Photos by youth photographer, Marley Watt, learner in the SelfDesign High WildEarth program.
Photos by youth photographer, Marley Watt, learner in the SelfDesign High WildEarth program.

There are so many ways to learn and to express learning, and our children often stretch our understanding of how learning can be expressed…

In some families, there is often a researcher, who values the searching process so much that the actual finding of an answer is not as important as the act of building curiosity. There can also be a tangential learner who finds the joy in finding questions, rather than answers. What wonderful imaginations these learners have!

All learners have an interesting blend of ways of learning, which shift and change over time. Learners expand our understanding of the process every time their curiosity gets the better of them and they just have to find something out!

When we honor each person’s individual way of learning, people thrive and grow to their fullest potential. When we fail to honor each person’s individuality and accept one-size-fits-all solutions, the pieces of each of us that make us unique get neglected and buried. Often people forget who they really are.

What is happening to our children when we ask them to be equally good at all of the core subjects? What can you do today to help your children shift this paradigm and honor their individuality?

Nurturing natural gifts and talentsIndividuality is a trait that is often heralded as an ideal in our world. Unfortunately, it isn’t fully accepted or appreciated in our current mainstream education model. When public education became an American mandate, the industrial giants of the era hired experts to determine the subjects to be required. They wanted to make sure they had people who could do the work necessary in an industrial society. Math, English, Science, and Social Studies became known and accepted as the core curriculum everyone needed to learn. These subjects, taught in a one-size-fits-all manner, would adequately prepare people to become contributing members of society.

Fast forward to today, though, and employers are flummoxed and discouraged by the young people who are graduating from our high schools and colleges now. They seem to only be able to use these “core subjects” in a very prescribed manner, if at all. This is an issue because today’s world requires people who can read, think, take on projects, and communicate with a diverse group of people. They need to be able to strategize, collaborate, be flexible in finding solutions and finishing projects that have never been done before. These seem to be skills and sensibilities that haven’t been nurtured and developed in their schooling.

Ray Peacock, Director of Research at Philips Laboratories in the UK said, “Lots of people think knowledge is what we want, and I don’t believe that because knowledge is astonishingly transitory. We don’t employ people as knowledge bases. We employ people to actually do things or solve things.” Rather than viewing learning as getting your ticket punched or as getting your diploma signed, people today need to learn how to think and to build their own foundations for the future. Creating meaningful and relevant learning experiences for our children and ourselves which identify and nurture unique gifts, talents, and passions is not a luxury, it is a necessity today!

What shifts can you make to look inside at your gifts and talents? What can you do to nurture them as well as nurturing the gifts and talents of your children?