Why your teachers thought you were stupid – Part 1

More than test score

When I was in elementary and high school I was a terrible student. I was an average elementary student and beyond a terrible high school student.  There are many factors that contributed to those (mostly me as the only factor that really mattered) results that aren’t important to this discussion.

I recall taking standardized tests that were truly designed to put all of us into a few groups and classifications.  I believe most of this organizing is done with our best interests at heart but some are also done for the ease and convenience of the teachers and staff.  If you’re classified as a dope early on you seem to be put into classes with other dopes.  While this is necessary to keep students in classes with people who are at similar levels in their academics, it is dream crushing to most students in the “dope” classes.  It can also be fools gold for those students in the “smart” classes.

What teachers and administrators never tell you (because they can’t tell you what they don’t know) are that there are at least 10 areas of intelligence and only a couple can be determined by school and standardized tests.  If you’re diligent, a straightforward thinker, listen reasonably well, have a decent memory you should do well in traditional school.  If you aren’t particular good in some or all of those areas you can be made to feel stupid or inadequate.

Howard Gardner of Harvard University said there were 7 areas of intelligence and only a couple of areas were part of traditional education and tracked by schools.  Since that study, 3 more areas of intelligence have been identified by leading researchers in human development.  We will name them in a minute and spend time on each one is subsequent articles.

However, before we get into that it’s important to equip parents, children, and teachers (when possible) to understand that there are many talents children posses or can acquire in many areas that aren’t on the educational systems radar.  Children should be encouraged to do their best in the traditional world of studies but even more importantly they should be assisted in finding their other intelligence’s (we all have more than just one) and time and effort be given to those areas so they might achieve “genius” levels in a couple of the intelligence’s.

As a young boy I was always disappointed that I never achieved extraordinary grades as many of my friends and classmates achieved.  Many achieved these grades with seeming ease and others worked diligently to pull great grades.  I was always the classic C student and often less than a C student.  This meant I spent many years feeling less than my class mates in the intelligence department and many of my teachers were alright with me understanding my place (or their place for me) in the world.

I remember being 13 years old and taking a standardized test and at the end the test suggested 3 areas that I would be suited to pursue and I recall not being thrilled with any of the 3 as all were relatively low paying and none were anything near prestigious.  This was disappointing and at such a young age it could have shot my confidence straight to hell.

Keep this in mind; always remember the success of the person telling you that you probably won’t amount to much and not to get your hopes up.  That person will always be low on the success scale themselves.  How do I know that?  It’s simple, people who are positive about themselves and others would never presume to tell someone that they don’t measure up and to prepare for a future of struggle and being unfulfilled.  Only unsuccessful people would think they have the market cornered on possibilities and attempt to put clamps on your future and ability.

Successful teachers and school administrators (not necessarily financially successful because those jobs are only going to pay so much, but rather successful with thriving students and adoring parents) who are great at what they do will certainly discuss the academic results with their students but always in an uplifting possibility driven conversation.

If people in a non teaching capacity are telling you how to be successful always be careful if you accept their advice. Are they successful in their own right?  Should you be taking advice from them at all or in any capacity?  Were they at one time successful but not as much now?  What could you learn from their mistakes?  Always decide the source of the feedback you’ve been given to see if it has any legitimacy.

Here are 5 of the 10 areas of knowledge and potential genius: (I will give you my assessment of my own ability in these areas and I hope you will do the same for yourself)

  • Math skills (ease with numbers in engineering, problem solving, or with money math including percentages and pro formas and other projections and planning). In my own case I failed many traditional math classes but yet now am considered an expert in money math and financial strategies. Most teachers told me to stay away from any kind of math. This would have been a multi-million dollar mistake for me, how about for you?  My results changed with numbers once I found areas that excited my mind and I could then see how these numbers talents could help me down my own path of life.
  • Verbal skills: This must be broken down into two categories:
  1. Traditional ability to spell, dissect, place, and copyright the written language
  2. The ability to speak and present the written word but in verbal form for presentations. You might be lousy with the written word but very talented at speaking and presenting.  I am above average with the written word and very good at presenting from a platform and training and selling. You? In school you get a huge dose of topic A and almost none of topic B which is a shame because B pays much better.
  • Physical: The ability to be fleet of foot, coordinated, strong, and work diligently at your physicality. While it is true we are all born with certain physical gifts (or not born) those gifts can be made infinitely stronger with diligent practice. I was born coordinated and a decent athlete but never worked on any area diligently enough to go above a moderate level  of success beyond what I was born with at the beginning
  • Musical: The ability to sing, dance, arrange music, write music, or even produce music for others is an area given little attention in traditional education.  Many are born with a natural gift for all or some of the above and other learn how to be experts with many hours of instruction and practice.  I love all kinds of music but don’t know the first thing on how to create it or produce a show of music and or dance. How about you?
  • Vision and space: Do you have a natural talent to look at a space and envision what that space could be either on a small or large scale? To know how things fit into certain spaces?  Can you just look at a space or a piece of land and get a great vision of what its highest and best use could be and how to make it happen?  People will pay big money for people who are talented at this and very few have this gift.  I myself am a total incompetent at this and always hire people who have this gift to give me the physical vision of a certain space.

 

Tune into the next article when we cover the other 5 categories of potential genius and how to develop each area in which you have a gift.

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