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Challenge Day: A Transitory Charismatic Movement in the Milieu of Modern High School

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  1. Therefore, teen problems are being faced creatively, from many angles. Schools are imposing mandatory classroom sessions focusing on character and compassion.
  2. The Challenge Day Program was founded in 1987 by Yvonne and Rich Putra St. John.
  3. The program suggests that ?to assist with the overall flow [?] it is important that the room be used solely for the purpose of the Challenge Day without any outside interruption.
  4. Additionally, the intensity is facilitated by Challenge Day's high concentration.
  5. The ultimate purpose of Challenge Day, says Sela Gaglia, a leader for seven years, ?is to create a world where children feel safe, loved, and celebrated.?
  6. Then, to loosen up the uneasy crowd, everyone takes part in games. ?We play together,? says Gaglia.
  7. The other side of the line is a visual representation of the new group, the collective.
  8. However, despite these restrictions, the charismatic nature of Challenge Day could be exactly what high school students need.
  9. This social fluidity may be a contributor to adolescent isolation, however.

Starting in the 1970s, activists, counselors, and state school boards across the country have taken measurements to quell violence in middle and high schools. The violence stems from the adolescent tendency for concentrated peer groups, which leads to gangs and inter-gang violence, especially in inner-city public schools. Schools also attribute adolescent drug use to gangs. City governments have thought it necessary to impose campus police, metal detectors at school entrances, and escort services to and from school to keep the violence at least physically outside of the school. Schools have also received more funding for extracurricular activities, like sports teams, to keep students in a safe, adult-monitored environment outside of school hours. Other aspects of teen culture besides violence and drug use a threat to students' education. Alienation, low self-esteem, sexual promiscuity, highly divided cliques, teasing, and oppression have all become targets of modern public school regulation. The problem facing most schools is how to influence the personal aspects of a student's life while acting from the helm of a public institution. Even though these burdens on students do negatively affect their schoolwork, they must be dealt with personally and dynamically; a government cannot simply put up an installation (i.e. metal detectors) to cut down on teen loneliness.

[...] High School as a ?Culture of Narcissism? The ?culture of narcissism,? which usually characterizes modernity in contemporary Western life, can also be used to characterize modern day schools. The elements of ?competitiveness, complexity, personal isolation, and fluidity? (Lindholm 95) are all things that modern adolescents face when they get off the school bus. And these elements of modernity create a yearning in adolescents for charismatic interaction. Academic competitiveness places great strain on the student individually, and also creates an underlying tension between students. [...]

[...] The basic ingredients for Challenge Day: a maximum of a 100 students grades 7th-12th and 50 or more adults (so that there is at least one adult per 4-5 students), a minimum of one passionate and committed school counselor, a cafeteria or gymnasium, and one chair for each attendant- placed in a large circle. The program suggests that assist with the overall flow [ ] it is important that the room be used solely for the purpose of the Challenge Day without any outside interruption. [...]

[...] Crying unstably also gives the impression of Wilfred Bion's psychotic charismatic or Weber's epileptic shaman, both figures who gain admirers through their uncanny ability to exhibit wild shifts in emotion, and a blurring between self and others. Followers seek to identify with this personality type so that they may experience a state of merger and self-loss (an appeal to the yearnings of the id and pre-Oedipal relations with the mother). The personal anecdotes also charm the sympathies of the participant, who may be pulled emotionally by the display. [...]

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