With no child left behind are we not letting any children get ahead?  One of my wonderings lately, this talk of getting kids to “meet” standards, response to intervention to get every kid caught up, teachers spending the most time with the struggling student so that everyone can get on the same level.  I have read blogs recently about standardized tests, but I am wondering if we are missing something by having our students “proficient” at everything but exceptional at nothing?

At a seminar today with Joyce Van Tassel-Baska giving a curriculum design and development for gifted learners she stated to make gifted education and curriculum strong it should have: advancement and acceleration, complexity, depth, challenges, and creativity.  Then she said this, to paraphrase “Creativity is where when we give kids choice and they chose something they are strong in it leads to more creativity because its what we know best and it also allows for “play” and exploration.”  It reminded me of some examples in the world of the people we often tag with “brilliant” or “talented” in my mind what we should be striving to foster when we teach young people.  The best athletes often have the most creative moves and skills, artists, musicians, and performers often are doing something beyond the average when we look at them as star examples.  In the business world it is the people who look at things from a new view point or are creative in the model they use to deliver their product.

I want well-rounded students, we all do, but there is something to be said about letting someone do something they are good at, that they like to do that they are willing to push themselves to be more creative in using it.  We are always trying to shore up weaknesses and get in extra practice at skills we think our kids need more practice with, but what about letting them do what they love? I think of my own example as an athlete, the parts of the sport I loved I would practice for hours and enjoy every moment, the parts that were not so appealing to me often got shelved.  My point is to not let kids always chose only what they want to do and forget the things they like less, but maybe we need to honor the passion of students and see how high they can soar with those talents too.  I don’t think it is an either/or question I think its a yes/and answer.

So as I move forward in my teaching journey I am not only going to honor talents and gifts but interests and passions.   When we limit our students to the standards in the core curriculum we are missing the things that may ignite their learning even more.  Allowing creativity is something that strengthens curriculum not weakens it.

A great TED talk to explain it a bit further.