Learning Conversations

Come sit with me. Well talk, well ask big questions

Month: September 2008

Can you stand in the way of genius?

I was over at Kris Wandering Ink blog today, reading about her perspective on our school system and how it impedes the development of genius.

Its a powerful piece and definitely worth the read (if you haven’t already).

As I read through the comments, I noticed a few people saying (or implying) that genius will develop despite the system that its natural and will come out, no matter what the world is telling them.

While I agree to some extent I also think that were fooling ourselves if we think were not damaging these kids. Whats the matter with saying a child is intellectually gifted?  How can we possibly believe that our parenting and teaching doesn’t influence how these children develop into adults and use their talents?

When we don’t support and foster their talents, we send them the message that it isn’t good to excel in this way that they need to tone it down and fit in if they want to be liked and accepted. They end up feeling like there’s something WRONG with them!

Now, granted, not all kids react this way I’m sure there some that can brush it off and go on being themselves. But there are lots of kids that aren’t that secure with their own worth, that haven’t been raised to feel their own worth and value.

So, it follows quite easily, that those gifted kids who get ridiculed for knowing the answers, for using advanced vocabulary, for being particularly sensitive or for having an artistic flair well, they stop openly developing those talents to avoid further pain. And if they’re holding back in class, how are they really developing to their full potential??

Coincidentally, I meandered over to Tamara Fishers blog, Unwrapping the Gifted, and read her wonderful article (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/2008/08/varsity_academics.html) about exactly this topic. She articulates it much more eloquently than I have go have a read!

The fact of the matter is that EVERY CHILD deserves to develop their talents whether that be academic, athletic, artistic, social-emotional, leadership, comedic, etc

Our children all have their unique gifts our job as adults is to help them find and value those gifts.

Honestly, I think its the most important thing we can do for this next generation!

For the best decisions collaborate!

Having been a project manager for many years, Ive long believed in and experienced the power of diverse-group decision making.

Inevitably, teams of people, each bringing their unique perspectives to the table, come up with better, more complete, more creative and more successful solutions.

In the educational realm, I think everyone has been off trying to come up with solutions by themselves educators, administrators, District management, Government Ministries.

Why is it that we don’t talk to each other as much as we could? From the outside, I get the sense that there’s a bit of that leave it to the professionals attitude.

Is it too much effort to try to coordinate schedules? Are we worried that it takes too much effort to include people uninvolved in the day-to-day operations of our schools? And then they cant add value anyways? After all, what do parents know about what it takes to run a school? Or a District? And what do students know about what they really need from education?

And its hard to have completely open conversations and doors because that might expose your weaknesses, or open things up for criticism. We are, often by nature, defensive we want to put our best foot forward, not parade our challenges and weaknesses out for all to see! Do we really want the world to know that we don’t know how to solve a problem? Doesn’t everyone expect the experts to have all the answers? And really, doesn’t everyone have enough to do without opening another can of worms by asking people their opinion??

But are we sure that external partners don’t add value? Why would we think that kids are incapable of contributing to solutions about their own education? Another quote from Starbucks is that the person who sweeps the floor should pick the broom!

How much effort is it worth to come up with solutions that work? What if we had increased odds of finding successful ideas that everyone is invested in and working together on?

What if it resulted in kids engaged in their own learning? What if they were excited to come to school to learn and create and work together?

What if parents felt involved and knowledgeable about what was going on in classrooms? What if they were passionate about supporting their children’s teachers? What if they could support and reinforce at home what their kids are learning in school?

What if teachers felt trusted and safe to make mistakes in their own learning and change efforts? What if they felt supported and valued by the parents instead of judged and attacked? What if they already had relationships with all the parents in their class and could easily call one up to discuss their child’s learning without it feeling like cold calling someone you don’t even know (and who doesn’t want to hear from you!)?

What if Principals had time to build the team and the learning community relationships instead of being overwhelmed by the myriad of administrative tasks that swamp their days? What if they could do the same thing that they used to do with their classrooms (encourage, support each child’s learning, coach, bring out the best in everyone)?

How much more powerful would that make our education system?

And, as a result, how would that change education (having something taught TO you) into learning (participating in the learning process and learning WITH you)?

The way I see it, we can keep complaining about how the Government just doesn’t get the whole picture.

We can complain about how they just don’t understand that you cant measure successful education using standardized tests.

We can gripe about how the teachers not helping MY child and nobody cares.

We can shake our heads at all the parents who never even come to parent-teacher interviews.

We can work all hours just trying to get all the forms filled out, the lockers assigned, the reports completed, the is dotted and the ts crossed.


It takes more effort, but isn’t it worth it?
For them?