Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Developing Capable Young People—The Work of Stephen Glenn

It’s been over ten years ago that I had the opportunity to participate in a life-changing workshop entitled Developing Capable Young People. I read the description of the course in County Office of Education pamphlet and thought it sounded exactly like training that I needed as we started out after-school program. I was interested for several reasons: content of the class, format of the class, and the credentials of the author.

H. Stephen Glenn, Ph.D. was an author, speaker, educator, had worked extensively in the field of mental health and family psychology. He had a long list of “credits” including speaking at the White House and being honored for his work on promoting self-esteem, community development and family life. He was a professor of Child and Family Studies, believed in programs that focused on prevention, and had developed Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence program that we used in our school district. He looked at young people who exhibit risky behaviors and saw possibilities instead of kids to be fixed, which for me, was incredibly important.

Glenn had co-authored several books by this time, but the one that got my attention was 7 Strategies for Developing Capable Students with Michael Beck. After reading the book, I knew that this was a course for me. He was talking about how to do what I believed in. So I signed up for the course. The format was also interesting. For several days a group would gather, Glenn would instruct on the curriculum and then we worked on learning the material and then presenting ourselves. I had been so used to classes in which the instructor stood and simply talked to you and then you read some information and then you were on your own to go and practice, without support and coaching. This class was totally different. As a participant you actually worked and wrestled with the content as a practitioner not a passive listener. Glenn had also developed a kit of videos that showed him presenting the material (which I purchased) and this was a tool that you could use to support your presentations.

The first day of the class/seminar was better than the brochure by far. The learning was fast paced without too much pressure. It was interactive. It was laced with stories and metaphors that I remember and share today. The topic was so relevant to the work that we were beginning in the after-school program. And, the class was fun! We laughed often, and if I didn’t know the importance of humor before, I certainly knew it after the course. After this first year, I enrolled others that worked in our after-school program, and it changed them as well.

After several years and several groups of people through the Developing Capable Young People course, H. Stephen Glenn passed away quite unexpectantly. What a loss! How fortunate that he was captured on video (now DVD) so he can continue to influence those of us who work with kids who are looking for practical ways to work with youth and a mind set—a paradigm that makes a fundamental difference in your point of view.
[1] H. Stephen Glenn. Developing Capable Young People. http://www.capabilitiesinc.com/

Not so usual celebrations…
August 17th is “Tell A Joke Day”—of course the joke is that the real Tell A Joke Day is August 16th! So what is the value of telling a joke? The laughter that you share, the “truth” about human nature that the joke exposes, or maybe just getting the “punch line” right. So today, tell a joke (if you are telling jokes to kids be sure they are “G” rated), laugh, encourage the increase of your natural endorphins, and simply don’t take everything so seriously.

Activities for Youth
Have your young people work in small groups and write down as many jokes that they can remember hearing. After they have written them down, have the circle the punch line (sometimes students aren’t exactly sure of this line). Have the small groups select two jokes and share them with the rest of the class. Then have students create a joke book. Each group should create a minimum of two jokes—complete with text and illustrations. Assemble the pages into a book and then put the book in the student library for everyone to enjoy!

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