Learning through stories : An investigation into how Tracks Rites of Passage Programme impacts on the development of young men and their family systems.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
The Tracks rites of passage are processes that mark the adolescent transition, for the participant, the family and the community, between the two life stages of childhood and adulthood. Adolescent initiation rites offer a community led journey of separation, transition and integration as a way to work meaningfully with adolescents as they move between the life stages of childhood into adulthood. In Aotearoa/New Zealand the Tracks programme provides a five day contemporary rite of passage for adolescents and, where possible, their fathers. The rite of passage is based on the assumption that adolescents need opportunities to find their voices and make meaning if they are to become more aware of who they are and where they belong.
The methodology recognises that I, as researcher and insider in the Tracks organisation, needed to develop a holistic approach to insider research so that I could call on my understandings of the organisation and also guard against bias. The holistic approach involves the four interpenetrating strategies of appreciative inquiry, narrative inquiry, a blend of approaches to self-study that include meditation and critical reflection, and most importantly organic inquiry. The four strategies are based on coherence theories that describe learning as being organic, interconnected and emergent. Data were gathered from interviews and cycles of critical self-reflection in the form of a learning journal.
Data comes from interviews with the mother or fathers and young men of six families who have participated in the Tracks rite of passage programme. I have also discussed this work with a number of professionals in the field of youth work. The project found that Tracks had created conditions that empowered these young men with an increased capacity to make sense of their lives. Fathers expressed how challenging and rewarding they had found it to speak in honest terms with their sons, and that they were supported to do the inner work necessary to be able to speak in such ways. All of the family members expressed a need to have more support after the event.
The findings suggest a need to explore further the nature of the work happening at Tracks. It validates Lashlie’s (2005) theory that adolescents need their fathers and other men to be involved in their lives at the time of transition. Tracks also helps fathers to get to grips with the inner work of developing emotional maturity. The work happening at Tracks invites further research into and debate on the value of emotional intelligence. The Tracks rite of passage offers an alternative perspective to understand the unacceptably high rates of adolescent morbidity and mortality happening in New Zealand.