Yesterday I took my son to an EmpowerMind Workshop in Oakland County, Michigan. EmpowerMind is an educational workshop offered by Kim Kassner. She teaches preteens, teens and adults how to determine their learning style and then process information by capitalizing on their personal strengths.
I realized my children learned differently than what was expected of them when they attended school in Worthington, Ohio.
The term right brain versus left brain thinkingloosely explains two different learning styles. The theory suggests that left brain thinkers prefer structure whereas right brain thinkers learn in an environment of open creativity.
My kids struggled at times with certain teachers because their teaching was very “left-brained” and after sitting at the kitchen table for two hours every night with each of my elementary level kids, I felt like I was doing most of the teaching. It seemed incredibly difficult for them to absorb the information, and yet, I knew they were very intelligent. There were even subtle suggestions by confounded teachers for ADD testing. (I want to note that regardless of our personal challenges, this district works hard to do what is best for their students, and were beginning to implement some impressive & thoughtful teaching techniques when I moved to Michigan in 2005)
In 4th grade my oldest son was placed in a classroom with a forward thinking teacher that allowed him to stand while he worked. He didn’t disturb other students and along with his grades, his attitude about school skyrocketed which gave him the positive energy and confidence he desperately needed.
I came to the conclusion that my kids were growing up in a world where their brains were being stimulated constantly by fast images, music, video games and they had trouble slowing down and learning in a lecture-style environment. I realized the best learning environment for them would be a curriculum that focused on all learning senses (auditory, visual, tactile or kinesthetic) rather than just the typical classroom methods.
For students who struggle through traditional teaching, school is not fun and their self-esteem is damaged in the process. I wish I had known about Kim Kassner years ago!
Enter Kim Kassner and her EmpowerMind Workshop. Kim believes that each person is given a unique set of talents, we need only to realize and nurture them to achieve our full potential. She teaches each student to find their strengths and to use them to learn more effectively and to function with positivity in the existing educational system.
The session began with particpants pairing off with strangers and then introducing their partners to the group. The reasons for being there varied as widely as the age groups which included pre-teens, teens, adults and entire families. Kim’s methods taught empathy for one another by tying it into learning and an awareness of how past experiences can affect each of us.
By mid-morning break I watched in astonishment as shy teenagers openly communicated and laughed with every age group. Even though many of them were forced to attend by parents, all evidence and attitude had disappeared within 90 minutes and they were engaging with postitivity and confidence.
Although the focus is on learning to learn more effectively, the result is that Kim is also teaching life skills and building self-esteem.
She had the participants put together a list of 20 words and through a variety of learning techniques had each of us learn that list within minutes. The highlight of the day was when she chose 2 people to recite the list out loud, in order, from memory. Neither wanted to do it, as their failure fears kicked in and they were afraid to try. With positive coaxing from Kim, they independently rhymed off the list, amazed in the knowledge they could do it. Just seeing the look of success on their faces was well worth the price of the workshop!
The variety of techniques we learned to memorize the list of words was transferred to learning larger words and their definitions, math patterns and even to remember names when we attend social and networking events. Each particpant discovered their personal learning style and techniques to create success in school and at work.
Kim Kassner commands a room. The session lasted until 4 pm and she held the attention of every particpant the entire time. Part two is next Saturday and includes study techniques for school and professional testing. My skeptical son felt his Saturday at EmpowerMind was beneficial to him and he’s looking forward to attending next week’s session! This program would benefit every student regardless of their grades and abilities.