I’ve been reading and preparing to do a review on Leadership Garden Legacy for many weeks now. We mainly studied U.N.I.Q.U.E. KIDS: Growing my Leadership Garden by Debra J. Slover with it’s complementing download Activity Guide and MP3 file but I also received and read the paperback book U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within.
I was excited to begin this curriculum. Becoming leaders, standing up for what they believe, and being strong in their faith and beliefs are all qualities I want in my children. Growing into adults who won’t be pushed around but choose to stand up for what’s right is part of my goal for my children. But the further I got into this book, the more I wasn’t sure this was quite what I’m after. I’m not all about building self-esteem – they get their worth in Christ. It is God who has given them their talents and weaknesses, and their purpose is to glorify Him. So, with that in mind, what is the purpose of “Growing their leadership gardens”?
Should we grow our talents and recognize our weaknesses? Most definitely. If we’re doing it for the right purposes. Those purposes aren’t outlined in this curriculum. We’re pointed toward leadership, but the purposes, beyond “sharing what we have to offer with the world” wasn’t clear. Not being driven by our fears was one of the main points – and I agree, we shouldn’t let our fears rule us – but why? My take would be because fear is a form of worry, and worry is sin.
In the book, the main character, Hugh, is taken from one area of Leadership Farm to the next, meeting animals that have a lesson to teach him. He receives a gift after he finishes his instruction, with this message:
“This collar and bell symbolize your unique power to take the action you need to make the difference you desire. The bell will remind you not to let fear and doubt block your purpose and aim. Then what you have to offer the world will never be lost.” – p. 118
Scripture isn’t mentioned anywhere. While many of their points don’t disagree with Biblical standards, some of them are questionable to me. This book isn’t quite what I expected from what I read on their website. It never mentions any religion or god on the website or in the book, so that part wasn’t necessarily expected, but the book came across as almost humanist. It was hard to understand and every time I was reading it aloud to my children, I kept wondering if I was in agreement with what I read – I couldn’t really tell.
When Hugh tells of a time his mother was under threat of a coyote attack and Hugh ran away scared, Blossom, the cow who was teaching him a portion of his lessons at Leadership Farm, states,
“On the farm, we don’t believe in bad people or bad animals. All people and animals are programmed by nature to survive. Coyotes are predatory animals, and, unfortunately, sheep and cattle are some of the things that they eat. It’s their nature, but it doesn’t make the coyote bad.”
Later in the story, Blossom also says,
“When you decided you were a coward, and chose not to go back to your pasture, that choice made you into a victim. You lost valuable personal power…”
These were lessons I’m not looking to teach my children. I could argue my point, but suffice it to say that, while my children thoroughly enjoyed the story of Hugh and the animals he met, I don’t agree with everything taught in the Growing My Leadership Garden book. It did, however, spark many interesting and beneficial discussions about what we believe and what was good and bad about the lessons presented in the book. In the end, it was a great time of learning and growing as we talked about the characters and how we ought to live and lead in our own lives.
The adult book was also somewhat confusing. It covered some interesting points, but it always walked the line on whether it was simply a self-help book or a book to teach me how my own sin causes problems in my relationships with others. It never names it as sin, but calls bad habits ‘weeds’ in our ‘leadership gardens’.
We used printouts from the downloads available for the kids, and the kids especially enjoyed making color wheels with their strengths and weaknesses. Sterling, (5) Eden, (8) and Liberty (9) were the ones I had do the activities. I had to answer the questions for all of them to fill them out though; they didn’t understand the questions. In the end, the “answers” were pretty spot on for each of them – we had to laugh at how pegged it had each of them and what they struggle with most.
This set of books was disappointing. It had good points and bad, but overall, I’m not planning to go over these materials again. I wish it had been written from a Christian perspective. It had great potential, but in the end, it didn’t come from the point of view that I do as far as our self-worth and our struggles. It did, however, create the opportunity for great discussions in our family.
For high school students and adults, I received:
The Leadership Garden Guidebook ($18.95)
Toolkit bundles are offered at a discount here.
A “Spring Special Discount” of 20% is currently available on all the ‘Empowerment Tools’ for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine community. Enter the discount code: TOS-SS20D at checkout to receive this discount. This code expires on May 31, 2013.