"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things."--Jefferson

Friday, February 24, 2012

Attention Span considerations

Much is said about catering to the limited attention span of youth.  However, how powerful would it be if we took measures to help expand the attention span of youth?  Consider the following incredible article on this subject by Oliver DeMille:


Vanguard Mission Statement--How to!

The mission of this group is to empower the youth with a sense of personal mission and enable them to move forward with that mission by:

(1)  Encouraging faith in God as their ultimate mentor and source of truth through the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ:
I believe that a person must have a sense of obligation to a purpose or person higher than themselves to truly fulfill a meaningful mission.

I also believe that gaining intelligence is not gaining IQ, but that intelligence is, rather, "the application of what we know for righteousness" or truth. (Quote from David Bednar) I believe that the pathway to true intelligence involves the acquiring and applying/understanding truth and then using that truth to impact the world around us.

I believe that the Holy Ghost is the testator to all truth and will not only confirm truth in a person, but will enable and expand the mind of the earnest seeker of truth to gain more truth.

(2) Helping them find value in their own unique mission and introduce them to various communication styles so that they may communicate that mission to the world:
There are different stages in coming to a sense of mission, that can be assisted or facilitated through the right environment.
This time of a youth's life is also golden for developing tools with which they can express that mission.

Tools to help expand concept of mission
Great "kid's" books--I find I am never too old for a book with a good message...these are great for devotionals or just perspective grabbers:
 "The Treasure" by Uri Shulevitz --trusting inspiration and personalized direction
"The Happy Dromedary"--finding the tools you need, despite what other's may think
"The Apple-Pip Princess"--doing what you can with what you have, with miraculous results
"Leo the Late Bloomer" By Robert Kraus--everyone blooms in their own good time :)
"Just the way you are" by Max Lucado--sometimes what God needs for us to accomplish our mission may look different from what we think we need.

By Adam Hall

A man walked into a room, and all who were there fell completely silent. He wore no crown of gold and bore no rank, but all who knew him knew him as their leader.

He had power of sight and sound; through fire, water, and air he learned. The first two very different from each other, but the last one feeds and destroys them both, working together to find knowledge of truth, and of evil.

He was raised by evil but chose to do good.

He was told vicious lies but chose to find truth.

He deserted the evil and entered the good.

He entered a quest to find only truth but gained much more. He gained friendships only imagined before, and gained knowledge and skills that were dreamed of by all.

This man was an outcast at first, hated by everyone who knew or saw him.

He was labeled as a trouble maker, a member of the evil.

Until one man saw in him free will, free will to do good, not evil. This man helped him on his way, became his first true friend as some might say. He guided him through trials and tasks, helping him choose but not making the choice.

Until the day when finally, the outcast had to go on alone, to find for himself the truth of all his questions. When everything had ended, he knew much more than he had already known.

And when he walked once more across the land, he was known no more as an outcast, but as a leader - strong, bold, and truthful. A leader but for good and not for ill.

A man walked into a room, and all who were there fell deadly silent. He wore no crown of gold and bore no rank, but at the end of the day, all who looked upon him wept.

A man who was evil had decided to find good and became an outcast, then ended his quest by becoming a leader. He had been chosen.

That had been his mission, and he had done it well.

--Adam the Bowhunter

Scriptural references/People:
Moses (Bible and Book of Mormon)
Nephi (1 Ne. 3:7--Book of Mormon)
Abinadi: "It matters not what man can do" Abinadi vs. Army :)
(Mosiah 13:1-7, Moses-like)
Doctrine and Covenants 88:76-80 (LDS Scripture)

(3) Helping them come face-to-face with greatness as they study the world, history, people, and science, to prepare them to become future leaders in society: Hence, the class structure and lenses.

(4)  Creating an environment of respect, decency, trust and confidence:
Creating an environment of respect, decency, trust and confidence is essential to enabling a youth to share what they have learned throughout the week and vocally participate enough to create a truly synergistic environment.

(5) Teaching service-oriented leadership
Service Oriented Leadership is an essential aspect of preparing a youth to use their mission to serve... which is truly the only way to completely fulfill a mission--by putting it into practice!  The missions we are given are never wholly for ourselves, and the youth need to know that.  Try to bring in relevance of personal missions to service opportunities as much as possible.

Young adulthood can be a very selfish time, which is constricting to their self-esteem and confidence. When they are engaged in meaningful service, youth find value in others and learn to appreciate diversity, find strength in themselves as they do things that aren't for immediate gratification, and realize what they have to be grateful for.

The service project opportunities, service in leadership positions within the group, and teaching moments are all great ways to re-inforce this concept.

The Method Behind the Madness

There are some great books and links that I loved and that I feel shaped how Vanguard turned out the way it did, applying the truths that they contain.

Increase in Learning by Elder David Bednar - chapter 2
BYU Idaho Learning Model 
Teach the Children by Neil J. Flinders - chapters 12-14 and 18-19
Norms and Nobility by David Hicks - preface, prologue and chapter 1
Teaching and Learning American's Christian History pages 141-249
A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
"TJEd for Teens" by DeMille and Brooks
"Leadership Education" by the DeMilles (particularly pgs 40-56 and 153-224 are good for yearly--or more!--review, but reading this book will help explain a lot of the elements of Vanguard, like socializing as families, the value of projects, the need for master-level youth to design their own class for the year, etc.)
Oliver DeMille's address from the TJEd 2007 Forum: "The Eighth Key and the Four Levels of Leadership"--I don't purchase many things, but this is a treasure...very central to the Vanguard vision.
Great links and very entertaining to watch, too :):

"How Children Learn" by Holt
"Dumbing us Down" by Gatto"Do Hard Things: a Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations"  by Alex and Brett Harris (two teenagers themselves...written from one teen to another....powerful!) 
"Take back your education": http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/learn-as-you-go/take-back-your-education  --Although it omits the key element of mentoring from inspiration, I think it nails a lot of other key elements of a meaningful education on the head... 
"Teaching boys and other children who would rather be making forts all day" (worth the download!) http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/tb-e  
Unschooling by Oliver DeMille: http://www.tjed.org/2013/06/unschooling-weekly-mentor/
-This is a great article and the principle behind it--how to encourage an individualized education--was part of the reasoning behind behind the "inspirements" and "come to teach."  That way, they can go into depth about what interests them.


The COG of Journeyman mentoring

Journeyman classes are classes that address what I consider the second phase of scholarship--gaining more complete understanding by taking it to a deeper level of relating it to ourselves, making connections with other truths, or studying it more in depth.

It is an exciting level of scholarship (related to the "project-scholar" phase of TJEd scholar phase), in which the youth has decided they want to take their knowledge of something to a different level and are willing to do what the mentor is prescribing to get to that deeper level.

It requires considerably more on the part of the mentor as they need to prepare more to be ready for the deeper level of preparation brought to the table by the youth, but the feast is sweet!

There are three components I believe, to keeping Journeyman level scholarship running smoothly:
C: Commitment or Contract: There needs to be integrity on the part of the youth and the parent in making sure that they, first, know what they are committing to by being in the class, and, second, honor that commitment. I brought up how when Zoram took an oath with Nephi and his brothers that he would follow him, "their fears did cease concerning them." I thought it would be a great opportunity to teach our youth the importance of what pledging our word means.

The mentor for the class follows up to some degree, posting monthly (or so) updates of what they have recorded for their progress through the class, but their main role is to individually guide where needed and teach the material and provide the structure.

There is an incredible mormon message on honesty at the following link:

I like how it said that ultimately, when we honor our commitments at school we are becoming all we can be. That is the principle, I feel, not a "catch-em-in-the-act" mentality. :) The journeyman classes are a gift offered by the mentor to guide a youth to a deeper level of experience in a given area. By trusting and following that mentor in that path (under the direction of the Holy Ghost and parental guidance, of course), the student will gain from the mentor. Ultimately, not doing what is agreed to is going to impede the youth. I hope we can teach this as a positive thing :

I was going to use the word "covenant" to add more meaning to this contract between mentor and student, but decided not to, since in these modern times it is less used in a secular sense and more and more often in a spiritual sense.

However, the following definition from the LDS Bible Dictionary bears consideration as we consider what it means to "give our word":

"Covenant. Sometimes denotes an agreement between persons (1 Sam. 23:18) or nations (1 Sam. 11:1); more often between God and man; but in this latter case it is important to notice that the two parties to the agreement do not stand in the relation of independent and equal contractors. God in his good pleasure fixes the terms, which man accepts. The same word is sometimes rendered “testament.”

The gospel is so arranged that principles and ordinances are received by covenant placing the recipient under strong obligation and responsibility to honor the commitment."  

There is a great article on this aspect of holding youth accountable as a part of leadership in the Deseret News leadership column by Timothy Clark titled: "The skill and will of accountability". (Deseret News, Mon. April 9, 2012) 

O: Observe. Going hand in hand with the excellent talk discussed at the mentor meeting (http://www.lds.org/liahona/2006/12/quick-to-observe?lang=eng&query=observe), we want to observe in order to be able to love and serve better: observe their strengths, observe where we can help them, observe their individual needs in an area and help them do that. 

G: Guide, which is synonymous with "mentoring" in my mind. Incorporate the 5 environments: lecture, tutorial (smaller groups), coaching, group discussion. There is a great link at the following:

At this level of education, you can really incorporate these well as the youth are eager and willing to jump in.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Accountability in class

 There is a fabulous quote/Mormon message featuring a talk about "honesty" by Pres. Faust at: http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/mormon-messages?lang=eng#2011-05-011-honesty
(the actual talk can be found at: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1996/11/honesty-a-moral-compass?lang=eng&query=faust+honesty)

I was struck by the following quote he shared and thought it related very well to Vanguard. 

"In reality, we are only in competition with ourselves. Others can challenge and motivate us, but we must reach down deep into our souls and call forth our God-given intelligence and capabilities. We cannot do this when we depend on the efforts of someone else."

It reminded me of the beginning of the year, when the mentors told the youth and parents that there was an expectation that everyone come with inspirements each week for each class .  The teachers take time to come with material prepared, and it is the responsibility of the student to come prepared.  Some parents were concerned when I said this, saying something to the effect, "if you are going to expect that, you better follow through...".

I believe that there are two areas of following through:
-mentors: the mentors responsibility is to inspire, be clear, and have some sort of visible accountability (check off a list, verbal accountability in class, etc.)
-parents: parent mentor meetings
-students: accurately report to mentors and parents about preparation; make sure they come prepared because they are choosing to be in the class.

I thought the following quote was particularly relevant:
We have the agency to make choices, but ultimately we will be accountable for each choice we make. We may deceive others, but there is One we will never deceive.
The students must be accountable for their educationIt can be learned step by step, and line upon line. This concept may effectively be reinforced supported through devotionals, class, and home teaching.  Unless they are taught and inspired to own  their education by coming prepared each week to class, Vanguard becomes a merely social environment.  The parents and students need to realize that coming prepared each week is the price they pay to be in Vanguard, and their integrity or lack thereof in doing this will not only cheat others of the chance to learn from them, but ultimately harm themselves.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Suggested outline for Core class

Suggested outline of Weekly schedule for CORE classes
Opening ceremony & Announcements
Devotional & Memorization
Classes and activities alternated to blend physical activity with mental learning
Appropriately placed lunch break (suggested 15 minutes)
Closing prayer
Recommended 3-4 hours for this segment, depending upon which activities are included
NOTE: Mondays and Fridays have not worked so well :).

Definition of some of the activities during class time:
Opening Ceremony (youth-led): Welcome, Thought, Pledge, Mission Statement, Prayer, Time for Ah-hah's
"Ah-hahs!": A time where youth can share connections or epiphanies from previous studies--should be limited to brief sharings, not prepared presentations :).
Devotional: Weekly inspiring message from youth/mentor (opt. used to reinforce monthly concept)
Memorization: Poem and Scripture for month.
Spotlights: (can be done by VP), spotlights the youth at least once in the year (during "Announcements")