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National Editorials & Columns

Without safe boundaries, we have no direction

Boundaries, learning and literacy interweave themselves into who we become. I can’t learn well if I don’t know where boundaries are, nor if the boundaries suffocate me. Parents and educators constantly strive to keep opportunities balanced.

Children seek to test boundaries for though they want to be in control, they fear they are. Safe boundaries help us know what we can count on and without them we have no direction.

Childhood expectations become adult expectations. Boundaries help form values and goals, which lead to what opportunities we accept.

At about age 10, we lock in on our basic values. Our guiding light often comes from sources that hurt us. We may close our minds and refuse to listen to new ideas. Ideas are reasoning power which allow us to grow in understanding about the concepts of what is right and wrong.

We cannot make changes unless we understand that what we are now — is not what we have to be. Life is not a continuous exciting event. Life is making goals and growing towards them and literacy helps us to reach higher values and goals. Society benefits, we benefit, and success comes.

Today, every three to five years, major value differences are programmed, rather than every generation. Children unconditionally absorb everything. Basic personality forms in our first three to four years. What we are now is what we were when we were value programmed during those early years, unless we made purposeful changes to our system.

Who we choose as heroes help form our values. Mindsets are formed by commonly shared experiences. Society today often takes its heroes down leaving the young with no role models. 

Heroes aren’t perfect, but they challenge us to be better. I enjoyed three major heroes in my young life: my maternal grandfather, my pastor, and Hopalong Cassidy of the movies. They all made major differences in my life. Who were your heroes?

Group values come from shared experiences and our emotions. We are not to be trapped in our value system, we are to use it. Values come from thinking about the models we see and forming goals.

Children may be financially supported, but emotionally abandoned. Learning requires discovering connections through meaningful materials. We need to be selective in what we allow to enter our short term memory or there may be a traffic jam.

A “significant emotional event” is the only time an adult changes and only the individual defines this event.  Part of success is meeting change directly. Literacy helps us in the journey of changes in our lives and keeps it from being too frightening.

One part of being alive is to learn how to handle our own anger, but also how to handle other people’s anger. Rather than arguing with feelings we discuss facts and opinions.

Literacy means we explore by asking questions and telling the person what we hear, so they can tell us if what we hear is what was said. It is empathizing and admitting we are wrong when we are.

Values are who we are. Answering questions such as: Do you want to make big money? Is salary more important to you than enjoying your job? Is it important to you to advance in a job? Is expressing yourself creatively important to you? Do you desire to help others?

Your values shape your goals. Howard Figler, an expert on career guidance at the University of Texas, says, “Once you discover your values, you can look for job experiences where you can satisfy them...”

This includes deciding on volunteer experiences. So seek what is important to you.

Do you want to help society and contribute to the betterment of the world? Do you choose to be involved in helping other people, individually or in small groups? Voting is an overlooked power that helps decide courses of action, policies, etc. 

Do you choose to persuade and invest in people towards the common good? Are you willing to change your own attitude or opinion and help others change theirs? Do you pursue knowledge, truth and understanding?

Are you willing to listen to an “expert” and at times be the “expert” in a given field? How do you engage in creative works (art, dance, music, writing, etc.)? Do you appreciate the beauty of ideas?

Do you find time to help others in their work and allow others to help you in your work? Literacy is not waiting for retirement to do all the good you hope to do. Literacy helps you figure out how to do some now and more later.

Another way to look at the opportunities you choose are whether you like: co-operation versus competition; conformity versus individuality; leadership versus followership; popularity versus isolation.

Values derive from many things such as parent’s attitudes towards: quitting or excelling, grades, sibling comparisons, standards, responsibilities, money values, community service, and appearance. Values come from the similarities or contrasts among what is expected at school and what is done at home.

Children interweave values of teachers, peers, parents, and others. They form values about the worth of competition and how to treat each other by what they see. Is winning the goal or is doing your best the goal?

Self-esteem comes from values and whether you can live up to them or not. We form values and reform values all of our life. When we have quality values we tend to be better people. Literacy partners with values.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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