Charley’s World Episode Twenty-Eight

Two weeks into the discussion series on joy, Charley, Nellie, and Pastor Sophia met to see how it was going. Since this was a new experience for everyone, these meetings were essential to respond to the unfolding experiences.

Pastor Sophia led off by commenting that the written posts were much more reflective than what she expected. “When I talk to a young person, they rarely look me in the eye. They never elaborate on the discussion. On line, they seem to take on a different persona.” Nellie saw the same thing. “I’ve known these young people since they were born. Now I’m learning that they have thoughts I never imagined. I’m really impressed by how reflective they are.”

When Charley asked about participation, Pastor Sophia had a valuable insight to share. “I have a few participants who are what I call first responders. This often sets the tone for the discussion. The funny thing is that these first responders are not those I would have expected. Often they are my introverts. It’s like they have these wonderful thoughts just waiting to get out. But sharing their thoughts orally just doesn’t work for them.”  Nellie saw the same thing once Pastor Sophia brought this to their attention.

One more thing,” Nellie shared. “Almost everyone who has agreed to participate has followed through. But I find that I need to keep reminding them. That’s just the nature of young people today.”

Charley then asked about the stories he had written. “They really help,” responded Pastor Sophia.  “Someone will comment on every story about how they had similar experiences.”  “I agree,” said Nellie. “We need to use more stories in our Sunday sermons. They really do help people discover for themselves the message you want them to understand. We need to focus more on self-discovery than telling.”

Charley was obviously pleased about what he was learning, but he did have one more issue to discuss they hadn’t anticipated. “As you know, I’ve had contact with our area coaches and showing them how to use deliberative practice in preparing athletes. They’ve come to me with concerns.”  Pastor Sophia and Nellie seemed surprised by what Charley was saying. Both wanted to know what the concerns were.

They feel that the athletes participating in discussions are losing their edginess. In many of our team sports and contact sports, coaches use anger to motivate. When athletes are focusing on joy, it’s hard to stimulate anger.”

Pastor Sophia laughed: “So be it.” Charley responded, “that’s what I thought when I heard this. But now I’m not so sure. Getting sports scholarships is often the only way some of our young people can go to college. I know that was my case. Can we think about how to deal with this issue?” Charley asked.

Little did Charley know that what he was doing in the Learning Center would become controversial to some in the community. The coach’s concerns were just the tip of the iceberg, as he would soon learn.

* * *

“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey (Education Reformer)