Advantaged Thinking is a philosophy about using the advantages we possess as humans – our assets, talents, resources and abilities – to create the conditions for a society in which everyone can thrive. Rather than getting lost in the safety net for supporting people’s disadvantages, Advantaged Thinking looks for the springboard of positive action that will bring about sustainable change. Our traditional focus on the language and outcomes of needs and deficits is given a different perspective through Advantaged Thinking by being better connected to people’s goals and assets. Advantaged Thinkers want to create a better future – and they work to build it using the best tools.
Advantaged Thinking believes that everyone has a talent, the ability to be someone positive in life. With the right set of opportunities and support, we can identify and harness everyone’s talent for personal and social good. As scouts, we can work to find someone’s talent; as coaches, we can nurture that talent; and as agents, we can promote and progress that talent further. Advantaged Thinking looks to invest smartly in people’s potential for the present and the future. The opposite is DisAdvantaged Thinking. Disadvantaged Thinkers behave in ways which assume that some people do not have talent. It is a thinking that defines people by problems, promotes through deficits, and builds services based on a limited view of the future.
DisAdvantaged Thinking helps people survive and cope because it does not think they can do anything more. It works to limit risks and prevent harm, but by doing so does not look for breakthroughs. It is not challenged to innovate sustainable solutions. DisAdvantaged Thinking invests wastefully because it can never find a way to use our full talents to engage the talents of others we don’t believe in.
There is a huge social injustice at the heart of the way in which we prepare young people for adulthood in the UK. We seem to value and invest much more in those young people who already had a good start in life, while our inability to provide a positive induction to adulthood for those who do not get that from home often traps them in dependency and deprives us all of their talents. We would do better, for all our young people, if we replaced ‘DisAdvantaged Thinking’ with the reality of who young people are. Advantaged Thinking strategises the Foyer Federation’s vision for making a positive investment in young people based on developing assets instead of supporting deficits. It encourages us to shape a better world, the right way up, where young people are promoted to be invested in, not to be dissed. It’s a journey for a different type of youth charity and movement.