Understanding the fact that different kids have different bents has escaped mainstream thought. I think one of the most harmful things the conventional classroom does (by default) is define the “success” of a student by a grossly narrow measure. That’s the only way to mass produce “education”.
I remember when I taught high school, with great shame, giving a tongue-lashing to an 18-year old student, towering over me with tears in his eyes. I had been brainwashed too. Since he wasn’t a proficient reader and hated The Scarlett Letter, I branded him like the other teachers had done, and I let him know that “his lack of interest in school was going to ruin his life”. I have since tried to find him to apologize.
This young man was, however, already working at nights with a relative in a mechanic shop. He loved it. He couldn’t remember the answers to a test I gave him, but he knew every name of every part of a motor and could put it back together with his eyes closed. Among my teaching peers, “Brian” was “dumb, unmotivated and destined to be a loser”. This was all unverbalized, but spoken in many other ways.
I’ve heard he is a successful man now, without The Scarlett Letter or an impressive ACT score. He is doing what he is good at, and that is equally brilliant.
Cameron Herold, famous entrepreneur and highest-rated lecturer at MIT’s Master’s Program, is well-acquainted with the woes of my former student. He laments his strengths being ignored, one of the inherent flaws in modern, education-thinking:
“Kids, when we grow up, we have dreams and we have passions, and somehow we get those things crushed, and we get told that we need to study harder or be more focused or get a tutor…when I was in grade 2, I won a speaking competition. But nobody had ever said, ‘hey, this kid’s a good speaker, he can’t focus, but he loves walking around and getting people energized’–no one said ‘get him a coach in speaking’, they said to get me a tutor at what I suck at.”
You simply must watch this inspirational video–Let’s Raise Our Kids to be Entrepreneurs.
I am not suggesting all kids should become entrepreneurs, because someone has to work for them. But I think we short-circuit the potential of untold millions of children, and damage their self-worth because we measure their potential by a very short and narrowly defined stick….and often drug the creative potential right out of them.