Your Child’s Strengths

Forget paradigm shift or realigning or any other fancy terminology for the setting up of something that makes so much sense and requires sweeping implementation. This is just something that makes so much sense and requires sweeping implementation.

Your Child’s Strengths is a book by Jenifer Fox about a Strengths Movement that is about to [and is in the throes of] taking on the education system. And the Parent Bloggers Network let me have a read.

The first half of the book – sections I and II – sets up the problem and offers a solution before section III actually gives you the solution. What the hell?? This book gives you a workbook to go through for yourself, your child, your students. It’s not selling you more stuff, it is the stuff.

But, I get ahead of myself.

The problem – and you can start nodding in recognition now – is that schools like to point out where you suck. The whole point is to improve and so you have to search out what it is about you that requires improvement. Failing Math? Focus on it. Butchering French? Run some more verb sheets.

What if you knew what it was about English class or Drama or Phys Ed that you liked? That let you just get it. That there was a strength – a true thing about you, in you – that could be applied to others areas, say, like that Math? What if people were able to help you figure that out? What a different world school would be. And could be. Forget school. You could gravitate toward compatible careers: what a different world work would be. Dare I get melodramatic? What a different world the world would be!

Okay, but there’s a catch. There’s work involved. Remember the workbook part? Yep, it’s intense. But, in that good, self-discovery, epiphany kind of way. The kind of way that leads to procrastination because instead of actually writing a review, you’re cheating and sneaking ahead in the workbook to have a peek at all the bits instead of doing the exercises in order.

[cough] Hypothetically, of course.

I liked:

  • the anecdotes: easily recognizable good and bad moments in childhood. Some of the author’s own and some from her interactions with her students, and all easily helping to explain her points.
  • the flow and style. Even outside of the stories, the thoughts are accessible and clear and Jenifer had put her case for the Strengths Movement forward very effectively.
  • the workbook. The Workbook. And, did I mention The Workbook???

I disliked:

  • I am left a little overwhelmed and vaguely terrified. I can tell you right now that I have little idea what my own strengths are and I am to help the Magpie find hers [albeit not for a few years…]?? And the school system, as it stands now, does not have this strengths notion as part of its culture? And … gah!
  • Let me try that again: this appears to be presented to the parenting public and the teacher who may be reading this on their own, outside of official professional development. That leaves me with a very grass-roots kind of feeling about this. Now that, of course, may not be the case and, indeed, mention is made of bigger schemes and the involvement of larger bodies, but I can’t help but feel like I should be preparing for battle with the Big Bad Whomever to force a paradigm shift within The System, even before my paradigm has completely shifted.

The verdict:

  • I am so doing this workbook. I going to suggest that Mr.Q, in what’s left of his spare time, have a read and think about doing the workbook too. And, when the Magpie is old enough, I’ll be asking her preferences and getting her to think about the whys and why nots and why buts. And maybe by the time she hits the school systems, I’ll be able to help shift things along into a Strengths Movement.

One response to “Your Child’s Strengths

  1. Watch out for paradigm shifts. I was active in a education reform group for several years. We were trying to accomplish a paradigim shift, even called it that…couldn’t get the teachers to shift, couldn’t get the htinking of the Board to shift, couldn’t get the administrative lel to even consider the shift. After years to research, writing, presenting, cajoling, there was a Board election, the reform group was disbanded, the Superintendant wasforced out and htings went on as if we had never existed. The downside? What we were trying to achieve was good for the students. Even after retirement it still makes me sad.

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