Corridors College: A Four-Step Process
Corridors College is essentially a school that operates on four levels; all of which relate directly to the young people who attend. These levels can best be illustrated as 'steps' in environment and process that
Step 1: Help "where kids are at"
Corridors College doesn't operate from a distance. It can't afford the plethora of rules and regulations that mainstream schools use to moderate and control the way that their students behave. It is easily accessible to young people, in physical and behavioural terms. Young people must want to attend, be motivated to stay and must assume a measure of responsibility for their own future development once they are there.
As a school entity, Corridors does not moralise or regulate beyond what is needed to maintain a duty of care and protect the safety, health and environment of the young people and the staff. Kids are fed, counselled, tolerated and nurtured in an environment that goes far beyond a normal school.
Step 2: Building "self"
Self worth, Self-esteem, Self value
The battle for health and growth starts with healing and building "self". Most, if not all of the young people who come to
Corridors College arrive with self-esteem so low that it could walk upright under a snake.
Many of the young people who attend Corridors have a history of abuse of one kind or another. Some have issues with substance abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and psychological abuse. Many come from backgrounds where their self worth and self-esteem have been eroded by persistent criticism and neglect.
Their lack of "self" worth, esteem and value manifests itself in many ways, including self-harm, unwillingness to cooperate or attempt new things and antisocial and/or destructive behaviour. Building "self" worth, esteem and value is the first step towards healthy self-development.
For most of Corridors' clients, attending Corridors College is one of their first and most important steps towards eventual self-management. No one forces them to attend
Corridors; no one forces them to stay. Once they have made the decision, however, they can begin to manage other milestones in self-management. Attendance at
Corridors generally means that they will eat better, are less likely to use drugs, less likely to commit crimes and have a better chance to be educated and gain some competencies leading to employment or further development.
Self-management starts to mean more than simple survival and subsistence.
Corridors College promotes teamwork and group problem solving as a tool for building self-esteem, "connectedness" with the school and peers and as a productivity measure. Many of these young people have learned to be self reliant as a matter of survival, and are reluctant to trust or help others. Team membership helps to develop vital social skills and promotes learning and group effort.
Students are encouraged to form close peer relationships; to "buddy up" with someone and form relationships with their peers. Peer shadows that interact positively are encouraged
Corridors' students are mentored by staff, volunteers, former students and board members. At all
times, mentors try to present non-judgemental and positive feedback to young people whose previous
mentors may have been less than ideal.
Group counselling and peer counselling allows the students to receive advice, ideas and suggestions from a wide range of people with a unique insight into the problems that they may have faced or be still facing. Whereas professional counselling must be essentially variable or non-directive, group and peer counselling provides for much more direct interaction between participants.
The group counselling is always conducted under the guidance of a trained moderator, to ensure that advice is filtered and tempered with common sense.
Many of Corridors' students have no family background in any commonly accepted norm. The school provides an extended family where kids can receive food, shelter, help in various forms, support and non-judgemental guidance from staff and peers.
In a "normal" school, students undergo structured learning on a sequential daily basis. At
Corridors, students may have a range of reasons for not attending regularly, or not being able to learn effectively when they do attend. Peer tutoring allows students to be helped by friends who have attended more regularly or who are at a more advanced stage.
It also provides a very positive boost to self-esteem for the student who assumes the role of tutor.
Some individuals learn by listening, some by watching, some by doing things. Some learn by listening, watching, and by doing things with other people as a group. Collaboration has advantages such as reducing the pressure to perform, correcting mistakes as they happen, and producing a result that reflects a group effort rather than a personal effort. Individuals with low self worth and low self-esteem may be reluctant to attempt tasks on their own; but will be willing to participate as part of a group.
A history of group success usually promotes an individual willingness to attempt new tasks.
Step 3: "Me - and the story of how I got here"
Everyone has a unique story. Corridors College is generally the end of a journey for the young people who attend; and the journey has usually been a convoluted and difficult one. For one reason or another,
Corridors' students have usually rejected or been rejected by mainstream education before they arrive there.
Some have problems because of unwise life choices, while others are the unwilling or unknowing victims of the life choices made by their parents, relatives or carers. Many have had life experiences that have set them apart from their peers; some have set themselves apart because they feel rejected or alienated. Whatever the reason(s), the outcomes are the same. These young people are generally isolated from past, peers, parents and mainstream society. Many are resentful and hostile, most lack discipline, some exhibit extreme self-destructive behaviour. All of them have taken a major motivational step in attending and staying at school.
One thing that all these kids have in common is a need to own their stories and acknowledge the part that they and others have played until now. Only when they realise how and why they came to
Corridors can they take control of their own futures. The young people who attend
Corridors are encouraged to tell their stories for themselves; to examine the 'how' and 'why' of their journey to date, and realise where they are in their lives right now.
Some of the young people who attend Corridors have a story that simply cries out to be heard.
Step 4: "Me - and what I have to do to get where I want to go"
Confucius is reputed to have said: "A long journey begins with a single
Attending Corridors is a major step towards the future for a lot of its students, but most students don't have any initial idea exactly where they want to go. When the limit of previous ambition was to find food, find shelter, find drugs, find a place to sleep, avoid violence - these needs have been an end unto themselves.
Once students are attending Corridors College, and basic survival and security needs have been met, other needs emerge.
Corridors can provide the social focus that allows its young people to look further into the future and set goals. For some, the goal may be simply to stay at school and socialise. For others; to complete year 10 or year 12; perhaps even to eventually go on with education or find work.
All of the young people attending Corridors are encouraged and helped to set goals and work towards achieving them. To do this, they must recognise and identify the steps that have to be achieved along the way - and for some, this is a very daunting task. It may mean giving up a lot of the things that they are currently familiar with; working harder; being challenged and sometimes having to try again.
The recognition that there are alternatives to their present life/ lifestyle and that they will have to take responsibility for their own future actions to achieve goals is a major step forward. Most achieve this recognition and take small positive steps that become larger as the goals become clearer.