After reading Shelly Terrell´s post: "Dare Them!" and being absent for some time at the lovely group of inspiring educators-colleagues, it just came to my mind a conversation I recently had with my seventeen-year-old son. He has always been a self-motivated student-learner, read books just because he wanted to, looked for information such as The Reign of Charlemagne or the Armenian Genocide, read biographies of politicians, world leaders, artists, musicians, writers, whatever and whoever interests him, and even started writing reviews about different topics without being asked to. Despite our complaints, I mean "our" my husband and I, he spends hours sitting at the computer, like any other teenager, but in his case apart from playing games, reading and watching documentaries are his passion. Since he was born, he had a tough time falling asleep but soon after he started talking by the age of two, he told me: "Mommy: I don´t want to go to sleep: I still have a lot of things to do!". This conversation was all in Spanish, our native language: "Mami, no me quiero ir a dormir, tengo que hacer muchas cosas todavía". Yes, he was only two!. His pediatrician explained to my husband and I, that all that happened because he had this kind of very, extremely curious mind, he was and he still is a very inquisitive, interested person and she was right!.
Going back to the conversation my son and I had, he told me he felt he had been lately demotivated by a couple of his teachers: Would anyone think a real educator can do that to a student like him?. Can this happen to me??: an educator who has always been trying to see the "good" in every student?. I have to admit not all my dear students were not so good at learning English as a Foreign Language but most of them tried hard, so I appreciated and enhanced every single little step ahead they made!.
I deeply believe that challenging students is not making things too difficult for them to be disappointed or discouraged!
Like many teachers and non teachers around the world, I have watched and read Sir Ken Robinson´s speeches: "Changing Education Paradigms" and books like "Finding Your Element": this is what I have been working on hard all these past twenty something years teaching: English as a Foreign Language, English As A Second Language and even Spanish!.
I dare my students on a daily basis: there must be something you are good at!, I tell them. Find your Talent!, like Tinkerbell and her Friends: each fairy has an innate talent. This is not only for children and girls: this message is for every human being.
Each individual is unique, and this uniqueness is what makes them rich and valuable.
Not finding what you really like and can do may lead you to live your life imprisoned in yourself.
As Shelly said in her post, if we do not dare our students enough to pursue their dreams, they run ashore and we lose them. Most children are born curious, eager to learn and experience new things. We have this responsibility to trigger their inner likes and sometimes dislikes, but well ... following dreams is not bad at all, I believe the pursuit fuels my daily life and somebody else´s too. Positive energy is contagious! Spread the word: Follow your dream!
Recommended reading about:
Curious minds: "Why Curiosity Enhances Learning" by Marianne Stenger for Edutopia:http://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-curiosity-enhances-learning-marianne-stenger
Motivation in the classroom: "Lack of Motivation" by Dr Ken Shore for Education World: http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/shore/shore060.shtml
For ASCDExpress: http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol5/504-reeves.aspx