“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’
I read this on-line this morning. There is still some debate as to whether it was an Einstein quote, but I don’t care if the spotty, teenage boy working down at Mc Donalds wrote it. What a great way to sum up what is happening in our homes and classrooms.
What skills do we value most as a society? What knowledge must we possess to be considered ” intelligent or successful’ and who is the judge?
Whilst our school’s pretend to acknowledge the Multiple Intelligence Theory, I feel we are still only accommodating for children who are Linguistically or Mathematically inclined. I still have not seen a single degree called ‘ Bachelor of Friendship” or Advanced Diploma in ‘ I’m really great at puzzles’. If only there were such degrees….Everyone could feel like a winner!
Whilst the ‘logical’ me knows and understands that we can only value skills that will enable our children to be successful contributing members of society, I think back to the many children I have taught who would have excelled in their own area of ‘expertise’. I refer specifically to those special children with Aspergers/ Austism who were experts in their own obsessions but who may never be officially recognized for their unique abilities.
Last year I had the pleasure of teaching a beautiful 7 year old boy on the Austism Spectrum. He could tell me every thing there was to know about the Solar System. Ashamed to say he knew ten times more than his silly teacher! Unfortunately the Year One curriculum didn’t require him to know any more than ‘ Day and Night’. There would be no formal assessment for Year One that would allow him the opportunity to strut his stuff. He could also draw exact replicas of the school playground. Again…..no assessment for playground drawing. We celebrated his talents as much as time would permit but I fear not enough time to make him see that whilst he couldn’t write…he was still a success.
Yes, this dear boy would one day come across a standardized test that would test his ability to recall the planets…but by then he would have moved on to another obsession, as is the nature of Asperger’s.
This little boy felt like a failure during Literacy, A failure during Maths (could recall many numbers, but could never apply this them when needed) and a failure at learning. Our schools fast paced curriculum was forcing this little fish to climb a tree.
Celebrate your children. Celebrate every little thing they can do……there may never be a degree for being a ‘great kid’ but at least they will have the chance to feel like a winner for a while, before society rips it away again.