One of my favorite parts about being a member of The Old Schoolhouse Crew is the ability to try out new things that might not have ever heard of. Leadership Garden Legacy is just such a company. They shared a package of leadership-growing material to be used with the whole family.
The package is built around the book U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing the Leader Within. This book is told in fable format to help readers grasp the concept of life as a garden and to equip them with tools to cultivate that garden to be healthy, with strong leadership qualities. The book contains 8 chapters and each chapter ends with a project assignment to help reinforce the lessons. These generally include paper, pencil, and some introspection.
e U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids is a book for younger children, using a tale about a sheep named Hugh to illustrate the way we develop the qualities of leadership in our lives. It also shows how we sometimes tend to nurture undesirable traits that can choke out our leadership. It is the same tale shared in the original book, but it is reworked a bit to be suitable for 8-12 year olds and has colorful illustrations. Each chapter contains questions to get kids thinking. These were interesting conversation starters. An MP3 version of the book is also available for download.
The U.N.I.Q.U.E. acronym stands for
U - Understanding
N - Nurturing
I - Inventive
Q - Quality
U - Unstoppable
E - Expression
There are also 6 principles taught in the U.N.I.Q.U.E. books:
Do not enable
All of these aspects are introduced through a tour around the farm, step-by-step, through metaphor. She likens judgment, gossip, and blame to manure in our life. "It has odors that perpetuate victimization and we need to recycle such behaviors globally and fertilize something new."
The Guidebook contains activities to help readers learn how to apply the lessons learned in a personal way. There are many prompts for writing and discussion. It is more geared to adults and requires some introspection.
For children, in lieu of the Guidebook, it also came with downloadable Activity Guide and Journal to accompany the text. The Activity Guide contains 79 pages, which include questions and prompts and suggestions for activities. These include using cookies to explore the 5 senses, role-playing with a teams, applying for a cultivation grant, a word search, and more. The journal contains a quote from each chapter and then plenty of room for writing out your thoughts or to take note of what you learned. There are also prompts, charts, and lists. Many of the writing activities are also included in the Activity Guide.
Unfortunately, I was not ultimately comfortable going through the entire program with my kids. There are a lot of great truths to be found in the books and they really back up the Bible verse that tells us that we reap what we sow. However, God doesn't really get the credit in some key areas and the wording made me uncomfortable. For example, it says, "...your Balance Wheel helps you find the inner power, courage, and strength to be flexible and to balance the rigid thoughts and behavior [sic] that don't grow your leader." The Balance Wheel it refers to is a chart that shows your personal balance of the Internal Zones of Expansion, which are four behaviours discussed in the book: Visualize, Organize, Harmonize, and Energize. While informative and helpful, the wording doesn't really direct us to God as our source of power, courage, or strength. The Bible verse that tells us that He is strong where we are weak is not backed up in the book.
In all honesty, I sometimes found the wording downright creepy. It's a shame, because as I said, there are a lot of great truths in these books, but I felt I needed to be on guard while reading them. Words like "spirit blockers" were used when describing something very real: behaviour tendencies that encumber us. It is very true, and true according to scripture, that what we sow we will reap. So if we sow seeds of fear, we will be reaping them. But the terminology was over the top in several areas and my kids are too young to discern where the truth ended and self-dependency/self-serving began. The kids' book did replace "spirit blocker" with "leader blocker", but it still carries over strangely. For example: "When you let leader blockers and other weeds get in your way, you lose the opportunity to grow and thrive, limiting what you see, where you step and the path you take in life."
If someone had a painful past that they were trying to overcome and if that someone was not concerned with finding their strength in Christ alone, this could be a helpful book. I still plan to use the Guidebook for discussion starters with the kids, as well as some of the gardening metaphors, but I was ultimately not comfortable letting the kids have access to the book itself.
A “Spring Special Discount” of 20% off the ‘Empowerment Tools’ is available for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine community. Enter the discount code: TOS-SS20D at checkout to receive this discount. The code expires on May 31, 2013.