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Monday, January 24, 2011

Time with Young People: Teaching & Learning

While taking the high school and junior high youth on a trip to find snow in Arizona, I had the chance to experience some touching and exciting moments. While playing something called The Ungame:
Q: What would you do if you found out you had a week to live.
A: (Jr. High girl) I would cry.
Q: Okay, anything else?
A: I would hide because I wouldn't want to make anyone else sad.

# # #

Q: What is one thing that peopel don't know about you?
A: (H.S. girl) That's hard because I'm so outgoing. People know everything about me. I don't know. I guess I wish my family was closer.

# # #

Q: What are the four most important things to you ad why?
A: (H.S. boy) . . . and fourth, I guess self-awareness because you can't improve as a person unless you are self-aware.
We also had a variety of formal and informal conversations. I began a conversation with a group of high school boys about whether they would act justly if they could get away without acting justly. The conversation evolved to one boy openning my eyes when he said he would always act justly, but unlike what another boy said, guilt had nothing to do with it. He said that if he did something wrong he would (1) accept personal responsibility (2) work to fix it and (3) not do it again, but he would not feel bad about himself over it, or have an emotional response about something that happened in the past. We talked about whether there was value in "feeling bad" and came across the notion that perhaps others would have trouble accepting your apology if you did not feel bad about having made a mistake. He stuck to his guns and said that he couldn't feel what he doesn't feel. He would, however, accomodate such a person by making an effort to assure them the mistake wouldn't happen again.

We have a formal discussion about New Year's Resolutions that could focus on spiritual development in addition to growing your mind and body. (A little disturbing how many 11-17 year olds list eating better as a resolution.) We also talked about how to both be truthful and constructive with the tone of our speech.

2 comments:

Matt Dick said...

I am so not suited to talk to teenage boys without hating them. I was one, which frightens me. Specifically:

...but he would not feel bad about himself over it, or have an emotional response about something that happened in the past.

Nobody denies reality like a teenage boy.

spinda

JimII said...

They're all basically bad Vulcans. They have these raging emotional cores that they hope they can control by being completely unemotional. Unlike Spock, the fail terribly.

That said, this was a really positive conversation because the boy who denied feeling bad about doing something wrong both acknowledged that others might expect that and came up with a solution he could live with.