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Building Community Through Better Relationships

Survival Brain Or Learning Brain?

Emotional trauma has recently become a consistent companion to our youth, especially with respect to their capacity to learn and grow. From a Social Emotional Learning perspective, our young people’s growth is under attack to the point that understanding how to act in different environments is more and more difficult. The difference between right and wrong for youth has typically shifted depending on the particular environment where you find them. The major problem presently is that their school, home, and play environments continue to become more confusing. Between increasing technology access and restricted recreational areas due to the pandemic, the challenge morphs between how youth should behave in one environment, as opposed to how they behave differently in others.

Survival Brain
As social beings, humans are designed to protect themselves and others from external harm. Harm can come from physical attacks, as well as emotional and mental threats. Particularly concerning young people, Social Emotional Learning skills have become increasingly essential because personal threats are being managed differently. A grade school child can call another child a particularly nasty slur, and the second child may respond with a weapon. Essentially threats are perceived inequitably, and tend to escalate quickly because too many youths are ill-equipped to manage conflict. Clearly harm can happen physically, as well as mentally. Yet violence appears to escalate increasingly quickly. Such behaviors can be traced to minor threats that escalate to survival-based responses featuring violence in response to verbally-initiated, emotional triggers.

By emphasizing responses according to the survival brain, reason becomes secondary. Currently, survival responses escalate quickly because severity of threats are harder to identify, largely because of the trauma associated with unpredictable outcomes when youths’ interact physically. Furthemore, the Survival Brain informs that persevering as a species remains essential to the human experience. Even, youth benefit when they develop trust in people who are teaching them that the world can be harmful. Furthermore, harm can appear physically as well as mentally, or emotionally. Ultimately survival focuses on an individual’s ability to navigate advantages and disadvantages resulting from routine decision making in their environment.

Learning Brain
On the other hand, the Learning Brain uses a different approach to sustain survivability in the face of newly evolving threats. The Learning Brain sounds a lot like “school smarts”. Actually, from a Social Emotional Learning perspective, it actually points more toward adaptability. When new threats emerge, the Learning Brain engages in identifying solutions that will protect the individual, or the group. Self-preservation remains a priority, but the approach leading to a solution differs. Specifically, the Learning Brain processes information and facts. As new types of threats enter our youth’s environments, they have to become more astute at discerning genuine threats. The Learning Brain processes information so that better decisions are made for self-preservation. Fundamentally, when threats emerge in society, the advantage goes to the person that can recognize the threat and has visibility to an effective remedy. The Learning Brain essentially is processing alternatives to improve adaptability and self-preservation to sustain the individual.

To look at current school-based, Social Emotional Learning problems in the last 12 – 18 months, the ability to learn has been derailed by political agendas, fear among the teaching ranks, and trauma throughout families. In environments that emphasize repetition and certainty, the question resurfaces are learning assumptions safe, effective, or even relevant. Hiding behind unsafe environments, adult apathy, and social uncertainty, short-term learning has taken a back seat. The problem is that each learning step contributes to the next learning step. With students either missing days, ignoring assignments, or plain-old struggling with lessons, the inconsistency in learning has created an unprecedented problem. The learning inconsistency results in as much underperformance as the inadequately managed education administration does across the board.

Conclusion
Social Emotional Learning has to be emphasized because students have to be re-acquainted with confidence, as well as education. The trauma surrounding academic uncertainty has created a learning deficit. Furthermore, the inconsistency and devaluing of teachers’ contributions has fundamentally weakened their crucial role. In short, the education solution resides in re-establishing honor and self-esteem at every step of the learning ladder. Lessons have to be re-established as well as students’ confidence. The Survival Brain and the Learning Brain must be sufficiently re-ignited such that students and teachers feel safe and their contributions feel valued! That correction directly requires Social Emotional Learning solutions throughout school communities. Equity in education must be prioritized. The same for reinforcing self-esteem. Coaching and cajoling becomes as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Steps for personal confidence must be incorporated and validated. Then, the learning can take better root in fertile soil. Ultimately, Social Emotional Learning impacts the heart for learning that enables better learning in the head, and results in more knowledge-friendly environments.

By Glenn W Hunter

Author of “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements”

Board Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Service

To Donate Please Click: http://www.tyrs.org

https://www.amazon.com/Storytelling-Wins-Engagements-Glenn-Hunter/dp/B094SZRYZ5/

September 7, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World, Social Emotional Learning | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Child Left Behind

At the beginning of children’s academic careers, they are young, eager, and possess absorbent minds. Beyond an academic foundation, primary schools were once instrumental in building communities where families flourished. Then, in too many cases, pedagogical standards and metrics moved to the forefront. What once represented a community had turned into a common geographic proximity of people who bused, walked, or drove past each other during pre-determined times to their daily obligations. Isolation and trauma became common terms to describe childhood, unless you counted technology-based communication as connection. Then, in the midst of this evolution a pandemic hit the nation and consequently, established practices and rules concerning schools no longer made sense for consistent interactivity and learning progress.

Lessons Learned
The ideas that evolved regarding masks and virtual learning, represented the best thinking from an antiquated system that ran into an ultra-modern crisis. Arguing whether health and safety issues should be governed by established learning practices completely misses the point of students’ emotional needs! The point is that a student’s cry for help is not necessarily based on academic challenges. Learning can be hard. Being ill-equipped to navigate emotionally, as well as how to connect culturally, eventually creates emotional wreckage.

Lessons through a Social Emotional Learning lens emphasize that children need to feel comfortable and confident to navigate their social challenges. Social comfort and personal confidence facilitate better learning environments. Social comfort extends beyond having friends in the classroom. Its power resides in the comfort level that individual youth embrace when encountering new experiences. Fundamentally, educating youth involves a sense of wonder and a sense of comfort. Fear is the enemy of open minds. In developing students in foreign environments, either remote or in person, new barriers and restrictions facilitate classrooms that become ripe with fear, inequality, and societal pressures. Illness becomes a refuge of certainty. The problem now becomes facilitating lessons that emphasize embracing challenges as learning opportunities. Unfortunately fear and uncertainty run rampant in an environment where institutions and health seem to cripple the security where learning best occurs.

Progress Revisited
In environments that demanded individual growth, many schools dragged through an atmosphere full of collective fear and uncertainty. Often, the next growth step was treacherous. Social pressure, illness, individual isolation, all interacted to limit individual student growth. To refresh learning and growth, school environments must embrace new ideas. When the most prevalent obstacles involve contagion, uncertainty and cultural attacks, then individual and emotional stability is impossible. Progress is no longer matriculating to the next grade. Progress relies more on children continuing on a path that embraces intellectual and social growth. Progress is having the mental and psychological faculties to engage the next learning level.

Unfortunately, what too many school communities have found in recent environments is diversity represented in an unattractive fashion. Diversity is not necessarily new points of views, but rather pointing fingers at different points of view. The big, hairy obstacle is maintaining positive self-esteem among students, as well as families, while students persevere through an inconsistent school environment. Lesson plans, virtual or physical learning environments, and minimized extracurricular activities, as well as peer camaraderie have all been compromised. Recapturing progress first means revisiting academic processes. Holding a child back scholastically because of illness, fear, or embraced apathy now results in blending multiple ages in a classroom. Who wins the tie regarding consistency: academic progress, social progress, or age progress? Factor in a pandemic where attendance became a wild card, and the distinction between academic preparedness stretches academically and genealogically.

Conclusion
Assuming that successful academic progress is the ultimate goal, then competence is logically achieved at the grade level where the youth participates. Age differences become a factor that must be navigated. However, these factors do not occur in isolation. Lack of academic progress can align with anger management from a home that endured illness and financial sufferings. The choices are difficult. Unfortunately, the process of incarcerating maladjusted young adults who had their social-emotional needs ignored because they were inconvenient, creates a much larger societal problem. Incorporating emotional and cultural self-care skills among students, teachers, and administrators will benefit entire school communities. Aligning maturity and intellect need to be drivers for progress. At this point in history an age-based academic system where youth endured assorted trauma from institutions, peers, and unprecedented home dysfunction, only creates opportunity for tension to escalate. Aligning academic progress with Social Emotional Learning gives students the best chance of personal growth in a system that prioritizes their individual development.

By Glenn W Hunter
Author of “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements”
Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To Donate Please Click: www.tyrs.org

Click Below To Buy “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements

August 4, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Self-Absorbed With No One Looking

Beautiful people and gorgeous weather summarizes Southern California’s landscape. Depending on who’s counting, California’s southern half has an approximate population of 20 million people within proximity of awesome sunsets into the Pacific Ocean. So far, the profile is creating a breathtaking  profile, and it is lying! No matter how self-absorbed, tanned, manicured, or well-dressed they appear to be, many Californians are ugly. Not necessarily physically unattractive, but ugly people. Ironically, it is relatively easy to be self-absorbed when no one is looking. Despite external appearances, by being self-absorbed, individual frustration reveals itself in various ways. One way that sadly affects Californians is mindless violence!

Is Bad Behavior Sexy?

Once a community, a region, or a state, realizes that enormous material and social disparities exist, then the polite response for the perceived less fortunate is correcting the disparity. The truth is at the foundation for California’s notorious violent culture. Between the haves and have-nots, the state has enormous social and economic gaps. Then, after factoring inflamed frustrations from Covid-19, inconsistently fractured educational environments and largely unjustified cultural entitlement, a state emerges with potential secession in the north and race-based displacement to the south. Forget about “Can we all just get along?”; the new question is how do so many self-interested citizens find social alignment?

In a land where everyone is supposedly sexy and entitled, is anyone really either one? Fundamentally, hate is ugly. Road rage has captured the imagination of too many citizens and conspiracy theorists. Interpreting the statistics of violent crimes in our current environment and communities is debatable, particularly among a population that cannot even agree on who actually belongs here. The violence is evident in freeway snipers, race-based violence, renegade law enforcement caught up in crimes of violence and vice, plus citizens choosing to practice random mayhem. Furthermore, in sunny, southern California’s deserts, it seems that more corpses are being found there lately. This problem has become much more complicated than gang violence based on colors!

What Is To Fear?

Random violence creates panic. Consequently, scared people exhibit escalated anxiety and possess weapons. Law enforcement is doing the best that they can in tight budgetary environments and unprecedented violent conditions. Then, youth stopped attending school in some areas. Meanwhile, other schools enjoyed privilege in continuing to march toward an educated and prosperous future. The haves and have-nots encroached uncomfortably near each other physically, and those consequences led to profiling, as well as violence and incarceration. Entire communities struggled with comprehending the consequences and repercussions. Literally, the mindsets have progressed to the point where certain communities are wondering loudly, “Can we shoot them, yet?”

With multitudes exercising their broadening Second Amendments rights birthed out of unprecedented social anxiety, is anyone safe? The question is no longer whether justice is applied equally regarding violence, the issue has emerged is it practiced at all in some places? Whether it is social pressure, individuals trying to understand their place in this changing society, or economic pressure of what is a good paying job, the reality reveals a fragmenting society. Communication breakdowns in such societies are common because rules continuously shift, then trust in authority erodes. Technology permits communities to communicate quickly. But, is the information reliable? Is it trustworthy? Who’s truth do we believe?

Conclusion

Remaining calm is a tactic and people can make that choice. Yet, violence and mayhem makes news. Are life choices now driven by ratings? Nevertheless, experience says that California will survive this turmoil. Furthermore, hope appears within the most interesting stereotypes and the oddest pockets of society. For example, during a recent trip to the post office, people were politely social-distanced. Patrons smiled and held doors open for each other. The staff was professional. The post offices’ reputation for violence and unhinged customers and employees, does not stand up to this typical experience. Southern Californians, in the aggregate, want to attend to their business and contribute to their communities. The details may get a little messy, but decency seems to prevail. Fundamentally, society retains the opportunity to be kind! Such hope is not perfect. But, it clearly beats living in a militarized police state. And, while we are being kind, also be mindful, to be safe! Communities appreciate that, too!

By Glenn W Hunter

Author of “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements”

Chair, Touchstone Youth Resource Services

To Donate Please Click: www.tyrs.org

June 23, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Education: Growth Or Pause?

In an evolving world that shifts unbelievably quickly, is this truly a smart time to ease off the pedal of education? As society and norms morph at constantly faster rates, more information and ideas circulate. Clearly, this is no time to slow any progress regarding society’s youth or their learning! Yet, between pandemics, social unrest, and ongoing questions concerning progress, communities nationwide have been inconsistent in their youth’s educational progress. While expanding challenges exist across community, financial, and intellectual barriers, now priorities concerning emotional health and future uncertainty are becoming larger factors in our society. Fundamentally, what does aligning our youths’ learning capacity and educational progress even look like considering the vastly different opinions in progressive American culture lately?

Growth
Community progress depends on several elements, particularly with regards to our youths’ learning and development. Beyond academic fundamentals, the foundation for social civility is established in classrooms and school yards. Early opportunities to get along with others at scale happens in school environments. However, how does that experience ignite when a pandemic removes possibilities for sharing a playground or a reading circle? Furthermore, what social exposure really happens when children presently learn how to take turns through a screen. Clearly, the youth will adapt. But, will they maximize their ability to interact with each other socially when a screen filters interaction?

Also, how well does learning take place where both teachers and students are unfamiliar with the environment? In fact, the more experience the teacher has, the more that they must now retool their teaching expertise for this different interface. The most difficult challenge happens when the most experienced teachers must retool with new methods of delivering lessons. Essentially, the experience that these educational treasures have polished over the years, have now become a weakness. The game changed. Specifically, the absence of personal interaction results in a brand new environment. Compassion matters! Even when environments sustain some semblance of physical interaction, the closeness remains compromised with the threat of illness. Literally, how does growth occur without establishing nurturing foundations?

Pause
One option is to pause. Because of interruptions in the school environment over the last year, measurable academic progress will be more inconsistent than any previous year. Social Emotional Learning suffers because of the dramatic changes and uncertainty resulting from illness and absence throughout many communities. Practically, does everyone progress according to their age? If progress depends on actual academic development, who is truly equipped to determine the new standards? What does social, emotional, or cultural equity look like in this subjective environment? Even if this broad standard is objective, is it truly being applied justly across individual jurisdictions? Is the solution to allow a pause in development until the challenge achieves more clarity? How long does a child repeat a grade before that child eventually progresses, or is social-emotionally scarred?

The pause is dangerous because an objective standard is already difficult to achieve. Now, an objective judgment for progress emerges from an environment that is experiencing this confusion for the first time, as well. History reveals that litigants are not patient when parents in communities believe their children’s development has been compromised. Trauma in a community under recognizable conditions can create stress in unanticipated ways. In an entirely New Normal, where progress among students has come under scrutiny, extraordinary efforts among educators may still fall short of expectations. Yet, decisions must be made and communities must progress toward proper functioning. Trauma is unavoidable with so much novelty imposing upon a sensitive population.

Conclusion
Still, decisions are required. And the consequences clearly transcend academic and social development. Even teachers need to be handled delicately considering that their precious roles have to be honored and their own social-emotional needs must be respected. Essentially, these unprecedented times bring singular challenges. The importance of emphasizing social emotional learning skills benefits all concerned parties because emotional stability is important for intellectual, social and cultural foundations. Recognize that trauma-informed approaches equip students, teachers, and administrators to be sensitive to feelings and emotional well-being for all stakeholders. Without valuing behaviors and sensitivity, across all individuals, the subsequent year will feature additional trauma. Learning and social gaps will continue to increase, therefore expanding dysfunctional pressure on society as a whole.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair Touchstone Youth Resource Services
Please Donate to: www.TYRS.org

Glenn W Hunter’s New Book “Storytelling Wins The Best Engagements” is now available on Amazon.

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perseverance is Power, Knowledge Steers

The old saying states that “Knowledge is Power’. However, in our constantly changing world even knowledge’s role evolves. “Perseverance is power!” Effective immediately, knowledge has assumed a diminished role! To create momentum and ultimately progress, the ability to continue performing results in value, influence and growth. Knowledge still has a meaningful purpose. Its purpose is to ensure that mental energy and information grows in a positive direction. Knowledge steers this incredible, positive force!

Knowledge 

American school systems provide 13 years of education in a typical K-12 system. Skills like reading, writing and arithmetic represent the classic tools that students receive. These skills remain a baseline, but the ability to grow those skills, integrate new skills, and synthesize deeper thinking eventually facilitate more powerful outcomes. The challenge is that these additional skills are not successfully emphasized nor distributed across the American cultural spectrum. More knowledge is undoubtedly good. Still, too many young people learned basic skills and declared that they have sufficiently learned. Whether no one corrected this common misconception, or the youth were ill-equipped to grasp the requirements of their education, they were wrong. Subsequently, the ability to facilitate learning growth through additional empowerment became a benefit directly related to additional privilege. The less privileged students across the spectrum neglected to continue expanding their learning at a comparable pace.

Perseverance

However, for those students that were coerced, incented, or privileged enough to pursue learning with rigor acquired more advantages than just more information. The additional knowledge bestowed a certain amount of direction. Furthermore, the lessons from perseverance imputed incremental benefits of confidence and power. Additional knowledge did not simply mean more information. When combined with perseverance the ability to synthesize and grow their intellectual foundation resulted in new experiences. Furthermore, it manifested a larger worldview. An urban elementary school kid with good grades may leverage his ability to advance learning within his community. Meanwhile a stereotypical suburban youth with the same prowess has a path for additional learning in other communities, perhaps through specialized programs, or by international exposure. In both cases, the knowledge steered them out of their immediate environment. The order of magnitude varied! Knowledge with perseverance opens windows and doors for advancement where less privileged opportunities merely take their knowledge to another closed off room.

Conclusion

Ultimately, knowledge is dynamic. For learners of all categories to benefit from assorted educational opportunities, incremental lessons need to be accompanied by encouragement and accolades. The victory is not the best grade today. True victory is the opportunity to benefit more from increased competition. Who really wants to be the smartest sixth grader in their school, when the rest of the world presents so many more opportunities for growth? Perseverance in gaining more knowledge is the power that truly makes the difference. For curious learners, doubling down on perseverance requires being surrounded by better minds, as well as better information. Individuals who want more, will find more, do more, then apply more! Next, they repeat! Knowledge has its advantages. It steers toward unimagined value. Yet, perseverance provides power to exceed the wildest ambitions!

By Glenn W. Hunter

Board Chairman, Touchstone Youth Resource Services

Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org

December 31, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Square Peg, Round Hole, New Solution

A young couple stare at each other across their table trying to figure how to stay in front of their bills. They are smart, responsible, and hard-working. They are patient, kind, and considerate toward each other. They are truly in love. Yet, they cannot seem to squeeze their modest lifestyle into their more modest budget. Their budget’s math seemingly has no solution. The husband exhales heavily, looks at the figures again, and declares, “Doing our budget is like putting a square peg in a round hole.” The wife radiantly smiles. You are absolutely right. We can now fix the problem! 

Square Peg 

In the classic children’s book “Alice in the Looking Glass” the caterpillar tells Alice when they are stopped at a keyhole, “It is impassible, not impossible. Nothing is impossible.” With that mindset re-evaluate the shape and size of the peg. Is all of it necessary, or can corners be sacrificed by cutting them? Regarding the round hole, sometimes the answer is a bigger hammer. Other times it is a sharp saw. Can the true goal be accomplished by sacrificing the edges in order to get the peg through the hole? No need to save the edges if they are unnecessary. 

At first glance a square peg in a round hole may not fit. The corners are not designed to squeeze through circular holes. Too many problems get stuck when facing obvious facts. The square peg could represent monthly salary, available time, or inherent intellect. The problem with the square peg is that it must pass through a different shape. Too much month, and not enough money is one way to look at the square peg. Old problems, or previous limitations are other ways to look at it. But what happens when a new perspective reveals itself? What opportunities are missed in focusing on the square peg’s limitations? 

 
Round Hole 

First recognize the round hole is circular. An object of similar size with edges may experience problems passing through this particular hole. However, in this case what is the round hole’s purpose? Is it a constraint or an opportunity? The challenge with round holes is that they are perceived to be inflexible. But, with an active and creative imagination revealing additional possibilities, a round hole may become more malleable and accommodating. 

Round holes may be mathematically awkward because most calculations involve the number, pi. By definition, pi is an irrational number. However, its irrationality does not mean that it is impractical. Because of pi, circular shapes have mathematical solutions. These problems require sufficient skill and confidence to pursue accurate solutions. Consequently, the important question is who is bold enough to study deeper, or seek help on challenging problems? Where can the answer be found? 

 
Conclusion 

First, truly evaluate the ultimate goal. Determine what can be sacrificed. What are the consequences if the problem is not solved at all? What are the want-to-haves, as opposed to the got-to-haves? What is the worth of the ultimate reward of solving the impossible problem? Life is full of square pegs that must fit into round holes. Sacrifice and priority are no one’s favorite terms. Yet, compromise helps them roll off the tongue better. Trade off and solve. Get a bigger hammer or a sharper chisel. Too often, pegs and holes are not the obstacles. Fixed mindsets are! Remove unnecessary boundaries. Solve the true problem. Perhaps the family budget simply needs to prioritize and postpone the brand new sneakers and the to-die-for pumps for 30 more days. The sacrifices may just keep the peace and set the foundation for greater accomplishment! 

By Glenn W Hunter, Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Chair, Board of Directors, Touchstone Youth Resource Services
Learn more about social emotional learning, or to donate go to TYRS.org

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Quarantine Fifteen

Lion Cub Mirror

During a scorching California summer featuring pandemics and quarantines, I decided to wash my 20-something daughter’s car. After sitting in a desert driveway for weeks with nowhere to go, her vehicle had finally accumulated enough dust. Nevertheless, even good deeds must abide by edicts, rules and protocols. “Thou must not touch the radio in her car.” is one such edict! As I listened to music that I had never heard before, and commercials for products that I did not know existed, some 20-something on the radio mentioned the “Quarantine Fifteen”. I quickly peeked at my stomach that was uncomfortably close to the steering wheel and knew exactly what that 20-something meant.

Quarantine
I felt shamed. I felt alone. It had nothing to do with me driving in a car by myself. I had just been outed by an unseen voice who knew my loneliness and had imposed body shaming on me. How did he know? In reality, the voice was a recording and I had already internalized some trauma regarding my weight. The loneliness of the quarantine made me vulnerable. Conforming to the Covid 19 pandemic’s authority, I physically and emotionally retreated. Snacks were my refuge. I retreated behind groupthink so not to spread the virus. No one cared. Unfortunately, more of me had become available to be alone.

But, aloneness and loneliness are choices. The recorded radio voice really did not know me. Physical distancing was designed to minimize human-to-human contact which could decelerate spreading the virus. But, engagement remains alive and well. The “Quarantine” exposed that I was susceptible to messages that did not reflect my reality. The “Quarantine Fifteen” shamed me to accept that consequences exist for being alone. Equally true, it can be a call that self-care demands to be a priority. Not just cleaning the car, but cleaning my esteem, health and personal appearance is still a priority. Positive results are available.

Fifteen
The “Fifteen” simply indicates a number rhyming with quarantine. Nevertheless, body shaming is real. The commercial wants you to see the world through their lens. Individually, we each can determine the lens in which we see the world. Fifteen pounds is too much because someone with a microphone, that you will never meet, said so? The truth is that an individual has the authority to dictate their own perception. A Fifty and Fabulous grandmother has as much authority over self-esteem as a teenager dragging around the Quarantine Fifteen. Realize that Grandma is having a much better time.

Likewise, Dad washing the car is performing an act that brings joy. It may not be as much fun as being Fifty and Fabulous. But, it beats the heck out of hiding in the living room waiting for the quarantine to be lifted believing that the extra 15 pounds will leave the house first. The fifteen is not the problem. The attitude is the problem. Personal uplift results from identifying the point of pain and remedying it. Soap and water coming out of a wand solves the problem of the dirty car. Proclaiming “Today I am going to do one thing to be a better me.”, promotes improving your personal identity.

Conclusion
“Be True To Who You Are!” Whether you choose to reveal yourself as you are today, or intend to be in two weeks, perform consistent with your chosen reality. Kind people need to go ahead and perform a kind act for someone else. If loneliness in a pandemic has you down, find individuals that you like and trust both personally and health-wise so that you can arrange to engage each other. No one is absolutely sure what the New Normal will look like. Nevertheless, being true to who you are, and showing kindness will probably be an important part of your successful plan.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter And Beyond, LLC
Board Chairman,Touchstone Youth Resource Service
www.TYRS.org

July 19, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who’s The Adult In the Room?

Sad-Office-Boy
Dinner tables across America have recently put an extra place setting at the dinner table. Trauma is coming to dinner! Without an invitation, trauma just showed up around dinner time, ready to eat. As families navigate the “New Normal” regarding Covid 19, riots and quarantines, social routines change.Dysfunction and domestic pressures quickly follow. Uncertainty and fear are now constantly in the home. Furthermore, parents are afraid because of instantaneous spikes in unemployment. Children are disoriented because school routines were either eliminated or transformed into blending learning. No authority figures communicated credible solutions nor expectations. What happened to certainty?

More Information
As a result of the pandemic’s health uncertainty, economic irrationality quickly followed. No known projections for social remedies applied. Furthermore, government models concerning employees, students, vagrancy or any other reason for people to congregate, now must factor in sickness and death. Imposed quarantines essentially meant that people socially withdrew to avoid fatal illness. Nevertheless, what did people know for sure from politicians or other leaders? The illness spread quickly so contact with other people had to be severely limited. Consequently, people corralled in their homes. Parents were now forced to engage their children on an ongoing basis; and they barely knew each other.

Frustrated parents now had to face the facts that their children had matured while they paid little attention. Children realized that their behaviors had evolved with input from peers, social media, and streaming shows. Neither party were ready to interact with the other party on an ongoing basis because work, activities, and socializing had diluted the functioning strength of traditional homes. All news sources discouraged everyone. Tempers flared. Violence struck. Groceries and assorted goods were sporadically scarce. And, no news source truthfully pointed toward a logical, trustworthy resolution.

More Uncertainty
As family, employment, political beliefs and trust quickly eroded, credible authority figures became more scarce. With limited credible options to secure direction, new evidence of trauma entered living and working spaces. Children looked to parents for guidance. Parents experienced skyrocketing tension resulting from quickly eroding and frightening workplaces. Still, no credible source emerged with a logical path to a solution. Trust eroded from familiar authoritative voices, which was quickly followed by trust eroding within homes. Dependence on substances, fear, and violence anecdotally escalated.

Unfortunately, people motivated by fear increase irrationality. Without leadership, people’s hope begin to perish. Schools sustained student engagement with lunch programs. Parents with multiple children tried to game the system for additional food during distribution. Both parents and school leaders pretended to ignore that in many cases the school lunch program often provided the one balanced meal that children enjoyed that day. Yet, who was responsible for determining the trade-off between encouraging academic progress or facilitating healthy nourishment choices.Teachers, parents, and political leaders were all uncertain concerning desired outcomes of this makeshift program. The practice simply evolved.

Takeaways
Sometimes, the emperor has no clothes! The authorities were not prepared to satisfy the people’s needs. Without an adult in the room, the children struggled to navigate rules that did not result in chants of “Kill the pig!” Whether authority figures are right, wrong, indifferent, or clueless, in the name of structure they need to be followed until clearly determined to be incompetent. Unfortunately, anarchy becomes an option. It is rarely a good one. As the Covid 19 pandemic continues to ebb and flow in alignment with questionable decisions by leaders and citizens, violent protests march toward a buffet of unintended consequences.

At some point the masses must decide what level of dysfunction is palatable. Will children be hurt, deprived, or just abandoned? Will public education become a luxury item for communities that can meet a presently undetermined level of civility? Or, will a leader emerge that saves our current way of life? Ultimately, an adult must stand in the room and be recognized! For the sake of the children’s future, let’s believe that this adult will be positioned to address assorted community trauma and re-build a society that values life, continuity and a future.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

June 15, 2020 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viral Boundaries, New Behaviors

woman wearing black face mask

Photo by Zulurid on Pexels.com

 

Children now stay at home from school, highways overnight became abnormally empty, and adults dramatically changed work options. American society is experiencing severe shocks to its normal course of operation! Particularly changes in routines that our youth must endure has caused dramatic shocks to society’s normal flow. This disruption has created many unexpected consequences that extend beyond a uniquely violent strain of the flu. Besides wearing masks publicly, handshakes, bro’ hugs, and gentle squeezes between genders are endangered gestures. Personal space is now sacred. Who even heard the term social distancing before this insanity began?

 

VIRAL BOUNDARIES
As American society endures its latest pandemic, individuals must learn the unique terms of engagement for this latest illness, while acquaintances, friends, and loved ones are dying. The body count has become part of the news cycle. And through it all, both young and old are clueless regarding next steps for the behaviors that will permit our species and society to continue. The boundaries are determined by a virus that we cannot see, hear, feel, or smell. Nevertheless, once it impacts anyone, all doubt is removed that it is present.

While adults struggle to figure out society’s new normal, our youth are baffled.Yet, as youth has done across the ages, they make up rules as they go along. Presently, six feet represents the benchmark for physical distancing. But, how well is a five-foot tall grade schooler equipped to measure that distance? Beyond the physical boundaries, emotional boundaries are impacted. Hugs can result in severe illness. Job losses disrupt harmony at home. Friends of all ages are viewed with suspicion because everyone is absolutely clueless regarding what contact any given friend has had with other acquaintances and family members. Plus, it only takes one innocent contact to circulate a mind-numbingly painful and contagious illness. Frustration in every household begins when the first alarm clock rings. Then, it escalates!

NEW BEHAVIORS
So, new sets of behaviors are required. Except that old behaviors have not been properly displaced. Alcoholism that has been routinely in the family unit, now must stare down a quarantine. The new reality features a casual drinker in the house who typically has a daily drink or two to take off the edge. Except, the new reality leads to abuse because the edge never leaves! Elsewhere, friends are sick or scared, so socializing is minimized. Even, close family members are contagious and cautious such that everyone at home is justifiably paranoid. Once social outlets have closed, then domestic abuse surfaces as a convenient option for frustration. Unsurprisingly, the next generation follows suit. Consequently, substance abuse, and its BFF, domestic violence, now run rampant throughout our communities’ new reality. Data confirms this.

With fear, violence, and uncertainty taking up permanent residence in every corner of our community, destructive cycles perpetuate. Dysfunction literally goes viral, as children have no escape. Their schools are closed. This means, social outlets are closed. Their physical outlets are closed. And, far too often, recreational options are closed. New behaviors are driven by fear, hunger, uncertainty, separation, and physical loneliness. How do our youth cope? How do our youth connect? How do our youth manage the unprecedented rush of emotions that floods every corner of their existence? Who is in charge? Who knows what to do?

TAKEAWAYS
Ironically, the solution resides exactly where the problem began to gain significant momentum. Unfortunately, the solution is back in the belly of the beast. Community is the answer! In this case community means convenient resources and relationships that are trustworthy. Community means guidance from trusted authority figures to help youth navigate these uncharted pathways. Community requires instruction from multiple sources that at least include, law enforcement, healthcare, education, and local government. Unfortunately, any moral breakdown from any of these social pillars will only escalate the destruction of public confidence or progress. Currently, boundaries are established by a viral enemy that has the ability to take what we hold dearest. Consequently, communal efforts that align with common behaviors over time will save society. Either trust the authorities to guide communities within proper boundaries to return to safety or risk anarchy.Accept conventional behaviors that benefit the masses, even at the risk of the individual. Or, descend quickly to social and physical depths featuring yet unseen horrors and destruction. Let’s choose each other. Be Safe! Good luck.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

April 22, 2020 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose Community Wants 3 Cs?

Father-Son-Talk-Truth

In Kansas City, years ago a young, urban preacher, barked a bold and abrasive interpretation of biblical passage which caused many worshippers to bristle. Then, to emphasize the rough edge that the passage indicated, he challenged his allegedly more polished congregation by proclaiming, “I can say that… y’all don’t know all my previous addresses!” As the laughter subsided, it successfully raised a key point. What community does he truly represent? Community can often refer to neighborhoods, ethnic groupings, or a core of common beliefs. Fundamentally, a community can arguably be a manifestation of a core set of similar behaviors and morals.

Community
With regards to establishing local behaviors and morals that embrace destructive tendencies, determining what people a community truly represents becomes very valuable. Consequently, when coping skills are required to manage individual inconsistencies in acceptable local behaviors, the community has a larger role in establishing acceptable standards. For example, in a rough and tumble community, an unwritten rule may exist that real men do not cry. The unintended consequence of this rule is that young men never learn to process their emotions. That dynamic results in another generation of young men who only learn to express themselves through anger and retaliation. They never developed, let alone expressed, more advance emotional skills. However, a community can function much more emotionally balanced through residents, and particularly young men, who develop a more rounded set of emotional expression. Less inhibited frustration clearly leads to less violence.

Coaching
While developing more balanced emotional capacity and expression works well in controlled environments, human interactions actually occur in a complicated world. Role models, both positive and negative, exist in that complicated role. By intentionally equipping adults, young adults, and youth with balanced emotional skills, violent outbursts erupting from pent up frustration can be minimized. Specifically, coaching can build emotional tools to manage already identified destructive community behaviors. Coaching is different from teaching. Coaching emphasizes developing established skills to an improved level so that people perform better in their environment. Ultimately, by developing positive coaching acumen among community leaders and formal teachers, the result is building coping skills in future generations to interact productively.

Communication
Creating all these positive connections among generations and community segments are unproductive without developing better communications tools. By communication tools, the community must develop abilities to share and receive ideas. In other words, people need to speak and listen with equal understanding. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the population believes listening means waiting on your turn to talk again, people’s listening skills are in serious need of an upgrade. That upgrade can start with local students, who already are in learning environments, and equipping them with skills that require paying attention. Then, encourage them to share without judgment to develop communication skills so that basic understanding will meaningfully improve. Consequently, a key element for improving Social Emotional Learning skills includes elevating listening skill levels. Effectively developing listening skills can significantly reduce misunderstandings and resultant violence.

Takeaways
As developing these tools, Community, Coaching, Communication, the 3 Cs, becomes more prevalent in communities, mutual understanding will elevate. Unsurprisingly, as cultural rifts and angry expression are currently enabled, violence and division continue to escalate across too many communities. No group, class, nor social strata seems liberated from these ills at this point. The 3 C’s of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) are essential tools to build more cohesive local environments. The benefit begins once communities become receptive to coaching so that civil communication can begin in developing better coping skills which result in more harmonious environments.

By Glenn W Hunter
Board Chair of Touchstone Youth Resource Services
To learn more – and even contribute/ donate – go to www.TYRS.org

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment