“I suppose I make funny jokes,” the child mumbles.
Instead of ticking off boxes that the mini-exhibition include art and ICT, I’m challenging the kids to think about ways that they can best express their learning. While some of the children know exactly what it is that gets them in a state of flow, many of them do not. They find themselves embarrassed and conscious of picking strengths.
“I’m not really good at anything.”
Before me sits a highly creative and passionate child, yet he doesn’t know what it is that makes him feel alive as a learner or at least isn’t comfortable sharing it. The kids don’t miss a beat.
“You can make cool things in lego,” one of his friends remarks.
“Your writing is really interesting” another pipes up.
“You know how to use iMovie” a third child offers.
A big grin comes up and the child is relieved but that moment has me wondering. This child is not alone. Many adults, myself included, will quickly point out their flaws or areas they need to work on but become coy when it comes to sharing their talents. We don’t want to appear boastful.
Why do we that?
Perhaps this comes back to what we do in schools.
A lot of our assessment time is spent identifying children at risk of ‘falling behind’ in the 3Rs and then remedying those by having the kids spend more time on those areas of weakness. While I don’t think we can ignore areas of weaknesses, I can’t help wonder if schools and teachers are forgetting something really important.
How much time do we spend helping kids discover what it is that makes them feel that buzz and develop that buzz into a strength?
If a school happens to have a gifted and talented programme, then a few children might find themselves lucky enough to spend time developing areas of strength. But really isn’t the whole point of education to help all children find that sense of joy that comes from doing something they really enjoy? To draw out that inner awesome that makes them a person.
Shouldn’t every learner in a school – adult or child – be able to identify their areas of strength and use them every day in their learning.