The first time I taught VALUES in a writing class, I told my students to go home and write down as numerous strong experiences as they could consider within their lives. Next to each, these were to write out a powerful reversal which was closely related to each strongly positive or strongly negative experience and according to further experiences using their lives or from the lives of individuals they personally knew.
I provided several examples around the white board so that they could be certain to understand, and we discussed those a little. And I explained the assignment ended up being to enable them to identify material they could write about in the several types of essays they'd be completing throughout the course of the category. They appeared to 'get it.'
However, before the next class period, two unhappy students came to see me. They were having trouble finding values in their lives they could reverse.
The first student, Jared, stood before my desk and said, 'I don't see that which you mean by good and bad values in my life. I guess I've got a stable but boring life,' he laughed.
I laughed, too, and responded, 'Well, how are the experiences, your relationships, in your own home? What are the values-really positive, really negative? Just so-so, absolutely nothing to brag about or complain about?'
'Just so-so, I suppose. We obtain along okay, actually. No real problems. Nothing really wonderful, either, I suppose.'
I chuckled and said, 'Okay, I understand that which you mean. How about your health? How's that? A fit condition, bad shape-what?'
Jared offered, 'Well, my health's okay, too, I guess.' He paused. 'There is a thing, though.' He looked down at his feet. 'I've got diabetes, but it is under control. I eat right and take my insulin at the right times. No big deal.'
I smiled and replied, 'I think you may have something to write about there, Jared. How do we think most people look at or view or value diabetes, what exactly are their overall expectations about diabetes-do they notice positively or negatively?'
He looked off into the distance, out the window, and said, 'Actually, my friends kid me about all the great food I can not eat anymore, like hot fudge sundaes. But, guess what happens?' Jared seemed a little defensive, and he had a bit animated and energetic at this point. 'Because I watch things i eat, I eat better than they are doing, and I take better care of myself because of my diabetes. In two decades, I betcha I will be in far better shape than they will be in!'
'Bingo! You have it, Jared! While most people diabetes as a very negative value and also have negative expectations about it, you value it as being an experience that makes you discipline yourself so that you take care of your body, and you will be best over time for this!'
'Actually, now that I believe about this, it's paying down in the short-run, too, Mr. Drew. I'm already in better shape than my friends. They eat all sorts of unhealthy foods, plus they stuff themselves once they shouldn't.'
'Okay, then! You've got your thesis for the first essay within our class, a cause-and-effect paper-now go write down more strong values with strong reverses!' Grinning, Jared left.
The 2nd student, Pamela, started out in the same negative way: 'I guess I've just got a do-nothing life, Mr. Drew. I'm not sure how to handle this assignment,' she said in a monotone, looking at her feet.
'Well, Pamela, once we showed around the board in class, just jot down some positive things you feel strongly about and a few negative stuff you feel strongly about. After which jot down reverses next to them.' I motioned towards the chair beside my desk, and she sat down.
'What positive things? Since my parents got divorced eight months ago, nothing's been positive,' she mumbled, dull-eyed, staring downward.