Family History matters; unconsciously if influences our choices, directing us to or away from pursuing our goals. We either repeat our family history, learn from it, or rebel against it.
As a result, the first days of Health class are devoted to:
- A unit on Goals where students choose their goals in 6 different areas of life, state what they will do each day to accomplish their desired future goal and what character traits will be required / strengthened while they walk their path to their desired future.
- The Introduction of the Family Tree (genogram) Project. Everything you know, your sense of right /wrong, your ethics, what is /is not permissible, what you can get away with is learned in your family. Students need to be informed; in a few years they will leave their home and establish their own home. Now is the time to evaluate the rules, ways and habits of their extended family. Look at their family history; appreciate what is good and learn from the examples they don’t wish to continue in their own life.
The purpose is to focused student’s attention on:
- their family history (we tend to repeat history / or rebel against it),
- their current circumstances,
- their future hopes and dreams.
The information gained from these beginning activities makes subjects like Sex Ed, Drugs, Nutrition, Decision Making etc. more personal. For example, a subject like Sex Ed isn’t just about information, for many of my students there is a family history with STD’s, single parenting, issues with the Baby Daddy who walked away. So when you get to the Sex Ed Unit, (or Drug Unit or Nutrition Unit etc.) along with your curriculum you also provide an opportunity for the student to think about what would be the WISE way to conduct their relationships (friendships, peers, boyfriend/girlfriend, coworker, boss), the way I date, who I date, where I go, how far do I go with the person I date, what do I do for FUN in my relationships. These questions activate a student’s imagination. The activation of their imagination is more important than the details in any textbook; and can influence their decisions.
- (These kids have seen everything either on television, movies, music videos, in their neighborhood or in their families. They know that sex, drugs and rock and roll (current culture) messes with people’s lives. Their lack of life experience interferes with the understanding that bad stuff can happen to them.)
Long before a person makes a wrong moral decision, they made a series of unwise decisions that were legal, ethical and culturally permissible. (Lesson 2 in my Decision Making Unit is a perfect example – it deals with the “Lies I Tell Myself?”) Unwise decisions set us up for moral failure, as in “How could I be ssooo stupid? Why didn’t I see this coming.”
Activate your students’ imagination with the perfect question that will cut through what is culturally permissible, what is legal, what I want to do right now.
What is the WISE thing to do in light of my past experiences / my families’ past experiences? —
True Example part 1 — Mom, Grandma, Great Grandma all single parents, and had their 1st baby before getting out of high school.
What is the WISE thing to do in light of my current circumstances? —
True Example part 2 — “Mrs. Mccoy, I absolutely cannot be the 4th generation who has a baby before getting out of high school.” Her Mother’s, Grandma’s, and Great Grandma’s ongoing reminder to her was their personal unwise sexual decisions made as teens, robbed them of their own hopes and dreams. They didn’t want her to rob herself of her hopes and dreams.
What is the WISE thing to do in light of my future hopes and dreams? —
True Example part 3 — “Mrs. Mccoy, how do you do this abstinence thing? No sexual contact until I get married. (statement not a question) I could be 25, 30. . . . don’t you think that is a little extreme?
My response: Your Mother loves you, what extreme thing would she be willing to do to give birth to you after she had finished high school, completed college, and married to Mr. Right?
This resonated with her; because her Mother’s, Grandma’s, and Great Grandma’s on going lesson to her was their personal unwise sexual decision made as teens, robbed them of their own hopes and dreams. They didn’t want her to rob herself of her hopes and dreams.
The interesting thing about this story is, in spite of this girl’s family history, she was not onboard with the idea of abstinence. Our culture is very sexualized, if she didn’t have sex before marriage, she may not ever have a cool boyfriend much less get married because . . . .(fill in the blank.)
She intellectually knew the WISE thing to do. She emotionally was afraid to embrace the WISE thing; the cost might be too high. There might be boys who wouldn’t date her, peers might make fun of her, lose her cool factor, she might not fit in etc. This was important information not only to her but to the class — these emotional / heart issues could lead her along the path her mother, grandma and great grandma took.
- Self –Esteem / Image issues — I’m not enough the way I am — I need to be pretty, sexy, cool to attract the right people.
- How to say No and maintain my cool factor, social acceptance and self-respect?
- Her family’s history — she’s feeling the pressure -- the family matriarch’s desire is for her to have the life, foolish decisions robbed them from having.
Nobody plans to mess up their life, but few people make plans not to mess up their life either. The way to plan NOT to make a mess, is to ask the tough questions.
In light of my history / my family’s history, my current circumstances / responsibilities and future hopes and dreams — what would be the WISE thing for ME to do?
ME is important because Me is unique. ME isn’t everyone or anyone else. WISE is more important; it is a higher standard than the legal thing, the ethical thing, the culturally permissible thing, or what I think I can get away with.
NOTE: If you know what the WISE thing to do is and you go another path, what does that say about you? What do you think a WISE person would say to you?