I’ve now worked with children from various backgrounds for the past 3 years and once thing I’ve realised is that there isn’t a single child I’ve met that didn’t have incredible potential. I’m not just saying this to keep people happy but there is absolute truth to this. Every child I’ve met has been unique and had talents in unique areas.
Just a few weeks ago, the group of children I was working with had to design a housing estate. They had to not only physically create a model for their idea but they also had to do a presentation in front of the rest of their year. In the presentation they had to explain what the inspiration was for their plans explaining why they had designed it the way they did and what the specific features of their estate were: e.g. off street parking, playing areas for children, sanitation, limited access to traffic etc.
Each group consisted of 5 – 6 children. (When I say children, in reality they are all young adults and were all around 14 – 15 yrs old.) Within each group they had to decide amongst themselves what roles they would play for the task. They could either be a design manager, a managing director, a planning manager, a marketing manager etc, from start to finish the task was at their hands with minimal input from me. They had an hour and a half to complete the task and during that time I visited each group to see what ideas they came up with. All of the groups that I observed did extremely well in all areas. They came up with some fantastic designs, they worked well in their teams even though we separated friend and peer groups and they all settled into their roles extremely well.
While I was observing I noticed that deep down each child knew what they wanted to do. While there were some who were more vocal and were happy to voice their opinions, some were quieter than others and had less confidence in expressing themselves and what particular part of the project they wanted to get stuck into. However eventually I think most of them ended up doing what they wanted to do. Some wanted to get involved with the actual design and layout of the housing estate model, some wanted to design the estate agency window layout and the selling point for the houses on the housing estate. Others just wanted to oversee the whole project and get involved with the marketing, the design and the overall management.
At the end of the task all the groups came up with some fantastic ideas and we as a panel had to judge and decide who was the winner overall (which is never an easy thing to do).
I couldn’t believe how much creativity, enthusiam, drive, focus and knowledge they showed through the entire project. I was stunned by the amount of effort they put into the task but more so than that I was shocked by how little they were aware of their own potential for creativity! It was clear that most of them were unaware of the talents they had they had never been shown or told of their amazing array of talents. Grades don’t always paint the right picture for children but telling them and making them aware, of their diverse talents, does! If we do not nurture those skills then those children will remain unaware of them and less likely to be able to make use of them towards their future goals. Because they are unaware at a conscious level, at the unconscious level they be left feeling unfulfilled.
Simple recognition is one powerful and simple way to make them aware. Even those children who were disruptive showed wonderful potential for leadership. But how would they know that if they’re always told be quiet and not disrupt the class?
We must encourage our young ones and let them know what talents they so that they can grow into confident adults who believe in themselves. 🙂 Know how to find out there talents and find a way of encouraging and emerging that talent whether directly or indirectly.
Show them, know them, guide them, encourage them, love them, nurture them.
Great post, Amit, and so true. When I worked in the classroom, we scheduled cooperative learning sessions regularly, always shifting the members of the student teams so that all the girls had a chance to work with all the others. Working cooperatively in the adult world is a necessity…it would be great if all schools created cooperative learning opportunities to better prepare students for the world, and to give the students the learning experience. They usually do figure out which team member is best suited for which task, enabling the students to help each other find and develop their strengths which also bolsters their self-esteem.