There are two types of people in this world. Those who take risk and those who play it safe. Don’t get me wrong, playing it safe can lead to good things. Slow and gradual growth is the way most of us visualize success. Slowly climbing the ladder, making our way to a new level by building brick by brick. I think there are great benefits to doing this. As an educator I thrive on this model. Let’s look at our education system for an example. The gradual progression of advancement is the model we all have adopted. The problem with this model is that it uses limits to set standards. But do limits serve as standards for all, or do standards put limits on some.
Case and point: My five-year-old is a “natural leader” but, to some who don’t understand her, she is viewed as defiant. When she first attended a regular daycare, she did not have the best experience. My sweet 3-year-old at the time, would strategically kick and scream her way into the main office, just so I would come and pick her up. The teachers noticed even more odd behavior, when she would strategize at recess on how she could climb a tree in the playground, to get out of the daycare, and walk to McDonalds! She even recruited other children to help her build a ladder. This was a real-life version of Rugrats. (If you’ve never seen the show, shame on you) In contrast my oldest daughter, who is equally as smart, operates very differently. She thrives with standards. Most of the time she exceeds them, but the standard helps her to feel safe. Notice the contrast between the two, one daughter excels with ceilings, the other gets claustrophobic with limitations.
Dare I say that both of my children are borderline geniuses, but the stability of that has yet to be determined. I think the main determining factor to their stability lies in the nurturing of their gift. As a parent it is hard to not raise children in a very cookie cutter fashion. You must consciously remind yourself that they are two different people, with very different ways of learning. My oldest, does very well in a traditional school. But my youngest seemed to excel quicker in a Montessori setting, Montessori schools allow each student to grow at their own pace, which means the instruction adapts just as quickly as you are capable of learning. I found that in this environment my daughter spends less time planning her escape and more time testing her limits.
I don’t think my youngest would be any less intelligent in a traditional school. She might become easily distracted, prone to extended times of daydreaming, and drive every teacher she has insane, but I think she would survive. As for the teachers, I can’t insure their same safety…
I don’t worry about her meeting standards, I worry about the untapped potential that was stifled in the process.
In this coming new year, we will see lots of people following blueprints to success, thinking that the path best taken is the one often travelled. But, I challenge the “defiant learners” to not confine themselves to traditional learning styles. I will admit that following your own path can be scary, unsettling and full of unknowns, but the rewards within untapped potential, is often worth the risk.
My advice to the peculiar people: Take risk… Make your own blueprint… Tear-down your ceilings… because the limitless God I serve is not confined to the traditional standards.