Today our education system is subject to what some might call “the tyranny of normal”.
A standardised curriculum and timetables with their demanding academic content and testing might do well by the brightest children and those with support networks at home, but it often fails young people in the average to bottom sets and those with multiple layers of disadvantage, or from low socio-economic backgrounds.
The one-size-fits-all approach that serves the ‘normal’ ideal can often leave young people outside of this category feeling like a square peg in a round hole, and it does nothing to celebrate their authentic selves in a system that rewards uniformity.
Rather than encouraging a commitment to learning and concentrated action, we believe it can have the opposite effect.
The obvious disparity bolsters their weaknesses and frailties. It knocks their self-confidence, self-belief and self-worth, leaving young people with a sense of hopelessness and the idea that any effort is futile.
Highlighting the problem, a Youth Index report published by The Prince's Trust in 2017 revealed that 45% of young people did not believe in themselves at school. It also found that a quarter of young people did not feel in control of their lives, and that a crisis of confidence in their own abilities and future prospects was preventing them from realising their true potential.
It is clear that a one-size-fits-all education does not suit all young people, therefore, the Porcupine Programme aims to respond to help those who fall through the gap.
Rather than obsessing over ‘fitting in’, we draw out, focus on and celebrate the unique differences of each young person that makes them 'stand out'. We use a combination of positive psychology tools and techniques to help young people recognise, face and dissolve the limiting beliefs that hold them back and instil instead a sense of value and worth in their identity, attributes and talents.
We give the remarkable young people for whom the curriculum does not serve the ability to acknowledge and shine their own unique light; to know what it feels like to reach their 'flow' and operate in their 'zone'.
Once young people know who they are, what they stand for, and what they are capable of, they possess the confidence to show up, stand up, and speak up. In other words, they are able to let their best self shine through.
And once they believe they are capable and worthy, everything is possible!