Teaching Reliance

Luca invited me to spend the afternoon with her class on a field trip to the White River Valley Museum this afternoon.

The two 3rd grade classes broke up into four groups, and we made our way around the exhibits with the help of volunteers. We listened to many stories about the Native American tribe that lives in our area: The Muckleshoot Tribe. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our volunteer explained to the children how the tribe used cedar in nearly everything they created. Not only is cedar strong but it’s waterproof. I didn’t realize they often wore clothing made of cedar like this women who is searching for clams.

We watched a short film of a father and son removing strips of cedar from a very large tree. The father mentioned how he wanted to pass on this tribal tradition to his son while he was still alive. The son carefully followed his father’s instructions. Their mutual respect was apparent.

The filmmaker cut to the father who explain he had other children, but had taken the time to only show this son how to harvest cedar in this manner.

And then he said something that’s stuck with me all day.

I do not plan to teach each of my children all the traditions of the tribe. I will teach one or two traditions to each. If I taught all of them everything, they would not learn to rely on each other. When I’m gone, I want them to bond and work together.

At first this sounded strange. But I like it the more I think about it.

I tend to teach my kids the same skills. Sure, one may gravitate towards music while another spends more time playing soccer. But we tend to raise generalists who are self-sufficient. We expect our children to eventually go their own way. The idea of relying on a sibling for a basic need does not fit into our culture.

I’ve wondered how this might translate into teams at work. I’ve worked in groups where everyone has similar skills and others where each person possessed a specialized set of skills. The group I currently manage trends towards the former.

Even though it may go against the grain, I believe this wise father is on to something.

One thought on “Teaching Reliance

  1. That is really neat. It makes a lot of sense to me. Too bad we all think we have to be able to do everything as good as everyone else in our families and don't rely on each other more. We tend to be way too competitive instead of helpful.


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