The first time I taught VALUES in a writing class, I told my students to visit home and write down as numerous strong experiences as they could think of within their lives. Alongside each, these were to create out a strong reversal which was closely related to each strongly positive or strongly negative experience and based on further experiences using their lives or from the lives of people they personally knew.
I provided several examples around the white board so they would 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 talk about within the several kinds of essays they would be completing through the span of the class. They appeared to 'get it.'
However, before the next class period, two unhappy students found see me. These were having problems finding values within their lives that they could reverse.
The very first student, Jared, stood in front of my desk and said, 'I don't see what 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 your 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 guess. We obtain along okay, actually. No real problems. Nothing really wonderful, either, I suppose.'
I chuckled and said, 'Okay, I know what you mean. What about your wellbeing? How's that? Great shape, bad shape-what?'
Jared offered, 'Well, my health's okay, too, I suppose.' He paused. 'There is a thing, though.' He looked down at his feet. 'I've got diabetes, but it's in check. I eat right and take my insulin at the right times. No problem.'
I smiled and replied, 'I think you might have something to create about there, Jared. So how do you think many people take a look at or view or value diabetes, what are their overall expectations about diabetes-do they view it positively or negatively?'
He looked off in to the distance, the window, and said, 'Actually, my friends kid me about all the great food I can't eat any more, like hot fudge sundaes. But, guess what happens?' Jared seemed a little defensive, and that he got a bit animated and energetic at this time. 'Because I watch things i eat, I eat much better than they do, and I take better care of myself because of my diabetes. In twenty years, I betcha I will be in much better shape than they will be in!'
'Bingo! You have it, Jared! Some people see diabetes as a very negative value and also have negative expectations about it, you value it as an experience that makes you discipline yourself so you take care of your body, and you'll be better off over time for it!'
'Actually, now that I think about this, it's paying off within the short-run, too, Mr. Drew. I'm already in better shape than my friends. They eat all kinds of junk food, and they stuff themselves once they shouldn't.'
'Okay, then! You have your thesis for your first essay within our class, a cause-and-effect paper-now go jot 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 got a do-nothing life, Mr. Drew. I'm not sure how to handle this assignment,' she said inside a monotone, looking at her feet.
'Well, Pamela, once we showed around the board at school, just write down some positive things you feel strongly about and a few negative stuff you feel strongly about. After which write down reverses alongside them.' I motioned to 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.