Thursday, May 17, 2007

Developing everyones' talents - the key to the future success of any country.

The future of any country will depend in the talent it can tap in all it's students.

A discussion paper (2001) to the government, I happen to read, believes that talent development is the fundamental platform for creating future wealth. Talented people, it says, plays a critical role in New Zealands economic transformation as, when it it is combined with capital, it drives innovation and technical change.

The report goes on about the need to keep talented people in the country and to attract talented people from elsewhere to come and live in New Zealand.

I like the idea of talent development, particularly 'growing' our own but the report is a bit light on education's role in the process.I would have thought it would have been tne most important issue. Listed last amongst its strategies to develop talent the report says that the education system needs to 'grow' students talents , 'by ensuring that young New Zealnders are equipped with world wide competitive skills'. It goes on to say New Zealand must, 'benchmark educational attainment with appropriate international standards'.

What does this mean? Isn't it just a bit vague?

To my knowledge there is no country that has yet developed a 21st Century education system able to equip students for what will be an exciting and challenging future. Most school systems are still struggling to break free from the shackles of their 'Industrial Aged' heritage, and have a long way to go ensure their students are equipped for the Information Age.

Shouldn't they've indicated how schools need to change to enable all students' talents to be encouraged?

Do they think our schools are already hothouses, focused on developing every ones talents already? What about the 20% that fail totally? And does so called school sucess relate to talent development?

The report suggests a number of societal transformational changes to create a wider environment that makes success possible. It is rightly critical of past economic reforms to develop an 'efficient' economy and state that this has not necessarily led to developing talent. What is needed, it says, is to develop New Zealand as a nation that takes pride in its talented people - country where mature talent is honoured.

All very well but if we are to develop New Zealand as a talented nation we need to start to engage the hearts and minds of its very youngest members.

Currently our schools only encourage the diverse talents of all its students as if by accident. Imagine if the focus of all education, from the earliest age, was to recognise and amplify the particular mix of talents all students have. Talent is seen, in the report, as 'superior performance in some area of human endeavour', and that, 'creative peope demonstrate some combination of leadership, creativity, problem solving and initiative. Talented people build knowledge capital through innovation.Talented people have the enterprise to bring ideas to life.

Imagine if schools were given the challenge to bring the talents of every student 'to life'.

Currently far too many talented students leave schooling with little to show for their time. All too often creative people are punished by our 'one size fits all' standardized current system.

The best strategy to develop New Zealand as a creative nation would be to develop a creative education system.


Anonymous said...

I do like the idea of developing all the talents any child has. It seems these days schools place too much focus on literacy and numeracy- not that these aren't important - but they can't be all education is about?

Bruce said...

It is obvious that our secondary school system has not made the change to a 21stC 'learning organisation' and still rewards those who do well at academic learning. Nothing wrong with rewarding academnic learners but there are so many other areas of being human that need equal, if not more, emphasis. To do so will mean transforming schools as we know them. There are a lot of exciting ideas for them to make use of. So far secondary teachers have been loath to make the changes even while aware of that too many students are 'disengaged' ( bored) with current provisions.