The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
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Professor John McKnight:
Community Building

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Recognizing Gifts

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And it's the recognition of gifts that is very, very important. So many people say, Oh, I don't have any or they have self-doubt. So your willingness not just to suggest and focus on gifts but to name other people's gifts. That's why I asked if you know somebody else, if you know another person, tell them what you think their gifts are, because usually they'll hear for the first time something about themselves they didn't know. Didn't understand. This is so important for children.

So the naming of the children's gifts and the nurturing of them is the most powerful thing that ever happens in anybody's life. Now schools, mainly, for the majority of kids, teach them what they're bad at. That's called a D, a C, a B. Only very few are recognized—and they're not recognized for their gift they're recognized for doing what the teacher wants them to do. That was a bad, be a gift.

So communities that are organizing these days are creating, I think, villages that raise a child. What is a village like that raises a child? And at its heart, it's a place that sees that the essential question is not what are you not good at so we can fix you up but what are you good at that we can help nourish and grow. So if we don't have communities, that are gift oriented, especially with young people, then all they're getting is the experience in losing and the grading system. Do you understand? I don't want to be too hard on schools, but where, where is the power of the gift organized, in community is one of the central questions we're pursuing here. And what could you do...?

To begin I've often thought if they ever made me principal of a school, which will never happen, I would say to the teachers at elementary school lets say at start, Each child in your classroom at the beginning of the year, you're going to spend a day with that child and figure out what you think is their greatest gift, what they think is their greatest gift. And what is their greatest passion? And your job as a teacher is to name it and nourish it.

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