(1) The Community-Wide Importance of Personalized Education

In this first section, consideration is first given to the community and then to the individual benefits of quality education. As of this point, “quality” education has not yet been rigorously defined . The reader should notice this fact. Such inquiry will lead the reader to the next section where concrete systems are proposed. 

High-quality education is a vital ingredient in many successful and productive American communities.  However, defining this foremost social objective proves quite difficult, except on a case-by-case, student-by-student level.  Each student has specific needs that his or her learning environment must satisfy. Many of these needs require personal interaction, yet in Lincoln, there is a deficit of individualized academic leadership and encouragement.  Therefore, by focusing Lincoln’s educators to meet specific student needs, the community would benefit through individual achievements as well as an overall gain in productivity.

Quality education improves conditions for a community as a whole, as well as for its individual members.  At the community scale, strong educational programs reduce overall crime and delinquency rates.  According to Hamidreza Arasteh et al., education is a “relevant” strategy, and “an essential part of crime prevention.” Especially among youth, academic programs encourage people to reject their criminal pasts.  Statistically, youth who are “successful in school” are also “less likely to recidivate” (Conlon 51).  According to this trend, quality education will keep more emerging adults out of Lincoln jails and on the path to vocational success.

A well-educated student’s personal success path may include financial, emotional, and/or health benefits as well.  Attaining a basic high school diploma has proven to “dramatically increase [lifetime] earnings,” improve employment opportunities, and increase one’s “likelihood of success in the real world” (Conlon 51).  While in school, an engaged student will not only acquire the life skills necessary to function in the workforce, but also the “ability to deal intelligently with stress” (Arasteh 39).  This helps students maintain strong mental health.

Another notable mental health benefit is boosted self-esteem. Students’ confidence naturally grows when educators reinforce them in problem-solving processes that involve constructively handling issues and participating in solutions.  However, while students have not yet mastered the process, confidence is still essential, and educators must provide it extrinsically.

In order to succeed, young people need consistent external encouragement, which can come from the home, from school, or from a peer group.  When that link is severed, unattended children may lose the motivation to successfully complete developmental tasks.  This is why children from single-parent or divorced families are more likely to succumb to social risks (Keating 717).  For example, Jacob, a freshman at Boys Town, felt verbally bullied in grade school and junior high.  A month into his eighth grade year, Jacob gave his mom a suicide note, saying he “hated everything” because he “hated going to school” and “hated being at home” (Metamorphosis).  Neither school nor family provided a source of reinforcement, and consequently, he felt defeated.

Initially, Jacob’s worried family consulted medical professionals. Psychiatrists and psychologists offered him treatment and medication to help him cope with his depression, yet “it didn’t fix it” (Metamorphosis). The medicine may have addressed Jacob’s symptoms, but it did not provide him with the social support necessary to restore permanent mental health. This latter need was not the psychiatrists’ responsibility, however. Social support was, in fact, a “role and responsibilit[y]” of Jacob’s school environment (Astareh 38). Schools “should assume responsibility” to provide students like Jacob with “participative educational opportunities” that promote active integration (38). Seeking such opportunities, Jacob transferred to Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska, and involved himself with JROTC. “Within the first month” of joining the Boys Town community, he was “smiling again” (Metamorphosis). Jacob’s mother believes it was his involvement that most contributed to his restored mental health.

Academic mentoring programs can also provide vital developmental support.  A respected role model monitors academic progress, offering relevant suggestions in times of confusion and praise in times of mastery.  These interactions boost both confidence and self-esteem (Conlon 49).  In a 2002 study, Lisa Keating observed the effects of one mentoring program on children at risk for mental illness or juvenile delinquency.  She found that a group of mentored participants “reported significantly fewer delinquent acts” than did a non-mentored group (727).  The mentored children also demonstrated significantly fewer internal and external behavior problems, both at home and at school, indicating the far-reaching benefits of student mentoring.

Works Cited

Arasteh, Hamidreza, and Sayed Saeid Kashfi. “Identifying Prevention Methods To Reduce Students’ Delinquency In Boys’ Middle Schools In Tehran.” Journal Of Instructional Psychology 40.1-4 (2013): 35. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

Conlon, Bill, et al. “Education: Don’t Leave Prison Without It.” Corrections Today 70.1 (2008): 48. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Keating, Lisa M., et al. “The Effects Of A Mentoring Program On At-Risk Youth.” Adolescence 37.148 (2002): 717. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 7 Mar. 2016.

Metamorphosis. In Their Own Words. Boys Town. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.