Marc Lammers, coach of the gold-winning women’s hockey team at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, was one of the keynote speakers at the OWD2009. In his speech he explained how the hockey women had become so successful. Stimulation of already strong developed skills eventually resolves in an upgrading of less developed skills, was his main message.
The great thing about professional sport is that the comparison with business or education is easily done. So I have used his story as a metaphor for our educational system.In the Dutch educational system, we work mostly with skills. We overload students with personal development plans, skills development and improvement trajects. Often these plans are aimed at the student’s poor skills. In short, we want to upgrade the four of the student into a six. But working on your bad points is not regarded as fun. Students are more concerned with things that interest them and in which they so often like to excel.
A simple example concerns students with dyslexia. These students have difficulty with reading books and texts. This is their weakness. They therefore have more difficulty with exams. However, they are often very creative and inventive. This is the strength of these people. The brains change the difficulty dealing with characters into an excellent ability to deal with colours, images etc. Educators nowadays invest a lot of time in dealing with dyslexia and help the students to overcome this handicap. Often it takes a lot of time and training of the student and the supervisor(s) to work on that handicap. This sometimes comes at the expense of creative development and the motivation of the student. Why would you work on reading texts when you can enjoy working on a design of a website or magazine.
Why aren’t educators encouraging the strengths of the student. In situations such as dyslexia, the creative side? Why don’t educators focus on improving the eight for design towards a ten for design? Take for example Thomas Edison, Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, Richard Bronson and Whoopy Goldberg. They where/are all dyslexic and yet all excelled in their respective field of excellence. Wouldn’t it be great if students are excited about there ten on their reports and tell it to their friends and parents?
If a student is very good in a certain area, then the self-motivation and confidence to improve the weak skills will come in time. In time the four will be a six and we have also ensured a ten on the report.
Tagged with: education