Educators spend plenty of time thinking about "individualization".
They wonder how to tailor lessons and curricula to different students'
strengths and interests. The notion of individual strengths and
interests is related to the notion of maturity. Also, to personal
I often mention to young people looking for a place in life that the
US dictionary of occupational titles listed 41,000 job titles. The
basic counseling point is that many people have no knowledge of the
existence of fields of work they might like or be well suited for.
Lynn and I are reading the book "Inheritance" by Sharon Moalem, MD,
PhD, which is about genetics and emerging knowledge about the
individual human's genes and what they mean for that person's life.
He makes the point over and over that my genes and those of my
sibling, even those of my monozygotic brother, conceived from the same
egg as me, are not identical. Further, his genes and mine diverge
steadilyy through our lives since he and I have different experiences
and they affect the expression of our genes steadily.
It sounds good to individualize but there are other considerations.
Thinking involves similarities and differences. Categories help us
carry knowledge and organize our lives and our materials. Male and
female differ and while one male is not identical to another, we still
make progress knowing about the similarities and expecting them.
I have heard of the development of the concept of the individual.
I read or heard that a single young Chinese woman alone in a farmhouse
in a previous age would have told a visitor that nobody was home and
she meant that literally and exactly. We today would say nobody of
importance or authority or of age was home but that young woman did
not consider herself an individual. Maybe she would later.
Tom Rath and Donald Clifton of the Gallup organization have done quite
a bit of research and writing on the subject of finding a person's
strengths and using them effectively somewhere in an organization.
They started their work with evidence that most organizations
advertised for a person with X,Y and Z characteristics and sought
someone to fill that position. Their work showed that a better
approach was to find a likely team member and then explore that
person's strengths. They advised then placing that person where those
individual strengths would pay off best for the organization.
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