- more content
- less content
- more frequent meetings
- less frequent meetings
- retreats in lieu of some classes
- retreats in addition to class
- to give “credit” for volunteer work, youth group activities
- to make programs more rigorous
- to make programs more “social”
- making meals part of the program (If you feed them, they will come!)
What I seldom hear is a discussion articulating the relevance of the program offerings.
We talk about what teens will learn. We spend a great deal of time deciding who will teach them. We seriously consider methodology. We evaluate the structure in an attempt to meet their scheduling constraints. "Who, what, where and when" - that's our focus.
But, do we tell them why it’s important to learn what we want them to know? Do we specify the connection to their daily lives?
My friend and colleague, Marc Kay, challenges us: “So what?” Why does what we are teaching matter? What's the relevance?
We may have (in our own minds) an answer to that question, BUT do we share that insight with our students?
I remember asking Mr. McNaughton, in advanced algebra (back in the dark ages), why we needed to learn how to operate a slide rule. “At some point,” he assured us, “we’d need to be able to do complex calculations and this was the most accurate way to do them.”
(Does anyone out there even remember a slide rule? Or how to use it?)
Hopefully, the knowledge, values and experiences we’re trying to get our teens to grapple with have relevance for them in their lives TODAY, as well as in the future.
"So what" should be the first question we ask, not the last.