Vol25# 1&2_Family Living and Human Relations at the Kamehameha Schools, S Fong, C Thompson

Tags: EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVES, communication skills, relationship, mutual respect, Guttmacher Institute, decisionmaking, family life education, values clarification, curriculum, students, Dr. Thompson, attention span, lively discussions, interpersonal skills, Public Affairs Committee, Inc., meaningful activities, self esteem, planned parenthood, individual, money management techniques, fertility awareness, marital adjustment, roommate situation, interpersonal relations, self-esteem, sexually transmitted diseases, family living, Home economics teachers, Kamehameha Schools
Content: 58 / EDUCATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
FAMILY LIVING AND HUMAN RELATIONS AT THE KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS Suzanne Fong and Cecelia Thompson
Students are concerned with life, living, sex, growth, responsibility, death, hope - and the future Home economics education is a varied and comprehensive field which lends itself to a variety of subjects that touch on the quality of life. Because of the nature of the subject matter, teachers begin to know their students on a personal level. Teachers often assume the role of counselor as they take on the responsibility of assisting young people in their personal lives. With the wealth of knowledge concerning life skills that are part of the educational background of a home economist, this student assistance becomes very meaningful and effective. Home economics teachers have an advantage in counseling students because of their awareness of each student's home and social background. With this type of student-teacher relationship, courses which incorporated the useful knowledge of the home economist with the personal needs of the student were developed. The most commonly used title for these courses was "Family Living." Early family living courses traditionally dealt with life cycle and life crisis issues as well as subjects such as consumerism, nutrition, and child care. Today they retain much of their original focus but utilize more of the current techniques for improving interpersonal skills. These techniques provide the foundation for studying life stages, developmental psychology, and examining life crisis situations. This foundation creates a deeper understanding of the dynamics of family life and provides usable tools for change. Student awareness increases, common behaviors are isolated and examined, life crisis situations are viewed with more knowledge as to cause
and effect, and interpersonal goals become more attainable. Teachers in this type of "helping relationship" - both as teacher and counselor - must have creative teaching skills as well as interpersonal skills. His or her empathy, respect, and warmth combined with the ability to raise comfort levels of students in the classroom create a supportive environment. Students' Changing Concerns Students today are, more than ever, concerned with life, living, sex, growth, responsibility, death, hope, and the future. Family structures are changing, placing pressure on all concerned. Understanding sexuality in its physical, psychological, and social dimensions is increasingly difficult. The nuclear family has experienced such dramatic changes that some people are calling upon the public schools to offer more support for this basic institution. Changes in family home life bring new and different challenges to the schools. Young feels that we should be"... assisting students with personal and emotional problems concerning relationships and conditions of the family." 1 This change in concept requires a shift in focus from the individual's nature and behavior to the individual's pattern of behavior as they appear in relationships with others. Another area of need arises when we take a direct look at the results of teenage sexual behavior. Educators in home economics and other fields have shown increasing concern over the high rates of unintended teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Researchers predict that nearly 40 percent of the girls who turned 14 in 1981 will become pregnant during their teenage years2 and the rate of venereal disease in this age group will continue to grow.J Adaptation is the key to approaching these changes, and education can be the vehicle. These lifestyle changes have led home economics teachers to cover a wider range of topics than their colleagues from all other disciplines.
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Home economics teachers were more likely to address interpersonal relations, decisionmaking, and communication skills. Strong involvement of home economics teachers in secondary family life education programs is consistent with the discipline's focus on improving the quality of life. Home economics programs have traditionally prepared teachers to deal with issues related to human relations, parenting, child care development, and the management of family resources. Home economics teachers address human sexuality and teenage pregnancy, marriage, values, peer pressure, self esteem, decisionmaking, and family roles. Riker, Charles and Audry4 suggested that: We need an all inclusive safety net to protect our adolescents as they negotiate these high risk years. Our schools, public and private, and already in place, provide the only proven and logical delivery system capable of assuming responsibility for all youngsters in our society, early enough to prevent the personal tragedies already here (i.e., teenage pregnancies) and the social chaos sure to follow. Human relations or family living is a curriculum with information and content aimed at providing tools for living in the present and the future. Armed with aware· ness of human interaction and information about causes for human situations, students can observe themselves and others more objectively. This preparation gives them the coping skills needed to achieve their goals. A Family Living Curriculum The human relations/family living course at The Kamehameha Schools began 12 years ago with a small class of ten students - nine girls and one boy. The title of that small class was "Youth Faces Life" and the curriculum was nonexistent. Today the course is called "Human Relations" and its students number two-hundred and fifty. The first attempt at creating a course outline was based on life stages, beginning with the teenage years. Preparing the student for the future, and leveling with them as to the problems they might encounter seemed essential. At the same time, imparting information that was usable in their present lives was important, both to create interest and to build interpersonal skills. The evolution of the topics within each unit came over a long period of time based on the needs of the students. As the course matured it was evident that isolated areas of interest should be emphasized, and a lot of basic information already understood by this age level should be eliminated. In the present curriculum, self-esteem building, personality analysis, and relationships represent the launching point. This is the basis for the first unit entitled "Personality Development." This unit includes definitions of personality, esteem-building, values clarification, and transac-
tional analysis. Transactional analysis becomes the focus of this unit because it gives a language to use in describing self as well as feelings and behaviors in relationships with others. Activities to improve group syntality are in· corporated. As comfort levels of the students grow, discussions and self disclosure sessions are added so that students team more about themselves through group interaction. Incorporation of masculine and feminine characteristics and the games people play round out a complex picture of "who am I" in the world of human dynamics. Logically, taking knowledge of self and applying it to relationships within the family is the next step. The second unit, entitled "Family Relationships," studies birth order, types of families, conflict resolution, and communication skills. These topics give students the discussion tools necessary to verbalize family problems. Class sessions develop an intense atmosphere that often leads to first-time insights into individual/family dynamics. Students find value in suggestions of how to relate to other family members and how to constructively use "I and you" statements. It is often said that we bring to our outside relationships the influences of our home environment. Based on this idea, the subject of "Dating and Love" is the title of the next unit. Students at the senior high level have a variety of experiences and enjoy talking about early dating as well as long-term, mature involvements. One of the objectives of this unit is to give students a clear idea of the difference between love and infatuation. Characteristics of mature, long-term relationships are compared to the transience of romance. Students gain insight into the qualities of a friendship and the similarities of friendship and long-term, interdependent relationships. F.stablishing a foundation for identifying a strong relationship is important for the next unit, "Human Sexuality." Teaching responsible sexual choices is more meaningful when students understand what a mature relationship entails. This unit evolved and changed over the years. Seniors, most of whom have sound biological backgrounds, were more interested in sexual response, stimulation needs, and fears and problems regarding their sexual lives. They responded well to discussions which were directed through questions openly asked or written on paper. They found detailed information on disease and physical problems very helpful in understanding the risks involved in indiscriminate sex. During this unit, they seem to fully understand, for the first time, what they have had presented to them since elementary school. Their "readiness" is apparent. Students' questions are more sophisticated, and their interest in planning for a fuller, more knowledgeable sex life, seems strong. Curriculum content includes sexual response, sexual fears and
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problems, pelvic examinations and diseases, fertility awareness, sexually transmitted diseases, alternate sexual lifestyles, and contraception. The marital adjustment unit - "What happens after the honeymoon" - launches the curriculum into the second semester. The unit emphasizes that people involved in marital adjustment are people living under one roof, rather than just married couples. The unit examines the varied idiosyncracies of each individual and how this affects the "we" relationship. Topics included in the unit are compatibility signs, anger, stress, and role tendencies (victim, rescuer, and persecutor). Imparting the idea of mutual respect and "working" on a relationship is important in this unit. The "Budgeting" unit is somewhat of a departure from human relationships. The rationale for including the unit in family living is that poor money management techniques can destroy human relationships. Students are asked to adopt a situation that they believe will be relevant to their lives a year out of high school or a year out of college. They are asked to assume a single lifestyle, roommate situation, 3's company, or married couple role. They can choose any job they might be prepar.ed for with their present experience and receive an income of no more than $1,300 a month. Students fill out employment and apartment applications and create a monthly budget based on their net pay. The budget must reflect every imaginable expense including insurance and savings. Following the completion of this assignment, students write checks and keep records for a family of four for one month. As assignments are completed, reactions are strong. Students readily admit that money management can affect a relationship, especially if there is a baby on the way. The decision for parenthood is weighed carefully in the next unit entitled "Perspectives on Parenthood." Students learn what "responsible" parenting involves and gain a better basis for planned parenthood. Concepts from "Systematic Training for Effective Parenting"5 are used to shape the picture of this important life decision. Childbirth techniques developed by Dr. Lamaze,6 and post-birth procedures by Leboyer7 are introduced to students. These ideas clarify the "responsibility" of parents to nurture a child before, during, and immediately after birth. Infant stimulation, maternal deprivation, and attachment are the beginning concepts in the "Child Psychology" unit. Animal studies are compared with deprived institutionalized children to create a clear picture of normal infant needs. Responding to the needs of the infant, rather than assuming that a quick response will "spoil" the child, is a key concern. Films involving case studies of deprived infants are analyzed. A field trip to Waimano
Home (a state-operated care facility for the retarded) gives the students an opportunity to observe the spectrum of human conditions often created by abuse and neglect. In the remainder of this unit, concepts on parenting with mutual respect, combined with knowledge of developmental stages, give students basic background for raising children with positive self-esteem. Discipline and parental control of all types are examined with respect for childrens' perception of the world. Video clips of positive and negative parental interventions are analyzed. Many of the students who have not been raised with this kind of mutual respect cannot deny the benefit of understanding the psychology of the child. Their perspectives on child rearing are expanded. The final unit, "Death and Dying," examines the experience of death as the completion of the life cycle. As the stages of the grief process are outlined, students share memories about members of their families that have died and their response to these times. Cultural customs and funeral costs are listed by speakers from a local mortuary. New perspectives on the life that is left for each individual is emphasized. Students, also, gain some skills in dealing with the terminally ill. This curriculum in human relations/family living education attempts to satisfy the overall academic goals for students at The Kamehameha Schools. They are: Identify personal strengths, attitudes and interests and select activities which facilitate personal growth. Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between behavior and the responses of others. Define a system of values which reflects positive feelings about self and others and awareness of the rights and responsibilities of the individual within society. Demonstrate an awareness of career possibilities and the values, attitudes, and skills affecting success in various careers. Demonstrate an understanding o( issues and strategies related to the management o( personal resources. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of factors related to the achievement and maintenance of emotional and physical health. Plan a program of activities which fosters emotional and physical health. Describe and apply strategies for making decisions and solving problems. Demonstrate an understanding of the major forces affecting the present and future (e.g., economic, political, scientific, social, technological) and describe the implications of various trends and alternatives. Demonstrate an understanding of the means by which individuals and groups Influence decisions affecting the present and future. The curriculum has grown and changed as the needs of
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students have changed. The areas covered in today's curriculum result in lively discussions and a show of feelings by students. Relevant, meaningful activities have been designed around the future needs, attention span, and interests of the students. Education of the whole person is a major goal of teaching. Human relations/family living education, unlike any other curriculum area, interweaves the affective with the cognitive. Human relations/family living teach the basics in a way that is relevant to living, while it responds to the issues and problems faced by the students and their families. Nearly all family experts agree that the family is changing. Students thirst for knowledge about strategies for coping with this change. They are searching for some explanation of what the future holds for them. By helping students learn to cope with their everyday lives, to make considered judgements, to get along with family members, and to manage their resources, home economics teachers are contributing to their total learning.
Footnotes 1Young, N.K. "Secondary school counselors and family systems" in School Counselor, Vo\. 26, 1979, pp. 247-253. 2Alan Guttmacher Institute. "Teenage pregnancy: the problem that hasn't gone away" in The Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York, 1981. 3sattman, J. "U.D.: epidemic among teenagers" in Public Affairs Committee, Inc., Washington D.C., August 1977. 4Riker, Charles and Audry. "The adolescent sexuality crisis: a challenge to concerned adults" in Journal of Home Economics, Vol. 73, No. 4, Winter 1981, pp. 41-43. 5Dinkmeyer, Don and Gary McKay. Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, Circle Dunes, Minnesota : American Guidance Service, 1982. 6Karmel, Marjorie. Thank You, Dr. Lamaze, Garden City, New York: Dolphin Books, 1965. 7Leboyer, Frederick. Birth Without Violence, New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.
Students model a Senior Designers' collection of ready-to-wear. The UH-Manca Department of human resources trains students for challenging careers in the fashion industry. Photo co11rlesy of CTAHR, UH-Manoa.
Suzanne Fong is Home Economics Teacher al The Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Cecelia Thompson is former Assistant Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Dr. Thompson is currently on the faculty of the College of Education, Un iversity of Arkansas.

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