The Leadership Conveyor Belt

by Mary Ann on May 16, 2010

The Booths

When I work with a family in a coaching setting I look at their physical surroundings and help them find what will work for them as a Closet. Then I teach them how to use their loves, their children’s loves, sparks, and their Master Inspire Plan to fill The Spark Station. I teach them to manage it and keep it functioning long term. Most importantly, I teach them the Five Rules of Engagement. It is how we view our family and education that in the end makes all the difference.

The Felts

On occasion I have to back track because families get stuck. They take everything literally. They get confused and think that The Spark Station is school; that their family learning time is in one room of their home always, that only certain activities constitute school or family learning time. At times I have someone at a workshop or seminar say that they heard so and so say that this toy or that book or a kit or this activity wasn’t good to use with their kids for whatever reason. These parents are experiencing the difficulty of getting off the conveyor belt. They are so used to it that they are still looking for an expert to tell them what, when and where, and that family learning time or school is the same for every family.

They have attended workshops, seminars, read books and talked with other parents and the idea of getting off the conveyor belt really appeals to them. They want off and they want their kids off. But frequently they find themselves creating their own leadership conveyor belt. It is difficult to get off and stay off but it is really important.

The Spark Station and other educational tools won’t bring the kind of result we are seeking if we try to use them in the only way we know how, on a conveyor belt. Every parent has to be an expert on their family. They have to take what they hear and weigh it against the family and then they need to decide what parts to implement and how to do that that, what is right for their family.

The Fackrel’s

Let’s take the topic of kits for example. I have written a whole article about kits. I talk about the pros and cons of them. I show how you can use them to see if a “spark” can become a fire. I show how a kit can be a jumping off  place for parents who need an inspirational nudge. Another teacher may say no to kits, none at all.  How can you square  two differing opinions.

Let’s consider how the conveyor belt model would work in this situation as compared with the leadership model. In the conveyor belt model there would be two ways of thinking about the problem, you either use kits or you don’t. However, in a leadership model you decide what is best for your child. There might be a time when a kit is perfect for the situation. You might have a child that you would never give a kit to. Using kits might work really well as a starting point for one parent and not work at all for another. That is your stewardship and you are well equipped to take it on. That is the inspiration behind the leadership model, each child is unique and their education should be personalized.

As we learn about and come to understand the leadership model of education parents will need to read good books, have enlightened teachers and mentors, attend seminars and workshops. But parents have to be careful to not abdicate their role to mentors and teachers. You are the decision maker for your family. Your work is to take information in, digest it, understand it, and then apply it as it best suits your children and family. You are the ultimate creator of your own family culture. This is also good council when considering the guidelines of creating and using The Spark Station. What is perfect for one family can be “not quite right” for another. So don’t create a conveyor belt in your home based on blindly following what someone else says is right for your family.

The Shumways

Let me end with two wonderful quotes from Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning both found on p. 263.

“YOU have to decide what to do. One of the hardest things about getting off the conveyor belt is becoming your own expert on matters of family concern. One of the basic assumptions of Leadership Education is that you are the expert on your own home and the education of your children.”

“Being a leader means being able to ignore all the concerned voices and “good” choices, and to commit to and follow through on the right one. Getting off the conveyor belt means, that you study the guidelines of Leadership Education and then personalize them to you and your children.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie August 14, 2010 at 12:55 am

This topic completely resonates with me. I am new to leadership education (my oldest is almost 6…we’re all in the Core Phase!), but I feel like so many parents are following a leadership conveyor belt. It’s interesting because I just read your post about how important it is to re-read the leadership classics, but it’s the leadership education conveyor belt I want to avoid that has kept me from re-reading those books. 🙂 It’s like everyone has a Liberty Belles or a Knights of Freedom Mom School…but what about so many other fascinating subjects? What about the things we tend to shy away from…like math and science or foreign languages?

I’ve been working on a closet system for my family. And just tonight, I was just thinking…can’t my home be a Closet? Couldn’t I allow my children access to most things in our home that can enhance their love of learning?

So far, allowing my children the freedom to play and explore with what they want when they want has lead to many educational opportunities and discussions. They often gravitate to the books, activities, and things they are most interested in (for example, right now, they are focusing on “Outer Space” and my 4 year old takes a compass around with him everywhere, he’s been begging me for binoculars…which I can’t find…and we’ve been looking for the planets in the evening).

Anyway, just an off-the-TJed-conveyor-belt thought.

I love your idea about inspiring children to try a new activity by telling a story about how you did something as a child, showing them the “objects” you used, and leaving it in the closet for them to go for it independently.


Mary Ann September 30, 2010 at 3:33 am

This was a great comment. I am going to write an article about your comments. I will let you know when it is up. It will be a couple of weeks. This topic is a good one and will help other parents. Thanks for sharing.


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