The power of will is a free gift that is given to every person born into the world. This will can be either strong or weak depending on the desires and attitudes of the owner. Unfortunately, will is often diminished by our subject-driven school system. On the other hand, free will can be increased in a school system that focuses on the needs of students.

When it is used properly, free will provides amazing potential to the student. James Allen, in his little booklet, said this about it: “The human will, that force unseen, the offspring of a deathless soul, can hew a way to any goal, though walls of Granite intervene.”

Can you imagine what schools would be like if they deliberately tried to increase the power of will in students? Parents could have a great influence on this. After a tragic accident, Marilyn King placed second at Olympic Trials for the 1980 Moscow Games. She later studied hundreds of Olympians to learn why many with only ordinary physical ability could achieve at the Olympic level. Marilyn learned that high achievers used their powers of will, but it was supported by parents who said words like these: “Do your best, we know you can do it, we believe in you.” It’s why weight-lifters do not compete against high-jumpers, pole-vaulters against sprinters, etc. When parents and teachers fully understand that each child is supposed to be different from all others in the world, it becomes easier to give loving support.

Having this knowledge makes it possible to design curriculum to fit the student rather than trying to make the student fit a predetermined body of knowledge and skills. How can we do this? After trying to do what the experts told her to do for her three-year-old autistic son, Kristine Barnett resorted to watching Jake to see what captured his interests. She fed those interests and Jake, now a grown man, is using active rather than passive thinking to work on developing his own theories in theoretical physics at Perimeter Advanced Institute in Waterloo Ontario. Kristine said this in her book, “The Spark”, “What are your children good at? Let that define them. Create motivations that are self-driven. Let them pursue what they love.”

The challenge now is for parents and teachers to help children discover what they are good at and “pursue what they love.” Schools can help students have an unstoppable zest for learning. Two invitational processes were used in several elementary schools and one high school in Northern Utah several years ago: Talent shows were held in each class, grade-level, and whole-school to help students discover their unique abilities. Secondly, “Great Brain” research invited students to develop personal quests. These activities resulted in many parents supporting students to develop will power and become eager learners and high achievers.

When board members gain a full understanding of unique human differences, they may press for parents and teachers to help each student increase his or her will power. Jefferson County Open School near Denver provides a personalized graduation ceremony for each student to show how s/he is ready to be a unique contributor to society.

If you want your child’s school to quit trying to standardize students and rise to a higher level that increases will power, call your board representative and ask for it. The difference is worth pulling for.

Lynn Stoddard is an author of books, articles, and a long-time retired teacher and elementary school principal.

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