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Character Matters
October 1, 2009
Character Trait –Resourcefulness:
Check It Out. – What Does It Matter? – How Does it Count?
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Resourcefulness – Drawing from the Wellspring
Do you want your child to be responsible? Then here's one aspect of responsibility that you may overlook: resourcefulness. Resourcefulness is the ability to deal promptly and effectively with problems or situations. One dictionary describes it as being clever in finding resources.
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The root word literally means to arise anew or to spring up as water. A resource, then, is something that lies ready for use or can be drawn upon for aid. It is a means of accomplishing something. Resources are considered assets.
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In education, we often talk about a child's ability to draw information out of long-term memory to use it in a specific situation. That's how we know a child has truly learned something – that a skill has been mastered – when the child can use it anytime, anywhere.
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At the rate information is mushrooming – like the proverbial nuclear cloud – there is no way anyone can keep all the information contained in long-term memory. That's why it's important to determine what material must be mastered, what material the child should at least be able to do when prompted, and what material the child can be exposed to but does not have to remember. It's also why one of our educational goals in homeschooling should be to teach our children how to learn so they can attempt whatever is necessary throughout life.

Which is why learning to read and developing reading critical thinking skills are so vital. They are important assets in a child's learning abilities.

Resourcefulness can take many forms. We've already touched briefly on the ability to draw out information from memory. One vital area that is often overlooked in this age of video games, TV, and computers is the ability to use our imagination.

Our imagination is a God-given ability to envision something or indirectly experience something. It is a key element in problem-solving and creativity – the ability to think “outside the box.” When young children can sit for hours playing house with dolls or building contraptions with Legos, they are developing their imagination – and ultimately their critical thinking skills. When children listen to a parent reading aloud, they experience the book through their imagination, wondering how the characters look and what it would feel like to be in the story. The lack of imaginative playtime and family reading time has greatly impacted creativity, reading comprehension, and attention spans. Negatively.

As your children develop and mature, you can equip them with a variety of tools that can help them draw upon information and resources. The reading log described in this month's teaching tip is a good example. I have often used my own reading journal to look up where I read a bit of information I am using in an article or to recommend a book when counseling someone. Incidentally, it was a high school teacher who insisted on a reading journal as part of our composition class that led me to develop the habit of keeping a reading log well into my adult life.

Idea books are another source for writers and artists of any kind. My daughter, who is a ballet dancer, has an idea book that includes music she has heard that stirs her, costume ideas, steps and choreography she has thought of, and personal anecdotes that she can use when teaching dance (including spiritual applications).

How a child is resourceful is usually a reflection of his or her learning style. We can often overlook these areas of resourcefulness because they aren't directly related to academics and “schoolwork.” Yet these abilities can be just as important to your child's future success. So if you have a tinkerer who loves to spend time taking things apart and often putting them back together differently, don't despair. If you find your daydreamer adrift, lost in a sea of swirling ideas, don't despair. If your perpetual motion machine seems more intent on exploring the great outdoors in a blur of activity, don't despair.

Instead, think about how you can channel those natural “bents” (as Proverbs 22:6 calls them) into areas of resources for your child.

There is one final area of resourcefulness that has to do with the quote of the month: “Education...has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.” Going back to our original definition of resourcefulness, the ideas discussed so far allow a child to deal promptly with a situation. We must also teach our children how to deal effectively with each situation.

When we take time to teach character, values, and worldview to our children, we are giving them the resources needed to effectively evaluate what is useful and what is worthy of their time and energy. It gives them a foundation, a framework, and a reference point for understanding and applying information successfully. In other words, you are developing in them wisdom.
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