Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Well Rounded Children?

This past weekend I attended our annual homeschool convention. I love this time every year where we come together to attend workshops that challenge us to think outside of ourselves and to consider new idea's. One of the speakers I felt inspired by, was a woman by the name of Linda Werner. Linda spoke on Strength's Defined which talks about changing the way you think about education. She highly recommended that we test our children using the Clifton Strengthfinder Test ourselves to find out what our Strength's are and then do the same for our children. Once that is done we then allow our educational programs to revolve around those strength's, instead of spending all of our time trying to strengthen our weaknesses. I liked that she didn't say we should ignore weak areas, but her philosophy is that you manage your weaker/nuetral area's and invest in your passions and strengths.

The defining moment in her talk was when she introduced us to a 10 year old little boy who had spent the past five years trying to work on his weaknesses so he could better fit the classroom. You see, this little boy had ADD/ADHD as well as Aspergers and all they saw was how disruptive he was. However, Linda owns a private umbrella school and when the parents brought their little Matthew to her she immediate administered the strength finder test to figure out what made Matthew unique. She then asked us if we could figure out what his strength was as he took the stage dressed up as an indian.

As that little boy took the microphone and began to speak over one thousand mouths hit the floor. You did not see autism or aspergers, all you saw was an incredibly gifted young man. When he closed we jumped to our feet with thunderous applause. I personally had tears streaming down my face.

I began to think of all the years I invested in big academic programs trying to make responsible well rounded children. As I listened to Linda speak I realized I don't want well-rounded! I want incredibly passionate people who work in fields they love and that love them. Careers that will use their gifts and talents to the fullest.

It made me begin to re-evaluate what I would be using for curriculum next year. I want to manage my children's nuetral or weak areas and engage in their stregnths. My oldest is an excellent public speaker and I am considering entering him into speech and debate. My #2 son LOVES Piano and I would like to spend most of our time investing in his musical gifting. My #3 and #4 boys are still young and we are learning what their passions are. But one thing I am sure of is that we will stick with our core math and language arts program that allows my children to make steady progress in the important core subjects while investing in their strengths. I will continue to use our library and to check out books and to read a loud, we will spend time doing this together as a family.

How about you? What do you think? Do you find yourself teaching to strengthen your children's weaknesses or do you teach to the strenghts? After hearing what Linda shared does that change your perspective at all?

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