Teaching Teens How to Make Good Decisions

Publication Type: 
Ali Abbas
Dave Reiter
Carl Spetzler
Steve Tani
Good decision-making is an essential life skill, but most people acquire it only through a process of trial and error — if at all. Decision Education Foundation (DEF) is a nonprofit organization that equips young people with powerful decision-making skills to help them better shape their futures. This is the core of our vision: Better Decisions-Better Lives. Since its founding, DEF has advanced its mission through a variety of programs. In addition to designing and teaching an innovative course for academically gifted teens — the focus of this article — we also have developed and delivered extensive curriculum for troubled teens, as well as for "mainstream" youth. We have linked our curriculum to standard language arts and mathematics courses, and we have created standalone decision courses. We have taught teachers and students. Our sponsor and partner organizations include Strategic Decisions Group, Decision Strategies International, Susquehanna International Group, Microsoft Corporation, Stanford University, Santa Clara University (Calif.), Foothill College (Calif.), Mastery Charter High School (Pa.), Sioux Central Community School (Iowa), Muriel Wright Ranch School (Calif.), Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (Calif.), and a number of philanthropic foundations. This list is growing daily. Our work is driven by expert volunteers from the decision sciences community, including faculty and students from Stanford University, UC-Berkeley and Wharton, and senior consultants from several companies. This impressive array of people and organizations are linked by our shared vision: "Better Decisions - Better Lives."