Today, many intelligent, articulate, even gifted adolescents find it impossible to cope with the gap between potential and accomplishment. Their lives are tangled in failure and fear of further failure. At home and in school, they are baffled and discouraged. Relationships are strained. They have little belief in themselves and still less in others, especially adults.
These young people may become bored and apathetic, restless and recalcitrant, resentful and defiant. Concerned adults pursue every commonly recognized alternative, exhortations to try harder, rigid demands, artificial incentives, tutoring. While occasionally successful in the short range, these efforts often end in disappointment and increased conflict.
Yet these years of adolescent are the very time when new patterns of success can be formed. Young people can learn to trust themselves and others, can gain confidence in their own abilities and expand their horizons, can leave the stage of childhood and begin to move confidently into their own assured adulthood.
The passage through adolescent to adulthood has never been easy to negotiate. It is far more difficult today, even though the departure from adolescent is postponed to later and later years. A torrent of information and exposure washes over today's children. Traditional values are questioned. Often it is the brightest and most sensitive young people who feel uncertainty, apprehension, and anxiety. They question and reject demands for which they see little reason. They struggle - at home and in school - with the world, with their families, and with themselves.
For these bright, troubled young people, Robert Louis Stevenson School creates a special environment: a secure ground on which to receive help, to achieve, and to end the cycle of disappointment and resentment. At Stevenson, fear can yield to trust, helplessness change to competence, and destructiveness evolve into creative accomplishment. Loneliness thaws, and passivity is replace by active engagement. From denial, withdrawal, and discouragement, previously troubled adolescents move toward awareness, commitment, and hope.