Where Are You? More Important — Where are You Going?
I like to begin class with a Q/A. A Q/A is a question or an idea to be explored. It is also:
A way to get the students in their seats, on task and thinking. It gives me time to complete tasks necessary for each class-roll etc. It is also an activity that is a smooth transition into the day’s lesson or a review of previous material.
Here is an example:
Q/A: Did you know good Decision Making requires a fixed point of reference (FPR)? Expect to be asked What is a Fixed Point of Reference?
You will eventually ask the students –What is your Fixed Point of Reference?
A Fixed Point of Reference lets me know exactly where I am at all times, It’s my home base. It tells me if something is right or wrong, ethical or unethical, legal or illegal. A true Fixed Point of Reference (FPR) has two factors:
Everyone needs a FPR. This concept is easy to teach at home, in a home school situation or a religious based school. It is a little more difficult in public school. What I use as an FPR doesn’t quite meet the definition. (I used their ambition, their hopes and dreams. which were all outstanding. Everything I taught came back to that.) Personality is fixed, but it’s not separate from me. Goals are all about me and they can change. The best question ever learned in Decision Making — Because of my history (we tend to repeat our history), my present circumstance and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wisest thing for me to do? — It cuts thru right / wrong, legal / illegal, ethical / unethical issues. However, it’s all about me. This is what I used and the kids were totally engaged. It is timeless information. I use it even in my adult ESL classes.
These are examples of Fixed Point of References
A long time ago before there was google maps, a GPS, a Rand McNally Road Atlas, a knowledge of Latitude (imaginary lines that tells positions of North and South) a knowledge of Longitude ( position of East and West) there were maps that were not very accurate. Mankind didn’t have good tools to tell where they were going so people on land got lost and ships often sailed off course. People used the position of the Sun, the Moon and Stars to tell them where they were. The North star always was North, the Sun always rose in the East and set on the West. These were absolutes because they were fixed. You have got to know where you are first before you can locate where you want to go. Stars, the Sun and the Moon were their FPR.
After 1516, when sailors knew how to find latitude, (FPR) they could freely sail the entire sea.1 They always knew where they were. There was no guessing, no intuition, no gut feelings, no peer pressure, no disagreeing. You have got to know where you are before you can safely go to an intended location. This is a life rule as well as a geographic rule.
Another example of a FPR, are “Marker Trees shaped by Native American Tribes to be used as navigational aids. Trees were bent in the same way, along a particular trail. They were designed to be long lasting, indicating a way through the woods and across water. Having the knowledge of the trail trees could mean the difference between life and death, between eating and starving, between crossing the river correctly or incorrectly.” 3 (pictures of what the trees looked like)
The Son, the Moon, the Stars, Latitude, and Marker Trees are an example of a FPR that we can talk about in school.
So the questions to your students are
Do you have a Fixed Point of Reference?
What is your Fixed Point of Reference?
What do you use to avoid the pitfalls of life?
The most important units in health class are not the Human Growth and Development (Sex Ed) or the informative drug units. The most important lessons in health class are the “Who am I? Where am I? and How do I get to where I want to go? lessons.” Those answers are different for each one of our students. Once the students understand that, it takes off the pressure to follow the crowd. Be like __________. Do what ________ does? Our students’ past histories, their present circumstances and their future hopes and dreams are all different. Not to mention their personality styles and their image of themselves. We need to inform our students that individuals can have different paths even though they may have the same choices. (One of those, I didn’t think of that moments).
WHO AM I: There is a reason why teens are trying to “find themselves”, they don’t appreciate who they are. They are too busy wishing they were more like __________, ___________, and possibly ___________. Within the first week of health, my students identify their personality style. That helps them understand why they do what they do, think the way they think and when they try to be just like_________, it just doesn’t feel right. Once they learn their personality style, they learn to differentiate the other styles.
WHERE AM I: The first lessons in my health class are Goals or Good Intentions. These lessons tell my students exactly where they are. Some of our students are already focused on being something / someone and therefore they are future oriented. These students know exactly where they are — “I’m future oriented”. I’m already making academic, social and ethical decisions based on my goals. I’m prioritizing what’s important (which is sacrificial). Many of our students are focused on right now, they do not see past who they want to sit next to at lunch and fitting in. Fitting in requires conforming to the group. Therefore their decisions and priorities are based on what they want now. Future is in the future. It’s out there. These are the students that are most at risk to naïve / foolish decision making because they prioritize what I want right now, but remain blind to the consequences.
Where am I right now orientation begins when the students actively write personal goals in 5 areas of life, what they will do every day to accomplish those goals (a discipline of prioritizing), and what personal virtues / habits will be developed as a result. This gives each student a type of Fixed Point of Reference. Having Goals as Fixed Point of Reference means that whenever the students are in a situation that will take them away from their hopes and dreams, they know instantly they are risking something important to them.
Since my teaching has always been in public schools, I’ve used Goal Setting, Personality Styles, Self-image and Decision Making lessons as Fixed Points of Reference. (They do not completely qualify as a true Fixed Points of Reference.)
Looking back when I was 12 I had a type of FPR. As you read this, remind yourself that children think like children, and their thoughts are the most important things they can have. Their thoughts create feelings. Have you noticed, we act on our feelings?
I decided that I’d go to UCLA (so I could play on the golf team), get a degree to teach PE, someday play golf at ST. Andrews golf course in Scotland, marry a man who liked to play golf and we’d have 2 boys who would play golf with us.
As a result, what do you think my priorities were? All my decisions from that point on were to enable me to accomplish all those silly wants / hopes / dreams / goals. When opportunities came my way that would take me away from my wants / hopes / dreams / goals, I didn’t do them. My time was prioritized to my hopes / dreams / goals. (I accomplished all of my hopes, dreams, goals except those two boys playing golf turned out to be daughters who played tennis.)
It would have helped my confidence if I had known about personality styles. That would have explained all my “whys about me”. It’s the whys that create the doubts — we are now talking about self-image. Personality surveys are about words (good / bad) you select that describe you absolutely perfectly. You want to improve self-image, have your students describe the words they choose in terms of their behavior. By the time they are done, they understand the words because it was reflected in their behavior all along and they didn’t know it. They realize they are more than they knew.
For Individuals, Home School and Religious Schools
In our personal lives, having God as a FPR means that whenever we need guidance in any area of life, we can turn to the Bible for advice and know that the advice given today, will always be the same, and will not change. This was / is a pre-modern idea. We now live in a post-modern era where there are no specific defining sources for truth and reality beyond individual preferences. The 10 Commandments was not God’s arbitrary list of “DO”S and DON”T to see if his people could follow them. They were a set of essential guidelines for living abundantly in peace and harmony with him and others. For those who believe in God, the commandments have not weakened into suggestions. The 10 Commandments simply made the creation of the Western Civilization possible. All law come from the 10 Commandments..
Abraham Lincoln lived during the pre-modern world where religion was the primary source for truth and reality. At that time, if people owned one book it was the Bible. If they owned two books, it was the Bible and Shakespeare. Lincoln knew both very well. His decisions were guided by his well-read Bible. The words that propelled Abraham Lincoln to national recognition were absolutes based on the 10 Commandments within the Bible.
He took Thou Shall Not Steal seriously. If you bought and sold slaves you were a thief. You stole a person’s life. You stole that slave’s dignity, his freedom, his right to determine his future, to be considered as an equal person, his right to pursue happiness. Lincoln articulated the unsayable: slavery was not just a national dilemma to be solved nationally, but that, it was evil and the South was responsible for the wickedness of slavery that affected the entire nation.
The South was insulted. They were not about to embrace Slavery’s eradication or admit they were wrong. So there was war.
The interesting thing about the Civil War, the North and the South worshiped the same God, read the same Bible, sang and marched to the same Christian Hymns. The thing about a FPR, you don’t argue if it’s true or not.
By 1516, Sailors knew how to find latitude therefore they knew where they were. Once latitude could be established accurately, ships could sail the entire world. Precise longitude was far less important.*
Without latitude European Sailors could only sail confidently within eye sight of shore.