John W. Arceneaux | 4/22/2005 12:23:24 AM
Maxims, proverbs and sayings provide a flash of insight to illuminate life’s journey, says LSU AgCenter state 4-H character education coordinator John Arceneaux. Familiar examples are, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and "You are only as good as your word."
"Now there’s a creative new way to help students discover such wisdom from the inside out, as they build crucial analytical thinking and writing skills," Arceneaux says.
The new way is a national essay program called Foundations for Life that can be used as a stand-alone essay program, a contest or both. It helps schools achieve their standards-based academic goals and much more. As students reflect on the meaning of quotations, they express their own values, leading them to commit to living more wisely and effectively.
The character educator explains that the Foundation for Life essay program can make a difference in that it gives young people a chance to reflect on issues that will always matter to them.
"When young people reach ethical conclusions on their own, they understand them better and act on them more firmly," Arceneaux says, adding, "Students build analytical thinking and writing skills, and schools meet important standards-based academic goals.
He notes that when you give a special hearing to young people’s ideas and feelings, you honor them, give parents a feeling of pride at their child’s efforts and accomplishments and let teachers enjoy the satisfaction and public recognition for their students’ growth.
In addition to all those benefits, Foundations for Life is fun, Arceneaux asserts.
The renowned financier Sir John Templeton established the Laws of Life student essay contest in his home state of Tennessee in 1987. His goal was to impress upon students that moral principles inevitably guide our existence, and one should reflect on the wisdom of the ages to live the best life. Today, the Josephson Institute of Ethics leads Sir John’s contest under the new name of Foundations for Life.
Arceneaux says Foundations for Life is nonpartisan, nonsectarian, flexible and inclusive. Comprehensive materials are free. He invites educators to launch a Foundations for Life program by calling the Josephson Institute of Ethics (800) 711-2670. Information also can be obtained through the parish LSU AgCenter Extension office and the character education program conducted by Louisiana 4-H and the LSU AgCenter.