If you home school, you have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the kindling movement in education called the “strength’s movement”. I say kindling, because with anything in public education in America, movements like this are slow (except, seemingly the movement of Common Core…which is another post for a later day) . Everyone is weary of trying a new way of thinking because the old way seems to be working fine (see Common Core…yes, I have an ax to grind there).
In our culture of competition, we tend to focus only on the negative when evaluating performance. We know instantly what went wrong without celebrating what went right. In many ways this ties in well with the Shut Down Learner. It’s our habit of thinking. We can’t help it and the negativity hits home in more ways than one.
In Jenifer Fox’s book, Your Child’s Strengths, she outlines the core problems of this focus and how it impacts our learners. When I read it, I have to admit I felt cheated. I felt cheated by a system that didn’t allow me to organically seek those things at which I was good at. (apparently it wasn’t finding other ways to properly end a sentence) I immediately started to reflect and try to figure out…”what exactly am I good at?”
This book helps the teacher (parent) take an objective look at what their child’s strength may be and then help them capitalize those talents for use in education. It contains a helpful guide to help observe, log, and cultivate your child’s natural inclinations toward learning. It’s a very valuable tool and since I got this book from the library, I will probably buy it from Amazon soon.
I think the idea of strengths based learning and evaluation will be an important philosophy to take hold in the near future. I found myself relating to many of Fox’s stories about students who struggle to find their strengths or who are working in opposition to bad instruction. I have seen this type of thinking make a change in my practice. I teach music out of my home and started using some practices from this book. I have seen a good change in the reaction and behavior of my students when I highlight what they do well and downplay what mistakes were made. They are more willing to try (risk), practice (work), and consequently succeed!
I also see this having a great effect on those students who have no idea what they want to do with their life. This type of philosophy will hand them the responsibility of reflecting on what gets them really excited and pursue activities that use their strengths. I think the adage is “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. This type of paradigm shift then throws off the shackles of current mainstream educative thinking and opens new doors for students.
After this book, you no longer look at college as the culmination of all your preceding education. You are liberated to look into the possibility of starting your own business or maybe going to a trade school that costs a fraction of the state or private institution. Of course the problem is that the rest of the country will be behind you looking for your pedigree from a “good school” even though someone with a great degree, let’s say from Cornell, could actually do the minimum to graduate and not necessarily have a promising future.
(you get my meaning)
RATING – This Book Earned:
The 4/5 brain score is for quality of writing, story telling, and ease of understanding the overall concept. Implementing the last 1/3 of the book to observe, study, and encourage “strength training” is moderately difficult but anything of this nature would be. So overall, a great book about rethinking education.
Coming Up Next:
There is a book that Jenifer Fox recommends inside this book. So I got it and I am reading it now. It may have a higher brain score than this one. Anything John Cleese calls “brilliant” must be pretty good right? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss the next recommendation.
Answer to Monday’s Brain Teaser
48 states x 2 = 96 + 4 winds = 100 – 40 thieves = 60 / (31-1) = 2 cubed =