Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pocket Protectors

I try not to be insulted when people ask how two engineers, my husband and myself, produced two artists:  Lauren, who is a pianist and Anna, who is an oil painter.  When escorting them to various events, I am often asked what instrument I play or if I paint. Confusion plays over their faces when I answer that I am not an artist, nor is my husband.

It is an interesting question and gets to the heart of why we homeschooled them.  (Okay, there was that incident with Lauren that sealed the deal, but I was already leaning that way anyway.)  We sought a family environment that supported the satisfaction and enjoyment of learning, the motivation to find and pursue interests, and the ability to focus and work hard.  It also enabled the time, the hours required to devote to developing those interests.  We tried to provide the best we could afford in their chosen fields.

Lauren was drawn to music early when a 100 year old piano was given to us and she asked me to teach her to play the song I was playing:  Minute 3.  She learned it, hands together, at age six.  Anna was drawn to violin, but to my regret, we told her no, that we had both a great teacher and a (now new) piano.  I was not going to put resources toward yet another instrument.

After a few years in piano, we found that the intense spotlight on the student and the need to perform did not suit Anna.  Visual art provided the same framework for artistic output without the intensity of working one-on-one with an instructor without personal head time.  Could sibling competition have been part of it?  Maybe.  Now, with two separate yet artistic fields, they are both each other's greatest fans and supporters with no need to compare.

What makes for a family that fosters talent?  Following my nose in reading some websites, I found Daniel Coyle's blog. He authored the book The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.

I was reading in his blog this morning about 'how a single family can produce two unique and diverse talents".  He writes:

These families also help underline the importance of what we might call meta-skills — the larger qualities that form the foundation for all high performance: qualities like self-control, focus, ability to project toward a goal. As a neurologist might point out, these are also neural circuits; they’re also partly a result of the shared family environment. We could theorize that these families are examples of a kind of hothouse effect, where kids with a shared identity have a tendency to develop meta-skills in certain areas.  Then they diverge, as siblings tend to do, into their own narrower areas of expertise.

So that's my answer from now on when I am asked why we homeschooled:  to develop meta-skills.  Perhaps William will be the Ted Nugent of our family, but I hope not.

I share with you today a painting Anna (age 16) completed last night.  It depicts the town of Carrollton, Kentucky on the Ohio River as seen from the Overlook at General Butler State Park.


pita-woman said...

Wow! & Holy crap! her painting looks just like a photograph/postcard. She never ceases to amaze me.
Maybe she could have her painting put on postcards and sell the rights to them to the tourism board or something.

George said...

I can hardly believe the progress of her talent, It gets better with every brush stroke. This painting looks exactly like the bend in the Ohio river when viewed from Eden Park in Cincinnati, I will haveto take a picture for you to compare. What location is she depicting? Dad/Grandpa

Junosmom said...

Thank you, PITA. We are actually trying to make up cards to sell to benefit, in part, charity.

Dad, Thank you. It depicts the town of Carrollton, Kentucky on the Ohio River as seen from the Overlook at General Butler State Park. The Ohio River does make a great subject.

Travis Erwin said...

Every family needs a Ted Nugent that way they never have to fear going hungry.

Cloudia said...

Your kids are truly talented!

Aloha from Hawaii my Friend

Comfort Spiral

Junosmom said...

Travis: so I'm going to be rich?

Cloudia: Painting is now entered in the Congressional Art Competition.


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