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

Methods/classes and reasoning


-Prayer: Truly more than a mere tool, prayer is essential in recognizing where all truth comes from and for asking God's blessing upon the class to open minds, increase understanding of each other and the principles, and allow for a measure of peace and tolerance to bless the environment.
-Scriptures- I encourage each mentor to tie their lesson into at least one scripture to show the connection with the person and principle with God's word.  
-4-R method: Reason, Research, Record, and Relate.  Amazing way to personalize to find and study truth.
-Word Study: in which a student takes the 4-R method and does an in-depth study of a word that is principle-based.  This is a powerful tool for all classes to use.
-Good questions: not just a re-creation of the Socratic method, but a good question can be a powerful one.  Don't be afraid of the silence--let them struggle with something, and don't be afraid to ask questions you don't know the answer too...
-TOME - A notebook used to keep a record of what has been learned.  Students take notes, draw, write "ah-has", keep handouts, or other ideas they would like to use to keep a record.
-Reflection book (part of 4R method) - During class the youth are invited to reflect and also to consider how they can apply what they have learned
-Timeline - When a new event or person is introduced in class, students are invited to note them on their timeline with some key points to remember.  They will begin to see God's hand in the unfolding of history.

 -Core class introducing "concept" for the monthEstablishes principles through inspirements

-Synergy of the Mind activity Using a variety of learning styles these activities encourage group and leadership skills by giving them a project to accomplish together in a friendly, competitive environment...good for boys :).
- Leadership Biography-Takes people from history that model (or show contrast by not modeling) the principle for the month...the whole concept of "Face to Face with Greatness" encouraged by TJEd model.

- Simulation-Allows deeper exploration of the concept through "experience" in simulations.  I love simulations that expose the youth to important issues ("is the government responsible for my weight?"--"proper role of government" month--), make them think, and have them realize that while they understand the "true principle" behind their judgment (or have an inkling towards it), they lack the language they need to defend their position.  It is eye-opening and motivating for them to learn more....

-"Becoming Me"-Marni Hall could describe this better, but I see it as a class that teaches basic scholar tools (setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, finding mission, establishing good study habits, finding a mentor, etc.) to help the youth successful transition to scholars.

 -Introduction to continent--I see this as a tour guide, taking the youth on the wonders of a continent, as well as covering "basics" that will help them understand media reports and references in books they may come across (i.e.  the Nile River is in Africa).  I see this as a method to encourage them to want to learn more about the beauty of the diversity of our planet, but also see common connections with people in other places to decrease possible discrimination based upon ignorance as they see the humanity of others in the world....plus, it's a cool way to learn about things like camel wrestling and fairy castles in Turkey :)!
This is more mentor-led, like the tour guide I mentioned, and doesn't have inspirements.  The journey-man level students have helped research and present brief lists of facts about the continent from their "country reports" at this time.

-Ancient History Quest-This gives a historical context to where the people in that continent came from...some of the experiences that shaped them as an area.  We have studied people, time periods, or particulars like "the Great Wall of China"...something out of the time period of focus for the year, and from the continental "region" for that month.
This is a "core class" for is area, mentor-led, with the youth coming with inspirements from home to share on the chosen subject.

 -Geography projects:  This activity is a way for the youth to touch, feel, smell, and see the area of study on a different level.  We have had people from the area make presentations, tasted a lot of weird and delicious food, seen cool artifacts, heard cool legends, and seen neat recreations of art particular to the region of study, to name a few.   This is more of a hand's on time for the youth.

-"World in a Minute" & Geo-Challenge! Game (youth-created from facts presented in class)
-I saw in the "world in a minute" (inspired by Fox News at 9) a chance for the youth to see a little of what is going on in that area of the world right now.  By the time they review different articles, deciding which one to bring, they have reviewed at least a few, and, with the articles selected and presented by the other youth, they hear even more.  The format of being in front of a camera and having it shown (ideally :)...) at the cultural dinner at the end of the year is fun and challenging, helping some of the youth come out of their comfort zones in this safe, short "time on the camera".
-Geo-challenge:  this was a tool to encourage the youth to actually try and take notes, study, and remember what they learned that month.  So much of the "nitty-gritty" of geographical knowledge is best learned by rote-memorization, so, with the challenge of a game, it makes it a little more fun.  It has been rewarding to have youth come across something in a book and go, "I remember this from Geography!"--lending to their deeper understanding of the book.
FACE-TO-FACE WITH EINSTEIN/EUREKA! (My own name for Math/Science lens)
-Biography of Famous Scientist/Mathematician/Entrepreneur-As the youth study these biographies--through art, research, experimentation, or literature--, they can be inspired in so many ways: through the determination/perseverance of the individual, their actual findings, recognize similar talents or interests, learn new skills or just learn a new way of thinking about the world around them.
This is the mentor-led, inspirement based class for this lens.

-Introduction of associated scientific or mathematical concept- part of the class, a more hand's on part, great for increasing comprehension of the concept studied
- GAMES! (Penny game, SET!, Blockus, M&M dice, Got it!, Chess, Pirates Dice)--fun way to introduce logic, math skills, etc. to increase the love of math and loosen up the environment.  This is also a great chance for the mentors to show how to have a healthy, and respectful competitive environment.

-Youth-led Science Project-great opportunity for the youth to find something fun about science to share with others...they have been fun and creative, from how long it takes alka-seltzers to dissolve in different solutions to marshmallow diagrams of the atom.

- Synergy of Mind activity (team-building/critical thinking activity)--can be used here instead of leadership incorporating different analytical skills (building catapults).  It just depends upon the focus of the experiment.  This has been neat, as we have great analytical thinkers who have difficulty working with groups learn to listen more to others and try to work together...great application to future work environments and group projects.
GUEST SPEAKER-This can be used in any of the lenses. We have had a variety of people who have been passionate about an idea and pursued it.  They all have shared different "testimonies" of elements of scholarship.  Typically, we invite someone based upon someone else's recommendation, and just tell them to share what they would like to inspire a group of youth.  Some have done demonstrations or simulations, in place of presentations.

-Art class and Biography study (tied into concept for month or creative thinking, along with basic technique):
When youth are both taught to create art and/or to look at pieces of art, it develops the right side of their brain, a true gift in a left-brained dominated society.  It also teaches them perspective, as well as an appreciation of diversity.  You will give them tools to use in fields as diverse as architecture, science, and theater, where they could find use for their art skills in their studies.  Further bonus, you can take a child who insists they don't know how to draw, and show that they, too, can create art.
-Book discussion-through the use of good literature-- it's language, imagery, and beauty--people are able to make human connections with concepts, look at a principle through the eyes of the characters, and shape who they are by making personal decisions based upon what they read.  There are so many reasons to read good books!  This is just the tip of the iceberg! :)
Other activities during class time:
Opening Ceremony/Exercises (youth-led): Welcome, Thought, Pledge, Mission Statement, Prayer- sets the tone, covers the basics :).

"Ah-hahs!": A time where youth can share connections or epiphanies from previous studies--should be limited to brief sharings, not prepared presentations :). I feel it is so important for the youth to listen to the spirit and make connections in their every-day lives, as well as in their studies.   This time gives them a safe environment to begin sharing them, which also inspires others to share.  It is nice because some may not seem "sophisticated" or "complicated", which is actually encouraging to other youth, who may feel that their "ah-hah" are too simple to share.   It is especially wonderful when one ah-hah leads to another.
Devotional: Weekly inspiring message from youth/mentor (opt. used to reinforce monthly concept) This sets a tone of spirituality, helping the youth feel what "truth" feels like in the rest of their studies.  This, of course, is also a perfect environment for parents and youth to teach and inspire others based upon the scriptures.
Memorization: Poem and Scripture for month.  Memorization builds brain skills (see "racquetball experience" in other part of blog...under "Method Behind the Madness"), and keeps the brain limber.  I believe there is also a reference to the benefits of memorization in "Norms and Nobility"...but perhaps it is in a different book--Angie pointed out the reference once. 
 However, my main motivation in wanting it to be a part of the class is that I was encouraged as a youth to memorize different scriptures, quotes, and poems, and they have been with me throughout my life, to give me encouragement and perspective.  I would hope the youth would get the same, especially as it gives another avenue for perspective on the concept for the month.
Spotlights: (Done by VP), spotlights the youth at least once in the year (during "Announcements") A chance to give the youth a different look at one of their peers and celebrate their uniqueness :).  Typically, the youth spotlighted is given the treat that they list as their favorite (be it fruit or candy item).
Lunch break (suggested 15 minutes)   Too much longer and it deteriorates into horse-play...too short and it is not enough time to eat :).  15 minutes seems to work, but, of course, is up to you! :)
Outside Activities:
Service Project: organized by youth monthly to encourage service-oriented mentality.  I feel that this is very  important, and requires a dedicated mentor to follow-through to help a youth and their family do it.  "Teenage-hood" can be a very selfish time, and this helps them see outside themselves in a practical way.

Game Night: Used to reinforce the concept of the month with games that take longer than class time allows.  A great time to involve fathers!
NOTE: It is also a great time for adults to interact with the youth in games to demonstrate maturity and fun in engaging in competition.  When we have left the youth to "do it on their own" with the adults in the house, it has deteriorated to "groups" and frustrations.  When the adults have engaged as participants, they are able to show the youth how to bridge frustration, not by lecture, but by example.
It is a great opportunity for the adult mentors to see a different side to the youth as well, and for the youth to feel a greater connection to their mentors.

Movie Night: A look at media and how the concept of the month is portrayed with discussions.  Media can be a powerful influence on society and I think this is a great chance to either explore the concept using this artistic medium, or see what "the media" is trying to sell current society about the issue.

Outdoor Activity: Led by mentors to experience challenging outdoor experiences.   Young men in particular are more "vulnerable" to life-changing leadership moments in the outdoors, when being challenged.  This is also a great chance for, again, men to mentor the youth in a senses-engaging object lesson, from snow-shoeing (trusting God as your mentor, just as you can go more easily on the beaten path), to geo-caching (property), to responsible citizens (COPE course).
*Vision Hike: a chance to inspire the youth to catch a vision at the beginning of a new year of where they are at and where they would like to be for the year.  A simple hike, preferably first thing for morning inspiration :), with the youth bringing along snacks.  It is a great chance for the new youth president to share a message, introduce a new theme for the year, and give them a moment of reflection.  In the past, we have let them do this as they are reading letters from their parent(s).

*End of the Year Outdoor Adventure:  I think what I am envisioning is Vanguard, ...for three days in a powerhouse of nature, free from distraction, and transformational in nature.  The depth of really exploring what the youth have learned, how they have changed, where they are at now spiritually, emotionally, mentally, can be powerful questions as they reflect back on those moments in the year when they experienced the joy of deep, spiritual thinking and understand it is somewhere they can be.  And then challenging them to something higher!   
I think this all happens in the context of a true outdoor adventure.  There is something inspiring and symbolic in a "quest" or "adventure".  Whether it is physical in a backpacking experience (which I believe minimizes distractions as they are forced to carry the bare minimum for survival--a humbling and equalizing experience) or in the form of a series of activities that work towards an end, it carries with it a sense of accomplishment at the end that is very satisfying.
Family Activity: Used to strengthen youth relationships through family interactionAlso allows the families to spend time getting to know each other better.  It is fun to center it around a talent night, service opportunity (like Christmas), or the end of the year celebration of the year with the cultural dinner.

Group Religious Activity: visit to local religious temple or worship center to encourage connection with God.

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