FINDING STUDENTS’ HIDDEN STRENGTHS AND PASSIONS

Every child has a talent. Some talents are easily spotted. There is this sports girl or boy who is an amazingly fast runner or footballer. There is this five-year-old dancer who can shake better than most adults ever will in their entire life. There is the singer who floors everyone in his local church with his amazing vocals. These are easy to notice. But there are many that are hidden, that come out only when the child is at complete ease or freedom, or sometimes interestingly, when they are under pressure. But to use the word “hidden” may not be quite accurate because often, strengths are hidden by lack of opportunity to display them.

Being in school gives children every opportunity to share and develop their talents. There is benefit to having everyone go around and share these with their classmates. In the classroom, teachers let them talk about their hobbies or other things that they really like to do or are very good at. They do that during homeroom or advisory, or they integrate that through a work in Language Arts or other assignment such as an essay, short story or an Art-related assignment. These provide opportunities for each of them to reflect on things about themselves that their classmates or teachers might even find very surprising and impressive.

Many also place a strong focus on a well-rounded education and encourage participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, arts, or clubs. This involvement helps stimulate children in their studies, as noted in a study at Stanford University that found that children involved in the arts are more motivated to learn and are three times more likely to win a school attendance award. Sports activities also help children be more focused. Extracurricular activities can provide a much-needed break from the stresses of academics, while developing skills and talents and engaging in valuable social situations.

In traditional schools however, students are not looked at in terms of their strengths; rather, there is a focus on remediating their deficits. This is rarely a source of inspiration for anyone. What ends up happening is that kids’ strengths and passions are either hidden from their educators, or worse, they become hidden from themselves because they do not get encouraged. The thing is, not everyone will be super in academics. Nevertheless, not every A-plus student will be successful in real life and not every D student will be a failure. A lot of very successful entrepreneurs were academically weak, most inventors overlooked and many dreamers ­became iconic politicians.

Brad Hirschfield, author and the president of The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, reminds us that miraculous discoveries must be discovered. That is, action must be taken to find what is hidden. Let us be sure we are taking those actions and giving them opportunities so that our children do not lose some of their most deeply treasured possessions: their talents, strengths and passions.

 

SOURCES:

  • https://www.edutopia.org/blog/students-strengths-passions-maurice-elias
  • https://www.thenational.ae/uae/education/more-focus-needed-on-talent-rather-than-grades-education-researchers-say-1.200535
  • http://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Reviews/Teachers-help-children-discover-their-talents/691232-2908756-vy7m4f/index.html
  • http://www.ourkids.net/school/benefits-of-private-schools.php

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