Dr. Lee Brown and Dr. Martin Brokenleg

As I listened to Dr. Lee Brown speak of the medicine wheel and the importance of working with aboriginal students’ with a focus on emotions first, I am reminded of a speaker I encountered early on in my career as an alternative education teacher. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Dr. Martin Brokenleg, a Lakota professor from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, many years ago and I am eternally indebted to him. I was moved by his speech all those years ago, and by his profound book, Reclaiming Youth At Risk, as well. Brokenleg is a founding member of the Reclaiming Youth International organization with Larry Brendtro and Steve Van Bockern.
Their “Circle of Courage” model is one of youth empowerment and is founded not only on current research in learning and youth development but also on native philosophies of caring for children. It uses the image of the medicine wheel and includes four core values: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity. The model believes it is essential for each individual to experience and achieve these four values but more importantly, that the community must play a key role in ensuring that each of these values are attained, not only to empower the youth but for the betterment of the community as well. I refer to their book and their model often in my practice; it provides an excellent foundation when working with aboriginal youth at risk, scratch that, any and all youth!

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About smyers

Hi Everyone, I am a high school alternate school teacher living in Vancouver, BC. I have been teaching for 15 years, though I am not sure where all that time has gone. I love working with teenagers, and am grateful that I have the opportunity to share my love of learning with young people every day. It's a pretty sweet gig!

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