From Mom: I must be a bad parent. Oh well!

This week I watched a video about strength finding. In this video, Marcus Buckingham, the co author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, goes on to discuss how people focus so much on trying to
correct their weaknesses that they very seldom build their strengths. Marcus does a lot of seminars for people who are looking to be more successful in their careers. His message is, to me, geared more towards managers, companies, and individuals in corporations or business, and even college.
In this video, one example he used was when a child gets all A’s on their report card but gets one F in a subject parents tend to focus solely on the F. They start investing all of their time and resources on basically something that the child just doesn’t get. This apparently is not the correct thing to do and the overall message that the class got was, “everyone will not be strong in everything so why waste your time trying to improve something if it’s not one of your strengths?”
…wait, what?
I was sitting there, jaw dropped in total shock and awe. In the video, Marcus talked about how he wasn’t a good at speaking and how his employer had him take classss and do excercises and in the the end he went from completely sucking at public speaking to being really bad at it. I got it. The overall message he was giving in that example was that speaking, at the time, was not his strength. Ok. Makes sense. But the other example still had me miffed.
…Then came the class discussion. Everyone in the class was like, “yeah, my parents made me study math, blah, blah, blah and I STILL didn’t get it! Such a waste of time!” I also heard, “why would you make someone who isn’t good at painting take painting classes?”
…wait, what?
Immediately this starts playing over and over in my mind.
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At this point, I am totally confused. Is this really happening? What world am I in? All I could keep thinking was that these examples he’s giving DO NOT APPLY FOR SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN!!! Of course if you, as AN EMPLOYEE somewhere are not the best at analyzing data, or public speaking, etc. you simply do not apply for jobs in these areas. You build a CAREER on your strength, but most of us only are able to get said career AFTER we have completed some kind of education.
When you are in a school that has a pass/fail grading system, whether you feel like a subject is your strength or not, you still must pass the subject in order to be promoted to the next grade level. We may all feel like algebra is a waste of time, and hate to convert fractions into whole numbers, but guess what? We HAVE to learn how to do it in order to graduate. Period point blank. Unless you have unlimited financial resources, you can’t just pick what you feel like your children should be graded on and taught in school. In public school, you very seldom have that luxury.
I’m the parent that focuses on the bad grade. I’m the parent that invests time and resources into subject matter that my daughter is not the best in. I’m the parent that does drills and worksheets for us to do after school to supplement what she is/isn’t taught . Not only do I do these things because she MUST learn them in order to be successful in our school system, but because I know that the way she is being taught these subjects in school, may not be the way that she can learn them effectively. I do it because everyone learns differently and at different paces. I do it because I don’t want her using a crutch like, “math isn’t my thing” to skate through school and be mediocre. I do it because I don’t want her to be afraid to learn new things just because at first they may seem difficult. I do it because I know she can learn it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many people that have learning disabilities. The brain is a very complex thing. I know that everyone will not grasp everything no matter how much we try to teach and explain it no matter what methods we use. There are also people who don’t get things AT FIRST. They need repetition, examples, charts, reading material, etc. in order to completely understand and apply what they have learned. My daughter happens to be one of those. Many people happen to be like that. I went my entire career in secondary school thinking that I “wasn’t good at math.” That I “just didn’t get it.” It took me to start baking and applying different math concepts for the light bulb to FINALLY go off. 10 years out of high school, and I felt like I had finally gotten it.
Then there are also things in life that you either “have it” or you don’t, like painting, drawing, dancing, singing, etc. But for the most part those are natural abilities that just come to you and they usually cannot be taught. You don’t have to be able to draw to become a doctor. You don’t have to sing a perfect scale to go to college or get a job at a Fortune 500 company. But you do have to know basic math and English.
My daughter gets high scores in reading. She’s is well above her grade level and she thoroughly enjoys reading. She has well over 100 books currently in her library and numerous E-books on her Kindle. Once I realized in kindergarten that she was gifted in reading, I IMMEDIATELY started cultivating that. We ALWAYS read, we frequent our public libraries, we make journals, we discuss books and literature. I started THIS very blog because I wanted to share our journey and resources. I don’t only focus and invest in her so called weakness in math, I also build upon her strengths and motivate her to do better and to more while still making it fun and intriguing for her.
There has to be a balance. I think that we MUST invest our time and resources into our children’s strengths as well as the weaknesses, especially when those weaknesses are the difference between a scholarship or an educational opportunity.
When it comes to our children, especially in their early education, I don’t think it’s a good idea to just basically say “f$&k it, reading isn’t his strength anyway” and only focus on their strengths. If I did that now, with my 7 year old, I could only imagine all of the problems she would have later on down the road.
While I absolutely LOVE the idea of strength finding in the workplace or personal life, I do not think that the concept can be placed in all life scenarios.

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4 thoughts on “From Mom: I must be a bad parent. Oh well!

  1. Alyssia, I couldn’t agree more with you ๐Ÿ˜€ In my opinion, your way of thinking in this respect is the best way to think, and yay for you and Rahni that you put in the effort!

    The thing is, too, is it’s not just about what’s required for college, etc. There are many things that, in ways we can’t always foresee, that come in useful. Even if it’s only our understanding of a subject so we can comprehend things in life and in conversation. We don’t have to, nor should anyone be expected to, excel at everything. That would be ridiculous. But being well-rounded in education helps in being a well-rounded person and enriches our life experience! Go YOU! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Thank you! I was so flabbergasted by the video. I understood it in its context from the stand point as an employee but not one as a student. If I would have taken that mind set about a lot of things in life, I would have never discovered some of my hidden talents.

      • So true! A quick anecdote: when my son was 6 years old, Tee-ball started in town. He did NOT want to be bothered–had NO interest. I’m not one to push certain things, but I didn’t want him to not know if he liked it or not and he couldn’t know unless he tried it. I told him if he didn’t like it, we would simply finish out the season’s commitment and he never had to sign up again. Long story short, he very quickly fell in love with the game. By the time he was 8 he was rattling off statistics and I ultimately became a pretty avid fan for about 15 years. He became a very good player and played through most of high school. Anyway, there are lots of reasons for encouragement with things ๐Ÿ˜€

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