A book that shifted my thinking to focus on what people can do versus what they can’t do was Jennifer Fox’s “Your Child’s Strengths.” From the book:
Children cannot develop interest in a subject just because adults tell them they should be interested. Children become unmotivated when they don’t understand the importance of what they are required to learn. And they become frustrated and anxious when they are expected to demonstrate high achievement in subjects that don’t seem important—especially if they lack a natural interest or talent in that area.
A couple of things about this quote.
1. Understanding why it is essential to learn something has to go beyond “it is going to be on the test.” Connecting relevance to the lives of our students is important, and this is why I encourage the value of “learner-driven, evidence-informed” practice. Knowing those we serve and connecting to their lives helps to make learning more meaningful on a personal level. I have shared these five questions from “Innovate Inside the Box” that can be asked at any point of the year:
2. We must understand that intelligence does not always equal “academically gifted.” In fact, some of the talents that students have don’t necessarily fit into a school setting, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. I was continuously told as a student that I “talked too much,” and now I “speak” as a career. We must try to find those gifts in our students and bring them out whether they fit into an “academic box” or not. I am not saying ignore the curriculum or pretend you don’t have to deal with state or provincial tests; that is a reality of schools around the world. The focus is more about showing that we value our learners for more than what they can do on those tests.
If a person feels valued, they are more likely to do well in the areas they are not passionate.