Self-Concept Education: An Ethnography of a Residential School and Treatment Center for Emotionally Distrubed and Delinquent Adolescents

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The premise that a person's view of himself greatly influences the way he behaves is of particular significance to those operating therapeutic and rehabilitative programs for emotionally disturbed and delinquent adolescents, as it suggests that in order to change and control certain behaviors of the adolescent, some aspects of his self- concept will have to be altered. The purpose of this study, as developed in the research setting, was to investigate those components of an ongoing rehabilitation program which focused on influencing the student's self-concepts. Particular emphasis was placed on describing and analyzing the educational mechanisms and constructs involved in the process of teaching emotionally disturbed females to gain awareness and control of their feelings toward themselves, their behavior, and, ultimately, their lives. The program studied was in operation at Glaydin School, a coeducational residential school and treatment center for students between the ages of 13 and 18 of mixed socioeconomic backgrounds who needed help with social and emotional problems. Glaydin's program was designed to offer student s appropriate educational training in conjunction with necessary therapeutic treatment. The research employed an ethnographic methodology which produced the descriptive materials and evidence needed for the resulting qualitative analysis of the self-concept education components of the program. The researcher entered 18 months of field observation work as a complete participant (researcher involved with interaction, observer status unknown) and completed the data collecting as a complete observer ( researcher not directly involved in interaction, observer status known). An extensive recording system based on the field methods of Schatzman and Strauss (1973) was designed to note and organize information gathered in the field. The resulting self-concept education model reflects the 2,752 data entries collected during observations and interviews in the research setting, a review of related studies, and the personal experience and prejudices of the researcher. Four categories emerged during the analysis that became the basic components of the theoretical model. These components were stated in instructional terms as follows; students were taught to confront and control their behavior, recognize and control their feelings, examine their self-concept objectivity, and build strategies that would facilitate an improved self-concept.