- Paperback: 343 pages
- Publisher: Shepherd Press; Tch edition (September 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0966378695
- ISBN-13: 978-0966378696
- Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.1 x 10.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Young Peacemaker (Book Set) Tch Edition
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Each chapter begins with a 1-page overview of the lesson's goal, objectives, key principle, primary Bible verse, and the material needed for the lesson, such as the activity book or a worksheet. The next part of the chapter is a verbal review of previous chapters. The new concept is introduced and then illustrated by a cartoon story, the basics of which are illustrated in the student activity booklet. The primary concepts are written in detail for the teacher with illustrations that match those in the activity booklet, so the kids have a humorous, action-oriented visual to view during the teaching. After a summary and prayer, each chapter has suggested activities for on-site application or homework.
The immediate goal of the program is to practice Biblical conflict resolution in personal conflicts, and the long-term goal is to develop Godly character that reflects how God has forgiven us. Both program goals are systematically built, as each chapter introduces a concept that is progressively structured to extend the previous concept into its next logical application. By the end of the program, one understands and experiences the inner motivation of resolving conflict out of the character of God instead of responding out of our natural desires.
The content of each chapter mirrors the main concepts in The Peacemaker, the knowledge of which I will assume for this review. It stays closely to the principle ideas, such as the escape or attack responses on the "slippery slope," desires as the heart of conflict, or the steps of forgiveness. It has a less frequent emphasis on the Gospel than The Peacemaker does, but the centrality of the Gospel is still present. The Young Peacemaker also minimizes the responses of murder, suicide, and litigation, as well as the methods of mediation and arbitration in resolving conflict. Summaries of these concepts are provided for the teacher's knowledge and case-by-case discussion, but most children do not need training on these aspects of handling conflict. Altogether, the Biblically-sound teaching of The Peacemaker is duplicated here in summarized and simplified format.
With that said, I will make a few specialized observations about the content. First, the Scriptural examples of conflict are excellent. They are varied, personalized to the chapter's emphasis, drawn from both New and Old Testament, and are concise enough to be quickly absorbed and analyzed. Each chapter summary is great as a hand out for parents to take home to review. Second, for the most part, the teacher's manual and the kids' activity book matches up very well. The headings, illustrations, and text are in the same order and communicate the same concepts. In a few chapters, the teacher's material is greatly expanded and does not have any correlating visuals or headings (chapter 10). In others, the kids' activity book has pages that are not alluded to in the teacher's manual (pg. 11-7). In others, the pages are out of sequence between the two books (chapter 12). What would be helpful is for the sequence of the two to match consistently, and for the teacher's manual to have the number of each corresponding activity page in its margins. Third, while the creativity is consistent, the teaching content gradually erodes into a read/write format with fewer visuals, dramas, or practice methods. In chapter 8 (on forgiveness), the author missed an easy visual to communicate the high cost of forgiveness. By having teachers display an age-appropriate picture of the crucifixion, kids could see a graphic reminder of what Jesus paid to forgive us. The final three chapters are particularly bookish. However, many teachers will read the content and use their creativity to present it in engaging and fresh ways.
The Young Peacemaker is very visually appealing. It makes an excellent use of fonts, font size, backgrounds, white space, vertical and horizontal layout, structure, and a smorgasbord of comic-type illustrations. The visual layout is consistent from chapter to chapter, making it easy for teachers to locate key points, and the pictures make the material fun to read. The pictures are creative, frequent, amusing, and interactive. The characters frequently climb over words, and the cartoons overlap the paper text. Many, if not most, of the characters are ethnically diverse. African American and Asian-Americans are prominently and regularly displayed throughout the material. Overall, the intentionality and functionality of the illustrations make this aspect a unique value of this curriculum.
There are few negatives of the visual material. First, almost all of it is in black and white. For the PDF files (the student activity books), it would be especially helpful to be in color. Second, there are no image files or PowerPoint downloads on the CD, so the most important images - such as the slippery slope or the 5 A's of forgiveness - cannot be easily displayed in a large group setting. Third, with the cartoons, sometimes there is so much text (amongst the principles, the dialogue, the humorous witticisms, and the explanation of the concepts), it is easy to lose focus on the purpose of the illustration. Especially in black and white, it is easy to lose the "big picture" of the illustration. I would recommend having the children use highlighters to color the main points in their activity booklets so they can see the important parts more clearly. The negatives are mere suggestions for improvement, as the visuals are already well-presented.
As the author was a teacher and school counselor, it is not a surprise the curriculum has many pedagogical tools, such as chapter objectives or multiple learning methods. Each lesson is firmly centered on a key principle. That big idea is reinforced throughout the cartoon, the teaching, the activities, the acting, and the Bible conflicts. Goals and teaching tips are at the beginning of the manual, and role-plays are highlighted for quick access. Overall, this is a very teacher-friendly curriculum that would reach different types of learners.
There are many positives about this material, but I will highlight two positive aspects of the teaching methods. First, all of the role plays are kid-appropriate, recognizing the serious impact of some conflict (parents separating) and the regular conflicts of school-age children (school fights, gossip, sibling conflicts). The cartoon examples have creative endings that help children see that there are multiple solutions to conflict. The author resists the temptation to always end the cartoons with "happy endings," thus reminding kids that handling conflict God's way does not always mean you get what you want. Second, activities at the end of the chapter are varied and involve many modes of learning. There are simple games centered on looking up conflicts in Scripture and home activities using cultural analysis on TV shows or books. Activities include mazes, crosswords, matching, writing, drawing, art, puppets, and story-telling. Some are better than others, but the variety provided gives the teacher multiple options from which to choose.
There are some concerns about the teaching methods regarding its objectives, its target audience, and its limited use of non-auditory methods. First, objectives are all framed in cognitive terms, such as "Children will learn..." There are no affective or skill-based objectives, such as, "Children will feel convicted about the root of their own conflict" or "Children will practice responding to conflict in positive ways." Cognitive objectives can be difficult to measure and, while primary in cognitive-behavioral theory, only address one aspect of a child's development. Second, the material makes several assumptions about the target audience: a high proficiency of reading and analytical skills. Younger readers will not be able to analyze the Biblical or cartoon conflicts. Much of the teaching content requires lengthy reading (even the cartoons), the activities usually have short scenarios which must be read, and many of the activities involve writing. While reading and writing proficiency can be assumed in some scenarios, such as a school or a group of upper middle-schoolers, this cannot be assumed in younger groups or large groups of children. The prevalence of reading and writing disorders must also be considered. Third, while each teaching concept has a follow-up practice section that asks for the kids to act out a specific response to conflict, there is not enough direction on how to encourage an atmosphere of acting. Many children are hesitant to act in front of their peers, and many need specific directions before they will act. For a method that is used so frequently, it would be helpful to give more attention to it in the "Notes for Teachers" section of the preface. Fourth, much of the teaching is verbal and auditory, with the teacher talking to the children. However, the author does a nice job of trying to use other learning methods - kinesthetic and visual (primarily) - to break things up and keep the kids involved. Even within the auditory method, the author promotes story-telling, which is by far the most memorable form of auditory teaching. A related weakness to the auditory emphasis is that it is very difficult for a teacher to actually retain so much text. Short of memorizing the entire chapter, the teacher will either need to read substantial portions of the material or rely on extra visuals (such as a hand-crafted outline or PowerPoint display) to aid in his or her retention of the structure and content of the material.
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