A Contrast in Attitudes

Through circumstances that can only be considered coincidence, I’ve found myself reading a lot about the educational situation in Pakistan lately.  OK, I’ve read two books related to the topic, which isn’t a lot, but enough to get me thinking – especially since I never really set out to learn about it in the first place.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the TalibanFirst I read I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, because I was curious about the 17-year-old girl who became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  Talk about remarkable teenagers, right??  Now I’m reading Three Cups of Tea by David Oliver Relin.  My mom gave me the book because she liked it, but it ended up in storage before I got a chance to read it.  After unpacking our book boxes, I’m finally able to catch up on things like this.  Relin tells the story of Greg Mortenson, an adventurous mountain climber who accidentally stumbled on the needs of the children in the remote Pakistani villages.  Through sheer dedication and determination, he has gone on to build several schools in Pakistan.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time Keep reading!

Advertisements

They Grow Up So Fast! …or do they?

Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old

My new read! (Image credit: bn.com)

I’ve been reading again, this time following the suggestion of one of my blog readers.  She mentioned a book entitled Escaping the Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen, and I couldn’t ignore the similarities of the title to my blog name.  Obviously, I had to read it.  I checked out a copy from my digital library account, and I’m about halfway through it now.  I reached the transition point in the book, so I decided it’s a good time to stop and write a blog post about it.

You see, the first half of the book lays out the problem, the idea of the “Endless Adolescence,” and the second half will present the potential solutions.  Written by clinical psychologists who specialize in working with adolescents, this book’s target audience are the adults who work with teens (parents, teachers, etc.), but it emphatically takes the side of the teenager.   Continue reading

StrengthsFinder Closing Thoughts

Cover of "StrengthsFinder 2.0"

On Sept. 12th I wrote my first post on the book StrengthsFinder 2.0, and something must have resonated with my readers, because that post was worked its way into my top five most “liked” posts.  I hope it’s because my readers agree – the education field needs to focus on teen strengths, not just teen weaknesses.  We’re not doing young people many favors by zeroing in on where they struggle and not helping them discover how they can succeed.  On Sept. 19th I elaborated on the importance of teenage talents, and my readers responded well to that post as well.  Finally, on Sept. 28th, I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment online and began the process of analyzing the results.  It took me three months to really sift through all that information and apply it to my life and my career.  However, now that I’ve explored my top five strength themes (Maximizer, Input, Belief, Harmony, and Woo), the question stands:

Was the assessment worth it?  Did I learn anything new?  Will this knowledge change my career path?   Continue reading

StrengthsFinder Theme #5: Woo

Ok, dear readers, here is my commentary on my final StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment theme.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to write this one.  Maybe it’s because I wanted to write about other things.  Maybe it’s because life got so busy with subbing and then moving.  Or maybe it’s because I took so long to figure out how it fits in my life.

“Woo.”

People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over.  They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

The book describes people who are great at parties, who love meeting new people and making great first impressions.  I had to mull this one over for a while, because this isn’t true in my social life.  My social life draws more on my Input Strengths.  I prefer deep conversations with a few close friends over mixing and mingling in a big party, where conversations stay at the small-talk level.  In those situations, I tend to hang back a little and let others be the life of the party.   Continue reading

StrengthsFinder Theme #4: Harmony

People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

This is probably the theme that surprised me the most when it first came up in my StrengthsFinder Assessment results.  I don’t go looking for conflict, but I don’t shy away from it, either.  I stand up for myself, and I will confront others when I have to.  I do try to keep confrontation calm and focused on practical things, though.  I’d rather see results than win, if that makes sense.  So in that regard, I do prefer harmony.  Harmony is more practical and gets better results, so when I disagree with a boss or a coworker – or even when an argument breaks out in my classroom – I look for common ground, for the areas where people agree, and then build my case from there.  Taking a look at my Personalized Strengths Insights from the Gallup Report, it makes more sense.

Because of your strengths, you feel content when you are surrounded by practical, credible, or experienced specialists. Often they help you find the right answers to your questions or the correct solutions for your problems. They repeatedly offer reassurances that you will not upset people.

I can easily gauge my happiness in a certain job by the practicality, credibility, and experience of my bosses and coworkers.   Continue reading

StrengthsFinder Theme #3: Belief

People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging.  Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

This one was a little surprising only because it’s so inherent to me that I have to remind myself that not everyone thinks this way.  I mean, I know some people don’t think this way, but I never really thought of it as one of my “strengths.”  I was raised with strong values, so I have strong values. It’s natural, right?  Well, maybe, but I suppose that doesn’t stop it from being one of my strengths.  Because these descriptions do ring very true.  Here’s a few phrases from the book that jumped out at me (emphasis added):

“…ordinarily your Belief theme causes you to be family-oriented, altruistic, even spiritual, and to value responsibility and high ethics — both in yourself and others.” … Check.

“[These values] give your life meaning and satisfaction; in your view, success is more than money and prestige.” … Check.   Continue reading

StrengthsFinder Theme #2: Input

People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

Hmm… Collect and archive information, huh?  Kind of like someone might do in a blog?  🙂

I’m not going to post anything from the more generic description in the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, because nothing there really jumped out at me.  However, the Personalized Strengths Insights strike me as pretty darn accurate to my interests, so I’m going to take that part piece by piece and comment on how this particular strength theme comes through in my life.  So here goes…

Driven by your talents, you yearn to increase your knowledge by being kept in the information loop. This explains why you gravitate to people who converse about ideas at a deeper and more thoughtful level than most individuals are capable of doing. “Making small talk” — that is, engaging in idle conversation — probably seems like a waste of time to you.

OK, I don’t hate small talk – Continue reading

StrengthsFinder Theme #1: Maximizer

Devon Woodcomb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone should be Captain Awesome

Maximizer:  People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

I love this one.  Ever since I heard Marcus Buckingham speak on strengths, I’ve been fascinated by the topic.  I’ve shifted my whole career focus based on this idea of strengths – both on a better understanding of my own strengths, and an intrinsic desire to help my students find their strengths.  Here is the general explanation of a Maximizer from StrengthsFinder 2.0.

Excellence, not average, is your measure.  Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding.  Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Continue reading

My Strengths and My Quest

Ok, this whole journey is a crazy ride.  I just completed the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment, which is the basis of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book.  I have a lot to say about the assessment itself, and I will get to that in a bit, but it wasn’t until I was browsing around the Gallup website later in the evening that I finally stumbled on what I wanted to find back when I started this idea and this blog.

I want to do this:  Certificate in Strengths-Based Education

But since that’s really expensive, I’d settle for one of these: Strengths Learning Intensive

(Those bolded words are links.  You can click on them)

Obviously there are a number of reasons I can’t do either right now (finances, time, the fact that the certificate program already started, etc.), but someday… This is what I’ve been talking about.  It looks like the StrengthsQuest curriculum is mostly (if not entirely) used at colleges and universities, but the information would still be invaluable for bringing strengths-based education to high schools.  I just don’t get why it took me so long to find this!  If I ever end up in the same area as one of those conferences, I’m going. Continue reading

Why We Need to Explore Teenage Talents

As I keep reading StrengthsFinder 2.0 and work through the assessment, I find myself once again pondering the ideas of Emerging Adulthood and identity explorations in teens.  I went back and reread Jeffrey Jensen Arnett’s chapter on “The Road Through College,” and I think this is where I have my biggest problem with the whole concept of emerging adulthood as a good thing.  Here’s how Arnett describes the American system of higher education.

“College in the United States is for finding out what you want to do.  Typically at four-year colleges, you have two years before you have to make a definite decision and declare a major.  During those two years you can try out a variety of different possibilities by taking classes in areas you think you might want to major in.  And even after you declare a major, you can always change your mind — and many emerging adults do.

“Their college meanderings are part of their identity explorations.  In taking various classes and trying various potential college majors, they are trying to answer the question ‘What kind of job would really fit me best, given my abilities and interests?'” (118).

See, I have a problem with that.   Continue reading