Thursday, December 22, 2011

How can you help your child to develop his talent

If you have understood the three steps of the unfolding of talent, you will realise that the process of 'growing the talent' starts only after your child starts working on a task. So what can you do now when he/she is in secondary school? And is it necessary to start the 'preparation' at such a young age? Let us delve on this.

In school your child is gaining knowledge. While gaining knowledge in school, he/she is acquiring 'abilities' which he can convert later into useful 'skills' that can be later transformed into 'talent'. Which useful abilities is he developing in school? Can we enhance his abilities better to help him? Can we plug the gaps in his abilities that he requires later to 'realise' his talent?

Child develops abilities through abstraction

Your child learns different subjects like science, history, geography or mathematics. While studying a subject, he mentally
  • isolates 'parts' of a 'whole' , 
  • understand 'parts' one at a time, and then 
  • understand how each part 'depends' on other part ( or relate to each other) to help the functioning of 'whole'. 
This process is called abstraction.

For instance, while abstracting a topic of biology, such as human body, your child 1>isolates the 'parts' of 'whole' human body such as lungs and heart. He will then understand 2>what individual 'parts' do. For instance, she will learn that 'lungs purify blood' or 'stomachs digest food and extract nutrients from the body' and so on.  Then she will understand 3>how the different parts are 'dependent' on each other. For instance, although lungs purify blood they depend on heart to 'get' and 'pump' the blood to different parts of the whole body. Abstraction helps the child to develop the links in a chain that together help him understand a topic.

While the child is 'abstracting' different topics in a subject, he is developing abilities. For instance, while abstracting the subjects in biology he is developing his 'logical ability'. While abstracting topics in mathematics, geometry and algebra, she is developing her 'mathematical ability'. Some cognitive researchers like Howard Gardner** club the two abilities - logical and mathematical - in one ability. While learning the 'language' the child is developing 'linguistic' ability. Science subjects like physics and science refine the 'logical' ability further, by delving deeper in the 'parts', such as understanding the 'physical property' of materials such as 'material composition' and others.

However, due to the dynamics of knowledge development in school, not all children develop these abilities to the same degree. For instance, due to group-teaching of schools, all children are forced to learn every subject at the same pace and sequence. If a child fails to understand a topic/lesson for some reason, he falls behind the class, due to which he cannot understand the next lesson. As the child is unable to keep pace with the subsequent lessons in sequence, he slowly loses his interest in the topic. However as 'topics/subjects' are interrelated, it hampers his learning of another related topic. His overall growth of abilities gets hampered. As the child is unaware of this dynamics of knowledge development, he often misses opportunities to correct himself in time or to find different ways of building his ability in a different way.

Which abilities are nurtured by schools?

Schools do not promote all abilities equally. Today cognitive psychologists agree that school curriculum mainly focuses on developing three abilities - Logical, mathematical and linguistic - that can be developed later into a 'skill or talent'. Musical, spatial and body-coordination abilities do not get developed well in school, because they are poorly supported by schools. Therefore, if your child wants to develop these three abilities to a sufficient degree, they have to go for special coaching or special schools.

Some abilities like 'logical ability of extensive subjects' are either ignored or poorly taught in schools. For instance, subject such as accounting ( which is very useful in commercial jobs that are related to banking and accounts) are not introduced in a school, while subjects like Geography are taught 'poorly' in schools. Many students miss the opportunity of  developing this talent, because they are simply not introduced at the school-stage.

Some abilities, although crucial in life, are completely ignored by schools although they significantly influence the long term talent-development of a child. For instance, abilities like interpersonal,(enabling one to interact with others) and intrapersonal ( enabling one to manage one's self) are required by every professional, be it an engineer, lawyer or a doctor. These are complementary skills. Without them, even the basic core skill, say of logical skill of science, cannot produce desired result. Many researchers believe that these abilities are so crucial that professional today cannot convert his brilliant academic intelligence into a useful talent without them. For instance, Daniel Goleman insists that emotional intelligence ( which is part of intrapersonal ability) is even more important than academic intelligence!

Some school environments ( such as Montessori and Waldorf) are conducive enough to develop these two crucial abilities - interpersonal and intrapersonal - in your child. But traditional school environments are not ideal for developing these abilities. If your child is studying in one of the traditional school, he needs external assistance in developing these abilities.

In short, if you want to help your child ( who is in VIIIth to XIIth class) gain an extra step in fulfilling  his talent, you can take one or more of the following four actions:

1. Help him 'decode' the dynamics of knowledge development, so that he can develop the three core abilities - logical, mathematical and linguistic - to its maximum level! If he understands the linkage between 'abilities' and 'skills', he will know what 'tasks' he could possibly select in the future !

2. Introduce her to interpersonal ability: Being able to 'articulate' one's thoughts and communicate them to others is an important component of this ability. However, be aware that communication is often mistaken as 'talking', instead of 'listening'!

3. Sensitize him to his intrapersonal ability: Journey of managing one's self is a long journey; but it is better to start it early. Understanding one's emotions, stress buttons and choice triggers ( beliefs) are the three components of intrapersonal ability.

4. Give him a tool to 'synthesise' his multiple abilities into one 'whole'. He needs a tool so that he can 'catch his own fish', because only he alone knows what he 'wants'. Systems thinking is a well known tool that can serve this function.

** Howard Gardner calls these 'abilities' as 'intelligences'. Interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence are two important intelligences in his list.

No comments: