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Chapter 10 – Understanding the Human Ecology: A Systems Approach for Understanding Why Children Drop Out of School | Dropouts 101

Chapter 10 – Understanding the Human Ecology: A Systems Approach for Understanding Why Children Drop Out of School

This study has clearly shown that children continue down the developmental pathway they started in Kindergarten. Rarely do they get “back on track” regardless of different attempts by educators and others. Why? Educators, parents, and other community leaders continue to largely focus efforts at the high school level of education rather than center their efforts at the elementary level where children’s problems emerge and become persistent. Educators, parents, and community leaders do not account for the fact that children do not develop in an educational vacuum. Educators and others continue to overlook the layered, overlapping effects of “Usual Suspects”. Despite this oversight of ignoring the “Usual Suspects”, research clearly shows that it is the custom, rather than the exception, for dropouts to experience multiple “Usual Suspects” in their lives. In other words, educators and other interested parties continue to tackle the issue of children dropping out of school in a straight line, cause-and-effect fashion as opposed to taking a comprehensive, systems approach to understanding. There is no simple way, or “magic bullet”, that prevents youth from dropping out of school. Rather, educators, parents, and community leaders need to begin considering the human ecology of the various systems operating daily in the lives of each child. Only then can we begin to understand how to create solutions for dropout prevention. This chapter will explore solutions to understanding and working with dropouts from a systems approach.