Thursday, September 21, 2006

Develop talents - the future advantage.

  Posted by Picasa While the world needs the creativity of all kinds of minds school act as if literacy and numeracy – important as they may be – are all that counts; or is to be measured!

The irony is that many of our most creative people were not successful at school and many that were have collectively added little to the advancement of new ideas.

If we really want all our students to do well in life then it is important to find out what they are good at and then to help then extend their strengths because it is these areas that will provide meaning in their life as interests, or careers, or both. When you look around the people who seem happiest are doing what they love and actually enjoy their work. The unhappiest are those whose lives seem to have little meaning

Education, life and work should all be part of the same journey.

The most important thing about anybody is their strengths – what attracts their attention and keeps them learning. All of us are born with strengths but too few of us have the opportunity to develop them to full potential. This ought to be the main purpose of education. If students are not put in environment full of intellectual temptations to attract their curiosity then they may never have the opportunity to realize their potential.

Creating the conditions to develop students’ full range of strengths is the challenge of schools and teachers. Currently many schools actually limit or diminish students’ creativity and love of learning. The 20% currently failing are a thin edge of the wedge.

If we were to focus on students strengths and help them with what they need to work on we could take the pressure of what we call their weaknesses. It seems as teacher we have a 'deficit theory' about our students – 'they' need what 'we' give them to become educated! In our attempt to focus on students perceived weaknesses we all too often overlook their strengths.

When students are involved with what they love little can stop them – except it seems schools!

Imagine if we focused on students’ questions, concerns, and interests from an early age and then did our best to build and extend them. Learning and teaching would be creative. Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences could inform teacher decision making and planning and many projects could be introduced to make use of the variety of talents students have.

The teachers’ focus would be to see that students’ interests and talents reached out to include all the various learning areas, always with the thought there will be students who will be single minded. In most cases student curiosity will attract them to explore a range of ways seeing and expressing any problem.

As students progress through school an expanding profile of achievement and areas of interests could be developed and posted on school websites. Teachers would need to develop sensitivity in recognizing any affinity students’ show towards areas of learning. At first these might just show up by what attracts students in class themes - areas students keep returning to.

If students do not develop affinities towards areas of learning that attract them their future will be less than wonderful. Developing a passion for an area(s) of learning is the best predicator for a successful future.

By focusing on students strengths, not only are students learning to integrate a number of other skills needed to accomplish their chosen task, they are carving out for themselves lifetime interests and possibly a fruitful career.

One of the main goals of school must be to help students figure out who they are and waht they might possibly do in the future.


Anonymous said...

It is depressing to think of how many talents we have crushed in our current industrial aged school system - and, worse still, we blame them for their failure to learn!

Anonymous said...

'Love of learning' is to important to be dropped from the 'revised' NZ Curriculum. It must be reinstated!

Anonymous said...

The problem - dysfunctional schools and teachers with deficit theories.

Bruce said...

Education is about the realisation of the gifts, talents, passions and dreams of every student - a 'one size fits all' system fits only one kind of learner - learners for a past industrial age.