This stuff doesn't really excite me very much, but next year I'm running the honors program for 11th graders. I'm finding myself trying to design a course for the kids that I think is worth their time.
The theme that's prescribed for the kids in their 11th grade program is "Self and Society," which I'm choosing to interpret as "People are pretty damn self-centered. Let's figure out how to help a group of young people become more likely to help other people." That means that we're trying to affect at least two changes in our students:
- Change their views about the things that deserve their help
- Make them more likely to help those things
- How do we measure how likely a person is to help others? Are there standard instruments of measurement that we can steal?
- How prescriptive should we be about what sort of things a person has obligations to? If a kid thinks that the most important thing to support is a political party, should we push him to think about his obligations to support anti-malarial efforts?
- What sort of things make a person more likely to help others? Will practicing things as a group support a change in the personal lives of these kids? Does reading articles help? What sort of reading helps? Do activities help? What sort of activities work for this?
- Can we create a community in just a few sessions spread out over the course of the year?
If you've got anything that you think could help us change the lives of a bunch of high school boys, PLEASE email me, or leave a note in the comments.