Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost Poem The Road Not Taken
Health facts (derived from science) don’t say anything, people with an agenda do. People are the ones who gather the data and information and then interpret it. People are the judges if something is good or bad. A person’s worldview can affect how he or she gathers and interprets evidence, data or information. My world view is based on the fact that I’m old. I remember when the world was going to come to an end because of global cooling. The experts (scientists) that created that hysteria, still have not apologized for the damage they caused.
For a Health class to be relevant to kids, they have to learn to be free people. To be free, a person has to learn to interpret information from a variety of sources. In my class, students begin to interpret information through the lens of their desires for their future (Goals or Good Intentions Unit), which is different from what they might want right now. Students come to class with a worldview informed by different life experiences emanating from family, peers and cultural messaging from media. When the class approaches a health topic (drugs, sex, nutrition, exercise, how to say NO) each student begins to evaluate the information with their own philosophical assumptions derived from their world view. They know what they know. Who am I to tell them different? Class tends to be much more effective when the student recognizes, “I didn’t think of that.” A world view just got bigger.
Students are an important element in the making of good instruction; by listening to them, you learn to not just feed them information from experts telling them the best way to live. I’ve learned that a group of students can solve almost any problem or give good advice, as well as any expert, provided they are not emotionally involved with the issue. To engage them, you must figure out how to make them want to seek out facts and apply logic to the very issues that prevent them from being who they want to be. Any student will tell you the very things that will mess them up are — Sex, drugs and rock and roll (otherwise known as fitting in with the prevailing culture). Culture points us toward a direction, and direction is a path that leads us to a destination. I always start my class with a Goals or Good Intentions Unit. It puts the class in a context of seeking out facts that will enable a student to find a path that will lead them to their specific goals -- something other than an unspecific Cool. Cool is like fashion; it always changes. Becoming a doctor, teacher, or an accountant, having high standards of conduct, being physically fit is more future oriented than fashionable. Kids are more fashion (right now) oriented. To crack through the fashionable now, what they know to be true based on their history and current situation, you must get them thinking about their future and their personal pursuit of happiness.