After a hectic day with two recognition programs for our school kids, Rica and Leon, who were both Academic Excellence Awardees (Gold Medalists), two meetings and a birthday dinner for our two-year old daughter, we still managed to wrap the day watching a Tinkerbell movie. It wasn’t our choice but it was what’s available in my brother’s collections that we haven’t watched yet, which turned out to be perfect for the day of recognition and birthday.
The story began with the birth of a new girl fairy. It was Rica who pointed out that fairies are born with every baby's first laugh. This particular fairy found out that she's going to be one of the tinkers, the fairies who make and fix things. She was then named Tinkerbell.
Watch how she found out she's a tinker and see her disinterest in her own talent right from the start (go to 04:50 in the video below).
She later longed to visit the mainland but learned that only nature-talent fairies are allowed to do so. Though she was good in doing the task assigned to her, employing her talent, she was never contented; she wanted to be something she was not meant to be. She tried her hand at nature skills but miserably failed in all of them. In fact, Tinkerbell destroyed all the preparations for spring in the pursuit of her misguided dream. When she realized the importance of her role as a tinker through her conversation with Terrence, the light-keeper, she decided to fix all the damages she made in no time such that spring can push through as scheduled. She invented machines that speed up the process of decorating flowers, lady beetles, etc., and summoned the rest to help her out. Spring pushed through, Tinkerbell redeemed herself and was even allowed by Queen Clarion to visit the mainland. An adversity that turned into an opportunity.
The movie taught us many lessons but I will discuss two that I recommend to parents to seriously ponder upon: (1) how to discover and appreciate one's own talent, and (2) the importance of working in synergy. Let us guide our children in discovering their own talent and appreciate it rather than they wanting to become somebody else because they don’t see the value of their own talent and potential contribution. Feeling secured about their role in a group, a family, a community, or an institution will allow them to work in harmony with the rest toward the attainment of a common goal.
Your talent is in action when you produce a great deal of output with less effort on your part but with so much happiness in your heart. When enhanced with the necessary skills and combined with knowledge, talent becomes strength.
(2) Synergy means 1 + 1 = 16. This is not poor mathematics but an illustration of the catalytic, unifying and empowering impact of creative cooperation exhibited by the fairies who worked together to save spring. When Tinkerbell learned to value differences, respect them and focus on her strength, she was able to prove her worth and opened new possibilities. She was able to work in synergy with the other fairies and they were able to accomplish a mission next to impossible. Appreciating the value of each and every individual’s contribution empowers everybody to deliver more than what is expected of them…that includes appreciating your own value.
Let us inculcate in the minds of our children the value of knowing and believing in thyself, the beauty of each person's uniqueness, and respect for these differences. Believe in the miracle of synergy wherein the whole becomes more than just the sum of its parts.
These lessons from the movie have the same essence in the response I made to my son’s query: “Mom, I am happy that I got a gold medal, but is Recognition Day important?”
Coming from Abba's Orchard School, a pure Montessori school since his Junior Casa days where pupils are not given numerical grades and are not ranked, today is his first Recognition Day ever and his second gold medal. The first one was when he won first place in a Spelling Bee. In that school they were taught to compete only with oneself so they continue to strive for excellence, and at the same time they are encouraged to cooperate with others. Because they continued to live this Maria Montessori value, I was not surprised that even as transferees, they were able to adjust well and excel academically.
This was my response; “Yes Leon, in this school they are recognizing pupils with scholastic achievement, with consistent good manners, as well as those who excelled in Quiz Bees and Sports Competitions. This motivates children to perform well in those areas. But more than medals, plaques and trophies, we want you to strive to be THE BEST THAT YOU CAN BE and NOT focus on trying to outdo others (i.e. comparing and competing with others). We do this by focusing on your talents and making them your strengths. You contribute more to the family and to society when you do more of the things that you do best, respecting what others do best but not to the point of wanting to be exactly like them.”
Note: One of Leon’s key talents is being a learner so we provide him the resources and opportunities for learning. He is also a science enthusiast and we support the experiments he wants to perform to test his ideas. He also has naturalistic intelligence so we let him explore his surroundings even if it means more insect bites. His interpersonal intelligence allows him to share his ideas to his playmates and every new person he meets. We know that he can never be an athlete so we don’t force the issue on him. He takes swimming lessons and plays ball games for skills development but we know that athletics will never be his strength and this didn’t diminish our love for him, not even a notch.