I haven't been able to think about the Peer Leadership Program without wanting to cry and sinking into completely dismal thoughts of my own injuries. But I tried to stop that today. I was reading educational research articles about science education approaches. The teenagers were being asked to reflect on scientific principles and their own understanding of the world. Very interesting thoughts, but the teenagers had developed this attitude of "well I don't think carnivores exist because when animals eat herbivores there are plants in that stomach and so all carnivores are really omnivores" and other similar ridiculous statements. The questioning was great and the study showed that these students remember the content longer. But the teacher couldn't handle the class and didn't know how to respond. I don't get that. I don't know what the teacher's problem was. I'd just say "your questioning is great, but the stubborn arrogance needs to go...you need to question while seeking to understand and respecting hundreds of years of scientific research...you can't assume that you can prove a basic principle wrong just because it doesn't jive with your current worldview."
It upsets me when teachers don't seem to know what to do with the developmental place that teenagers are at. It's not he teachers' fault...education doesn't focus enough on developing the character and leadership of students. This study and stories made me think once again that if students are taught values of respect and seeking to understand, this questioning could be a lot more fruitful.
This, of course, brought me to my baby: peer leadership. At this point I looked longingly out the windows of Upham Hall and wished the past had taken another route. It was then I realized that all the hurt inside me was preventing me from even beginning to think about the topic I am most interested in. I was unsupported, tricked into thinking I was apprieciated, backstabbed, and lead to believe that my opinion mattered and in the end they were only power-hungry dictators. I live with a man inside my head discouraging me, staring me down, and making me feel insignificant. My sanctuary was turned into a hell on earth. But we all succeeded too. I saw glimpses of my theory of peer leadership attested to and making a difference. Kids were explaining eating disorders to their friends. Walls were taken down between grade levels. Kids were apprieciating kids they don't ussually talk to. Peer leadership does work.
So how do I silence the the evil memories that repeat themselves over and over and over? I'm not entirely sure, but I need to start to believe that it wasn't my fault. There was no problem with the program, the protocol, the books, the thought process, the grants, the community relationships, the kids, or me. If B ever reads this I know what he would think, I know what he would say, but I need to not care what he thinks, the excuses he makes, the pain he would continue to cause. I need to move on. I know what was right and what succeeded. I know it was not my fault. Wow, that feels good to say. Even now I cry, but peer leadership works and it is my job to prove it to the world. I always try to see things from other people's perspectives, but seeing the world from a twisted point of view only makes things appear as they are not. I am tired of rumors based on things that are not, relationships that are based on things that are not, and leadership decisions that are based on things that are not. People who bully and hurt others do not see the world as it really is and nothing they say can be trusted as balanced and godly. Goodbye FBC. Judgement will come on us all in the end and God will revenge my tears and the wasted opportunities.
And now...FORWARD. Peer leadership is based on the idea that teens listen to each other more than they listen to adults, so if teens of all age levels are taught facts about problems teens face and values that help them be strong people then they may be our greatest hope in helping teenagers today. It is also based on teaching values, respect, relational skills, encouragement, and a positive way to look at all people and things. These elements can be taught to all teens but are very important for peer leaders to understand...partially because grade seperation is such a huge issue. Grades need to be desegregated and peer leadership helps break down these barriers and mean attitudes especially towards younger students. At Winter Retreat 2003 we did an exercise meant to break down stereotypes and barriers in which we broke the teens up into groups by race, grade, and gender. When we split middle schoolers and high schoolers some high schoolers started making derogatory remarks about the middle schoolers. I was furious and chewed them out for it. They appologized. But that story reminds me how important this is. Winter Retreat 2004 we saw many barriers come down between these groups, which seemed like a miracle but made me remember that it is possible. And peer leadership can help.