Ung Invest AIB (Young Invest) is a complementary educational institute, offering vocational courses and optional academic training for youth who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out. The school works with a vulnerable group of young people who have not been able to use their talents and resources due to various reasons and often had challenges in their lives. Young Invest is dedicated to re-engage youth with education; among others, those who are receiving psychological assistance and/or support from child welfare services, struggling with learning difficulties and to a certain extent diagnosed with psychological disorders, such as ADHD/ADD. The students are accepted on a rolling basis, and can also leave their training at Young Invest to start a regular school or employment at any time.
“In a safe, strength-based and humorous environment, we learn together”, is Young Invest’s conviction and vision. The school strives to spread the notion that young people should not be judged based on their learning abilities or academic success, but rather on the values they bring to society and their strengths. The staff is enthusiastic about changing the general misconception about youth who drops out of school, including the negative language used to describe this group.
“We want to uncover the young people’s potential and to give them a real chance to be re-integrated into society”, explains Ingebjørg Mæland, the school leader. Young Invest uses educational methods that are based on appreciative inquiry (AI), positive psychology and social constructivism that brings out and promotes each student’s strengths and talents. Young Invest’s mission is to unleash the full potential in everyone, and all the students and the staff are involved in making this vision come true.
Examples of Changemaking:
- To practice empathy and strengthen students’ self-knowledge, the school’s educational practices are based on positive psychology, where everyone is encouraged to work through their personal challenges in a welcoming environment. Positive psychology theories are concretized and implemented via strength-based methodologies and AI techniques, which allows the students to reflect on each other’s’ positive characteristics. This influences students to approach themselves, as well as to other individuals, with an empathetic perspective and ultimately shifts their prior judgements on psychological problems or diagnoses.
- In order to ensure an equal learning environment, Young Invest has removed the teachers’ lounge. The students and staff have lunch and recreation in the same space.
- Young Invest places a substantial focus on student’s wellbeing both within and outside school hours. When a student does not attend classes, the staff always follow them up. This includes a phone call to check how they feel, and maybe even going to their home and giving them a ride, if that is the support that they need to be able to attend school.
- Young Invest arranged the ‘International Learning Festival’ in 2016 with contributions from TAOS Institute and Lent which attracted over 200 participants from different countries. During the conference, Young Invest students explained the educational approaches they use at the school, where county education manager and county governor were among the audience. The school will arrange the conference for a second time this year.