Unschooling

Strengths (part one)

More than a decade ago the strength movement was born ((http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx, for newer developments: http://tmbc.com/). Around the same time positive psychology also emerged. Both claimed that we need to focus on what is right with us rather than analyze and fix what is wrong with us. Let’s find and develop our strengths and not struggle to fix our weaknesses. Concentrating on our weaknesses and improving what we are not naturally good at will only elevate us –  in the best case scenario – to mediocrity, while spending time doing what we are naturally good at or drawn to will really allow us to excel.

Though many are now familiar with these ideas, they are still far from being mainstream. In traditional education these ideas are practically non-existent in-spite of  Dr. Howard Gardner‘s multiple intelligence theory which is an educational theory that attempts to allow children to use different styles of learning, presumably one that is naturally theirs (other than the couple that are most common in school), and is similar to leading or living from your strengths.

These ideas are hard to swallow partly because we humans are so much more in tune with what does not work than what does. It is mostly a survival instinct that demands that we prepare for times of immanent danger and improve the skills that will save us whether we are naturally good at them or not. In modern times we interpret those skills as whatever our culture and school system say they are.

However – the amazing thing about strengths is that they have evolved to protect us from danger. They were designed exactly for that purpose. Run fast so you can escape from who ever is trying to hunt you, for example. Run faster and you are now protected from unknown entities, too. Develop and execute a survival strategy if you are more of a strategic thinker then a runner. Use the group if you are more a visionary or a leader. When it comes to either surviving or thriving there are many ways to get there. Any strength we have and any we develop serves us in achieving these goals.

So basically, the more we live from our strengths, the safer we are. That is especially true in our modern life style, when survival have to do with economic or financial well-being and the ability to learn quickly and adjust to change.

As I see it, when it comes to allowing your child to live from his strengths…

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