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Its Materials


By the time young people reach the age of 15, many of the patterns of thought that will characterize their endeavors throughout their lives will have been fixed, in one way or another. The years immediately before this age, then, take on special significance. This is the time when fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated in the mind of an adolescent struggling to leave behind the habits of childhood. Youth between the ages of 12 and 15 have much to say, and whoever treats them as children misses the opportunity to help them form a proper identity.

Textbooks in the area of language can go far in cultivating certain attitudes and imparting essential moral concepts, and thus in creating the moral structures that will underlie the decisions and guide the actions of young people as they mature into adults and active members of society. The Junior Youth Series was designed with this in mind. Each book strives to further develop the capabilities of reading with good comprehension and expressing thoughts with clarity and eloquence. At a broader level, they are concerned with the need for high ideals and noble words to be translated into pure deeds. Certain of the books address mathematical concepts and social issues, while others seek to prepare young people to approach the investigation of physical, social and spiritual reality in a scientific manner. The series, which is envisioned to have 18 books in all, is studied during the three-year period before young people reach the age of 15, more often than not in a group with the assistance of an animator, an older youth trained in the use of the materials.

Publications Currently Available

Breezes of Confirmation tells the story of Musonda, a young girl who has just turned thirteen, and her older cousin Rose, who has come to visit for the school holidays. A theme that runs throughout the story is that of making an effort and receiving confirmations from on high. While the book maintains a certain level of simplicity in terms of sentence structure and flow, the use of difficult words is not avoided. By placing such words in different contexts, and drawing out their meaning through exercises, the text builds vocabulary and strengthens literacy skills. The book is conceived of as one of the earlier texts in the series, although the concepts have been found to be equally engaging for young people whose language skills are well advanced. (78 pages, 8½" x 11")

Glimmerings of Hope was written in response to the challenges faced by the many young people around the world living in the midst of civil strife. The book follows the story of Kibomi, a twelve-year-old boy who embarks on a journey to find his sister in another town after his parents are killed in their small village. Each lesson includes a set of questions and activities aimed at fostering the ability to understand the forces at work in society and developing coherence between belief and action. This volume is usually among the first in the series taken up for study by young people. (51 pages, 8½" x 11")

Stories have traditionally been a means for conveying moral concepts from one generation to the next. Walking the Straight Path draws on this tradition by bringing together twenty stories from different cultures. Each story is relatively short and followed by a series of exercises designed to further comprehension, build vocabulary, and enhance moral reasoning. Short quotations for memorization are also provided. The book is among the earlier texts in the series. (79 pages, 8½" x 11")

Drawing on the Power of the Word seeks to enhance the power of expression and explore the moral implications of speech and action. It consists of twenty readings, each of which is complemented by exercises in language skills. The readings begin simply, but gain in complexity both in terms of thought and language. The first reading introduces Diego and his youth group, who live in the village of Alegrías. With the help of an older youth from a nearby town named Elisa, the group thinks about the power of enlightened words and pure deeds to bring about social change. The book is generally studied by young people after they have completed a number of other texts in the series. (110 pages, 8½" x 11")

Forthcoming Publications

Wellspring of Joy is designed to strengthen basic reading and comprehension skills and to develop, to some degree, the capabilities associated with articulating ideas with precision and clarity. The book tells the story of Saw Tu, a twelve-year-old refugee who is adjusting to life in his new country. Though he is experiencing difficulty at the outset of the story, he gradually comes to recognize where the source of true joy lies. It is hoped that those who study the text will, similarly, take the opportunity to reflect on this theme, one of many they will need to consider as they think about what it means to live an integrated and fruitful life. It is conceived of as one of the earlier texts in the series. (51 pages, 8½" x 11")

Habits of an Orderly Mind is the first text in the series to address mathematical and scientific concepts. It follows the discussions of a group of five friends who, with the help of the parents of two of the youth, explore what it means to have an orderly mind by thinking first about simple types of order, for example, the order inherent in the number system, and then gradually more complex ones, such as patterns found in nature. The final reading offers those who study the text an opportunity to reflect on some of the powers of the mind and how they can be employed for the good of humanity. (45 pages, 8½" x 11")

In Learning About Excellence, a young girl, Ling Li, travels from the city to visit her grandparents in their village for the spring holidays. During her stay she discusses with the members of her extended family aspects of city life and rural life and the possibilities for her future. Through these conversations the book considers the intellectual and spiritual dimensions of excellence, its meaning in the domain of work, and its connection with adherence to high ideals, each lesson looking at one or more of the qualities and attitudes that contribute to its achievement. The book is usually taken up for study by youth following their completion of the initial texts in the series. (61 pages, 8½" x 11")

Thinking About Numbers follows the conversation of a group of classmates living in a small village in the Philippines who, with the help of their teacher, explore mathematical concepts such as accuracy, one-to-one correspondence, sets, and negative and irrational numbers. Over the course of their discussions, the group considers the application of these concepts to day-to-day life, investigating, as they do so, the meaning of justice, service, and progress. In this way the book seeks to help young people not only further their capability of making numerical statements about reality around them but also think about the social dimension of statements regarding the world. The book is envisioned as the third in the junior youth series that will discuss mathematical and scientific concepts. (55 pages, 8½" x 11")

The story of Observation and Insight opens in Jalpura, an imaginary village in India, where twelve-year-old Nanda lives with her family. Over the course of eleven readings, she is helped by Kalpana, who runs a nearby educational center for women, and Ramnik, her brother-in-law who is an ecologist, to organize the insights she is gaining as she observes the world around her. Nanda is at an age where she is starting to ask herself questions not only about physical reality but also about social reality. In this connection, she is helped to think about the kind of changes that will need to take place in her small village if it is to achieve enduring prosperity. The book is envisioned as the fourth of several texts in the junior youth series that will address mathematical and scientific concepts. (59 pages, 8½" x 11")

In a world where physical existence is given a great deal of emphasis, The Human Temple provides young people with an opportunity to consider in some depth the powers of the human spirit. The book, envisioned as one of the later texts in the series, takes its readers into the classroom of a teacher, Mr. Ian Scott, who helps his students to think about certain concepts related to language, addressing in this context such subjects as the power of human utterance and the nature of spiritual perception. The readings and exercises draw young people who study the text into a similar reflection, investigating with them those inner powers that distinguish the human being from all other things in creation. (54 pages, 8½" x 11")