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Lesson Plans

Reply to ATV and CT: An open letter

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lawrence A. Parker/OCCTI (occti)
Mon, 22 Nov 1999 18:58:13 -0500

Don and Debra,

> However the Bs. Off. hasn't received the check from Paths yet, just
> Oriana.

No check from PG yet (Monday). Can you check tomorrow?

> Upon first starting at Oriana Hs. I tried to follow the ATV Manual but
> found difficulty in applying it primarily due to its relevancy. I had to
> supplement it with a manual used with Delinquent Teens, HIP, and real
> incidents out of the Beacon. Did you and Roy have the same difficulty at
> Trumbull Correctional Institution? If so, what did you use to supplement?

By the time I joined Roy at Trumbull, not using the manual was pretty much a
foregone conclusion. As for supplements, Roy did have some other sources
which he pulled from. I pretty much preferred to do what I'm trying to do
at Oriana, which is to use the kids' life experiences as the supplemental
material. I mean, jeez! There's all of the relevant and 'supplemental'
material you could ever want.

Of course, the question then is what to do with it.

> Perhaps they should just develop addendum for various populations

This is a great idea - different populations are going to be at different
levels, with different needs and different abilities. To try to address
them as if they were all the same is..., well, it's just not going to work.

> and add a
> section on reasoning skills, and critical thinking which would help people
> disadvantaged in this area apply ATV.

This would include just about everyone, and I do still count myself as a
member of this population, which is perhaps a part of my strength as a CT
teacher and discussion facilitator: I don't assume that I'm already there
and have nothing more to learn. So, I guess what I'm saying is that these
should be added to the whole program for all groups. Of course, we would
then have to ask ourselves whether we're teaching ATV or CT.

> My understanding is that recent research has shown reasoning skills
> and critical thinking to have validity, if it is intense enough.

Definitely, and by intense I think that the key attribute is that it needs
to stay relevant and personal. If one gets too abstract with it, then the
relevancy is lost. This is a problem with a lot of "Intro to Logic"

> We have to de-emphasize lecturing.

Definitely, again. We all need to remember that we are not there to *tell*
the kids about alternatives, or to tell them to use them. We are there, for
them, to work with *their* thinking, and in such a way that they come to
understand, through their own thinking, that 1) there are alternatives; that
2) it is advantageous to themselves and others to use these alternatives as
often as possible, and that 3) finding and using alternatives to violence
is, really, a much nicer thing to do. ;>))

But *they* have to realize this themselves; they must arrive at these
conclusions through their own thinking, otherwise, we're just some more
people telling them how to behave. Well, between friends, parents,
teachers, police, judges, etc., etc., they get enough of that. But few of
'us' have tried to work with their thinking, to improve their thinking and
problem solving skills. And, in a very real sense, most of these kids are
in Oriana, NOT because of overt or uncontrollable violence, but because they
tried to solve basic life problems (survival, self-esteem, security, etc.)
with the only tools and the only solutions they knew about: money, drugs,
physical strength, yes, and violence.

What they need are thinking and problem solving skills. Once they have
those, then they will understand, much as we do, that violence is not an
effective solution to most problems and that there are alternatives. ATV
has, for the most part, been successful with 'more literate' populations
because they often have, by virtue of age and/or education, some rudimentary
reasoning skills. It would be more successful if we could present some
grounding in these basic skills to all populations.


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