Thursday, March 3, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Building the best LifeSmarts

As LifeSmarts coordinators, participants, and coaches all know, the ultimate goal of the program is to teach teens to be informed, responsible consumers who can successfully navigate today’s complex marketplace. To help achieve this critical goal, and to keep the program as fresh and relevant as possible, more than two dozen experts in consumer issues gathered at Toyota Headquarters in Torrance, CA for the first ever LifeSmarts Summit.

For three intense days in late January, Summit participants dissected LifeSmarts topic areas, discussed the current state of young consumers and the vital issues facing them, explored educational theory, and ultimately captured dozens of new teaching tools for LifeSmarts coaches and curriculum users.

The difficulty of putting parameters on the study of consumer sciences, a field that is constantly changing, emerged as a central issue among summit participants. In the face of rapidly developing new technologies, financial tools and services, environmental concerns, and the phasing in and out of products, selecting the most important issues facing teens was a main focus of the summit.

Summit experts all agreed that content literacy is a top program priority, as students need repeated exposure to carefully-selected vocabulary and concepts in order to integrate them effectively into their lives. LifeSmarts Summit attendees rose to the challenge of defining the essential vocabulary and determining the must-have knowledge and survival skills teens need upon their entry into the real world, and the LifeSmarts program is stronger for it.

Thanks again to all the summit participants and here’s to a great LifeSmarts program in 2011 and beyond!

Long-time friend Don Zabelin, retired Illinois teacher / LS coach / LS coordinator, stirring things up at the LifeSmarts Summit