The Change I Want to See in the World
Do you believe that there are capable and less-capable students and that they exist in a normal distribution? This belief is at the heart of schooling. Despite all sorts of rhetoric about equity, we segregate nearly all students: by age, teaching them in a grade level, and by perceived aptitude, rewarding them according to their ability to access the provided curriculum at each level.
As a result, subject learning, related materials and skills drive education. We are inspired when the rare person escapes from their level in the educational caste system and succeeds against the perceived odds. Yet the system itself creates islands of disengaged and under-educated students, frustrated educators, worried parents and concerned citizens.
Most academic support programs focus on getting students to complete schoolwork and improve grades. For students with learning, attention or executive function struggles, this approach can mask strengths and belief in their own abilities, decrease their love of learning, and lead to anxiety through the fear of not measuring up. Students’ untapped strengths are wellsprings of future happiness, engagement and success, in school, work and life.
School needs to unleash the true potential of all students and use emotionally sound motivational approaches, beyond grades. Everyone’s non-academic strengths, personal processing style, and ability to continue to learn for a lifetime can be developed. Together these abilities have value far beyond school subjects. That’s priceless, since about 80% of your lifetime is spent outside of formal education!