"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Are you going?

Folks, the Minnesota Catholic Home Educator's Conference is coming right up.  We are just a month away!  And, if you blog, consider checking this out.  It's posted by the sweetest blogger in the state.  And, I will be there, too.  I hope that doesn't keep you from attending :-).

For what it is worth, I will be hosting the next session on homeschooling children with special needs right after the Blogger's Chat. 

On Saturday, I will be speaking about Beginning Homeschooling at 11am and making learning fun by using some very easy game ideas at 3pm.  You can get more details here, if you like.  I hope you can make it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

St. Lawrence
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My eldest son was confirmed this month. I am so proud of him. I am especially proud of his persistence in the face of difficulty and choice of confirmation sponsors.

One of this kid's strengths is Individualization. Here's a description from the Clifton Strenghtfinders 34 Signature Themes:

Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or “types” because you don’t want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals. You instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-akind stories in each person’s life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person’s need to be shown and another’s desire to “figure it out as I go.” Because you are such a keen observer of other people’s strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search around for the perfect team “structure” or “process,” you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.

So, I made lots of suggestions about who would make a good sponsor.  He decided last year.  I suggested others.  He stuck to his guns.  He was right.  The man, the great man he chose is and was the Religious Emblem Chair of my son's BSA troop.  My son is the chaplain's aid.  Last year, my son and one other boy worked under the direction of this man on the Ad Altare Dei Catholic Religious award.  Consider the award confirmation preparation.  They met weekly for months going through the program.  The other boy often did not attend due to conflicts, so during meetings when working on this award, my son got to know this man well, and vice versa.  They found out they both had a mutual LOVE of history and the Catholic faith.

This humble man was honored when my son asked him to be his sponsor.  He attended the Sending Forth Mass and Dinner with our family, attended the Confirmation Mass (all two hours of it) and came to my son's party two weeks later.  He wasn't missing anything. 

Now, I know this man is wonderful for many reasons, but here's what brought me to tears.  He wrote a long letter to my son and gave him a gift that was so very personal and beautiful.  He had to know my son to truly understand how powerful his gift was.  My son granted me permission to reprint part of the letter here:
What's an appropriate, fitting confirmation present?  What might continue to mean something as the years roll by?  I'm sure it's been a question relatives and family friends have pondered for generations long passed.  I thought of these old Roman coins for you, one from the time of St. Lawrence and one from just a little later.  What would someone have received back during St. Lawrence's time or when his recent martyrdom was so actively bringing people to the church?  There were, of course, no Bibles back then, and most people were illiterate anyway.  In those times of persecution, you couldn't go buy a cross or an icon of your patron saint.  Plus, nearly all these new converts would have been considered very poor by our modern standards.  So their family and friends couldn't have given them much more than love and prayers - no gold, no valuable religious texts, no fine new clothes - but they might have given them a few small coins.  Maybe even these...
 The rest is all very personal to my son, but I was touched at how thoughtful this gift was and wanted to share it with you.  So, if you didn't catch it from the description, his gift to my son was two Roman coins: one minted around 222 AD and another minted around 313 AD. 

So, besides receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, my son received a gift of a life long friend to lean on in his walk as a Catholic.  He is so very blessed.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Know Thyself

Plato wrote that Socrates says people make themselves appear ridiculous when they are trying to know obscure things before they know themselves.  I feel very strongly that teens that "Know Themselves"  have a better chance of success in life.  We do a lot of "know thyself" tests around here.

One of the most important tests I had the kids do was: Strengths Quest - Strengths Based Test for Teens.  As many of my readers know, I love the Strengths Based Tests.  So do my kids.  It was fun to see similarities and differences between my two teens, my husband and me.  I think discovering this information has helped us all to be a little more tolerant and understanding, too.

For example, my teen son's highest strength is:  Positivity.  Now, anyone that knows my son would see that.  But combine that with Individualization, Woo, Communication and Activator, you have someone that can get people to get things done.  He's a ring leader in the most positive sense.  He has a future in Sales or Recruiting or Teaching.  And since he can read people well, he is very good at finding the right gift or book for someone.  He's my go-to guy for buying presents in the family.

My daughter, on the other hand, scored highest in Input, like her trivia-loving dad.  She has to research, collect and research some more.  No surprise here, but learning that she also has Maximizer, Intellection, Harmony and Responsibility, means she has a combination that means she's reliable, thorough and fair.  If we want to know the "right" thing to do in a situation, we ask her.  Unfortunately, those traits can set her up to not want to decide on things because she never has enough information (input), wants to give the RIGHT answer (Harmony and Responsibility) and the BEST answer (Maximizer and Intellection).  She's truly the fairest in the land, or at least at our house (and I mean that both ways).

I also spent the money to have them do the Strong Interest Inventory.  High school is a time to consider your strengths and interests to know what vocation you might pursue.  The results here, too, were extremely interesting because they took into consideration my children's interests in combination with their strengths. 

As we do high school, I want my kids to know themselves better than I knew myself at that age.  I had an abysmal high school counselor who just wanted girls to go to college.  However, no one ever took into consideration any of my strengths when counseling me.  I had good grades in Math, Science and English.  So, I was directed to go the Math/Science route.  Surprise, surprise, my highest scores on my SATs were English (or whatever they called it wayyyy back then.)  So, I enrolled in a predominantly male high technology program because I was assured that I would be guaranteed a job because I was a woman (no one ever spoke of my abilities).  And, then, I made sure that I did my best, got scholarships and good grades.  I don't regret what I did.  However, the program really didn't fit my strengths. 

Have you ever heard the adage "Do what you love and the money will follow?"  Once I changed direction in my career to better match my strengths, I did very well and looked forward to going to work EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  That was not the case on my first chosen career path (Laser Engineering) but it was the case before I left the work world to stay at home with my children (Curriculum Development, Subject Matter Expert, Training Development and Delivery). 

So, given my kids don't have a high school counselor, not that mine really helped me, I wanted to give them things to think about and information about vocations that matched their strengths and interests.  I do not receive any kick back for this, but you can purchase the Strong Interest Inventory (now called iStartStrong) at www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org for half price.  It's a good place to start and if you have a child that is unsure of their future interests, this might be a place to start.
The Homeschool Buyer Co-op is a free homeschooling organization for both new and veteran homeschoolers. Co-op membership is free and confidential, and entitles homeschooling families to GroupBuy discounts on high-quality curriculum. On the site you'll find lots of free information, such as databases of free curriculum, field trips, and educational contests and scholarships. Highly recommended. Click here for more information.