I visited Juan Cabrillo again this past Monday and Friday. Here is what we talked about:
4th Grade – A Different Slant on Tobacco
I spoke with the 4th graders about the difference between facts and opinions, and the difference between reporting and advertising. We read a couple of stories together as a class; the first was about a fictional report about a new advertising campaign from a tobacco company, and the second was a fictional report from doctors about the negative consequences of using chewing tobacco. We talked about why its important to be able to value opinions differently; is an advertisement telling us the whole truth or just saying the “good stuff”? Why should we value a doctors opinion on health over the opinions of a tobacco advertisement?
Also, as entertainment, advertising and news seem to be merging more and more every year, its important that our kids learn to decipher facts from opinions in all the media they are taking in. Why should we value an experts opinion more than a blog entry? What should hold more weight: the recommendation of your family doctor, or the entry you just read on WebMD? Its great to be informed, but an article we read on the internet probably shouldn’t trump the expertise of someone that has spent years studying the issue in question.
5th Grade – Are You Half Full or Half Empty
In the 5th Grade, we talked about the importance of having a good outlook in life. Do you get discouraged or throw tantrums when things don’t go your way? Do you give up easily?
We give ourselves a better chance at success, lead healthier lives and get along with the people around us better when we can acknowledge and respond to our emotions appropriately. If we get down on ourselves, we are less likely to find a solution and our frustrations might lead to us lashing out at those around us.
We read through a couple of scenarios and talked about ways to solve our problems instead of balling our fists and yelling at clouds. If you make a mistake, don’t compound it with another mistake, and if you make an honest mistake, don’t get discouraged and give up.
I also talked to the kids about honestly evaluating themselves and their goals:
You want to make the high school softball team and you try out in the summer. When the final cut is made, you don’t make the team and are very distraught. Should you give up on your goal or strengthen your resolve?
This situation doesn’t take place in a vacuum, and there are many factors to consider. In the situation above, asking the coaching staff how close you were to making the cut could provide vital information. If 100 kids tried out, and you were ranked 98th, then maybe you should consider moving on to something else. However, if you were the last kid cut (meaning that the coaches thought you were the best player NOT to make the team), a little persistence might be all you need. Remember, Michael Jordan was cut from his Freshman High School team too, and he just used that experience as motivation to improve.
Finally, we then read through a list of mistakes that led to breakthrough discoveries, Chocolate chip cookies, silly putty, paper towels and Dr. Pepper all sprung from an original mistake. There’s nothing wrong with adjusting your plans and dreams as you get older, but we shouldn’t let a setback discourage us into giving up either.