As I sit down to write this blog post my fingers are still tingling from the huge amount of chillies I was de-seeding yesterday. My husband now has two home-made poly tunnels on his allotment and last weekend we finally harvested the chilli and pepper plants – I felt the need to make the most of this produce before it ended up on the compost heap.
My own childhood memories are filled with my marvellous mum using up every scrap of meat from a roast, pickling and preserving, creating her “specials” from stale cake and custard, darning socks, turning old shirts into dusters and even unravelling old jumpers for new knitting projects. It was probably her wartime childhood which influenced her heavily with a “waste not want not” and a “make do and mend” attitude. Nothing was ever thrown away – there were drawers in our kitchen filled with brown wrapping paper, bags and various lengths of string!
So what’s all this got to do with learning you may ask?
Well, we should be encouraging young people in schools, in their communities and at home to think about their own strengths and how they can make the most of them. Certainly at UFA we aim to discuss character and personal strengths in our programmes and help young people understand how they can use them to face new challenges.
Schools and organisations should also be making it their priority to find out what their young people and staff are interested in, what they are passionate about and “what makes them tick” so that they can flourish and feel valued. Making personal connections and drawing personal relevance to learning is surely the key to keeping people engaged.
I am lucky enough to have been born with musical aptitude. This was encouraged in my childhood, but I never felt pushed. I was allowed to pursue music as much as I wanted to and it has gone on to be a really important part of my life. I am happy when I am involved in it, challenged and stretched but ultimately it is something I can’t live without. Imagine someone who has aptitude for sport or art or science which is never allowed to come to the surface? Schools have an extremely important task to nurture individual strengths and create many different opportunities for all their young people.
But it’s also about how we deal with what life throws at you. When things go wrong or you fail, it’s about how resilient you are to that, about having a Growth Mindset and seeing these events as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Our blog recently about feedback is relevant here.
Take those chillies, don’t throw them away but make chilli jam!