 cards add to the already pervasivestrength of the invalidation reported in this area.Lack of caring Thirty cards were given primary placement within thiscategory. This, then, became the largest categorydeveloped. This category describes instances where formerstudents outline their impressions that teachers and otherschool staff members did not care for them and had no desireto assist the student with personal or other problems. Themost frequently occurring statement within this, and allcategories combined, was that "nobody cared or helped".These young people felt that they needed more understandingand help with personal problems, and authority figures wholiked them and wanted to help. Several (4) reported that"teachers should pay more attention to kids' feelings" andthat there was "not enough association between teachers andstudents; they should be closer".It is clear that the prevailing mandate of an objectiveand impersonal teacher-student relationship does not servethe needs of the young people it is designed to nurtureacademically. The traditional mandate of the schools hasalways been to foster academic development in its students.The home, church and community historically have nurturedthe young person in affective areas and socialized them intoadult roles. However, with the increasing complexity ofNorth American society, home, church and community have lost68sole ownership of this role and schools increasingly mustprovide nurturance and role models for young people. Theofficial mandate of the school system, however, has notchanged rapidly enough to keep up with the increasinglycomplex needs of its students. As the importance of churchand community has diminished, and oftimes the integrity ofthe home has faltered, the demands placed on the young adultto fit into an increasingly complex society have multipliedseveral times over. The increased need for adult mentorshipeasing the young person's adjustment to adult roles has notbeen accompanied by complementary changes in the stated roleand mandate of the school system. This may well be the lackdescribed by the young people who report such pervasive lackof validation in this area.Two dropouts reported that because they "always didO.K." with academics, the teachers "didn't pay me anyattention" and that "just because a kid is quiet and doesO.K. work, doesn't mean they're O.K. - just too scared toask for help." Three others mentioned that teachers did nottry to understand what problems the students faced, nor didthey try to help solve them. Students clearly desired anadult to notice them and assist with resolution of theirproblems but did not have the tools or the knowledge of howto enlist that help. Those who learned well the traditionalstudent role of quiet obedience and passive, if any,interaction, were those who could not see any other mode of69connecting with their teachers. On the teachers' side, theincreased demands of high class sizes, multiple mental,physical and emotional handicaps in their students and theconstraints of tight educational funding and lack ofservices have combined to allow the teacher little time,energy or other resources with which to deal with theincreased problems they face on a day to day basis. Theonly way to cope may well be to focus their attention onthose with the more severe problems or those who are themost vocal or demanding. It is not surprising that thestudent who demands little receives exactly that.This category contains global concerns, but ones thatare extensive, well articulated and supported by statementsin other dimensions that describe the pervasive feeling ofbeing uncared for and ignored.Lack of Mutual Respect Eleven cards comprise this category. These incidentsand feelings describe the issue of respect, the mostcommonly occurring key word in this dimension. Dropoutsfelt not only that "teachers need to respect kids more," butthat "students deserve as much respect as they have togive." An "equal relationship" was sought, where theteachers considered the opinions of their students andallowed them the opportunity to have input. The traditional"respect your elders" philosophy was not denied, butappended to it, these youngsters would have liked to see "as70they respect you." Former students described theirimpressions that "teachers thought they were older and knewmore, but kids can be right, too." Where differences ofopinion came into play, the students seldom felt that theirideas were considered valid.Not only were ideas and opinions seen to be notrespected, their very age contributed to what students sawas a lack of respect from their teachers. "Teachers alwaystalked different to us than to each other." Students werenot to be privy to the same degree of familiarity affordedadult staff members. For example, calling teachers by theirfirst name is severely frowned upon but students are rarelycalled by the more formal Mr. or Miss. Students described atone of condescension when teachers talked to them andexpressed the need for "teachers that don't yell at us allthe time." Being yelled at (whether in private or public)was mentioned by many participants, but as one noted, it wasrare to hear teachers yell at each other.Respect seemed to embody a number of attributes for thestudy participants. The right to express their own ideas,to disagree with authorities, and to be privy tocommunication at a more personal level were the mostcommonly mentioned. Others included the right to privacyand appreciation of individual uniqueness.71Lack of Adult Time Eleven cards also reflected the lack of adult timeavailable to the individual high school student. One youngman summed it up: "Everyone was too busy: The teachers hadtoo many kids, the counsellor had too many to see and theprincipal and vice principal were too busy suspendingeveryone." Not only did the adults not have time to helpwith personal problems, students suffered academically aswell. Students reported that they couldn't "work in bigclasses. I needed more explaining and the teacher never hadtime." One student managed to find someone he could connectwith. "The L.A. (Language Assistance) teacher didn't haveas many kids at once, so I could talk to her about what Ididn't understand."The inclusion of this category is no surprise. Thesheer logistics of being able to connect individually with30 students in every hour is prohibitive. Considering thatat the high school level each class period is slightly lessthan one hour long, the average amount of time a teachercould spend with one student, if he/she connected once witheach one, would be less than two minutes a day. It is nowonder classroom teachers are perceived to have no time forindividual students.Counsellors, likewise face a horrendous case load inmost schools. Not only are they responsible for individualcounselling for those students who are experiencing obvious72emotional difficulties, but they are also expected to docareer and vocational testing and planning, and courseselection and timetabling. They, too, physically cannotmeet the demands for time placed on them.Administrators tended to be viewed most negatively bydropouts. Principals and vice principals were most ofteninvolved in the suspension of students and presumably didnot interact with their students on other, more positiveoccasions. If they did, it does not appear that it was withthe students who were at risk of dropping out as none of thestudy participants reported any positive contacts withadministrators.In short, most adults in the school system were viewedas being so busy doing their jobs that they had little timeleft over for more human and personal contact with students.Lack of Opportunities to be Listened To Related to the category of adults not having time forstudents and the category regarding lack of respect is thelack of opportunities for students to be listened to. Againformer students reported concern with both personal and morepractical issues. On the practical side, dropouts reportednever having "a say in what happens in the school. No oneever asked us what we wanted, and if we tried to tellthem,they wouldn't listen." There was little opportunity tohave input into what students were expected to learn or howor when they would do so. The curriculum was set, the73course outlines established and adhered to year after yearwith little variation, and disruptions in school routineswere not tolerated.On a more personal level, dropouts reported that they"would have loved someone to be interested enough to taketime to listen to me" and that they desperately neededsomeone to talk to. Several (5) participants noted thatthey had definite personal, family or other problems thatthey would have liked to have discussed with someone, butthat there was no one available. Three subjects reportedthat they would have very much liked to have been able tosee the counsellor to discuss these problems. One young mansuggested that schools should "have all kids visit thecounsellor once a month to catch things early."Whether for personal, academic, or social reasons, theneed to discuss problems was highlighted as another sourceof the perception that no one cared about the youngster whoeventually dropped out.Use of Punishment Seven incidents were described in this category.Suspension was cited as a common consequence formisbehaviour and two students reported that theeffectiveness of this as a punitive measure wascounterproductive. One student considered suspension as anopportunity to do whatever he liked for a few days; so, hepreferred it to other punishments. The schools, however,74seem to consider suspension as a serious and dreadedconsequence. Three students reported listening toadministrators explain the severity of this form ofpunishment while they, "couldn't figure out why it wassupposed to be so terrible." However, administrators wereconsidered to be "too strict" and too busy and uninterestedto help students solve their problems. So, in the students'estimation, administrators chose the easiest route.Although suspension was verbally not considered a seriousconsequence by most students, several (5) reportedsuspension as a recent precursor to their decisions to leaveschool early. Three reported that repeated suspensions leadto their spending less and less time in school andeventually simply not returning.Physical punishment was mentioned by two students. Onereported a sense of indignation when a "teacher grabbed meby the arm" and "pushed me around".One student described an early sense of invalidation inthis area. She reported that in grade one in a FrenchImmersion class that her lunch was thrown in the garbagebecause she had not learned to count to 100 in French yet.Obviously, the schools' ideas of punishment and thoseof the students do not coincide. Punitive measures wereseen by students as indictors of a lack of caring andrespect on the part of the adults in the system and reportedno lasting effectiveness as a consequence of the punishment75methods employed in the schools. Yelling at students servedonly to distance them further and suspension acted in asimilar fashion to decrease the holding power of the schoolsby allowing young people to find satisfaction in areasoutside of the school they were asked to leave (even for ashort period of time).Adult Roles vs. Caring This category contained six cards closely related tothe perception that adults in the school system had no timefor their students. The roles adults were seen to occupydid not include a concern for students' well-being.Principals' only interaction with students was seen to be"to give you trouble" and the only time they were seen wasif "you were in trouble." The impression was that theirmore crucial duties did not involve assisting students oreven interacting with them on anything less than anauthoritarian basis.Counsellors likewise were seen as too busy with otherduties, primarily timetabling, to interact with students.In fact counsellors were mentioned in the same punitive roleas administrators by three dropouts. Their apparent roledescription included scheduling classes and assisting theprincipal and vice principal with punishment andsuspensions, but seldom with assisting students in copingwith the demands of being a young person in school.Again, looking at this section from the adults'76perspective shows the same constraints being placed onteachers, counsellors and administrators who find themselveswith an ever-increasing workload and less and less resourcesand time in which to deal with it. Administrators faceunwieldy numbers of students and staff within increasinglycrowded and outdated facilities and are expected to justifytheir programs and account for the performance of theirstudents to parents, board officials and communities. Thesheer weight of bureaucratic details to contend with forcethe administrator into a position where personal contactwith students (and oftimes staff) is, of necessity, limited.There simply is no time.Counselling programs likewise are overburdened andunderstaffed. Elementary schools, where much of thestudents' sense of invalidation begins, seldom have even onefull time counsellor on staff. Often counsellors areassigned to two and three schools at a time and must commuteback and forth and try their best to serve the most needy ateach school. Dealing with the most needy alone requires afulltime therapist in some schools, and those students whoare less obviously disturbed or in need of assistancereceive none.Secondary counselling for years was viewed as a step upthe ladder to administration, and high school counsellorsoften assist with many administrative details within theschool. Course scheduling and assisting with discipline77take an inordinate amount of the counsellor's time, whichreduces the amount of time remaining for individual or groupcounselling for those who require it.This section coupled with the evidence found in thesection dealing with lack of adult time and lack ofopportunities to be listened to, points to a decisivefeeling of being abandoned by adults in the school system.While the personal relationship with adults was desired,many factors interacted to make it impossible.Need for Support Again the desire for adult guidance is shown in thiscategory. Four dropouts specifically noted that "a littleencouragement was all I needed" and that it would have beenbetter if "teachers were more encouraging." Students notedthat the majority of their interactions with adults in theschool system were of a disciplinary or negative nature.Friendly, concerned support was conspicuous by its absence,for all the reasons previously mentioned.Humiliation by Teachers The felt lack of caring by teachers and other adults inthe school system is evidenced at its height in thissection. Not only did the students feel frustrated with thelack of adult support and encouragement, but their sense ofself-worth was attacked on an almost daily basis by teacherswho yelled at and embarrassed them in front of their peers.As Elkind (1984) pointed out, the teenager is overly78sensitive to the positive regard of others and especiallyconcerned with their own public presentation. Publicreprimands and discipline serve only to attack theyoungsters' public image and in turn damage their personalassessment of self.Teachers' choice and style of disciplinary comments,while considered harmful by most study participants, wereexplained as understandable by one dropout. He expressedsympathy for the plight of teachers having to deal with "somany kids every day" and especially with "kids that don'twant to be there and act like jerks toward them." Further,the stresses of the job were mentioned by two otherparticipants who commented that "teachers must get tired ofhaving snotty kids at them all day every year" and that"everybody, even teachers need a break sometimes" but thatinstead of their jobs getting easier with time, "it getsharder and harder for them. They have to worry about thegovernment and principals and parents and kids." Indeed theschool system in the last several years has had increasedpressures to live up to the almost unmeetable demands ofparents and governments. The role of the school, asdiscussed, has increased in scope and teachers are nowexpected to be many things to many people at all times. Thestress of these roles is sure to take its toll, and evenstudents recognize this fact.79EMOTIONAL SECURITYThis category of 38 cards (15% of the total) shiftsfrom an exclusive concern with the adults in the schoolsystem to the students' peers and other life influences.The essential characteristic of this grouping is the concernwith a stable sense of emotional safety. The opposite of asense of emotional security involves a sense of neverknowing how one will be treated and when personal attacksare forthcoming, resulting in a sense of insecurity,defensiveness and fear or depression. These personalattacks on a basic sense of validation may take many formsand can be labelled in many ways. Ridicule, humiliation,put-downs, and criticism are common sources of a sense ofemotional insecurity. Adolescence, as a life stage, isfraught with insecurities at the best of times. Elkind's"imaginary audience" is relentless and youngsters areconstantly concerned with the opinions of others about theirperformance and appearance. Acceptance and finding a stablesense of identity and group membership are crucial. Anyperceived criticism from the peers whose positive regard isso important is doubly damaging to the adolescent.Public Humiliation This subcategory (21 cards) was summed up by one younglady who noted that "bad attitudes come from being hurt."The cards in this group describe instances where teasing,humiliation and embarrassment eroded the young students'80sense of emotional security.^The most commonly occurringkey feeling was embarrassment (6 cards) and the most commonkey incident was being "made fun of" or "teased" (10 cards).Derisive comments and actions were described as studentsendured the onslaughts of their peers asserting their ownsense of self-importance and competence by downplayingothers. The constant involvement with hordes of similarlyconcerned adolescents provided many opportunities to be putdown, and one could never be sure of when or where theslights would be slung. One dropout noted that she"couldn't take being put down, but somebody always did".Being in large groupings at every turn provided an insecure,at best, and threatening, at worst, environment. Thehumiliation was not only personally damaging, but publiclydamning as well, as seldom were these onslaughts conductedin private. The very structure of the school systemnecessitates students travelling in 'herds' or large groupswhere, once a particular student is deemed a target, he/shebecomes a constant source of material for others to tease,humiliate and put down. One dropout expressed the build upof this reputation until "pretty soon I was always the buttof somebody's jokes". Two other youngsters described theirretreat from public situations because they were "alwaysafraid to say anything" because they were "afraid peoplewould laugh at me". Clearly the close association of largenumbers of youngsters insecure of their own self-worth81creates a potentially hostile environment in which a cycleof humiliation and being humiliated evolves.Fear and Depression This subcategory of 10 cards outlines the prevailingfeelings of fear, insecurity and depression that arose fromthe myriad of experiences faced by future dropouts in theirschool career. The most commonly occurring key feeling was"scared" mentioned in six of the cards in this group.Participants described the sense of fear beginning as earlyas first grade where one young girl was so "afraid I'd getin trouble for being late" that she hid under the bathroomsink instead of returning to class (also cited in thesecondary placement of Caring Relationships with Adults/Useof punishment). Other early elementary experiences sentyoungsters "home crying at lunch." During the storyconstruction portion of the interview, one participantdescribed a young girl on her first day of school being soafraid to go in that she became unable to move and had tohave someone come and force her into the school. Otherparticipants (4) mentioned the almost unbearable fear,confusion and depression experienced during the transitionfrom elementary to high school. Large numbers of students,huge school buildings, and not being sure of where to go andat what time led these students to feeling "scared and verynervous."82Public Humiliation Related to Ability Seven cards dealing with humiliation by peers were veryspecific about the content of the humiliation. Lack ofability in various areas became the source of much derision.On a global level, one student reported being "looked downon if you don't learn the way you were expected to."(Learning styles are also discussed in the category TeachingMethods.) Separate ability groupings were cited as harmfulas well, as those students who were placed in lower trackclasses or groupings within the classroom were "teased andput down by the others." It was considered "bad enough thatwe had trouble with that subject, but when everybody elseknew about it, it was lots worse 'cause then they never letus forget it."Four students cited Physical Education classes as asource of damning evaluation from their peers. The lack ofathletic ability proved to be a humiliating deficiency whichbecame obvious on a regular basis. Two dropouts went so faras to recommend that students not be required to take P.E.at all, as it was so crucial and damning an experience.Within accepted theories of self-esteem (eg. Coopersmith),one's evaluation of self rests on, for very young children,a global appraisal. Attacks on one particular aspect ofperformance for these children would be generalized into aglobal sense of failure. Older children are able to confinecriticism to the particular aspect of their personhood that83is relevant, but a sense of appreciation of one's body is acritical component to an overall sense of self-worth. Evenfor young children, the evaluation of physical self is acontributor to the more global sense of self. Coopersmith(1981) lists efficacy in several areas as contributing toself-esteem. These include physical self and academic self.From these theories and the comments of the dropoutssurveyed, lack of ability in either area and the negativeevaluations of others combine to produce a damning source ofinvalidation.BELONGING AND AFFILIATIONMaslow's lower level needs included a sense ofbelonging as secondary only to physiological and safetyneeds. Likewise, Schutz' primary social need is one ofinclusion. Ishiyama groups identity and belonging issuestogether as the formation of identity which is heavilyinfluenced by the groups one feels a part of. Thirty-fourcards in this group describe the lack of, or difficulties informing a sense of belonging in the high school. Notsurprisingly, the mobility of today's society is reflectedin the constant movement and changing composition of thegroups that youngsters are expected to interact in withinthe school day. A secure sense of group membership andaffiliation with a steady group of peers is missing.84Peer Relationships Twenty-two cards were collected in this subcategory.The most common key feelings were "lonely" and the concernthat "nobody liked me," both cited on five cards each. Oneyoung man mentioned that his transition to high school"would have been more comfortable if I had known morepeople" and others reported feeling "alone a lot of thetime." Clearly, even with the large numbers of peoplecirculating within the high school, many students feel theyhave few friends and are unhappy with their lack ofaffiliation. Four cards describe the feeling of not havingany friends and one girl reported trying "to buy things togive kids so they'd be my friend." Even this, however,failed and the sense of loneliness increased.Three cards concern apparent differences between theparticipant and other students. Being older than otherstudents and being physically or culturally distinct werealso mentioned. One dropout offered the suggestion that"teachers and classes should have more discussions so youcan hear how everybody feels and know that we're all thesame." It appears that the old 'guidance' classes may haveserved a purpose now neglected.Group MembershipThirteen cards were concerned with group membership andthe pressure involved in students' attempts to fit in. Oneyoung man noted that the major difficulty for him on85entering high school was that he was no longer "togetherwith the same kids all the time" and that "finding a groupto be in is something you have to do, but its harder whenyou're not with the same kids very much." Nine cardsdescribe the pressure to fit in as being overpowering andseveral mentioned that one must belong to specific groups,not just any group, in order to be well accepted. The "coolkids" were the preferred group. Anything less thanmembership in this group provided a lower status level.One student cited moving residences several times hadmade the pressure to fit in quickly more crucial. Anothercited the desire to fit in and its consequences in her storyconstruction: "she wanted to learn and be accepted and bepart of the right group, but she wasn't so she stayed in herroom and cried."Belonging to the 'right' crowd is clearly an importantissue to adolescents, and one that those who dropout do notfeel comfortable with. The pressure to 'fit in' and thethwarted need to find a place to belong combined to offerthese young people a lonely and frustrating experience.AUTONOMYAt the inception of this study, it was expected thatissues of autonomy and competence would play a larger rolethan the results have indicated. Adolescent life taskscenter around identity formation, and issues of independence86are foremost in the theories surrounding this stage ofdevelopment. It is interesting that both autonomy andcompetence (and academic content) received the same numberof cards (27), and that they ranked fourth in magnitude ofresponses after lesser-predicted relationship issues withadults and peers. In this category, the adolescent concernwith developing a sense of independent self was expected toemerge with force. It did emerge, although not with theimpact predicted, to outline the former students feelings offrustrated independence. Theories such as Elkind's (1984)explain the need for the differentiation of self fromparents, teachers and other authorities in the search for apositive sense of personal identity. Youngsters typicallyexperience a sense of frustration that their ideas are notrespected and that their independence is not respected.Issues of power and control are important issues. Schutz'second social need was the desire for control or the abilityto influence one's environment. A sense of frustration andhelplessness ensues if one does not attain an orientationtowards self-efficacy.Lack of Power Although the next subcategory had one more cardassigned to it, Lack of Power will be discussed first as itmore clearly illustrates the dropouts' concern with issuesof autonomy and independence, while Power Used Unfairly wasseen to be a specific instance or qualifier of the present87category.Concerns with the lack of power felt by participantswithin the school system comprised 14 key feeling cards.The most commonly occurring expressions were "power" (4) and"treated like a kid" (3). While participants continued toexpress their desire to have adults in the school systeminterested in their problems, they also resented the methodssome teachers used to express concern. Five participantsexpressed a distinction between being able to "talk and beinterested" but "not to butt in." Teachers who continuallyoffered advice were seen as lacking faith in the students'ability to run their own lives. Likewise, well-wishingteachers who "bugged me until I told her about my personalproblems" were also resented.Two cards cited specific reference to feeling thatteachers "treated us like kids." The budding sense ofindependence and desire for autonomy was not respected, asteachers continued to direct students' activities andattempted to solve problems for them. One student reportedthat his response to the perceived power imbalance was to"harass the teachers, just so they'd know I had some powertoo."Four cards were primarily concerned with more generalexpressions of lack of power. Teachers were seen to have"all the power" to make decisions and direct the operationsnot only of the classroom, but of the school and the88students' lives as well. "Teacher power trips" wereresented and gave the impression that "schools belong to theteachers not the kids."Power Used Unfairly The perception of teacher control was particularlyevident when former students recalled incidents wherepunishment was meted out unfairly while attempts to clarifyproblem situations were not heeded. This subcategorycomprised 14 cards, nine of which contained the words"wasn't fair". Several participants described situationswhere suspensions were issued for incidents that wereconsidered to be unfairly evaluated. One young man reportedthat there were many occasions on which he "never reallyknew why I was getting in trouble." Several (3) reportedtaking the blame for others' transgressions, or foraccidental incidents or first time offenses: "I got introuble for it, but it was really the guy in front of me";"I got suspended for it, but I really didn't mean to do it,it was an accident"; "got suspended the first time I everskipped out, and the other two kids did it all the time andnever got suspended." One young lady recounted beingsuspended for skipping out "when I was really at homebecause my dad was sick but no one would believe me." Asense of indignation was evident in many of these storieswhere adults in the school would not listen to, or accept,explanations. Three former students expressed the opinion89that teachers "really should take all sides into accountbefore they decide to punish someone, cause lots of the timethey punish the wrong person and that just makes you mad atthem and then you don't want to cooperate with them anymore." This view was reflected also in the category dealingwith Caring Relationships with Adults: Use of Punishment.These young people presented a well articulated senseof lack of personal power in the schools they attended.They had a common impression that adults lacked enough faithin them to allow them to make responsible decisions or tolisten to them explain problem situations fairly andimpartially.COMPETENCEErikson's description of the adolescent life stagedescribes the imperative for these youngsters to attain asense of competence and faith in their ability to affectchange in their environment and to perform needed tasksquickly and efficiently. School itself is centered arounddeveloping competence in areas deemed important by society.Part of the adult role in our culture involves finding anarea of competence and ability in which to concentratecareer aspirations. Young people who do not develop a basicsense of competence will be hard pressed to fit into anadult role of job performance as well as social competence.A sense of confidence must be instilled in one's own90abilities to perform at least some activities effectivelybefore risks will be taken to attempt new ventures. In thiscategory, the participants relate incidents encountered in-their high school experiences that negated their developingsense of competence.^Twenty-seven cards comprise thiscategory.Lack of Ability While it is a well-accepted fact that individuals learnat different rates and are more predisposed to competenciesin certain areas, the youngsters surveyed expressed definitethreats to their sense of validation as a result of theirparticular lack of ability in certain areas. Fourteen cardswere placed in this subcategory and describe the formerstudents' academic frustrations. Four dropouts describedthemselves as 'slow learners' and outlined their inabilityto keep up to everyone else. One of these reported, "Icould do the work but I needed more time on some parts thanother people and I couldn't do it as fast as they did." Theresult of a slower pace of concept attainment was oftenfailure of courses or, at earlier levels, whole years. Fivedropouts commented on the sense of frustration thatdeveloped when grades dropped, summed up by one who said"Failing turns kids off school for good." Often the formerstudent felt that the teacher did not appreciate theirattempts at learning: "The teacher thought I was justgoofing off because I didn't understand." Two youngsters91reported sincere efforts that did not seem to be effectivein helping them learn: "It was hard - I did what the teachersaid, all my homework and everything, sometimes extra, butit was always wrong on the test." A sense of failure began,in some cases, in the elementary years, but most (7)reported that grades 7, 8 and 9 were the most difficult forthem. One young man noted the consequence of repeatedattempts to learn when results did not live up to the rateand quality of other students: "I just couldn't do it. Ikept trying and trying and it didn't do any good and theteacher didn't seem to care so I just gave up. It wasobvious that I just wasn't smart enough to do it so it waskinda like beating your head against the wall, so I justdecided to stop after awhile". One of the dropouts surveyedreported being placed in a special education class in orderto better serve his academic needs, but felt the stigmaattached to these classes and saw it as an admission of hisineptitude, and therefore, further reason to give up.Competencies Not Recognized or Allowed For Eight cards outlined learning styles or competenciesnot adequately provided for in the school system. Onedropout simply reported that her "learning style didn'tmatch the school's way" and explained that the typicallecture and textbook exercise format classroom was not theway she could learn. Another reported that he "couldn't dothe work - there was too much written stuff that was hard.92I needed to be shown how to do it first and sometimes Ineeded to practise it more." Five cards reflected heopinion that students needed more opportunities to learn inways other than listening and doing textbook exercises. Twoexpressed the desire to be able to do more with their handsand would have liked to have been able to "work withcomputers and do real things, like we'd use on a real job."One youngster reflected that he was "smart in lots of ways,but not the ones that counted." Clearly the traditionalteacher-centered classroom did not serve the students' needsand further increased their sense of frustration andhopelessness.Conversely, three dropouts reported a lack of challengein their school experiences. "The courses were too easy. Ialways had a B average and I never had to work at it so itgot pretty boring." Their needs were just as poorly dealtwith as those who felt that the work was too difficult, andthe resultant key feeling was again one of frustration,along with impatience and boredom.Evaluation and Pressure to PerformFive cards comprised this subcategory wherein thepressure to perform academically was outlined. Report cardsand grading practises were mentioned by two dropouts whostated that they "hated report card time - everybody wasalways compared, and I was never on top," and that theevaluation practises employed in the schools did not assess93all aspects of performance: "Teachers should evaluate ondifferent levels, for some kids trying should count becausesome of us had to work a lot harder to understand and othersjust never did anything and they always got the good marksand we failed." For these students, effort held littlereward and served to ignite a sense of injustice in theschool system.The desire to do well was evident in dropouts'responses. One young lady reported being punished forcheating when she "looked at the answer book, because Iwanted so much to do good and have the teacher tell me I dida good job." The approval of teachers and parents issignificant in its absence for these young people. Just aspeer approval was deemed important in many ways, theadmiration of adults in the youngsters' life was alsocrucial. Adults' approval was seen to be conditional oncompetence in academic areas, and if inadequacy was evident,approval was seen to be withheld.CONTENTIssues about academic content comprised 11% of thetotal number of cards developed. Twenty-seven cardsdescribe a sense of futility and dissatisfaction with thematerial presented in high school classes and the methods inwhich it is presented. Most participants had something tosay about what they were expected to learn and had definite94ideas about its relevance to their life situation. Whilepresentation and dissemination of academic content isconsidered to be the first job of the schools, it is not thefirstly considered factor in students' assessments ofsatisfaction with their school experience. Moreover, theactual content itself appears to be not as crucial as theway in which it is presented (only six of the 27 cards inthis category deal directly with the academic content itselfand 21 deal with presentation). It appears, then, thatmotivational factors rest primarily with the classroomenvironment, not the material itself, although someconsideration must also be given to its relevance andintegration with other subject material.Teaching Methods Seventeen cards expressed dissatisfaction with themethods in which content was delivered to them in their highschool classes. The youngsters' developing sense ofpreferences and independent value judgments provided themwith the means by which they became clear on what intereststhem and what doesn't. The cards collected in thissubcategory outline the former students' frustrated searchfor meaning and enjoyment in their school subjects. Oneparticipant, during story construction, related the story ofa young girl who, once in school is "curious, but gets tiredof doing the same old thing all the time." One young manremarked that he felt that "all teachers have time to do is95get us ready for the tests," and others echoed thiscomplaint less compassionately: "They (teachers) didn't carewhether we like the stuff or not, we always had to just sitand listen and get bored out of our trees doing questionsfrom a textbook." The desire for significance and varietyin their day-to-day experience was evident in the complaintthat teachers "never made it interesting." A few (3)participants noted that they did encounter the odd teacherthat "could turn subjects into excitement" and did not relyon "just doing questions out of a textbook." Teachingmethods were criticized repeatedly throughout thediscussions with most participants, but the reliance ontextbooks was referred to without fail as the major sourceof dissatisfaction with academic content.^One dropout didnote that he recognized the teachers' difficulty of "alwaysbeing on stage and have to find great ways to present thesame old stuff every year." Indeed with large class sizesand little in the way of preparation time, the easiest routewould be to utilize ready-made curricula, even at theexpense of student satisfaction.Teacher Attitude Towards Content Closely related to teaching methods were the four cardsdiscussing teachers' attitudes towards what they wereteaching. These cards clearly indicate the importance ofteacher enthusiasm and interest in the subject matter beingpresented. As one dropout reported, if the "teacher enjoyed96himself, so did we." Developing an interest in content washeavily influenced by the teachers' demeanor. An instructorwho was "grumpy all the time" and "didn't seem to reallycare about what he was trying to make us learn" was not seenas anyone worth listening to. One dropout compared histeachers to other youth leaders in his life and concludedthat he could "learn things in Scouts because they likedwhat they were doing and took time with me." Teachers wereseen, for the most part, to be bored with their job anduninterested in their students. In return, students becamebored and uninterested in their classes. Most dropoutssurveyed could identify a teacher that they did like,however, and these teachers were described as caring,interested people who enjoyed their jobs: "One teacher wasgreat, she made it exciting. She cracked jokes, had videos,always had something new to tell us and she let us talkabout things a lot."This subcategory clearly outlined the lack of a senseof meaning and significance in the dropouts academiccoursework and the role of the teacher in developing themotivation and desire to learn subject matter. Teachers whoare overly stressed became quite visible in their effects onstudents' interest in school.Relevance Three cards comprised this subcategory which outlinesthe lack of former students' understanding of the importance97of their studies, and how they relate to practical issues intheir lives. Summed up by one dropout, "some of the workwas really useless." Another stated that he "never knew whywe needed all that stuff." The need to find meaning in whatstudents are doing on a day to day basis again becomesapparent. Learning simply for the sake of learning does notfulfil the students' desires for practical knowledge.^Ifmaterial is to be seen as relevant, it must be demonstratedto be so on a regular basis.Continuity Three cards in this subcategory described the lack of asense of continuity in the dropouts' school day. Again,meaning and significance is disrupted if a sense ofcoherence is not established. Dropouts cited the rapidclass changes in high school as contributing to this lack ofcorrelation between one subject and the next: "It just feltdisjointed all the time, one hour was never connected to thelast" and "you'd just get into something and have to move onto another subject." Students clearly desired a morecontinuous flow to their day that was not served by thesegmentation of academic content into discrete hour blocks.SELF-WORTHContradicting an expectation of the researcher, issuesof self-worth comprised the smallest category in this study.Fourteen cards describe issues of low self-evaluation in98comparison to others and simply on self-assessments. Fourcards relate specifically to comparisons with other studentsand outline the reluctance some dropouts had to "do things,because it wouldn't be as good as everybody else."Comparisons with other students were rampant not only inacademic coursework and report card grades, but also inphysical, social and personal areas. The category dealingwith feelings of Competence is closely related, especiallythe cards discussing ability and fear of humiliation in P.E.Several participants again mentioned P.E. as a source oflowered self-assessments in relation to other students.Ten cards relate a sense of lowered self-worth notrelated to comparisons to other students, but on a globaland pervasive basis. This global sense referred to academicabilities in some cases: "The teacher told me I wasn't doinggood - I considered it for all subjects." In far more casesan extensive lack of a sense of self-worth referred to muchmore, as with the dropout who described feeling "like Icouldn't make it anywhere." Several participants (8)reported trying to do well but to no avail: "I tried but itnever seemed to be good enough." Two former students feltthat they "had to prove I was good enough," but could notidentify any one particular area that they were expected toprove themselves in. Instead they simply answered"everything" or "it just seemed like it didn't matter what Idid I wasn't worth anything, even in things that I did99O.K.". When asked to specify incidents or teacherbehaviours that gave rise to these feelings, most reported alack of attention, encouragement or approval for workperformed or for efforts made. "It was like we were justsupposed to do it and hand it in and they (teachers) neversaid anything about it, so you never knew if it was good ornot, except that the teachers always talked about otherkids' work, so you knew you weren't as good as they were".One dropout reported that she "always tried real hard and Iwanted the teacher to like me, I was a real suck, but shenever noticed me, so I tried harder, but even when I thoughtI did good she'd come up and find something wrong with it".Incidents and key feelings outlined in this categoryhinge on feelings of competence and so could fit well inthat category. Likewise, most incidents described herecould also relate easily to a lack of a positiverelationship with teachers and so could fit into thatcategory as well. However, the fourteen cards in thiscategory are much more global and pervasive than simplyreferring to lack of ability or a concern about therelationship with the teacher and seemed to extend beyondthe classroom. The lack of self-confidence seemed togeneralize to social activities as well. One former studentrelated her inability to "feel like I could really doanything even when I was with my friends." Another said,"Doing anything physical was really risky for me because I100knew I wasn't as good as anyone else. I was even worriedwhen I went to dances or my friends wanted to go ice skatingor something like that." A lowered sense of self-worthbecame a pervasive and damaging trait these dropoutsattributed to their experiences in school.THE CATEGORIES AND THE LITERATURECharacteristics of Drop-outs While the characteristics of dropouts were not thefocus of this study, the interview data did support therelevant literature.No attempts were made in this study to ascertain thefamily background of participants as literature on thisfactor is abundant. During the course of several interviewshowever, participants did mention several incidents whichmight indicate a low socioeconomic status or single parentfamily.Personality and social aspects were reflected in manyof the interviews. While self-esteem was not formallymeasured, the categories dealing with self-worth, emotionalsecurity and competence may be seen to reflect a loweredlevel of self-esteem. Behaviour problems, often cited as acharacteristic of students who eventually dropout, were alsomentioned frequently. Being suspended on several occasionswas not unusual for this group of youngsters andaltercations with principals, teachers and counsellors were101reported several times, as evidenced in their comments abouttheir relationship with school staff members.Finn's (1989) 'frustration-self-esteem model' outlinedin Chapter 2 appears particularly relevant. Frustration andembarrassment were mentioned by many participants andcontributed to a downward spiral, with poor performance,criticism or lack of approval providing lowered self-evaluations, in turn leading to lowered expectations andlower goals. A sense of alienation was the result andschool came to be viewed as a hostile, nonvalidatingenvironment.The commonly reported school-related characteristics ofdropouts were well established in the group of dropoutssurveyed in this study. Low achievement was reported bymany participants as noted in the category of Competence.(However, high achievement and lack of challenge was alsonoted by two dropouts.) Enrolment in basic or lower abilitycourses was also reported by several participants and theconsequent ridicule and embarrassment about this publicadmission of lack of ability was noted.Irregular attendance was evident although notprevalent, as indicated in the reports of three participantswho cited this factor as the major event leading to theirdecision to drop out. One of these noted illness as thereason for lack of attendance on a regular basis and theothers simply explained that "it was more fun skipping out".102Reasons for Dropping Out The relevant literature base abounds in studiesrelating students' dissatisfaction with school as the mostcritical factor in their decision to leave school early.The participants in this study were extremely critical intheir evaluation of both the ambience and academiccircumstances in their high schools. Relationships withteachers and other school staff were seen to be ineffectualand strained and former students reported a distinct senseof alienation. Boredom and lack of a sense of relevancewere commonly reported. The literature regarding dropoutsreasons for leaving school early, as cited in Chapter 2 iswell supported by the data in this study. Only one dropoutin this study cited personal or family reasons for leavingschool, and this young man reported that he felt morerewarded in his work environment than he did at school,which is an opinion shared by many of his non-working peers.Personal reasons for dropping out of school oftenreveal a lowered self-esteem. This study expected issues ofself-worth to be more prevalent than the data indicated, butwhen one examines the literature more closely, thedefinition of self-esteem includes many of the factors citedin other categories in this study. Self-esteem, as measuredby many formal instruments, is based on the discrepancybetween the ideal self and estimations of actual self.Clearly, this study's categories of competence and autonomy103can be examples of this discrepancy. The data from thesecategories relate the dropouts' frustration with theirinitial expectations of their own ability and desires andactual perceived outcomes. These young people have adetailed picture of how they would like to see themselvesand how they would like to be treated by others, and thispicture was markedly different from the feedback they feltthey received from others, primarily teachers. Many of theconstructed stories at the end of the interview began with ayoung boy or girl initially excited about going to schooland then becoming disillusioned very quickly. Thediscrepancy between what was expected and what actuallyhappened was broad and impacted heavily on the students'evaluation of self.Another common definition of self-esteem divides itinto several component factors such as social self, academicself, and physical self. From the data in this study, allthree aspects were attacked in these dropouts' schoolexperiences.Estimations of social self were berated in incidentssuch as those described in the subcategories of EmotionalSecurity: Public Humilation by Peers and Public Humiliationrelated to Ability. Being teased and ridiculed in front ofone's peers, and even worse by one's peers, would surelylessen one's estimation of ability to interact effectivelyin social situations. Social self issues were again negated104in the very structure of the high school, where interactionbetween students was not encouraged and isolation wasenforced in many ways. Students in most high schoolsdescribed were not allowed to interact with their peers,especially while working. This is an artificialcircumstance as any observer in an adult-staffed officesituation will readily see. Adults who work together areconstantly interacting, talking, joking, consulting andsocializing while they complete job tasks. Students are notallowed this freedom and complain about the sense ofisolation that develops. As shown in the category Belongingand Affiliation: Peer Relationships, students did not feelcomfortable with each other and did not recognize theirbasic similarities. They saw only their differences andwere afraid of each other, especially that others would notlike them. The basis for a sense of belonging and affectionfor others rests in shared knowledge, and if contact islimited, self-disclosure and trust will likewise berestricted.Academic self estimations were again berated asevidenced by the comments that make up the categories ofCompetence and Emotional Security: Public Humilation relatedto Ability. In these areas, former students relatedincidents that led the young student to doubt his/her owncapability to effectively complete required tasks and led toa sense of shame about this inability, even if the inability105was due to inadequate resources or teaching methods. Mostof the dropouts surveyed expressed the definite opinion thatdifferent people learn differentially with respect to speed,content and learning style, but they did not allowthemselves the permission to do so without condemnation.Repeatedly, these young people expressed the opinion thatthey themselves were "slow learners" or that they "couldn'tkeep up." At the same time they explained theirincompetence with rational accounting for individualdifferences. Clearly they believed in individuality, butthey were not reinforced in line with this belief, and socame to judge themselves harshly for not meeting the norm.The sense of valued Physical Self was attacked in thestructure of Physical Education classes and in the ridiculeendured for lack of ability in physical activities. Thecategory Emotional Security: Humiliation related to Abilityattested to this fact as former students described beingteased and ridiculed for their inability to performathletically.Low self-esteem, as reported in the literature, maywell be inferred from the data gathered in this study. Thelack of a formal instrument to measure it does not negatethe impact feelings of lowered self-evaluations had on theyoungsters' decision to drop out of school. Likewise, theorigins of this lowered sense of self-worth are validlydescribed by participants.106Recommendations For Improving Schools Students were vocal in their unified recommendations topersonalize the high school environment in order to increaseits effectiveness and holding power. Provision of caringrelationships with adults in the school system was paramountand paralleled the data indicating the highest rate ofdissatisfaction with this aspect of schooling. Dropouts'recommendations centered around alleviating the perceptionof students that no one in the school system cared aboutthem. Different techniques were suggested to achieve thisaim, and these tended to again parallel the subcategoriesoutlined in the category concerned with CaringRelationships. Dropouts advocated a more equal relationshipbetween teachers and students, more personal contact withteachers and counsellors and provisions for adults to havemore time to interact with students. Smaller class sizeswere referred to as crucial. Changes to teaching methodswas the second most cited suggestion for improving highschools. Reliance on textbooks and lecture-based teachingwas advised replaced with more hands-on, relevant,integrated and exciting teaching styles. Teachers whoenjoyed their work was also mentioned as a necessarysubstitute for harried, overworked and stressed-outteachers.The dropouts surveyed in this study were optimisticabout their own readiness to accept help. Few (4) said that107they would not have accepted help if offered during theirschool years. One noted, "I would have loved it if someonehad taken the time to be interested in me". But fiveparticipants noted, however, that it may not have been thateasy for adults to simply offer help and have it readilyacted upon. Their sense of betrayal and mistrust was tosuch an extent that a caring individual would have todemonstrate their trustworthiness and persist in attempts toestablish a caring relationship with the alienated student.As one young man related: "I probably would have been a bitunsure about why they were trying to help, you know, causeso many just didn't care. But I guess if I knew theyweren't trying to run my life or be sneaky and make me dosomething or something like that, it would have been great".The literature cited in Chapter 2 concurs with therecommendations cited by the dropouts surveyed in thisstudy. Radwanski's (1987) recommendation of replacing theimpersonal relationship base of the high school with a morecaring, personal one was echoed almost unanimously by theformer students in this study. Indeed, Radwanski's idea ofhighlighting affiliation, belonging, acceptance and supportas the 'selling features' to entice youngsters to stay inschool is a good one, as long as these features can in factbe provided.108Basic Needs and Self-Esteem Roger's unconditional positive regard was noticeablylacking for these dropouts. As youngsters model theirbehaviour after that of the adults they observe, children inthe early years of school begin to learn conditionalapproval of themselves and their peers based on performancein academic, physical and social settings. The discrepancybetween ideal self and 'real' self appears to increase withgrade level as the emphasis on performance becomes more andmore evident. The 'looking glass self' described by Mead(1934) applies directly to the self-fulfilling prophecyeffect of other's negative appraisals affecting self-evaluations which in turn is manifested in loweredexpectations and a downward spiral.Erikson and self-esteem. Erikson's explanation of identity formation includesconsideration of the accumulation of self-appraisals andevaluative messages received from others over time. Clearlydefined areas of expertise and awareness of capabilities andlimitations are seen to provide self-awareness andconfidence. The data provided by the dropouts in this studyindicates the accumulation of negative feedback and aperceived lack of respect and positive regard over years ofschooling. The resultant identity predicted from Erikson'stheory would include negative self-evaluations and loweredestimations of ability and capabilities, and hence a more109negative identity. The former students in this sample didnot evidence a sense of negative self-esteem per se. Whilethey did report their frustrated aspirations and hopes forthe future, they did not reveal any negative self-evaluations on the whole. For the most part, the dropouts'negative evaluations placed the blame on the school, notthemselves. No doubt, some residue of lowered self-expectations existed, as none of the participants expressedpositive expectations for their future, but the locus ofcontrol for this outcome was external.Erikson also posited the motivation to escape the fearthat accompanies the struggle to meet basic needs. Thisfear is seen to arise when the individual recognizes thepossibility that the needs may never be met. As noted inChapter 2, the youngster who feels neither capable norloveable develops a defensive reaction in favour of findinga quick and easily accessible escape. The dropouts in thisstudy repeatedly reported a personal lack of satisfactionwith the school system and eventually took a route out oftheir misery.Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Maslow's lower level needs include the need forbelonging and self-esteem, both of which were evidenced aslacking in this study. Issues of belonging were clearlyoutlined in the category of Belonging & Affiliation, thecategory third in size rank in this study. However if one110extends the meaning of belonging to include not only a senseof belongingness with one's peers, but also with theinstitution of which one is a part, the category would swellto mammoth proportions and subsume most of two othercategories. Lack of a Caring Relationship with Adults andEmotional Security both describe incidents where formerstudents did not feel connected to and appreciated by thesystem and individuals in it. Added to the categoryoutlining the lack of a sense of belonging with peers, thetotal number of cards dealing with a sense of alienationfrom the school system would be 155 or over 60% of the keyfeelings and incidents cited. Maslow's need for belonging,then, can be seen as a crucial lack in the school experienceof the dropouts surveyed.As Maslow's needs are hierarchical, it would be fittingthat the majority of invalidations would be reported at alow level. Individuals can only concern themselves withneeds at a higher level if lower ones have been met. Theneed Maslow placed above belonging was that of esteem whichwas seen to include status, recognition, social success anda sense of self-worth. Respect from others was included inMaslow's description of this need, paralleling the concernsof this study's subcategories of Lack of Respect and PublicHumiliation. Autonomy and Competence could also be includedas Maslow described the lack of a sense of esteem resultingin feelings of inferiority, helplessness and discouragement.111The lack of autonomy and sense of competence were cited inmany cases as leading to the feeling of lowered self-worth.If the cards from this study were regrouped to coincide withMaslow's groupings, the categories dealing with CaringRelationships: Lack of Respect, Emotional Security: PublicHumiliation, Autonomy and Competence could be joined withthe category of Self-worth, yielding 100 cards or 39% of thekey feelings cited.Maslow's growth need for self-actualization wouldencompass the present study's categories of Content andresult in 27 cards, or 11% of the data collected. Higherorder thinking skills can not be utilized in assimilatingand evaluating content when lower level needs are not met.Clearly, Maslow's hierarchy has relevance to the datacollected in this study and serves to illuminate the senseof invalidation evidenced by the dropouts surveyed.Schutz Schutz's social needs of inclusion, control andaffection are likewise represented in the present data.Inclusion needs are parallel to the needs of the categoryBelonging and Affiliation and may also be extended to Lackof Caring Relationships. A sense of inclusion is developedwhen the individual's goals match those of the group. Inthe case of these individuals, the goals of the group werethose of the adults in charge of the school system andconsisted of rules and procedures designed to restrict the112activities and behaviour of students into academic pursuits.The student, on the other hand, appears to be seeking warmhuman relationships and a sense of personal efficacy asprimary goals. The young people surveyed in thisinvestigation appear to be placed much closer to theexclusion end of Schutz' continuum than to the inclusionside.The need for control was defined by Schutz as thedesire to influence others and to feel power over one's ownlife. Much of the data presented in the categories dealingwith Autonomy and Competence outlines precisely this lack ofauthority over individual lives. Power was seen to residein the hands of the adults in the school system, and theformer students felt ineffectual and helpless to affect anychanges to the system that controlled them. Schutz'continuum for this factor ranges from overcontrol toundercontrol. Dropouts rested more on the overcontrol sidewith a dependency on the authority figures within the schoolwho retained sole responsibility for setting the directionand activities of the students. The desire for respect wascited directly by 11 participants, reflecting theirawareness of the need for interdependence, where bothstudents and teachers had the opportunity to have input intothe operation of the school.113PERSONAL VALIDATIONWhile the models of self-esteem presented fit the datacollected, there are flaws within each. Erikson's theorydeals primarily with identity formation and is notcomprehensive nor specific in reference to the adolescent inthe school setting. Maslow's hierarchy of needs isparticularly relevant, but its hierarchical nature isrestrictive and inappropriate in this case. Maslow'spremise is that more basic needs must be satisfied beforeone can concern oneself with attaining higher order ones.However, many of the dropouts participating in this studywere quite able to discuss the meaninglessness of academiccontent and their desire for self-actualization at the sametime they reported repeated incidents of lack of belongingand positive regard from others. Schutz' social needs,while concise and pertinent may be simplistic and imprecise.Ishiyama's model of validation offers much more detailwithout the constraints of concern with only one aspect ofadolescent development or strict hierarchical arrangement,although a developmental focus may be effectively used intherapeutic goal-setting.The social reinforcers described by the participantsare the incidents related during the course of theinterview. Key feelings identified relate to each ofIshiyama's five component areas of validation. Thecategories developed during data analysis correspond to114these five areas as summarized in Table 2. The onecriticism of the fit between the two groups of categories isthe very different concerns grouped together under Love,Fulfilment and Meaning in Life. The need for lovingrelationships is distinct from the need for significance inin one's work life. The data from this study would bebetter suited to the division of Ishiyama's theme into twounits, one dealing with Love and Affection and the otherwith Meaning and Significance in Life.Ishiyama's first theme of security, comfort and supportis matched by this study's Emotional Security. A lack ofsocial support and protection from emotional harm wasevident in the key incidents and feelings outlined.Feelings of insecurity were well represented in interviewsand numerous incidents depicting the source of thisinvalidation were related.The validation model's second theme of Self-worth andSelf-acceptance correlates directly with this study's Self-worth category. Positive self-evaluations were not evidentand the negative evaluations of others was apparent indropouts' lack of confidence in their own abilities andprospects for the future.Competence and Autonomy are grouped together inIshiyama's model and this study's data from these twocategories were combined, this grouping would comprise 54cards (21%) and become the secondTABLE 2Comparison of Categories to Validation Themes115Validation Theme Security, Comfort and SupportSelf Worth & Self AcceptanceCompetence & AutonomyIdentity & BelongingLove, Fulfilment &Category Emotional SecuritySelf WorthCompetenceAutonomyBelonging &AffiliationCaring RelationshipsMeaning in Life^ Content116largest category developed. Ishiyama's rationale foruniting these two themes is the evaluation of one's abilityto be independently effective in varied settings (social,vocational, physical, academic). Autonomy is a major lifetask for adolescents and is not confined to simply oneaspect of their lives. Data collected referred primarily todropouts concern in seeking autonomy in the academic courseof their lives as well as socially. They stated clearlytheir desire to break free from the reliance on teachers todirect totally their educational agenda as well as theirpersonal life, where teachers were seen to be "butting in".Identity & Belonging reflect the concerns of thecategory of Belonging & Affiliation, where peerrelationships and group membership were discussed. A senseof identity is built upon feelings of belonging to variedgroups while retaining a sense of independent self. Thedropouts in this study reported the difficulty of fittinginto the many and varied groups in which they wished toassimilate. Drastic and sometimes self-destructive actionswere contemplated and attempted in order to be accepted bythe 'right' crowd. Also described quite vividly was thesense of alienation and isolation achieved when thesestrategies were not effective.Love, Fulfilment and Meaning in Life reflect a holisticquality of life, mirrored by this study's CaringRelationships and Content categories. Personal and social117aspects of life combine to contribute to a sense of harmonyin one's existence. This sense was conspicuous by itsabsence for the young participants of this study. Realitywas harsh and jarring and a sense of purpose to their liveswas missing, both in their school experience and after.Experiencing warm and caring relationships did not presentitself as an available means to this end, nor did theprovision of significance in the work they were asked to do.Feelings of meaninglessness, lovelessness and emptinessresulted.When viewed in the manner proposed by Ishiyama, thediverse data represented by this category is united in itscontribution to a sense of purpose in life. If one cannotfind a caring relationship within which to find a sense ofmeaning in life, one's career becomes the next likely sourceof significance. If that too is thwarted with irrelevantand uninteresting content, a sense of importance in life islost.SUMMARYIshiyama's validation model provides an illuminatingperspective from which to view the data. Whichever point ofview one wishes to take, the sources of invalidationexperienced by these dropouts are clear. They are primarilylacking in a sense of being cared for by the adults who areto serve them and in a sense of purpose and significance to118their lives. The strength of the invalidation shown inIshiyama's Love, Fulfilment and Meaning in Life ( primarilyCaring Relationships) serves as an indicator of thegeneralizability of the results of this study. Because ofthe numbers of cards devoted to the lack of warm personalrelationships and a sense of meaning and purpose tostudents' lives, it may be validly inferred that otherdropouts would concur with the perceptions reported here.This, then, becomes the message heard from the dropoutssurveyed. The next chapter will discuss the implications ofthese findings.119CHAPTER 5. SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONSSUMMARYThe purpose of this study was to ascertain the reasonsdropouts have for leaving school early and to identify whichaspects of personal and emotional validation were lacking intheir school experiences. Twenty participants wereinterviewed using a three step semi-structured interviewprocess. Participants were asked to recall their earliestmemories of school, relate school incidents that led totheir decision to drop out and their recommendations forimproving high schools. The interview ended withconstruction of a story based on an imaginary stimulus of ayoungster on his/her first day of school.Notes taken during the interview were analyzed for keyfeelings and incidents, which were then circled and placedon index cards. Participants assisted with this task at theconclusion of their interview and validity checks were donewith sixteen participants.The word\phrase cards were then grouped into similarcategories according to feelings stated or underlying theincidents reported. Inter-rater reliability was establishedat 82%.Seven categories and 22 subcategories emerged. Four ofthe seven major themes centered around the lack of caringrelationships in former students' school experiences. Threecategories dealt with a perceived lack of meaning and sense120of competence in educational content, and one categoryrelated the adolescent search for autonomy.^Within each ofthese themes, subcategories were identified and discussed.Once major themes and subcategories were established,they were related to the relevant literature and to theValidation model.Dropouts' suggestions for improving high schoolsparalleled their statements of invalidation and weresummarized briefly.A full discussion of the methods for datacollection and analysis in this study were presented inchapter 3. The data was presented and analyzed in chapter4. In the current chapter, conclusions will be drawn andimplications for the operation of high schools, counselling,and future research will be discussed.CONCLUSIONSIntroduction Because the range of issues covered by the participantsin this study was extensive, not all of the implications ofthe data can be discussed here. Areas of invalidationcommon to the majority of the participants will beconsidered in depth and recommendations will be, for themost part, based on measures that are immediately feasiblewithin the existing structure of the school system. Thecurrent flux in educational philosophy and direction121presents uncertain and stressful conditions for all schoolsand the present study does not presume to provide all-encompassing reforms. Rather, it hopes to illuminate themajor sources of invalidations for our young people in highschools and to suggest some immediately viable options toimproving their situation while governmental and wide-sweeping reforms are elsewhere determined.^Whileinitiatives such as lowering class sizes and providingincreased budget allotments would undoubtedly make the taskof improving high schools much easier, reforms such as theseare not within the control of the individual reader and soare not discussed herein.Conclusions and Implications for Improving High Schools Ishiyama's holistic validation theme of Love,Fulfilment and Meaning in Life illustrates the major sourceof invalidation reported by the participants in this study.The data clearly points to the need for providing a warm andcaring environment for students as they enter the highschool years. The early elementary focus on the personaland affective development of students as a holistic entitymust be extended to later years. Not only do studentslament the sense of isolation that comes with their emergingindependence, but they locate the source of that isolationprimarily in their relationships with adults. The nurturantcaregiver so admired and respected in elementary schoolbecomes a rejecting and uncaring supervisor in high school.122The loss of active, supportive guidance in confronting thedifficult task of maturing in a complex society has leftyoungsters feeling disconnected, frustrated, frightened andalone. Aching from the lack of adult nurturance, studentsturn to each other and find only other disheartened andconfused youngsters. In their disarray, they lash out, ateach other, at distant and cold adults, and at themselves.Peers become bullies, students become rebellious and youngadults become disillusioned and unsure of their place in theworld. Schools, rather than being a place in which todevelop one's abilities and interests, become constantreminders of one's isolation and the search for meaningcontinues elsewhere. Students leave the schools and attemptto find significance in the non-academic world.In short, our high schools are not meeting the guidancerequirements of youngsters maturing in a complex andconstantly changing world. A sense of purpose to life ismissing from our young people's curriculum and they findthemselves struggling to find significance to their lives onacademic, personal or philosophical grounds. They arelacking an overall balance to their lives that includesattention to their affective development.The central thesis to this investigation involved thesource and strength of invalidation in the students' schoolexperiences in the hopes that investigation would yield apattern that would illuminate a path to improved service to123our young people in their quest for academic and personalmaturity. The assumption of an evolving sense ofinvalidation over the school years has been supported.Former students repeatedly report a sense of dissatisfactionarising early in their high school years. Earlyrecollections note an early elementary-aged joy andenthusiasm towards learning as an entering behaviour, andlater eventualities depict doused excitement and adisheartening sense of a lack of relevance to everydaypersonal or academic life. Perhaps we have underestimatedthe youngsters' motivation toward self-actualization. Theymay recognize that the 'real' importance in life lies, forthem, in academic, personal or practical areas not served bythe current educational system. A focus on the academiccontent of knowledge to the exclusion of personal and socialdevelopment serves only to develop splits of knowledgepervasive enough to discourage those whose 'best fit' liesin neglected areas. The resultant sense of invalidation isfostered and developed in sometimes minute ways over theyears of schooling that a child undergoes before eithercompleting or leaving high school.John Goodlad (1984), in his monumental study of highschools across the United States, found a similar lack ofattention to affective and social development:...the classes in our sample, at all levels,124tended not to be marked with exuberance, joy,laughter ... praise and corrective support ofindividual student performance...All of those characteristics we commonlyregard as positive elements in classrooms weremore to be observed at the early elementary level.A decline set in by the upper elementary gradesand continued through the secondary years, with asharp drop at the junior high school level.(pg.112)This study was successful in pinpointing the source ofinvalidation in the high schools primarily in the need for awarm, humanly guided transition into adulthood. This searchmust be afforded more credit and attention in the highschool curriculum in order to meet the holistic and balancedneeds of the complex individual we are presented with intoday's youngster.Teachers need, as well, to be allowed the time,resources and training to practise what they probably all•recognize as effective and satisfying teaching practises.Relevance must be illustrated and practised in more hands-onand practical applications of knowledge and skills.Activity-based learning needs to be encouraged. It ispresently unrealistic to recommend ventures into the realworld in the form of field trips as budget restraints makethis a virtual impossibility on even a casual, let alone aregular, basis. There are, however, many active learning125principles that can be put into place without cost. A shiftin orientation is what is required, and time is needed inorder to accommodate this new learning for teachers. Thepreparation and execution of activity-based learning groupsis feasible within every classroom and subject area, butteachers will require inservice and support in changing tothis style of teaching. Individual teachers who lackadministrative support in doing so may, nonetheless, effectmodifications gradually by simply challenging themselves todo so and reading relevant literature on activity-based andcooperative learning groups. Activities such as "makingfilms, building or drawing things, making collections,interviewing people, acting things out, and carrying outprojects" (Goodlad, 1984, pg. 114) would all add to theactivity and involvement level of individual students withtheir curriculum. The orientation towards activity, oncebegun can produce a snowball effect, with an increasedvariety of teaching and learning methods becoming apparent.As Goodlad recommended:The relentless monotony of telling, questioning,textbooks, and workbooks which we found to be socharacteristic of classes from the fourth grade upmust be in part replaced by activities calling forstudent involvement in planning and in thecollaborative execution of plans. A significantpart of the day is to be spent in large and smallgroup activities dependent upon cooperative,social behaviour. Social goals parallel the126academic in importance. All such activities areto be laced with academics - reading an array ofbooks to find the answers to the problem or issuechosen for analysis; writing reports based on theinformation so acquired; planning and using aneffective means of reporting the results to theentire class; preparing evaluation devices fordetermining the learnings acquired. Ampleprovision should be made for children to constructphysical models - for example, of a port city withits provisions for sanitation, communication,transportation, and functional aesthetics.Children should create their own economies, basedon sound economic principles; create their ownplays, with due attention to the structure ofdrama; conduct mock courts, legislative sessions,and world peace organizations. In the process,they read, write, compute, and deal with theproblems of people, their environment, and therelationships among them. (Goodlad, 1984, pg. 335)These activities should not be viewed as replacingtraditional methods, merely supplementing them to beginwith. A slow and easy start is better than none or onebegun too quickly. These activities will necessitateteachers providing information in more traditional ways asstudents require it. Activity-based instruction, however,will allow the student to see the immediate relevance to theknowledge sought and make it personal knowledge, not skillsand ideas imposed from the academic system. One teacherattempting to change the climate in his/her own classroom127can make a difference to upwards of 150 students a term.The impact one teacher can have should not beunderestimated. Dropouts have indicated in loud voices theneed for classes in which they can become involved andinterested. Along with restored vigour in the academicenvironment in individual classrooms may well come anincrease in interpersonal contact and mutual respect whichin turn may fuel increased attempts and perceptions of adultsupport for youngsters attempting to mature and develop inall areas. The personal motivation of teachers to helptheir young protege does exist, as evidenced by the reportsof those youngsters who had experienced a nurturantrelationship with at least one adult in the school system.Goodlad suggests a self-protective mechanism operatingfor teachers that effectively halts the development ofmeaningful relationships between teachers and students....there may be something self-protective forteachers in maintaining classroom control and arelatively flat emotional tone. We have no reasonto assume that teachers, more than the rest of us,are persons who exude a high level of emotionalidentification with others. Teaching is whatteachers expect to do every day. To reach outpositively and supportively to 27 youngsters forfive hours or so each day in an elementary-schoolclassroom is demanding and exhausting. To respondsimilarly to four to six successive classes of 25or more students each at the secondary level maybe impossible. (pg. 112)128For the most part, participants in this study painted adreary, lonely picture of high schools. Theirrecommendations for improving high schools almostunanimously advocate more personal and individualrelationships with adults during the years served by juniorand senior high schools. Whether these needs are moreappropriately met at home or in the school is a moot point.The fact is that these needs are present and unmet and ifattention is not paid them, those needs will undermine thegoals of academic development in service of a more basicsense of validation.While governmental reforms are in the flux betweenplanning and implementation, high schools may well meet newreforms in advance with an emphasis on meeting the basicaffective needs of the students they serve. This abilitywill be fostered primarily by the personal attentionafforded each youngster. What must be attended to is thedevelopment of . a sense of stability in the affective areasgoverning significance in personal and philosophicalmatters. A mentor is needed, not a 'teacher' or a'principal'. A more intimate relationship is required.Easily implemented changes would see an end to theconstant transitory nature of individual students. A 'home'room where both personal and academic guidance was offeredwould be a welcome addition to the school day, especially iffree discussions of concerns, problems and celebrations were129established with the same group members as a daily routineover a period of 4-5 years (the average high school career).Students would be encouraged to develop a sense of belongingin their school environments through these team-buildingperiods and would also experience a constant relationshipwith not only a caring adult, but the same group of peersover several years. As summarized by Goodlad:If positive relations with teachers in classroomsare related to student satisfaction in school andcorrective feedback is related to studentachievement, then it becomes imperative to seekschool conditions likely to maximize both. Thenever-ending movement of students and teachersfrom class to class appears not conducive toteachers and students getting to know one another,let alone to their establishing a stable, mutuallysupportive relationship. Indeed, it would appearto foster the casualness and neutrality in humanrelations we observed to characterize so many ofthe classrooms in our sample. (Goodlad, 1984, pg.310)Attempts to limit the number of teachers a student isrequired to interact with would also provide a sense ofcontinuity to an otherwise disjointed academic and personalagenda. One teacher, instead of being responsible for allstudents in one grade of a particular subject, should be theprimary instructor for one or two subjects for one130particular group of students throughout their two or three(or more) years of high school. With the exception ofstudents transferring in and out, each teacher would thenhave basically the same group of students for each of threeyears (at the junior high level), adding one group andlosing another each year, as students enter the high schoolsystem and graduate from it. A sense of continuity andpersonal relationship would then be more able to develop.The need for self-contained low-ability level classes wouldbe lessened as cross-age tutoring would extend to cross-level assistance.A sense of relevance should be fostered in a focus onpractical application of knowledge in subject areas withinthe classroom. Teaching methods should broaden to encompassa norm of active involvement and cross-subject-area themesrather than passive absorption and isolation of content.Within this cross-grade grouping would also develop acomraderie of multi-aged classmates, serving to add to thesense of continuity, support from one's elders and respectfrom one's younger counterparts. A sense of purpose wouldenvelop both the younger and older students who would lookto each other for models and to teachers for long-termguidance. Academic continuity would also be fostered, asexplained by Goodlad:The age-grade division encourages a short-term131view of what is to be learned -- topics and factsrather than basic concepts and relationships;focus on what can be acquired in a week orsemester and then measured rather than the long-time maturation of intellectual capabilities;observing rules rather than becoming increasinglyself-disciplined. The division into subjects andperiods encourages a segmented rather than anintegrated view of knowledge. Consequently, whatstudents are asked to relate to in schoolingbecomes increasingly artificial, cut off from thehuman experiences subject matter is supposed toreflect. This artificiality increases as studentsgrow older and more aware of the complexities withwhich they must cope. (pg. 266)While many of Goodlad's recommendations (open spaceclassrooms, non-grading) are beyond the scope of immediateimplementation by the individual teacher, he does point theway to some reforms that could be implemented at the schoollevel. Team-teaching, for example, is an increasinglypopular technique in elementary schools, but rarelyencountered in high schools. The combination of high schoolSocial Studies and English classes in a double-blockedperiod could provide an example of interrelated and relevantsubject areas, while providing teachers with much-neededcollegial support. Likewise Science and Math classes arelikely candidates for consolidation.A model of the recommendations presented would envisionthree or four team-teaching teachers responsible for 75 -132150 students from their entry to a school in grade eightuntil their exit in grade 10 (for junior highs). "Pods" ofmulti-level academic groups would then develop, allowingtheme-based curricular development and the establishment ofwarm, personal relationships between students and teachers.A common core of fine arts and specialist areas would servean appropriate number of "pods". Thus one student wouldengage with four to nine teachers over the three junior highschool years, rather than the multitude now encountered.The net effect will be one of reducing the size of thefunctional "school group" each student interacts with, thusallowing a more intimate relationship to develop.At the very least, the data from this study point theway for individual teachers to make a difference. Theprovision of one caring adult with whom to discuss andrelate to on a consistent basis, may well be the decidingfactor in the school-related decisions of many students.What may be crucial is the opportunity to be heard andassisted in solving the complex tasks of growing up intoday's complicated environment.COUNSELLING IMPLICATIONS Given that many students' home lives do not afford themodelling and guidance required for a smooth and orderlytransition to adult status in our society, the counsellors'job becomes paramount. Even if the home is supportive, the133demands and accommodations required by successive years inthe school system do not address themselves to the affectivedevelopment of students. The counsellors' job becomes oneof being the sole provider of this attention whilesimultaneously attending to more pragmatic, and moresanctioned, scheduling and administrivial matters. A tasksuch as this is overbearing, to say the least, and onedifficult to meet. Administrative duties need to be placedin administrative hands and counsellors need to be freed upto attend to the business for which they are trained.Likewise, principals need to live up more to the 'pal'in their title and be seen less as a disciplinarian and moreas a partner in the teachers' and students' quest foracademic and personal development. A more visible stanceand positive interactions with students would greatlybenefit the effectiveness of their role in the school. Thecounsellors' role in this could be to extend everyinvitation for administrators to participate in and viewachievements and extracurricular activities as they occur inthe school. Student council activities, dances, sportsevents, career clubs, or even accomplishments of individualstudents could be cause for the counsellor to inviteadministrators to be a positive presence in the school.Every opportunity must be used to provide students witha continued and personal relationship with 'mentors'throughout their school years. Whether this is individual134teachers who track students throughout their time in eachschool, or the counsellor or other support personnel whocheck in with students on a regular basis, the student mustbe made to feel supported. Provision for 'guidance' classesmay provide some relief in this area. Counsellors may electto provide several group sessions on a rotating basis,covering each grade level or classroom grouping severaltimes throughout the year. Grade eights and new studentsshould receive introductory sessions both on a group andindividual basis. The role of the counsellor should take onmore of a preventative, supportive and personal nature andless and less of an administrative one. Counsellors must beprepared to lobby for relevant professional jobdescriptions. Until such time as adequate counsellingservices are recognized in budgetary allowances, individualcounsellors may need to enlist the aid of individualteachers by instructing them in basic communication andconflict resolution strategies.Cooperative relationships must be fostered not onlybetween students and adults in the school system, butbetween students themselves as well. Peer 'buddies' may beassigned to new students in the school to facilitate easiertransitions and locally developed guidance courses couldprovide the forum to allow for structured interaction of avariety of students in team-building activities, instructionin interpersonal skills and 'plain, old-fashioned'135discussions of relevant personal and philosophical ideas.These classes should be scheduled on a regular and frequentbasis and be mandatory for all students. If not taught bythe counsellor, teachers should be provided with inserviceon the non-academic needs of adolescents and on developingskills at conveying their sense of concern in supportiveways.Teachers can be supported in their search for morerelevant teaching practises and in the added emphasis on aholistic view of individual students by a counsellor whopresents a model and acts as a consultant for staff members.Counsellors must expand their role to include service tostaffs and provide inservice and referral to resources oneffective teaching practises, cooperative learning, teamteaching, conflict resolution, communication skills andother areas specifically requested. The role of thecounsellor, in effect, would become one of not only dealingwith the individual emotional concerns of individualstudents, but also with providing a sense of leadership andsupport for all those involved in the high school in itssearch for excellence and improved service to our youngpeople.Decidedly lacking from the scene described by thesedropouts is a sense of enjoyment or excitement in theirschool life. Counsellors can do much to foster this by theencouragement of school and team-building activities within136the school. Athletic activities should not be the onlyextra-curricular interest served in the school. A varietyof clubs and interest groups can be encouraged and team-sponsored school-wide events may serve to unite diversegroups in their enjoyment of other-than-academic activities.The most critical area of invalidation reported bythe dropouts surveyed centers on the lack of caring andsupportive relationships in the high school setting. Theprovision and encouragement of these relationships can, andshould be, the interest of every school counsellor.RESEARCH IMPLICATIONSIn reviewing the results of this study, there are manyand varied issues that present themselves as possible topicsfor future research. Different groups of dropouts could beexplored, with attention given specifically to those who doreturn to school as opposed to those who do not, as well asinvestigating cultural and gender differences. Studentsstill in school could be surveyed to determine differencesin satisfaction levels prior to the act of dropping out. Amore detailed analysis of former students' satisfactionlevels with particular teachers might illuminate further thespecific teaching practises that need modification.Students and former students could be involved directly inplanning implementation of school-based reforms to intervenewith at-risk students, and assessment of the effectiveness137of these programs.Teachers need not be excluded from analysis. Theirperceptions on the dropout phenomenon and what is wrong withhigh schools needs to be elicited. Their recommendationsfor improving students' experiences would be valuable, butso too would their recommendations for assisting each otherin making reforms. A survey of innovative school programswould be useful. Attention must also be paid to the plightof teachers and the rise of their own sense ofdissatisfaction with the school system.Methodological matters also could be pursued. The useof early recollections with youngsters who leave schoolearly and those who continue on might prove illuminating.Differences in basic attitudes and orientations to the worldmay emerge. The use of story construction as a therapeutictool in working with youngsters who are considering droppingout would be an exciting and possibly fruitful direction forattention. Reworking an initial story and retelling fromvarious vantage points and with various alterations wouldprove an interesting direction for therapy.Programs, innovations and trial runs must continuallybe developed and assessed. Teachers and schools who attemptreform should be invited to evaluate the effectiveness oftheir efforts and to share their design, frustrations andcelebrations in order to broaden our knowledge base andincrease our awareness of how to make schools a more138validating experience for our young people.SUMMARYThere are many ways to improve schools. Not all ofthem rely on governmental budgets or reform. Individualschools and teachers can make a difference. Indeed,individual classrooms is where dropouts locate the sense ofinvalidation they acquire during their school career andthis is where changes must begin. Students must be affordeda more holistic education with appropriate support fromadults within the school system. Emphasis on academicdevelopment alone does not suffice. Adolescents need andwant support and guidance from their elders and they needand want to understand and relate to the content they areasked to learn. Caring relationships and relevance providea sense of significance in their lives and this is thecrucial need reported unmet by the dropouts surveyed.The opportunities for research with this population andthis subject are endless. It is hoped that programdevelopment and assessment would be the next major area offocus. The group of youngsters interviewed for this study,and those they represent, are worthy of our best andsustained efforts to improve their school experiences. Theyare a group let down by their expectations, and yet theycontinue to search for meaning in it all by sharing theirexperiences. It is hoped that this, and further researchwill rise to their challenge of assisting change to happen.139REFERENCESAdams-Webber, J.R. (1979). Personal Construct Theory: Concepts and Applications. Toronto: John Wiley andSons.Allport, G. (1955). Becoming: Basic Considerations for aPsychology of Personality. New Haven, Conn.: YaleUniversity Press.Andersson, B.E. & Nilsson, S.G. (1964). Studies in thereliability and validity of the critical incidenttechnique. Journal of Applied Psychology, 48, 398-403.Ansbacher, H. and Ansbacher, R. ((1956). The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. New York: Harper & Row.Barber, Larry and McClellan, Mary (1987). Looking atAmerica's dropouts: Who are they? Phi Delta Kappan, 69 (4),  264-267.Cairns, Cairns, & Neckerman (1989). Early school dropout:Configurations and determinants. Child Development, 60 1437-1452.Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy. (1986). ANation prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century. Reportof the Task Force on Teaching as a Profession.Cipywnyk, S.V.; Pawlovich, W.E.; and Randhawa, B.S.(1983). Early school leavers in Saskatchewan: Apreliminary study. Unpublished manuscript. Departmentof Educational Psychology, University of Saskatchewan.Cochrane, Larry (1986). Living Fable: The use of story forthe enrichment of experience. Unpublished manuscript.University of British Columbia.Combs, J and Cooley, W. (1968). Dropouts: In high schooland after high school. American Educational ResearchJournal, 5, 343-363.Coopersmith, S. (1981). Manual for the Self-Esteem Inventories. Palo Alto, CA. Consulting PsychologistsPress.Dropping out: A background document prepared for the Stav -in-School Initiative. (1990). Unpublished manuscript.140Ekstrom, Ruth; Goertz, Margaret; Pollack, Judith; and Rock,Donald (1986). Who drops out of high school and why?:Findings from a national study. Teachers College Record, 87 (3), 356-373.Elkind, David. (1984). All grown up and no place to go: Teenagers in Crisis. New York: Addison WesleyPublishing Co.Erikson, E. (1964). Insight and Responsibility. New York:Norton.Erikson, E. (1968). Identity: Youth and Crises. New York:Norton.Fine, Michelle, (1985). Dropping out of high school: Aninside look. Social Policy, Fall 1985, 43-50.Fine, Michelle, (1987). Why urban adolescents drop into andout of public high school. Teachers High School Record, 87 (3), 393-409.Finn, J.D. (1989). Withdrawing from school. Review ofEducational Research, 59 (2), 117-142.Goodlad, J.I. (1984). A Place Called School. New York:McGraw Hill Book Company.Horney, Karen (1942). Self-Analysis. New York: NortonBooks.Ishiyama, F.I. (1987). On Self-Validation. Heartwood, 5 (4), 16-18.Ishiyama, F.I. (1988). Understanding individuals in transition: A self-validation model.  Unpublishedmanuscript, University of British Columbia.James, Wlm. (1890). Principles of Psychology. New York:Holt Publishing Co.Kaplan, J. and Luch, E. (177). The dropout phenomenon as asocial problem. Educational Forum, 42, 41-56.Karp, E. (1988). The Dropout Phenomenon in Ontario Secondary Schools.  A report to the Ontario Ministry ofEducation.Kegan, R. (1982). The Evolving Self: Problem and Process in Human Development. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UniversityPress.141Larter, Sylvia and Cheng, Maisy (1978).  Study of returning students: Part III: Characteristics, Opinions andExperiences of Returnees and Non-Returnees. ResearchDepartment, Board of Education for the City of Toronto.Luby, Charles (1989). The dropping out process as perceivedby dropouts, alternate school students and school personnel. A report prepared for Greater VictoriaSchool District No. 61, Victoria, B.C.Macdonald, Marilyn (1989). Early school leavers: Current Issues and Concerns. A report prepared for theSaskatchewan Instructional Development and ResearchUnit. University of Regina.Mann, Dale (1986). Can we help dropouts: Thinking about theundoable. Teachers College Record, 87 (3),  307-323.Maslow, A. (1970). Motivation and Personality (2nd ed.). New York: Harper & Row.Mead, G. (1934). Mind, Self & Society. Chicago: Universityof Chicago Press.Mills, Roger C. (1987). Relationship Between School Motivational Climate, Teacher Attitudes, Student Mental Health, School Failure, and Health Damaging Behavior. Paper presented at the American Educational ResearchAssociation Annual Conference, Washington D.C.Ministry of Education (B.C.)^(1990). Dropouts: A research discussion Paper. Ministry of Education (B.C.) Programand Research Branch.Mush, H.W. & Shavelson, R. (1985). Self-concept: Itsmultifaceted hiererchical structure. Educational Psychologist (20), 95 -115.Mutadi, Neal (1990). Common behaviors and characteristics of dropouts and the effects of support strategies on high school dropout rates.  Selections from doctoraldissertation, School district #34 (Abbotsford).National Education Association (1965). Dropout Studies: Design and Conduct. National Education Association ofUSA, Project School Dropouts.Naylor, Charles Stanley (1990). Dropping out of high school: An exploratory and critical analysis. Unpublished Master's Thesis, Simon Fraser University.142Radwanski, George (1987). Ontario Study of the Relevance of Education and the Issue of Dropouts. Ontario Ministryof Education.Rogers, C. (1951). Client-centered Therapy. Boston:Houghton-Mifflin.Rogers, C. (1961). On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.Rumberger, Russell (1981).  Why kids drop out of high school. Institute for Research on Educational Financeand Governance. School of Education, StanfordUniversity.Rumberger, Russell (1983a). Dropping out of high school.American Educational Research Journal, 20 (2), 221-236.Rumberger, Russell (1983b). Dropping out of high school:The influence of race, sex, and family background.American Educational Research Journal, 20, (2), 199-220.Schutz, Wlm. (1966). The Interpersonal Underworld. PaloAlto, California: Science and Behavior Books.Seligman, M. (1975). Helplessness. San Fransisco, Calif.:W.H. Freeman.Sewell, T.S.; Palmo, A.J.; and Manni, J.L.^(1981). Highschool dropout: Psychological, academic and vocationalfactors. Urban Education, 16,  65-76.Statistics Canada (1991). Qualitative research on school leavers: Summary final report. Statistics Canada.Swan, T.L. (1981). Dropouts in high school and afterschool. American Educational Research Journal. 7, 343-367.Sullivan, M. (1988). A comparative analysis of dropouts andnon dropouts in Ontario secondary schools: A report to the Ontario study of the relevance of education and the issue of dropouts. Toronto: Queen's Printer forOntario.Svec, H. (1987). Youth advocacy and the high schooldropout. High School Journal, 70, 185 - 192.Tidwell, Romeria (1988). Dropouts speak out: Qualitativedata on early school departures. Adolescence, 23, (92), 939-954.143Wehlage, Gary and Rutter, Robert (1986). Dropping out: Howmuch do schools contribute to the problem? Teachers College Record, 87, (3), 375-392.Wideen, Marvin F., Pye, Ivy, Naylor, Charles and Crofton,Fiona (1990). A platform for change: A study of Surrey Secondary Schools. A report presented to the SurreySchool Board. Simon Fraser University.Young, R. Elaine (1991). Critical Incidents in Early School Leavers' Transition to Adulthood. Unpublished Masters'Thesis, University of British Columbia.APPENDIX A: CONSENT FORM144145CONSENT FORM^  agree to participatein the study being conducted by Vicky R. Thomson, under thesupervision of Dr. N. Amundsen of the Department ofCounselling Psychology, U.B.C., entitled "Dropouts and theExperience of Invalidation in the High School". Iunderstand that this study is part of the requirements for aMaster's degree.I understand that the interview will take up to onehour and I will be asked to recall early memories of school,explain aspects of my school experiences and tell a story.I understand that everything I say is confidential and thatnoone except the researcher will be able to identify me as aparticipant and that my responses will be summarized withouta name attached. I further understand that I may refuse toanswer any question or leave the study at any time and thatany recordings that may possibly identify me (audio orwritten) will destroyed at the completion of the study. Ihave the opportunity to have any questions answered beforeproceeding further and will be able to receive a summary ofthe results when the study is completed. I understand thatI may contact either Vicky or her supervisor (Dr. Amundsen)by calling the Department of Counselling Psychology atU.B.C. at 822-5259.I consent to participate in the above described study.(signed)(date)I would like a copy of the summarized results of the study.(name)(address)APPENDIX B: THE TRANSCRIPT146147#ECO: Reviews interview procedure and elicits earlyrecollection.CL: Oh, it was really embarrassing. I was in grade 3. Wehad a Christmas concert on my birthday. I was in the choirand there was a big audience. I got sick and I was in thefront row! Like I really got sick - I threw up on thestage! It got really quiet except for my brother who waslaughing. I ran off into the bathroom and my mom came inand tried to make me feel better and just kinda said "Thingshappen" but I was really embarrassed.But actually, I remember something earlier than that.I guess I was in Kindergarten and I got sent home forputting nail polish all over my face. I had been trying toput it on nice, but I guess I made a mess. I was reallyembarrassed, the teacher yelled at me in front of everybodyfor it.CO: You had been trying to do a good job.CL: Yeah, I was ya know, and she really didn't have to yellat me like that, I was just little, ya know.(Silence)CO: Any others you'd like to tell me about?CL: Uh, I don't think so. I don't really remember a lotabout when I was little or anything.CO: Okay, let's move on a little bit to later in school.Can you recall some of the things that happened in schoolthat made you feel like leaving?CL: Oh, yeah - lots (laughs). I guess one big one was beingtreated like a little kid all the time. I was a Mom myselfthe last year and here I was being yelled at like a littlekid. Everytime I did something wrong or they didn't likeit.^And they were always trying to tell me what to do allthe time, too.CO: In what ways?CL: Well, in my personal life, ya know? I was supposed tomove to Edmonton with my family, but I wanted to stay withmy boyfriend here and the teacher kept butting in and makingappointments to talk to my parents and she kept trying tobutt in and wouldn't let me take care of things myself, yaknow?CO: So you felt like she didn't think you could manage yourown life?148CL: Yeah. I guess she was just trying to help, but shedidn't listen to me, ya know, she just kept trying to get meto do things her way.CO: How was it for you with other teachers?CL: Oh, well, not much better I guess. I never really didthat good. I did O.K. I guess, but nothing special. Andwhen I did do good, or if I did know an answer or something,they never called on me. They only asked when I didn't knowsomething. I never really had a chance to prove myself.CO: You felt like you needed to prove yourself?CL: Yeah, like they didn't think that I was very good. Andthen I felt like I wasn't worth anything a lot of the time Iwas in school. I remember one teacher once told me that Iwasn't doing very good in Math and I thought that meant thatI couldn't do good in anything else either.CO: Were there other things that made you feel that way?CL: Well, just the way teachers acted to you. I guess itwas okay in elementary school, but in high school it was...I really didn't like junior high, it got a lot worse. I'djust think "Forget it" ya know? You never got to see theteachers or talk to them or get any help or anything. Andyou couldn't do anything but work in class. I mean even ifit was really stormy out, I remember one time it was reallywindy and rainy and I was scared of the weather and all Icould think about was how I was going to walk home, and Ikept looking out the window, and I got into trouble for it.I wasn't supposed to look out the window, I was supposed tobe doing Math. So she yelled at me in front of everybodyand it was real embarrassing.CO: So you had a hard time with teachers.CL: Yeah, you could say that! (laughs)CO: How did you do otherwise?CL: You mean with the work and stuff?CO: Sure.CL: Well, I did O.K. but I wasn't great. It was usuallypretty boring. All we ever did was textbook stuff andlisten to the teacher, so I wasn't real interested in it.There was one teacher, though that was real good. He waslots of fun. We did things, too, ya know, we did plays andmade stage props and he even took us to a play downtown149once. He was pretty funny too, he was always cracking jokesand getting us laughing. I liked his class, but most of theothers were pretty boring.CO: His was the exception.CL: Yep.CO: So the teachers weren't great for you and the work waspretty boring. How did you get along with the other kids?CL: Well, I didn't really have a lot of friends, ya know. Iwas pretty overweight and I didn't really fit in. I wasteased a lot. Especially in P.E. I hated P.E. Everybodycould do things and I couldn't and the teacher just keptpushing me and it made me feel real bad.CO: You were teased because you couldn't do the things theother kids could do.CL: Yeah, and they were mean, too. And they did it in classtoo and the teacher never did anything about it. So I neverreally liked P.E. either.CO: What about in other classes or outside of class time?CL: Well, I didn't really know anybody. There were so manykids and you're never with the same ones for very long, soits hard to get to know anybody. It got pretty lonelysometimes. I wanted to be pretty and popular and I saw lotsof girls that were like that, but I sure wasn't. And theywere the only ones that ever seemed to be doing real good atthings. I could never seem to get to know anybody. I hadone friend in elementary school and we were real close, butlike, I like two houses away from her and we knew each otherfrom before school. But I didn't know anybody in highschool. The kids I went to elementary school with got realsnotty and some of them moved, and I didn't know a lot thereeither, so there wasn't a lot left. And those ones justnever noticed me. And I couldn't know, didn't know how toget through to them. And I was always afraid that they'dtease me anyway, so I got real shy.CO: There weren't a lot of people you felt comfortable with.CL: No, hardly any. There was just too many people, and Iguess I am kinda shy. Nobody really had time for me. And Ididn't know anybody.CO: So you were pretty much on your own.CL: Yeah.150CO: So you felt pretty lonely.CL: Yep. That's for sure. When you don't have anyone to dothings with, its pretty hard to have fun with what you'redoing. So it was pretty rotten.CO: Was there anything anybody could have done for you? Orwould you have accepted help?CL: Oh, yeah, I sure would have. I would have loved forsomebody to be interested in me. I don't know what theycould have done with the other kids, though. How do youmake somebody have friends?CO: I don't know, that's a toughy.CL: Yeah, especially when you don't feel like you want to doanything to get them.CO: You didn't want to do anything?CL: Yeah, I was so busy trying to get my own life sorted outand just getting through subjects and things like that thatI didn't have a whole lot left to bother about other kids.CO: But you still wanted friends?CL: Oh, yeah, for sure, but it would have taken so much toget to know somebody and meet them all the time, cause youcouldn't see them during school, so it would have been a lotof work. I could have done it I guess, but it just didn'tseem worth it at the time. I was more worried about otherthings.CO: Like your baby?CL: Yeah, and getting through the day. It was really hard.I didn't have anybody to help me. My parents were too busytrying to pay the bills and stuff like that, and I didn'thave a whole lot of friends, so there was really nobody tohelp me when I needed it.CO: Where there lots of times when you needed it?CL: Well, sometimes. I think I went through periods thatwere worse than others, ya know. And then I could have usedsomebody to talk to.CO: Even if it was a teacher?CL: Oh, sure, that would have been okay. I think there werelots of times when I would have liked to talked to somebody151older. But we're not supposed to talk to teachers aboutstuff like that.CO: Stuff like what?CL: Well, you know, anything that's not about school.Teachers aren't supposed to be your friend, they're justthere to make you learn stuff.CO: What makes you think that?CL: Well, that's what they get paid for. And I guessthey're pretty busy with all the kids they have to deal witheveryday, so they don't have a lot of time for stuff likethat.CO: But it would have been nice to have somebody to talk to.CL: Yeah, there was some things I would have liked to talkedto an adult about. Like when my Mom and Dad started talkingabout getting a divorce. I was real scared and worried andI didn't really understand what was going on, but I couldn'ttalk to them about it.CO: So it would have been nice to have a teacher to talk tothen.CL: Yeah, but there wasn't really any teacher there. Notone that had the time anyway.(Silence)CO: Is there anything else we've missed here?CL: I don't think so.CO: Okay, let's go more to when you actually decided toleave school for good. What actually made you make thatfinal decision?CL: I don't know. I don't think it was really somethingthat I really though about. I had the baby and I didn'tlike school, so I just stopped going. It wasn't helping meany, I mean I needed to get a job and take care of mydaughter and it wasn't helping me do that, ya know? I guesswhen I moved and it was hard to actually get to school and Ihad a lot to think about, so I left. I had to miss somedays because the baby was real sick, and I stayed home withher. When I went back I got sent to the vice-principal andhe got mad cause I wasn't at school.CO: He though you should have been there anyway?152CL: Yeah, like that's all there is to my life. And ya know,he didn't even really listen. He didn't want to know why Iwas away, he just wanted to give me trouble.CO: He didn't want to help.CL: I don't think so. He sure didn't seem to. Nobodyreally did. All they cared about was whether you did yourhomework and were there everyday.CO: Was there anyone you could talk to at school?CL: No, not really. I know you're supposed to be able totalk to the counsellor, but they're always too busy. Itwould have been nice to have somebody to talk to, ya know.Sometimes it would have been nice if somebody had takenenough time to try to help me.(Silence)CO: Is there anything else you'd like to say about that?CL: No I guess that's about it. That's a lot already!(laughs)CO: Okay, well that sounds like a good place to starttalking about some of the things that could be done to makeschools better for kids.CL: Yeah, well, the teachers could be there better for you,ya know, like if they'd talk and be interested, but not buttin, I guess.CO: So one thing would be to have teachers listen to kidsmore.CL: Yeah, and to have more time to talk, too. Like inclasses and stuff, so we could see that we're really all thesame, ya know?CO: You mean more time for the kids to talk to each other orfor ... to the teacher?CL: Well, both I guess. It would be nice if we could havehad more class discussions about things. With the teacherand the kids, so we could all hear about how everybody feltabout things and we could get to know each other too.CO: Okay, anything else?CL: Yeah, teachers shouldn't be allowed to treat you likelittle kids. Ya know, by the time you get to high school,153you don't need to be yelled at all the time and told what todo all the time.CO: So you'd like to see kids treated more like adults.CL: Yeah, they expect us to respect them, but they don'trespect us much.CO: Um, hmm. What about ... anything besides the teachersthat could be changed?CL: Well, yeah, we should be able to do more things we like.Like I know some kids that were really good at art and stufflike that, but they never got to do it. And I shouldn'thave had to do P.E. I would have done better if I couldhave taken something else instead.CO: So let kids take more things they're good at and like todo?CL: Yeah.CO: Are there any other things you'd like to see changed?CL: Well, not right now, I guess.CO: Okay, then, before we finish I'd like to try one morething. (Explains story construction and sets imaginarystimulus for beginning).CL: Oh, well, I guess she stands there and she's scared, yaknow, cause she doesn't know anybody. And she doesn'treally want to go in, but they come and get her and take herin and she is really nervous.CO: What happens when she gets inside?CL: I guess she sees some toys and plays with them and hassome fun. But soon somebody comes and pushes her and shegets hurt, so she runs to the teacher and the teacher makesher sit down and gives her some work to do. So she sitsdown and does it. That's about it.CO: And how does the story end?CL: Well, I guess she grows up and still tries to do whatthe teacher says, but that's hard and she's not very happy.CO: That's it?CL: That's it.


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