A Brilliant Star
"Thought for the Day" Activity
Developed by: W. Huitt
Last revised: February 2005
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One way that parents, schools, religious organization, and other groups in the community that impact child and youth development (Huitt, 1999) can begin to build a consciousness about Becoming A Brilliant Star is through a "Thought for the Day" activity.
I have selected a number of quotations from cultural and historical resources (Huitt, 2001) that provide some detail about the development of each of the dimensions of the Brilliant Star. There are separate compilations dealing with quotations from the major world religions and a combination that combine an equivalent number of quotations from each source. These quotations are being made available to interested parties as a “Thought For The Day” exercise. Parents, educators, and members of different religious communities can use these as part of a daily or weekly personal development program. Each quote should be discussed for about 5 minutes with respect to four questions:
1. What is the key concept or principle? Paraphrase the quotation in your own words. What is the essence or central meaning of the quotation?
2. Why is this concept or principle important? Why should we try to put this into practice? How would our lives or the lives of others be improved if we implemented this concept or principle? What would happen if we did? What would happen if we did not? What would happen if we put an opposite concept or principle into practice?
3. How can I implement or work on this concept or principle today, this week, this month? Describe some specific actions that could be taken. Prepare a simple statement that you can say that will describe what you intend to do and that affirms you have this attribute, value or virtue.
4. How will I know I am making progress? What are some ways to measure my progress on this attribute? At the end of the day, what are some indicators that I could use to know that I have been successful or unsuccessful? How can I measure my implementation? How can you hold yourself accountable for making progress with regards to this concept or principle?
The next day students would reflect and discuss how well they implemented the previous day's quote. Then a new quote would be introduced. This could be discussed on the following day (i.e., a new quote every two days). It is best to continue with one theme or domain for at least two weeks before changing to a new one. Students could discuss any difficulties they had in implementing the quotations or issues they believe are important in their daily lives and develop suggestions for topics to be discussed next. An example of quotes that might be selected with an audio file for each quotation is provided here.
The purpose of this activity is twofold:
to demonstrate that our cultural/historical and religious backgrounds provide us with generic knowledge about how to think and behave in our modern world (see Huitt, 2000 for a discussion of some of the desired outcomes for youth in the 21st century);
to practice learning to apply these in specific situations in our daily lives.
When implemented by a school, the principal (or perhaps the teacher or students) should select quotations in a way that will not appear to be promoting a particular religion. The following rules are recommended for the selection of daily readings that will conform to this standard:
A quote can be used only once during the school year.
Quotes from all of the domains should be selected before that domain is discussed again (i.e., we need to address all the domains related to human development.) Of course, if the school or community believe that a particular domain should not be addressed in the school, it is perfectly acceptable to omit quotes from that domain.
If the compilation containing both cultural/historical and religious scripture is used, a quote cannot be selected from the same genre (i.e., cultural/historical or religious scripture) two days in a row. Equal selection should be made from these two sources.
A quote cannot be selected from the same religious tradition more than once in a given cycle (i.e., no particular religious tradition is to be emphasized).
By selecting an equal number of quotes from cultural/historical and religious scripture and by having selections from all the major world religions, the process is within constitutional guidelines of neutrality with respect to advocating secular and religious worldviews.
Schools implementing this activity are encouraged to contact families for their support in assisting their children and youth to become “Brilliant Stars.” For families who want to provide additional opportunities to learn from this process, there are separate sets of quotations that can be used by parents, children, and youth at home. A set specifically devoted to only cultural/historical resources for parents or schools who desire a completely secular orientation has already been developed as well as compilations for major world religions for parents who want to utilize materials from a specific religious tradition. Families using these materials will be encouraged to spend five minutes each morning reading a selected quotation and answering the four questions described above.
Schools using these materials are encouraged to contact religious organizations in order to coordinate themes taught in weekly children’s and youth study classes with themes taught in the home and school. Community organizations and businesses can also be asked to support the efforts of these institutions by giving recognition to students who are in the process of “Becoming Brilliant Stars” (e.g., memorizing quotations, getting good grades, demonstrating excellence in sports or in the arts, participating in service projects, etc.).
A significant component of this approach is to develop electronic portfolios (Huitt, 2002) that can document student growth over several years across different dimensions. Schools can establish these for each individual student and include material produced through school activities (e.g., work samples, report cards, service projects, sports activities, class photographs). Schools are encouraged to assist parents in adding additional documentation produced in non-school activities (family activities and photographs, pictures of friends, samples of learning done in religious activities, other service projects). This documentation can then be burned onto a CD as a permanent record of student progress.
implement this activity either in the home or at school, please let me know of
your experiences. I have used this activity with middle and high school
students, as well as adults, and most have found it a rewarding way to start the
The quotations in the different compilations address the following virtues, values, or attributes.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). (2000). New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Attribute: A quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.
Value: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable
Virtue: An example or kind of moral excellence.