I am tired of talking about standards, assessments, averages and classifying students. I don’t want to read about combating bulling and tolerating differences. I want to celebrate the individual and all their “quirkiness”. It is the people who did not fit the mold, who are not average or, more importantly, those who did not see themselves as one of the crowd who have made the biggest impact in art, science, business and literature.
I spent most of my life trying to blend in, to follow the rules, to be unnoticed. I was the “good girl”. I am not going to do anything special, because I can not see myself being able to do anything special. I’m average. I don’t have anything unique to offer nor am I able to take risks because I do not want to stand out. Intellectually, I know that is not true but in my heart it is an obstacle.
We seem to set our children on a common path with similar expectations. Everyone needs to be good at math and language arts. We are expected to study similar subjects, work and learn at similar rates. We sit in rows, we complete the same projects. We praise conformity and admonish those who standout. As a result our students find themselves on the paths set for them, in the box thinkers and do not easily see their unique gifts, talents and what makes them different from others. We teach our children to ignore, put aside and tolerate each others differences.
But we are different, we are individuals. It is our different interests, points of view, passions, and abilities that shake things up and allows us to create and innovate.
I have been asking people, what’s you gift, what’s your passion, what’s your quirk, your talent, what makes you different. Sadly the most common answer is ‘I don’t know” or “nothing really I am just like everybody else.” But that is not true.
The easily distracted student in your class who sees themselves as a poor student is an individual with an active mind, following connections, exploring random thoughts, analyzing their potential.
The day dreamer is a storyteller and inventor in the making.
The talkative one is confident and social.
The student who takes apart everything an engineer.
The argumentative individual is only able to have an argument because they hold a different point of view. We need different points of view, we need to encourage this.
The student who learns more slowly is seen as a struggling. They may be more reflective, make deeper connections and retain their new knowledge for a much longer time. The quick learner may have a great short term memory and the slower learner a better long term one. Our system favors the former and punishes the later. Each is valuable and important.
Our children see themselves as good or bad as it relates to school. The good student follows the path, is compliant and moves along at the rate expected. The bad student takes the circuitous route, is disruptive and learns when and what they want. These are the children who are seen as different yet these are the ones that will likely change the world.
Just look at the great creators, thinkers, artists, inventors and entrepreneurs and you will find that most did not fit in nor take the expected path. They were disruptive, they were different, they were quirky.
Be different, know your difference and celebrate it!