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Friday, February 21 • 11:30am - 2:15pm
Drug Education: An Ongoing Elephant in the Room

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Objectives: This paper draws upon a multi-method qualitive study that seeks to uncover the positive effects of transforming the critical pedagogy of youth leadership by placing our youth within a collaborative structure with other powerful institutions to appropriately address drug education. Consequently, facilitating their development into productive democratic citizens. With the rise in fentanyl use and overdose, along with the legalization of marijuana in Canada, it is astonishing that our students are not regularly being educated on the negative implications of drug use. It is not that our schools don’t want to teach drug education but merely because there is a lack of disciplines and factors that are required to teach such a sensitive topic. In pursuant of affirming this claim, the qualitive study of three disciplines and factors that deter schools from teaching drug education, such as time placement, training, and cost effects, reveal drug education to be a fickle topic to address. Following these disciplines and factors are youth initiative focused strategies that mirror a successful practise taken place in Australian schools. The goal of this paper is to ensure schools that the implementation of drug education can be quite simple, inexpensive, and require very little training.

Theoretical Framework
    This study explores the transformation of critical pedagogy towards youth leadership in conjunction with Jean Piaget’s theory of constructivism. Critical pedagogy revolves around a relationship between teaching and learning; where the teacher is a facilitator of the students learning to help them “understand [their] place within the power structures and society in general” (Kincheloe & Steinberg, 2018). By allowing the transformation of critical pedagogy towards youth leadership, we are acknowledging and supporting their freedom of responsibility, knowledge, and activism. The Australian Government (2006) acknowledges student “involvement as a meaningful way develops one’s identity and increases [their] capacity to deal with life (p. 8). Piaget’s constructivist theory works with critical pedagogy to help transform our student’s development of knowledge into power.
    Two youth initiative strategies that rectify the determinant factors of time placement, training, and cost effects, all while acknowledging this theoretical framework is the use of creating a youth ran drug prevention club and using drug education as an element of social pedagogy by implementing it right into the Program of Studies. Both strategies are effective ways of presenting school drug education programmes, so long as they are youth ran and “relevant to the young people who are likely to participate in the programme” (McBride, 2003, p.734). Drug education should be introduced within the formal operational stage of our student’s cognitive development. Their development of abstract thinking allows them the competence of fully understanding the severity of the topic they are teaching to their peers. Students are more likely to accept the severity of a topic when it is their own peers who are introducing it, as there is more relevancy and trust within the information obtained. In The Star, a grade 12 Calgarian “remembered taking DARE as a kid. He said it had no effect on him, especially once he began to suspect that much of what he was learning was fabricated or exaggerated" (Maimann, para. 25). There is a distrust in knowledge distribution when the facilitator acts as a superior, whose regurgitated knowledge is unquestionable. However, when a facilitator places themselves equal to their students by simply “assimilating new information into existing schema or thought structures” (Harlow, Cummings & Aberasturi, 2008, p. 45), students are more inclined to explore what they already know even when they reach “cognitive disequilibrium [as they are] motivated to mentally accommodate the new experience” (Harlow, Cummings & Aberasturi, 2008, p. 45). The motivation to explore the new experience comes from the facilitator’s method of instruction. There will be occurrences where a disequilibrium cannot be overcome by the students, resulting in the facilitator to step in and “accommodate the new information and construct schema” (Harlow, Cummings & Aberasturi, 2008, p. 45-46). When students are responsible for their own learning within “a peer programme of trained peer leaders, facilitating a classroom of same-age, or younger peers” (McBride, 2003, p. 738), in collaboration with a teacher facilitator, a beautiful marriage arises that develops into an authentic learning experience.

The study of the determinant factors and strategies in implementing drug education employs a multi-method qualitative research framework involving: 1) data collected from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction that highlights recent drug trends and usages; 2) a collection of various media accounts illustrating the lack of drug education in Canada; 3) a youth ran drug program presented by the Department of Education within the Australian Government; and 4) various academic journals on drug use, drug education, and training. This presentation will showcase the determinant factors as to why Canadian schools lack the implementation of drug education, identify youths who are most at risk, and present collected data demonstrating the cause and effect of abusing popular substances. The presentation will then be concluded with a series of strategies backed by the theoretical framework to assist in the distribution of drug education.
This multi-method approach unifies and compliments the qualitative methods of document and data analysis. These qualitive research approaches work collaboratively to help reveal “substance abuse [having it’s] roots in childhood” (CCSA, 2007, p. 47). Thus, affirming the severity of early and consistent prevention, to avoid the element of intervention, as “Postsecondary education dropouts in Canada, had a history of dropping out and drug abuse in high school” (Ma & Frempong, 2013, p. 152). The research approaches further review evidence-based approaches practised by adults that have not worked, in comparison with other evidence-based approaches with youth leaders as the distributers of knowledge, exposing youth leadership as the transformative element within critical pedagogy.

    Boyle Street Education Centre is a high school in Edmonton, Alberta that supports youth between the age of 14-19 who have experienced interruptions within their education. An issue from The Star has provided an account of students from Boyle Street who have formally been impacted by drug use, now addressing their concerns about the current state of drug education. Lee Sankey, a formal user of crystal meth (In 2017, 1.2 % of Canadians within grade 7-12 have been reported using methamphetamine ), and Nick Kaziechko, a formal user of fentanyl (From 2011-2014, 61 deaths have been reported in Alberta and from 2009-2014, 655 deaths have been reported in Canada in total ) have both stated their successful process towards rehabilitation at the school. It was not the education that rehabilitated them, but the mindfulness exercises, yoga, animal assisted therapy, and weekly talking circles. Sankey and Kaziechko used The Star as a platform for expressing a need for a revamp in drug education. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) (2007) explains that “substance use by young people is a constantly evolving phenomenon as various drugs go in and out of favour over time” (p. 5). Due to the constant change and sensitivity of the topic, there is also a struggle for keeping up with the change, which is also in “opposition by parents and politicians making it challenging to move past that” (Maimann, para. 15) need. The use of RCMP as the instructors to push “a zero-tolerance method” (Maimann, para. 21) leaves students with “an imagery if intimidation, or a sort of shame around [their use of drugs, and possible] arrest, right then and there” (Maimann, para. 35). Stude

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Friday February 21, 2020 11:30am - 2:15pm
Macleod Hall E1 Calgary Telus Convention Centre