Help: Teens and OS

Esther Ewing eewing at
Wed May 26 13:34:52 PDT 1999


I did Open Space in a school setting with teens. The topic was "How to make the
school safer". The teens came and they really "got into" the methodology. There
were two things that were surprising at the time but not in retrospect:

1. The female teenagers took forever to decide which sessions to go to because
they worked by mutual consensus and they didn't want to commit to a session
until they knew who else was going to be there! So there was a lot of
negotiation. It reminded me of my teenage daughters trying to decide what to do
on a Friday night. No one knows until they are walking out the door with their
friends - if then!

2. You need to prep the adults to be very careful not to dominate the
discussions and to allow for discussions to happen. In the case where I did it
in the school, when a kid said something about liking drugs, for example, one
teacher jumped in and made it clear that it was the kind of statement that
wasn't allowed. That effectively squelched the discussion in that room.

In the debrief, the teachers commented that they had been unsure as to how much
to participate and how much to let things happen. If I was doing it again I
would have a meeting with the teachers first to brief them and to help them
have that discussion ahead of time.

Good luck,
In my opinion, teens get into this very enthusiastically and that it is the
adults who are not sure about doing it. The teens in my school, embraced it
with vigour.


P.S. Feel free to contact me for more information.

At 11:50 AM 5/26/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Hi all:
>I am talking with a respected community health program that brings 200 teens
>together with their 50 adult advisors for three days every summer for a
>leadership retreat about the possibility of doing a day or more of this event
>in Open Space.
>They are very excited about it but are skeptical (isn't everyone?) that it
>will work with teens.  They have asked me for cases, for articles, and for
>phone numbers of folks who have used it with teens.  If you are willing and
>able, please post, or email to me: brief case summaries, phone numbers of
>contact persons, and/or references to written material to help me settle
>their jitters a bit.
>Thanks in advance for your help.  Open Space would be GREAT for these folks.
>Best, Jay
>Jay W. Vogt
>166 Hubbard Street
>Concord, MA 01742
>(978) 371-3134 - Voice
>(978) 287-5431 - Fax
>jaywv at - Email
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