Development Zone®


PCA Resource Center

You Learn Life Skills Outside The Classroom

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Dr. Richard Lerner, a PCA National Advisory Board Member, is the Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Lerner has more than 650 scholarly publications and is known for his research about the relations between adolescents and their peers, families, schools, and communities. His work often focuses on positive youth development and youth contributions to society.

In this video, Lerner describes the difference between classroom learning and what Lerner calls ‘community learning’ -- education that happens in programs outside of school. The main difference is that kids are forced to go to school, but they often decide on their own to participate in programs outside of school. This is important because when a kid has the opportunity to make that choice, they are more motivated to succeed and are open to learning.

Community learning also provides an opportunity for mentors or coaches to teach things beyond arithmetic, reading and writing. In these programs there is more focus on learning emotions and teaching, as Lerner says, “things that matter to navigating life successfully” then there might be in the classroom.