Teenagers, the trouble with!

teenager-p1.jpg I’ve been asked several times to speak on “The trouble with teenagers!” and although I resent the title I welcome the opportunity to speak on the general subject. I have consistently argued that although adolescence will be stormy (you can’t change from being a child to an adult without it being messy) the trouble stems more, in fact, from societal issues and not teenage ones.
A few years back I remember Hilary Clinton saying,
“Our lives are in a crisis of meaning, we don’t know what they mean!”
That does not bode well for the next generation I think, struggling to find out who they are and where they fit. I therefore commend this quote to the blog-house:
“Like its politicians and its war, society has the teenagers it deserves”

Informal education

Like quite a few youth workers I didn’t do that well in education, in fact I did quite badly. I have to take some of the responsibility for that, however experiences like your teacher calling you “McDafty” were not what you’d call Pupil focused, at least not in a positive sense.
I guess my own experiences of school are a huge motivator for me as an informal-educator, I love an approach that starts where young people are. One that doesn’t rubbish them because they’re not where tables and targets says they should be starting!
I love the fact that we get to recognise achievment based on knowing the young person, recognising individual achievment which may or may not be straight “A’s” in exams. I love the fact that everyone is of unique value to God, that ministry starts from this premise. I love the fact that a lived out faith enables a person to grow and develop as a human person!
I was reflecting on all this as a result of some study time this week. As I’m studying at Ruskin College, I get a Readers card for the Bodleian Library, which is so unbelievably cool! (you’d have to see it to believe it).
So, there’s me, the Pupil who was told, “you haven’t got a snowballs chance in hell of passing Physics” (I concede, Dr Rowe, that you were in fact right) sitting at a desk in a worldwide epi-centre of learning, reading a book on Developmental Psychology ……. and even understanding it (mostly).
When I get my degree, I will be able to say a huge thank you to the youth leaders who started from where I was. I would also love to show my teachers and say, “You see, you never know!”

TGI Friday

Here’s something that you can maybe use, it’s a good intro into looking at how the Bible is made up of loads of books and authors. I warn you, it’s quite annoying ….. there are 16 Bible books hidden in the text, some easy, some not. Have fun!
Came across this remarkable Bible book quiz while on holiday in Honalulu. Kept me looking so hard. The facts were that some answers were easy, others required some revelation. It causes quite a jam especially since the names of the books were not capitalized. But the truth will become apparent and the numbers add up. It’s a real job and a most fascinating quiz.
Yes there will be some that are really easy to spot. Others may require judges to help them. I will quickly admit it usually takes a vicar to find one of them and will lead to loud lamentations when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of tea so she can concentrate better. See how well you can compete. Relax now, for there really are sixteen names of books of the Bible in this paragraph.

I’ve lost track of who the original author was and I’ve modified it some. If you know the source, let me know so I can credit it.

Synchronisity & the Lego gospel

How’s this for a moment of Synchronisity, I open my e-mail and find Adventure Plus have asked me to do a morning on ” An overview of the Bible” for their gap year squad. Whilst idly musing over how I could do this in an interesting and different way, I have a wonder around in Blogdom and find Sarah has put up a link to “The Brick Testament!”
Sorted ….. An overview of the Bible with Lego tableaus! Cool
You can check out Eutychus’s reaction to Pauls preaching by clicking here!
You have to use this with a youth group!

Britney Spears

Sometimes some information arrives that I don’t know what do with, in this case, I’ve decided to fling it into the Blogosphere. One of my Agents in Canada has
e-mailed me to let me know that a factoid in the Toronto Sun reveals that:
Presbyterians is an anagram of Britney Spears
Thought you should know Blog Buddies!
Britney church.jpg

Fairly Cool

At the weekend I was briefly introduced to some young people with this line,
“Oh this is Ian from the Diocese, he’s fairly cool!”

This left me wondering how I was to understand, “fairly cool?” Where on the subjective continuum from “tragically un-hip” to “Cooool” does it sit? Should I be pleased? Should I be discouraged? I have no pretensions about actually being Cool but maybe something along the lines of,
“hey this is Ian, he’s not uncool!” (I like double negatives) may have been better!
I need some definitions here!
As ever I’m left with lots of questions:
What is the unit of coolness?
What is the universal standard of cool that is kept in Paris from which subsequent measurements are taken?
Is Coolness something which is important for a youthworker aged 37?
What is the entry level of coolness acceptable to a youthwork employer?
If being un-cool became the new cool, how cool would that be?

Yours fairly coolly

What age-group do you work with?

How old, if you see what I mean, are young-people? To whom (I hate using “whom” but, Sarah & Tessa, the grammar police will be on to me otherwise) is youth work aimed?
The Government currently think that they are 13-19 years old, however they also think that youth work is about working with young people in their “transition from dependence to independence.” Does this mean that the government think that all 19 year olds are independent? Does it mean we should stop working with them at 19 because they ought to be? (perhaps I’m being a bit harsh because there is provision above 19 but the majority of funding is certainly 13-19). I’ve come across definitions of young people that go up to 21 and to 25, while in speaking to young people (always more pragmatic) they’ve said that it should be about need not age and recognise that not all young people are at the same stage at the same time! Seems sensible. Some of the most successful Faith based work I’ve seen has been about stage not age in terms of joining.
The lower age bracket becomes even more complicated. Churches that talk about “youth groups” are often referring to work with 11 plusses? Not to say that’s not youth work and it does present interesting challenges, 12 year olds for example: The Girls look about 17 and the boys are often, very much still, boys. However I guess the Government class these as Children?
Now there’s also the interesting sub-phenomena of “Tweenagers,” this according to the Marketing people is the “stage between the childhood
and teenage years” (Mindbrand Market research). Talking to practitioners I reckon it’s a combination of children’s work and youth work skills that are needed with this age range. However what age range is that? Peter Brierley reckons 10-14, Martin Lindstrom reckons 8 -14’s and Sutherland and Thompson concentrate on 9-11’s! My own conclusion is that we are talking, mainly, about 9’s -12’s!
In many respects all of the above is just academic (although I find it interesting). Our youth work/ministry is about accompanying young people on the journey to adulthood in a way that is age appropriate and stage appropriate, chronology and maturation.
That doesn’t really answer the question though, when people ask,
“What age-group do you work with?”

Sorry but can we talk about Christmas

Normally I wouldn’t mention Christmas this early especially as I get REALLY WOUND up by all the Christmas stuff in the shops (it’s been in since September this year, aaarrrggghhh) but this post from Ben is so exciting. Here’s a Church stopping to ask the big questions, wrestle with them and try something new as a result. I love what they’ve come up with!

Youth Work Self Assesment

Evalu8.gif I didn’t even know this resource was in the offing so I’m grateful to Lev for letting me know it was around. Elavu8 is a self assement tool for Christian Youth Work in a church or agency situation. The list of people who’ve put it together is impressive and I’ll be ordering a copy to have a look! Watch this space.