Using SmartMarks Bookmarks As A Teaching Tool

As a teaching tool, SmartMarks can be used to open up constructive dialogue with students.  All of the SmartMarks messages address issues that have been raised in discussions with counselors, students, and student leaders during John Fabjance's educational magic programs, and each message has special characteristics that allows them to stimulate thinking.

Psychological Principles Used In SmartMarks

Pacing & Leading
Pacing & leading is a concept from cognitive psychology used to build rapport and trust with the reader. It is a method of associating things you'd like someone to believe with things they already believe to be true. 

Pacing refers to making an "undeniably true" statement, something that the reader knows to be true in his or her experience. 
Leading is suggesting (presenting) something the person could consider as true, but as of yet doesn't. 

Most drug & alcohol awareness education makes the mistake of bluntly trying to convince students of things they don't believe --or don't want to believe.  When this happens, resistance and conflict are likely results.  Pacing & leading is a much more subtle --and effective --method of persuasion.  Pacing bypasses a person's resistance by creating in their mind an "unconscious yes set." (Their agreement with the pacing statement sets them up for agreement with the leading statement).

Here are 2 examples of "pacing & leading" in the SmartMarks series:

Friends do let friends drive drunk, it's sad to day.  Be a better                   friend.  Keep them alive, don't let them drink & drive.

Students know from their own experience that friends do (unfortunately) let friends drive drunk.  Almost every student knows of someone who has let a friend drive home drunk.  Acknowledging this fact of their experience is a pacing (technique) statement.  The leading statement (then) encourages them to 'be a better friend'.  The result?  Greater rapport with the reader, making it more likely that he or she will consider the message.

If you take drugs or alcohol to 'feel good', you may decide you want to feel good more often.  Once you feel good more often, you may soon find out you can only feel good with drugs or alcohol.

Many approaches to drug and alcohol education focus exclusively on the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use.  What they leave out is the hook that lures so many young people-- the fact that using drugs and alcohol (at least at first) is a pleasurable experience.  When well-meaning educators try to suppress the fact that getting "high" is a pleasurable experience (for some), students tune out the message.  Pacing the students by telling them directly that people do take drugs or alcohol to "feel good" sets up the leading statement-- that feeling good at first can lead to addiction later.

Perceptual Positions
The concept of perceptual positions from cognitive psychology is used to help people look at an issue from a different point of view.  Taking a person and from their current point of view and putting them into another person's position is a useful way to create a "perceptual shift" inside their mind.

Here are 2 examples of shifting perceptual positions, taken from the SmartMarks bookmarks:

The "other guy" that it happened to thought it would happen to you, not him.  Who do you think it will happen to next?

Talking about "the other guy" takes the intimidation factor off the reader at first, then presents them with a question to activate their thinking.

When assessing your own use of alcohol & drugs, ask yourself: What would you think if you saw a family member behaving the same way you do?

Considering how another family member would appear from the reader's point of view uses this same principle.  Maybe the reader's behavior would appear different if displayed by a loved one. examine how this same behavior would appear to a loved one.

Mind Games
Mind Games is a term John Fabjance developed to describe the types of denial processes people go through in their minds, particularly regarding drug and alcohol use.  In his Mind Games & Life Skills programs, John takes a light-hearted, warm, and humorous approach to the all-too-human denial, rationalization, justification, and "cognitive distortions" all of us engage in to support bad habits.

Abuse Excuses...
Warning: Use of these excuses may be dangerous to your health.
I only drink to relax...
I'll only do this for awhile... 
My drug is less harmful than yours... 
If I didn't do this I'd be doing something worse... 
It can't happen to me... 
I am the way I am and can't change... 
I haven't had a problem so far... 
I can stop anytime I want to... 
We all have to die sometime,
we might as well enjoy life while we can.

The "Abuse Excuse" bookmarks deal with the "mind games" people use to rationalize (excuse) their use of alcohol or drugs.  By making people aware of some of the things they may be saying to themselves, they have a better chance of spotting these mind games when they occur. 

Also, the Abuse Excuse warning says that the use of these excuses
may be dangerous.  Phrasing it this way (instead of "use of these excuses will be dangerous") makes resistance to the message less likely.  It opens up a possibility rather than stating an absolute.

Just because 'your number hasn't come up yet'... do you believe it will when you play the lottery, but it won't when you drive drunk?  Just because it didn't happen the last time doesn't mean it won't happen next time.  Don't gamble with your life.

This SmartMark deals with the mind game of "gambling".  Gambling and losing are intimately related.  People who have driven home drunk and survived need to realize that "the past time does not equal the future." The same people who think "their lucky number will come up" when they buy a lottery ticket may think (at the same time) that their lucky number won't come up when they drive home drunk.