Influences
ValuesScales.jpgI1Values are "the code we live by in a civil and just society. They are what we use to guide our interactions with others, with our friends and family, in our businesses and professional behavior. Our values and morals are a reflection of...our character."1 Different people have different values. These are not values we are born with, but rather that we have learned through the world we live in. People can draw their values from many different places, such as from family, friends, teachers, religion, or the popular culture of the area. Values develop at a young age, and either strengthen or weaken as we grow older. It is important to recognize what your most important values are and to stand by them even when it is hard to do so.
Learning Styles
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There are three major types of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best by seeing or visualizing things, auditory by hearing or saying things, and kinesthetic by doing things. Any person who is trying to learn should have a good idea of what their learning style is. This will help them make the most out of any lesson. It is also important to keep your learning style in mind whenever you make important decisions in life, such as choosing what classes to take, which teacher you want, or even what career path you want to follow.2



Individuality
Gender Issues
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We have always known that males and females are very different from one another in many ways. In the modern world, it could be said that these differences play a bigger role than they ever have before. This is because of the expectations and social pressures that are put on people to fit the generic form of whichever gender they are. However, not everyone is going to fit into this ideal. In fact, very few people actually do. "The real problem is not that sex differences exist but, in our everyday intuition of what sexual, or gender, behavior is appropriate, our concepts may be too narrow or too rigid. The biological determinism argument, too often, reinforces this."3 Though males and females have been scientifically proven to be both physically and mentally different from each other, that does not mean that every male is the same as other males, or that every female is the same as all others of her gender. Our stereotypes do not account for the fact that for every generalization, there can and will be exceptions. As in all cases of variation among people, the only way to accommodate everyone is to embrace our differences without being ruled by them.

Media Influences
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In the modern world, media plays a huge role in how we see the world and in how we see ourselves. More often than not, media advertisements have a negative influence on our self esteem. The whole point of advertisements is to convince us that we need something we don't have. Most of the time this has to do with our appearance. In fact, "one out of every four television commercials sends out some sort of message about attractiveness."4 This barrage of commercials telling us how we are not enough does horrors to our self-esteem. We are led to believe that in order to be acceptable, we must be perfect. If we want to survive in a world full of media standards, we must learn not to be affected by them. We must not compare ourselves to the images we are given by the media. This, of course, is very hard to do, but the better we get at it, the more confident we will become and the better we will feel about ourselves.




Health

Stress
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Stress is an integral part of our lives. It results from all of our responsibilities, including school, friends, family, and extracurriculars. If taken to the extreme, stress can be incredible harmful. It can be linked to all of the six leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.5 However, stress is not always bad. Small amounts of stress motivate us to improve ourselves, to work harder and become better at what we do. It is important to expose ourselves to healthy amounts of stress by challenging ourselves to accomplish difficult tasks. If the stress gets to be too much, we must relieve ourselves of it before the negative consequences start to take effect.

Sleep
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In our society, sleep is something that is largely underrated. We often think that we do not need sleep, that we can get by on five or six hours a night, maybe even less than that. Sleep loss, however, can be extremely detrimental to your health. First of all, not getting enough sleep can have short term effects such as making you drowsy and less able to focus during the day. In fact, sleepy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Sleep loss can also cause more lasting problems. Studies have shown that teenagers are twice as likely to abuse drugs if they had sleeping problems when they were younger.6 Sleep is especially important for teens and children because important parts of our growth and development happen while we are asleep, both mentally and physically. It is important for teens to make sure that they get between nine and ten hours of sleep each night to remain healthy.




Substance Abuse

Addiction
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Addiction is a more serious problem than most people realize. In fact, one in every eight Americans has a significant problem with some kind of drug or alcohol.7 Many people do not realize that they are addicted or on the road to becoming addicted to something. Others become addicted after only trying something once or twice. It is especially important to be aware of the problems of addiction as a teenager, because you have a much greater chance of becoming addicted to something if you start using it as a teenager. Just because you only use occasionally, or you think you can stop whenever you feel like it, that doesn't mean that you will actually be able to if you try. Of course the best course of action is to simply not use drugs, but if you are not willing to follow that path, at least be very careful when dealing with drugs. They are very dangerous, and if proper caution is not taken, they could mess up your whole life.

Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana
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People often think of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana as mild drugs that are not nearly as harmful as some of the more potent kinds. Even if this is true, it does not mean that these drugs are not still incredibly harmful. Every eight seconds, someone dies from tobacco.8 Alcohol causes thousands of deaths, mainly through car accidents, and marijuana, like all drugs, can take over your mind and body so that it is the only thing you care about in life. These three drugs are also often considered "gateway drugs," that is, people start by using them and eventually move on to more powerful, more harmful drugs. Even if you believe that the effects of these three drugs are mild and relatively safe, it is important to remember that they still impair your judgment, leading you to much more dangerous practices. As with all drugs, it is best not to use. If, however, your mind is set, be cautious with these drugs and learn as much as you can about them beforehand.




Sexuality
Methods of Birth Control and Abstinence
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Of course we've all heard that the only way to avoid getting pregnant is to abstain from having sex. It is true that this is the only 100% effective way of keeping yourself from having a baby. But this is the 21st century, and most people are not going to abide by this method forever. If you do choose to have sex, it is important to protect yourself, and to choose a method that works for you. There are many different methods of birth control, including the pill, a diaphragm, condoms, and so on. It is best to combine some kind of condom with something such as the pill or a diaphragm. Some methods are more popular than others, such as the pill,which is the leading method of birth control for American women aged 15-29 years.9 It is important to find what works best for you.

Teen Pregnancy
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Teen pregnancy is certainly an issue in today's world. "Even though the United States is among those countries with a falling teen pregnancy rate, it still has by far the highest rate of teen pregnancy throughout the western industrialized world."10 Of course the best course of action would be to avoid getting pregnant in the first place. This would involve using some kind of contraception, as discussed in the previous section. But if that is not possible, or pregnancy ends up happening anyway, you are going to be faced with a big decision. Many people will try to hide from this, and deny the fact that they (or their girlfriend, in the case of guys) are pregnant. The first thing you should do in a situation like this is seek help. You can go to a clinic, or simply discuss it with your friends and family, but you are going to have to make some difficult decisions. First, you must decide if you even want to have the baby, or if you want to get an abortion. If you decide to have the baby, you must decide whether to keep it or put it up for adoption. Finally, if you want to keep the baby, you must make arrangements and preparations to get ready for such a big responsibility. Whatever you decide, it will be much easier if you can get the help and support of other people.




Final Tips
Organization
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"Studies have shown that people that are disorganized don't do well in work or life. Having a schedule is based around being organized in a lot of areas, not just homework."11 One of the best ways to be successful in school, and in life in general, is to be organized. For your schoolwork and textbooks and such, you need to find a system that works for you. Get different colored binders or some sort of labels that enables you to tell apart different subjects. When you get papers or complete homework, don't just stuff it in your binder; put it where it belongs. This will help you a lot, especially at the end of the semester when you will have to go back and find things to study for finals. It is also important to be organized in other areas of your life, especially if you have a large load of events with your friends or extracurriculars and such. For this it is good to have a planner, so you can always be on top of when you have to do what. This way it will be much easier to fit everything into your schedule.

Being Green
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Gunn has many different programs that make it an environmentally friendly school. There are many recycling bins on campus for bottles and cans. People have put a lot of effort into making these possible, so they should be used by all the students. Another way to be green is to think about how you get to school. If you do not live too far away, a good option is to bike to school. This way you will save money, energy, your parents' time(if you are not old enough to drive), and you will get exercise from it as well. Gunn also has a program in place to encourage people to bike to school. "The Pedal for Prizes program rewards students who regularly bike to school. On monthly Prize Days, volunteers hand out treats to all incoming cyclists in the bike cage. Specially marked treats can be redeemed on site for bigger prizes, including movie and school dance tickets, bike gear, Gunn t-shirts and paraphernalia, and gift certificates to local juice bars and restaurants."12




Bibliography
Writing
1 http://www.explorefaith.org/lifelines_morals.html
2 http://www.how-to-study.com/Improving%20Reading%20Skills.htm
3 http://www.gender.org.uk/about/00_diffs.htm
4 http://www.raderprograms.com/media.aspx
5 http://www.stressdirections.com/personal/about_stress/stress_statistics.html
6 http://www.lighttherapy.com/sleep_stats.html
7 http://www.coachinginternational.com/stats.html
8 http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/tobaccostatistics/a/tobaccofacts.htm
9 http://ezinearticles.com/?Birth-Control-Statistics&id=1762052
10 http://www.pregnancy-info.net/teen_pregnancy_statistics.html
11 http://family-parenting.savvy-cafe.com/why-organization-skills-are-important-in-teenager%E2%80%99s-school-success-2007-02-27/
12 http://gunnenvironmentalclub.googlepages.com/alternativetransportation




Images
I1 http://www.cyberev.org/membersx/images/morals.jpg
I2 http://stillanightowl.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/learning_styles.jpg
I3 http://www.careernewz.net/media-arts-and-design/gender-in-design-programs/
I4 http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200710/r188430_705076.jpg
I5 http://www.kf6nvr.net/blog/archives/images/computing_stress.jpg
I6 http://d21c.com/DragonsDreams/gar/Sleep.jpg
I7 http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/on-line/genes/16.asp
I8 http://www.villageeap.com/employee-resources/images/tobacco.jpg
I9 http://www.joe-ks.com/mechanical.htm
I10 http://medicalsymptomssearch.net/
I11 http://100percentcottam-austin.blogspot.com/2007/07/ive-been-inspired-to-get-organized.html
I12 http://gunnenvironmentalclub.googlepages.com/