Links for Learning
1. Finding Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers
This months Links for Learners will support high school
- Religion - Christian life-styles; the Church's sacramental
- Social Studies - family mores; divorce in society
- Psychology - normal human feelings and emotions; anger management;
- Finding Links for Discussion Group Leaders and Participants
Look for connections for use in programs such as:
Parish sacramental preparation programs and CCD classes; young
adult discussion programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA
Parents will also find this material useful in initiating discussion
around the dinner table, in home study, at family activities,
or as preparation for parent/teacher meetings.
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions
or explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from
the resource materials cited throughout the Link for Learners.
Recognizing our feelings in times of stress
Stress often hides behind a mask of excess activity. The author
prompts us to look closely at feelings that we may not be acknowledging
because we're just too busy getting through the day. When life turns
upside down, we scramble to keep up with tasks and chores, often
covering for someone else who is incapable because of major illness
or is no longer present because of separation, divorce or death.
A major life event such as divorce creates feelings we perhaps
haven't yet experienced with such intensity: anger, uncertainty,
fear, isolation, confusion. Maybe none of your friends have experienced
what your family is going through. The first step in dealing with
these feelings is recognizing their presence. Emotional health starts
If you're reading this as an individual, check out a health
education site put together by a physician and targeted especially
for high school and college students. Measure your stress with the
scale you'll find at this site. If you're part of a discussion group,
you can all take the test individually and then share your thoughts
You may enjoy reading stories about how fictional young people deal with their
emotional highs and lows. Here's a sample online bibliography
of fiction for junior high kids (ages 12 to 15) affected by
divorce. The books in this particular bibliography were written
in the 1970's and 1980's, but their truth is still current.
Your group may want to choose a book together, read it and then
share reactions to the feelings highlighted in the story.
Divorce has certainly been treated extensively by film, television movies and
documentaries. For a discussion starter, view a few scenes from
a film such as Kramer vs. Kramer. Whatever film you choose,
talk about how the children and the parents were affected by a separation
or divorce. Use dialogue or action from the film's scenes to support
Young People's Beginning Experience
serves as a resource for teens, supporting their efforts to
identify and deal with the emotions they feel in the middle
Learning to cope with life's stresses
Coping is a learned skill. Most of us don't automatically respond
in psychologically healthy ways to the stresses we find in our lives.
But if we have help, if we're guided by the experiences of others,
we can learn healthy reactions to what confronts us.
Emotional reactions are normal. How we deal with them is the real issue. For
example, violence need not be an automatic response to anger. Feelings
of anger and isolation in two young men set apart from their high
school classmates are normal. The revengeful killing in Littleton,
Colorado, is not a normal response.
Anger management programs
help individuals find a healthy outlet for their feelings.
Again, Beginning Experience
offers a teenager tools to deal with the pain of divorce and
other family crises. The program does not offer an immediate
solution. Support is actually a process. Beginning Experience
helps teens find other young people who have similar experiences
and feelings. This becomes the seed of a support group, new-found
friends who later care for one another when life gets difficult.
Your discussion group may find it helpful to talk about how
important it is to share feelings with someone who also is living
through the same difficulties. Look for a Beginning Experience
team near you. If you need help, you can reach out to them.
If you want more information for your discussion group, perhaps
you can arrange for someone to speak to the group, or have an
online chat with them.
Beginning Experience considers communication between a teen and
his parents another critical element in the coping process. The
teen participants are encouraged to talk to their parents about
how they feel. No matter how difficult, conversation is better than
Stephen Covey heads up a consulting
company that provides services in personal and organizational
effectiveness. Covey's book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People, is a well-known business management self-help guide.
Covey has now authored The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families,
offering similar guidance to families. This book contains numerous
real-life stories of parents and teens who found effective methods
of dealing with their emotional stress. Your discussion group can
find a wealth of material here to get group conversation started.
And one of Covey's children, Sean, has written a book in the same
vein for teenagers, entitled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide.
The Ministry of the Church
This month's author tells us that the Beginning Experience program
is rooted in the sacramental life of the Church. And sacramental
life is simply the Church working in Jesus' name, acting as a sign
of his presence in this world. When Sister Josephine Stewart and
Jo Lamia got the idea to put together the Beginning Experience program,
they acted as ministers of Jesus' love. We are the Church, each
of us who is baptized. We are strengthened in our role by the Spirit
through the Sacrament of Confirmation, and nurtured with living
bread in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
The Beginning Experience program is but one example of God's people
ministering to those in need. This ministry grows through the efforts
of the Church. The individuals who pass through the program often
go on to become leaders themselves. We often hear adults refer to
teens as the future of the Church. Well, in fact they are the Church
now. They minister to other teens and offer inspiration to adults
as well. They live the sacramental life of the Church through their
generosity and service.
Take this opportunity to identify and discuss situations in which
teens minister to one another. What is your experience of friends,
classmates or other teens helping you? Where can you help others?
Teens more frequently are nominated and elected to their local parish
councils. Can you find opportunities to serve in this capacity?
Can you identify other parish programs that benefit teens or adults
with special needs? Examples will include pre-Cana for engaged couples,
Marriage Encounter for couples, school retreats such as Cursillo
and Kairos and support groups for widowed and separated individuals.
Look at the Web sites for your parish or your diocese to find other
programs. Most of these programs share common elements: presentation,
reflection, writing and sharing.
Further Print Resources
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled, Simon and Schuster.
Mary Pipher, The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families,
Ballantine Books, 1997.
Jack Canfield, Editor, Chicken Soup for Teenagers, Health
Daniel Goleman, Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam
Doubleday Dell, 1998. Early chapters focus on the lack of coping
skills among adults and teens.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further reference.
Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading
articles contained within the site’s archives.
The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
Pathfinder - Access site
to a number of online news publications
The Associated Press
The Chicago Tribune
The History Channel
The Miami Herald
The Close Up Foundation
– Washington, D.C.-based organization
Channel One’s online resource