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Youth University Continues to Build Community through Tribes

Schools, classrooms and the people within them have long had the power to transform young lives. A classroom that encourages community is built upon caring relationships, positive expectations and opportunities for meaningful participation. Classroom community also encourages caring and trust among all members. Classrooms that build community have the power to transform young lives through positive youth development and successful learning environments (Bernard).

Tribes Learning Communities is a research-based process and active learning pedagogy that creates a culture that maximizes learning and human development. Tribes is based on three proven components of developing positive youth; caring relationships, positive expectations, and meaningful participation. The Tribes process develops students with valuable life-long skills of social competence, problem-solving, and a sense of purpose. As well, Tribes students are encouraged to believe in a bright future (Bernard).

The common denominator in the Tribes method and other community building practices such as those used by Youth University is small group processes. Small groups are the ideal vehicle for creating a caring community where each individual’s unique strengths and abilities are valued. Youth University has always valued work in small groups, where students are given the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways to a shared group goal. Shared goals and working towards achieving them together provide a sense of belonging and self efficacy for students. As Bonnie Bernard illustrates, the critical challenge for educators in the 21st century is not mastering a piece of technology or information. It lies in creating connectedness – in building schools that connect us to each other and to our shared web of life. Tribes success in building classroom community and promoting positive youth development has been seen in Youth University programming and hundreds of schools in Ontario, Canada, North America and around the world.

Bernard, Bonnie (2005) What is it about tribes? The Research-based components of the development process of tribes learning communities. Windsor, CA: Centre Sources Systems.

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