Book Draft Excerpt – On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving Circles will be published by Living Justice Press, anticipated release, late 2009.
Using Circles with young people appeals to the generations comfort with media. The cross over stems from the youths relationship to media. I myself, can barely remember life before the internet and cell phones. My daughter played educational computer games at age 5. Clay Shirkytells the story of a 4 year old looking behind tv. Daughter and Dad were watching a children’s show together. When Dad asked what she was looking for, her reply was “the mouse”. Illustrating the point that a screen without a mouse isn’t normal. Shirky explains that when television was the only media the public’s only option was consumption. Now the public has a choice and can add producing & sharingas media activities. Think of young people today creating Myspace and Facebook pages. Detailing websites with personal tastes of music, friends, photos. The public sharing of ideas and blogs. Young people are being raised on the ability to produce and share. Yet in other segments of our lives the ability to produce and share has decreased. Family life is busier, schedules are more hectic. School remains a lecture format for students. David Sousa, in How the Brain Learns states “Lecture continues to be the most prevalent teaching method in secondary and higher education, despite evidence that it produces the lowest degree of retention for most learners.” He provides a diagram that lists ‘Practice by Doing’ at 75% retention and ‘Teach Others/Immediate Us of Learning’ having a 90% retention rate. I believe this is why my college students, who experience each class in Circle, report so positively.
So maybe the best ‘talking piece’ to use is a computer mouse. Explain to young people, it’s like the Internet where we can create and share immediately in Circle. At the same time, we learn from each other as we practice our speaking and listening skills in Circle. Many of my college students have mentioned that they became better listeners as a result of being in my Intro class. The 16 weekly Circles had an impact of students 20-25. What a great age group to teach how to listen!
Let’s do more Circles in schools and community with our young people. Let’s harness the skills to produce and share with technology, and transfer those to interpersonal relationship skills. We owe it to the future.