Friday, April 12, 2013

Leadership Garden Legacy- TOS Review


Leadership Garden Legacy
Debra Slover has created a truly U.N.I.Q.U.E. product to teach leadership skills to children ages 8 -12. We reviewed these products:

Physical books we received
The Leadership Garden Guidebook $18.95

Downloadable Resources we received:
U.N.I.Q.U.E. KIDS Activity Guide and My Leadership Garden Journal $8.95
U.N.I.Q.U.E KIDS Audio Book MP3 $8.95
U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing My Leader Within Audio Book MP3 $14.95

The “U.N.I.Q.U.E. acronym stands for the following:
Understanding: balancing and blending your four leader behaviors
Nurturing: using leader-friendly gardening practices
Inventive: invent a unique purpose and aim
Quality: use the leadership attributes necessary to thrive
Unstoppable: move through the circle of commitment and remove any barriers to your purpose and aim
Expression: practice the art of communication with a unique purpose and aim”

These concepts are taught through a unique blend of reading, listening, responding to questions, working through projects and discussing the material. The adult companion book is written in an auto-biographical style, with the analogy from Growing My Leadership Garden woven throughout. In addition the MP3 downloads allow you to listen to the books if you prefer, have pre-readers, or are on the go. And the activity guide is just that; guided activities to underscore the learning that will take place from reading the books.

The Leadership Garden is structured to teach these 6 "leader-friendly" values:
Be non-judgemental
Do not enable
Use empathy
Prune gossip
Eliminate blame
Eradicate victimization.

This is a beautifully crafted program. Each product is of the highest quality. The children's book is lovely, and the color illustrations outstanding. The audio is very pleasant to listen to. As a gardener and leadership/ values reading junkie, I was thrilled to get started with this program.

The heart of the book is the U.N.I.Q.U.E. Children's book, Growing My Leadership Garden. The story is an analogy. In the first chapter we meet the main character, Hugh, a sheep, who deals with a set of challenges, which are dealt with on "Leadership Farm" by learning leadership skills. As we read, however, I became confused. The analogy is quite complicated- so much so that I was often lost in it. I'd have to go back and re-orient myself as I read (I read a lot and this is unusual for me). Secondly, the author introduces new concepts and terms at a very fast rate, with little to no review of the information in the text. Because the vocabulary was unfamiliar to me, as well as my kids, I found myself further confused.

Thirdly, I found the use of the animal metaphor particularly concerning for the targeted age group (8-12 year olds, who are still in the concrete operations stage). Most kids in elementary school understand predators- they learn about them in science. But in this story, a predator (wolves) attack a Momma sheep, but may or may not kill it. This just didn't ring true to me or my kids. Furthermore, my 10 and 13 year old were horrified that the main character's Momma was probably (logically) killed in the first chapter. This event really colored (negatively) their enthusiasm for using the program.
Leadership Garden Guidebook photo leadership-adultleadership-guidebook_zpsf2bbaaad.jpg
I would have liked to better understand the leadership model that the author was using.  I felt confused about the values that were chosen to teach kids leadership. For instance, I'm not sure why non-judgementalism is more important than personal integrity or honesty. It's not that the author didn't have a good reason for targeting the issues that she did, I just wasn't sure what they were.

Using the guide book is essential to understanding the book and getting the most out of the program. With it, the story begins to make  more sense. The kids and I discussed the chapters and the leadership qualities being taught as we read.

The U.N.I.Q.U.E. Growing the Leader Within adult book is a the author's autobiography interwoven with the leadership garden analogy. It was interesting from a human interest stand-point, but I found myself unclear about what the take-away/ leadership skills were that I would learn from it.

At the end of the program, I remained confused. I was not clear about how my kids were to grow as leaders, or if they did, how I would know.
UNIQUE Kids Activity book photo leadership-kids-activity-guide_zps54f3f800.jpg
This is a beautifully created, well crafted curriculum.
The resources are varied, rich and visually vibrant.
The resources avail themselves to every learning type- visual (the book), auditory (MP3) and kinesthetic (hands-on projects).
This is a secular program and therefore will appeal to a wide-range of families. If you are looking for a resource to instill basic values/leadership skills, this might be the thing for you.
A “Spring Special Discount” of 20% is currently available on all the ‘Empowerment Tools’ for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine community. Enter the discount code: TOS-SS20D at checkout to receive this discount. This code expires on May 31, 2013.
All prices are correct as of this post date, but are subject to change
Content- fair
Organization - good
Presentation - excellent

Please click to read more reviews from the amazing Schoolhouse Review Crew

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