I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good. — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The word "power" often has a negative connotation. It may remind us of the corruption that seems inevitable when people pursue power for its own sake. We may feel overwhelmed by the power of giant institutions. But everyone has power, and the capacity to choose how and when to use it.
Sing to the Power affirms our Unitarian Universalist heritage of confronting "powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love." Participants experience their own power, and understand how it can help them to be leaders.
Sing to the Power uses a metaphor of the four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—as a framework to explore different forms of power. Four four-session units explore each element. The four elements are illustrated with a large paper or fabric wall hanging begun in the first session and decorated throughout the program.
The program begins with a unit on earth and kinds of power associated with it: Connection, Roots, Growth, and Place. The second unit features kinds of power associated with air: Stillness, Presence, Silence, and Listening. The third unit centers on the powers of fire: Shine, Passion, Action, Reaching Out. The program concludes with three powers of water: Flexibility, Persistence, and Gathering. The final session honors all of the elements' power to Transform.
This program will:
- Explore kinds of power that can be used to create positive change
- Enrich Unitarian Universalist identity with stories of people who used their power for the sake of "justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love"
- Develop participants' sense of themselves as leaders
- Promote exercising one's own powers to create positive change, even in very small ways
- Build community, with an emphasis on the power of religious community to change the world for the better.
Leaders should have some experience with Unitarian Universalism and the congregation. Experience or interest in peace and justice issues is important. The ideal teaching team of two adult co-leaders for each session will have some diversity, which might be in gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic class, theological beliefs and/or learning styles. If possible, leadership could include adults comfortable leading songs or providing musical accompaniment. Additional adult or youth volunteers are needed in some sessions to help facilitate small groups.
This program is written for fourth- and fifth-grade children. You may find it useful to think about the developmental norms for this age group. Not all children arrive at each developmental stage at the same time, but knowing what to expect overall can be helpful, especially to first-time leaders.
In her book, Nurturing Children and Youth: A Developmental Guidebook (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 2005), Tracey L. Hurd lists characteristics of the older school-age child:
- Uses gross and fine motor skills, which are almost fully developed
- Enters puberty toward the end of school-age years (particularly girls)
- Is influenced by media images
- Engages in logical thinking
- Practices cognitive skills of acquiring, storing, and retrieving information
- Develops specific learning styles (auditory, visual, sensory, and/or kinesthetic)
- Exhibits domain-specific intelligence (verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic, local/mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, or naturalist)
- Engages in gender-specific play.
Faith Development Skills
- Uses student identity and knowledge as sources of self-esteem
- Engages peers and learns through mutual friendship
- Comprehends the perspective of others
- Works on developing racial, ethnic and gender identities and seeks peers' affirmation of these identities
- Shows interest in concrete aspects of faith and religion
- "Does" religion or spirituality by participating in traditions
- Explores religious or spiritual ideas as a way of deepening faith.
- Interested in moral issues/ what is fair and right
- Practices figuring out what is fair when developing rules
- Moral decision making is complex
- Practices reconciling moral ideals with pragmatic realities
- Demonstrates interest in broader moral issues
- Reconciles the violence of the world with personal own moral code (e.g., violent video games)
- Interest in knowing and living out moral ideas
- Uses the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)
- Wrestles with moral dilemmas in relationships
- Demonstrates awareness of societal moral issues and interest in helping to solve community problems
- Ponders increasingly complex moral and spiritual questions.
Integrating All Participants
A group may include children with a range of physical and cognitive abilities and learning styles, food allergies, and other sensitivities or limitations. Adapt activities or use alternate activities to ensure that every session is inclusive of all participants. Sing to the Power was developed with the kinetic learner in mind, offering a variety of activities involving both small and large motor skills. Physical activities are great for participants in this age range who need to move and explore learning with their bodies. However, for children who have limited mobility of their hands, feet, or legs, some of these activities may require adaptation. Leaders should assess the physical requirements of the group early in the program and pay close attention to the sections on Including All Participants which may suggest ways to include children with mobility restrictions in an activity without eliminating its kinetic aspects, which are integral to this program. You can also some of the alternate activities that employ musical or logical/mathematical intelligences.
The loving family unit, of whatever configuration, is the primary source of spiritual nurture and religious education in a child's life. The religious education children experience in Sing to the Power is enhanced by involvement of parents or caregivers. Each session includes a Taking It Home section for you to download, customize, and share with families as a handout or email.
Taking It Home summarizes the session's content and provides questions and activities to stimulate family conversations and extension activities at home. With Taking It Home, a parent will have enough details to ask an engaging question, for example: "How do immigration laws affect people you know?" or, "What can we do as a family to reduce our carbon footprint?" Taking It Home also invites parents to share their own life experiences and wisdom with their children, for example, through a personal story about a time the parent stood up to bullying or injustice. Taking it Home also offers ideas for games, rituals, and other activities for the family.