What’s Your Gift?

I had the pleasure of attending the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee (RCAC) Symposium. The day was filled with great keynote presentations by Ian Jukes and Angela Maiers and very informative breakout sessions by presented by passionate educators that fully embrace the implementation of 21st century fluencies in our education system. I truly admire these educators for their drive and passion to share their knowledge and to me are great ambassadors.

As I was riding on the bus back to Hamilton, I had time to reflect and process the “infowhelming” (thanks ian jukes) content that was offered. I kept referring back to Angela Maier’s presentation about the power of children and the fact that we were all born geniuses. She explained that young children have extraordinary imaginations, curiosity, self-awareness, perserverance, courage, and adaptability. However somewhere along the way as children get older and become more educated, they lose these genius-like qualities. Angela brought up a very thought provoking point that really resonated with me. We as educators should not be asking how we can teach 21st century skills to our students. We should be asking how we can keep them. How can we prevent our students from losing their innate genius qualities that they have when they enter our education system? Angela Maiers brought up many great ideas but what I really took away from her presentation was the fact that it should be our goal as educators to help students find their talent, their genius-like quality and guide them so that they can learn how to share their talent and contribute to society.

One month ago, my wife completed a very inspiring pediatric chiropractic course. The instructor for her last session recited a quote from an anonymous person that really stayed with me when I heard it and it came to mind as I listened to Angela’s presentation. “The purpose of life is to find your gift. The meaning of life is to share your gift with others.” It would be a great shame if our students went through their entire education without ever knowing or realizing their innate gift or talent. How great would our students be when they graduate from secondary school if they knew what their gift was at an early age?

As a proud father of two young beautiful daughters (3 year old and  an 7 8 month old), I am consistently amazed by their curiosity, perserverance and courage and I hope that these qualities will still be present when they are 16, 25, 40 and beyond. After participating in today’s conference, I come away with a changed perspective as a father and as an educator.

2 thoughts on “What’s Your Gift?

  1. As I read this post, I can’t help but think of the revisions to the former Ontario Secondary Schools Policy document. At the moment, the document is still under revision, but the intent is to create a K-12 document. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to incorporate Angela Maier’s point about keeping students’ genius-like qualities and develop a graduate ‘expectation’ that all students find their ‘gift’? Wouldn’t this give more ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ to education?

    1. I think Angela spoke about a system wide approach to developing students’ habitudes and their gifts. Your suggestion is an interesting idea of sustaining the ‘habitudes’ and I agree whole heartedly that it would give more ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ to education. I picture something similar to the math process expectations (problem solving, reasoning and proving, reflecting, selecting tools and computational strategies, connecting, representing, and communicating). the curriculum document states that these are processes that cannot be separated from the knowledge and skills. The processes are how students acquire the knowledge and skills. It also states the following about the process expectations, “Presented at the start of every grade outlined in this curriculum document is a set of seven expectations that describe the mathematical processes students need to learn and apply as they work to achieve the expectations outlined within the five strands.

      I think the same can be said about Maiers ‘habitudes’. The ‘habitudes’ are needed in order for students to be effective learners so perhaps for every grade there could be guidelines or examples of what they could look like. I think by focusing on the ‘habitudes’ every year would improve the sustainment of these 21st century skills and increase the chances of students recognizing their innate gift.

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