Sidgwicks Hedonistic Paradox

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I was having a great chat with a teenager youth work volunteer last night. In a conversation that ranged through philosophy, ethics and psychology (he was a very switched on A-level student) we got to talking about how rewarding volunteering is …. and musing that some people just didn’t see that. We talked about how much we gain from helping others as opposed to only pursuing things that were of maximum and immediate benefit to ourselves.
Although there are some great Jesus principles in the above muse, what leapt to mind was Sidgwicks hedonistic paradox:
“The least effective way to achieve pleasure is to deliberately seek it out”
I’m not sure I can build this into a recruiting leaflet but I like it as a proposition. When we are training young leaders for camps and the like I talk about volunteering being twice the fun IF YOU can make the transition from receiving to serving. You have fun because it is fun, but you have even more fun because you see the fun others are gaining from what you are doing.


teen singer 16 au climi.jpgDo you ever read something and wish you’d written it? I don’t mean ‘cos the royalty cheque would be REALLY useful, I mean ‘cos it just kinda fits with what you were thinking about. Jacob and Brian (the brains behind Rethinking Youth Ministry) have come up with a great summary of what adults should know about young people, great stuff:
1) Teens are people, too. Resist calling them “kids” (unless you mean it as a term of endearment) or speaking about them as if they aren’t in the room.
2) Teens need time. Particularly during discussions, teens need a little time to think about what they want to say. Resist the temptation to jump in with “the right answer” and don’t feel you have to fill in every moment of silence with talking.
3) Teens like adults. Despite what you may remember from your younger days, teens do enjoy the companionship of adults. They just aren’t always sure that we like them so the can seem stand-offish at times. In fact, many are at a point in their lives when they are trying to put a little independent distance between themselves and their parents, so they are seeking other caring adults to serve as mentors and role models.
4) Teens have a lot to teach us. In many ways, “The Breakfast Club” got it right. Young people are unique individuals with unique talents, gifts, attitudes, and perspectives. It would be a mistake to lump them all together as one homogenous group.
5) Teens’ body clocks are different from ours. Most teens need 8-10 hours of sleep a night and get much less. Additionally, most teens are not at their peak until late morning and many are “night owls.”

Click through to RYM to read the full list.

Disability Inclusion 5: The young person

More thoughts about disability inclusion, this time from the perspective of a teenager with a disability.

Including Young people

There is real frustration when people presume to know what their needs are without asking them. They hate people making decisions for them.
They get frustrated if people don’t communicate in an appropriate way. For example someone with a hearing impairment often needs people to look at them when they are speaking – it is no good just shouting. Understand what works best for that young person. Many young people with disabilities need an extra few moments to process information.
They hate being patronised. Taking part in games can be hard and some alterations and allowances need to be made, but they get fed up if they think people are letting them win.
They do need help doing some things, but they don’t want to be treated as special or different. They want to be part of the group with everyone else, to experience equal value, equal belonging and be equally contributing to the life of the group
What you know and understand about teenagers needs, hopes, fears and aspirations still applies regardless of whether they have a disability.


Weird coincidence

Driving through an obscure Oxfordshire village last week I missed my turn and thus had to use a farm gateway to turn around. Having driven in, I had to wait before reversing back onto the road as there was a car coming. I duly waited and was highly amused was that it was my old car I was given way to, weird?

The work of the National Shed Sanctuary

Long term reader(s) of this blog will know that blogging is not the only interest in my life, I also have a healthy (or unhealthy according to JT) interest in sheds, or at least an appreciation of their usefulness.
Anwyway the collection has now grown! I heard rumours of a perfectly good 6×4 that was going to be burned as it was surplus to requirements. Taking inspiration from Donkey sanctuarys who take in unwanted donkey’s to live out their twilight years in a happy & mellow Equus nirvana, I thought why not a shed sanctuary? Why not! So off I went on a rescue mission ……….
The shed was in a neglected and undernourished state when I rescued it but after a generous feeding of Creosote (substitute) and some minor shiplap replacement surgery it is again delighting in its rejuvenated shediness. I am putting it in the top area of the sanctuary alongside a budget 5×7 which is undergoing some renovation to it’s inadequate mdf flooring.
For further information about the National Shed Rescue Sanctuary or indeed to visit the Museum of Garden Outbuildings, send an e-mail
I was looking through t’internet for a picture to illustrate this piece and I found myself chuckling as shed manufacturers seem to have this obsession with artfully placing a few items outside of the shed to illustrate some of it’s uses. (I find this as bizzare as serving suggestion photos on cornflake packets). This one was particularly chortle-worthy as I think it suggests that the owner has taken their wellies off before entry to the sheddy of sheddies!
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(oh and many thanks to Wilson the feminist theologian for the generous gift of roof felt towards this 4×6 rescue project)

Disability Inclusion 4: The Parents

wheelchair game.jpgOver the next few days I’m going to be posting more about disability inclusion, looking from three different perspectives: The parents, the young people and the youth leader. It’s taken a while to do because some of this stuff is painfully close to home for me and also because I didn’t want to assume my experience (and that of H) was normative. I’ve been very fortunate though that Will, from a wonderful organisation called PALS, has provided significant and substantial input. I’m hoping that these pieces with the addition of comments from other practitioners, will be a useful resource:

The Parents:

There is a fear of leaving their child with someone they don’t know very well. For a lot of the kids they have never been anywhere except school without their parents so the parents are unsure whether the leader will know how to look after their child.
It means the world to parents to see their child accepted, valued and known for who they are.
Parents worry that their child won’t fit in and often get embarrassed about some of the things that their child can’t do that their able bodied peers may be able to do with ease.
There are often two extremes of parents. Those that think their child is unable to do anything on their own and will need someone to do everything for them, and those who won’t admit that they do have some needs. (There are also parents in the middle)
Some parents don’t want them attending mainstream activities as they feel they can only mix with people with disabilities. And some want them attending only mainstream activities so that they don’t live their life as a ‘professional disabled’ person. Actually a mixture of the two is needed. They do need times with people with other disabilities as it’s a great chance to practice skills in a safe environment and many realise they are not the only ones with needs and sometimes they might need to help others. At the same time they do need to mix with their able bodied peers because most of the people they will meet in their life won’t have a disability.
It’s VERY important to talk, listen and discuss with parents BUT that doesn’t mean it’s not vital to listen to the young person. Many parents get into the habit of talking for their child. A youth group can be a fantastic place for them to grow, learn and explore who they are (in the same way as an able bodied young person).
Parents are usually happy to negotiate and discuss to find ways of making activities work and recognizing that some are not suitable.