Why Are Schools Forgetting the Most Important Part of Teen Development?

Depression

It's back to school time, and millions of teenagers are braving the hallways of American High Schools.  Some are new, and for the first time, I've seen their eyes WIDE open to a brave new world.  Others are re-connecting with old friends, and still others are counting down the days for summer 2011.  I saw a post on facebook yesterday that said, "Only 9 more months."  HA!!

While teens are going back to school, we are ramping up our tour to go and reach out to various school administrators, counselors, and spiritual formation directors to just present the research we found this summer.  Each summer when 1000 teenagers descend on our Durango, Colorado home; we have a unique ability to ministry, encourage, help grow, and watch. 

We watch for trends in teen behavior.
We ask kids how we can serve them more as a faith community.
We see the questions kids are asking, and we help to give them a way to find the answers.
We see where teen spiritual growth is happening, as we get a cross section from all over the world.
AND…it's our intent to help pastors, youth directors, counselors, and anyone interested in helping to mentor teenagers. 

This year I found a growing trend in the public school even more depressing. 

It seems like every public school is reeling from this "separation of church and state" phrase, and more and more kids are telling me they are unable to meet as a "faith" group in their schools.  Administrators are not allowing charters for groups like FCA, Young Life, or Intervarsity.  They are actually canceling the teacher sponsored groups, and basically forbidding faith groups from coming on campus. 

I know the reason why.  I mean lets be honest, we've all seen Christian Crazies out there that don't respect boundaries, and think God gave them the mission to invade every body else's personal space for the sake of the gospel.  So the administrator has a choice, Do I let the crazies in? 

Another problem seems to happen when other religious organizations call on the same rights as the Christian groups, even though the Christian groups have been there for a significant amount of time.  The administrator not only has to deal with letting the crazies in, but now he or she has to decide which groups to let in.  Imagine an administrator letting a Satanist group in the school and little Christian 'Tommy' comes home with a pamphlet of a pentagram.  How would that go over?  I can see it now…

Tommy:  Mom look what I got today at school
Mom:  Oh that's nice dear (she glances over)  WHAT IS THAT?
Tommy:  This cool guy came to lunch today talking about how I can conjure up spirits
Mom immediately gets off the couch in search of the schools phone list looking feverishly for the number to the principle's house.

And then you can imagine from there…..

So how do we handle issues like this? 

In a country so rich in diversity of religion, how can we help students have access to one of the most important parts of their development?

I was reading in Psychology Today this morning, and an article about EGO stuck out like a sore thumb.  I decided to see what today's psychological community thought about ego and the necessity or non-necessity of someone's thoughts about themselves.  (Click Here for the Article)

If you read the article, you'll see it's all about the EGO and how important it is as a protection mechanism.  But the line that stuck out to me…"Research shows that people who are grateful, generous, and forgiving (“weak” from an ego perspective) are the happiest"

We had a discussion yesterday at KIVU about the necessity to teach teenagers about their spiritual life.  My buddy Luke articulated how hard it is to get into the school system and make friends.  He was re-calling some of his work in high school ministry.  But I just kept thinking, How can we truly educate our students without some focus on spiritual growth and understanding?

If we are made of body, mind, soul, and spirit, what are we doing to take care of 1/2 of our whole person?  We do good to take care of body in P.E.  Mind is taken care of as we study academics.  But the soul and spirit are left to fend for themselves.  Rarely do you see any educators taking the lead on helping students understand that we are more than the physical body and mind. 

So I ask you, readers of the Journey, How can we help administrators understand the value of spiritual development?  If you are an administrator, help us understand how we can serve you in your pursuit for developing excellent programs for teenagers in High School? 

Millions of kids are going back to school this week, and millions of kids will never move their spiritual growth from that of a baby.  Help us as we try to engage. 

Leave your comments below. 

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