With the reality seriously challenging standard models of professional life modern educators become more aware how important it is to facilitate students’ entrepreneurial skills. It is becoming obvious that for our children to succeed in the future we need to provide them now with the tools that will help them confidently manoeuvre in the reality where knowing their strengths and playing to them is one of the most important assets. Nowadays, top enterprises focus on Strengths-based Models to become more successful, more productive, and more competitive on the market. What does this mean for educators?
The main principle of the Strengths-based Model is to look for the right in things and people rather than focusing on the lack and their faults. This from the very beginning offers a very welcoming and fresh perspective which stimulates individuals’ self-confidence, encourages them to explore or at least discover their talents. The assumption is that each person has talents and skills which when used will make them more productive, effective and creative as they are operating within their specialty. Last but not the least, these individuals do what they like most and what they are passionate about, what excites them and what brings them joy. This obviously makes their work easy, nice and self-fulfilling. The latter is especially important as it helps to associate work with something pleasant, which in turn makes the person even more productive.
The whole movement is essentially success-oriented. In other words, if you are good at something, why waste time doing anything else in which you will most likely not succeed anyway? So it is about getting your strengths together and making the best use of them. This way one’s weaknesses become irrelevant.
The employers who are aware of the benefits of the Strengths-based Model look to organise the workplace accordingly, delegate tasks to the right people, and team their employees according to their talents so that a specific task can be completed by those who really are and feel good about it and, respectively, possess relevant skills to complete it. Their recruitment process is usually designed in a way that facilitates the selection of those candidates who already feel strong about their assets and are aware of their talents. These are the people who have been offered upbringing and education focused around the positives and the unique aspects of their individuality. The best example are the children who are brought up in the “can-do” spirit, supported by the Enabling Environments approach that allows them to explore their talents, skills and passions freely. Such upbringing ideally would start as early as in Foundation Years to build a solid base for the future, and it would be continued consistently throughout the entire school education.
An Excellent Counterpart
An excellent counterpart to the Strengths-based Model in education is the Positive Pedagogy approach which, when applied correctly by educators and parents, fosters the development of the above mentioned qualities in children. It has been widely practiced by many modern educational systems in such countries as the United Kingdom, the Scandinavian countries, the United States or Canada. Its presence at Early Years provisions and schools seems to be even more justified now as it not only supports children’s well-being and overall development, but it also prepares them for their future professional life no matter wether they decide to become entrepreneurs or seek employment.
As educators we need to remember that although any time is good to begin supporting our students’ natural talents and developing their positive attitudes, the best results are always achieved by offering our support as early as possible. If we are attracted to the Strengths-based Model and understand its benefits, we probably should be aware that the expected outcomes valued in this model will be just by-products of the effective application of the Positive Pedagogy and Enabling Environments approaches at any level of our students’ education. This means that our students will have already developed their awareness of their own talents and skills together with self-confidence should they have been offered effective support during their Foundation Years and later on up until their teenage years.
Here are few tips
Here are few tips how to support our students on every day basis using the principles of Positive Pedagogy and the Strengths-based Model:
Praise for efforts – no matter what the result are, praise your students for trying. This way you are sending a clear message that it is always good to try, that it is natural to make mistakes, and that the process (of trying) matters more than the final result. The students who try will be more likely to discover their real strengths and later choose the domains they feel most confident about.
Allow free exploration and experiments – provide plenty opportunities for unrestricted exploration as this will stimulate your students’ creativity, encourage them to look for solutions, and let them discover their talents. Students become more self-confident to try new ideas and explore new domains when they are allowed to experiment. Such experiments should predominantly be process-oriented with a gentle guidance towards desirable results if necessary.
Delegate tasks based of strengths – your students will more likely succeed when you offer them meaningful tasks related to their talents, skills and interests. They will be much more willing to devote time, energy and effort knowing that the task is exciting and seems relatively easy to complete. This should also help to eliminate negative competition, comparing and labelling within the group as everyone will feel successful.
Support safe risk-taking – taking reasonable risks is only possible when children feel secure about themselves and their skills. Once they do so they are more likely to try new challenges, which will often help them stretch their skills and master their talents. Eventually they will become more confident and aware of their talents.
Positive Pedagogy and the Strengths-based Model
Positive Pedagogy and the Strengths-based Model seem to be the most effective and maybe even the ultimate approaches to supporting students in becoming self-aware and self-confident individuals who know what assets they possess and how to use them appropriately. They also seem to directly influence students’ life experience as they essentially focus on noticing the good, the right, the positive, the pleasant and joyful. Those equipped with such qualities will be more able to create fulfilling and happy lives for themselves as knowing their talents and skills can help them experience pleasure in both private and professional life.
To conclude, not only do these two approaches support modern economy with more enterprises interested in applying them, but they also benefit individuals as they help them create more fulfilling lives for themselves.
Vito Matt (MA Edu) – Curriculum Developer and Instructional Designer
Strengths Based Education
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