Thursday, May 26, 2016

Microstory 329: Natural Skill

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Sanctum Sanctorum

I grew up in a world where every child is told that they can do anything they put their mind to. I remember the first time I was given a participation trophy, and thinking that this plastic would be better off as part of a car, or some medical instrument. I, even at that age, thought it was stupid to commemorate nothing more than showing up. I personally felt just as strongly about the awards I received for actual achievement, but they were at least a logical conclusion. Telling a child that they’re capable of anything is not only a lie, but is also detrimental to their development. No matter how hard I tried, I could never be a great mathematician. Math is not my strong suit, and I don’t really have an interest in turning it into that. Would I like to be better, smarter? Yes, but it’s healthier for me to pursue my field of expertise. Now, I might have gotten lucky. I discovered my skill as a writer relatively early on. I started noticing high marks for work I scratched out at the last minute. I’ve written college-level papers on books I never read, and movies I never saw, and I’ve never earned anything lower than a C. But no teacher encouraged me to chase after my dreams to be a writer. You know why? It’s not their fault. The educational system is designed for teachers to teach to the test, and to teach the same thing to every student regardless of natural skill or passion. In an ideal world, we would put far more focus on finding that one thing the kid can do. We wouldn’t do away with the idea of a well-rounded education altogether, but we would put more effort in helping a given student excel in their best field. Your kids shouldn’t dream big, not because they’re not good enough, but because they can’t go anywhere until they find a starting point.


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