Four Keys to Supporting Teenagers’ Spiritual Growth
At first glance, it might seem like we’re talking about two divergent realities: adolescence is all about exploration of the outer world, while spirituality is about inner awakening. But if we look more closely, we find that they can be two parts of an integrated whole. Living Wisdom High Schools are founded on four essential themes: Adventure, Service, Self-Discovery and Personal Excellence, with each theme providing a crucial dimension for a teenager’s growth.
Explore Larger Realities
One of the biggest impulses for teenagers is proving to themselves and others that they are no longer children. In essence this compulsion is healthy and appropriate, though usually poorly managed by modern society. When we as adults fail to provide constructive ways of supporting this drive toward expansion, it is all too common for teens to grasp at the most superficial badges of adulthood: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, premature sex, etc. Unfortunately, these activities often lead to problems that can take years to heal. One of the ways our high schools meet the need to expand is through our Adventure Trips that have taken us to such places as India, South Africa, Mexico, and this coming year to the Findhorn Community in Scotland.
Become Part of the Solution
Along with the teenager’s growing awareness of larger realities comes the realization that our planet is filled with problems such as wars, lack of food and water, and homelessness. Left unaddressed, this realization can easily lead to cynicism and a rejection of the adult society that allows these conditions to exist. A key element of a high school curriculum is to provide opportunities for students to get involved in solving these problems. On a local level our students have helped at places like animal shelters, homes for the elderly, and preschools that serve special needs children. Farther afield, our students have helped at orphanages in Mexico, protected endangered Sea Turtles, and this year will be attending an international conference on Climate Change and Consciousness.
Strengthen Life Skills that Support Success and Well-Being
Often in high school there is a lot of stress around learning material that will be of little use later in life. There are however, many Life Skills that can be developed at this age that will have a large impact on future success and well-being. At a Living Wisdom High School students are encouraged to focus on such skills as Developing Concentration, Choosing Happiness, Cultivating Courage, and Living Truth. In developing these skills, teens realize that their possibilities for growth and self-improvement are endless.
❹ Personal Excellence
Apply Effort and Perseverance to a Chosen Discipline
Finally, we come to making sure that each teenager puts in the effort to attain a level of excellence in some part of life. Everyone has different talents, and it should be the role of the high school to help students identify these areas of interest and then provide the support to develop these talents. In this way, each teen can establish a meaningful basis for self-confidence and respect, tools that are essential in contending with the strong currents of peer pressure that they experience. The possibilities are as varied as the students and have included everything from singing, to cooking, to mathematics, to caring for animals.
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