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View Diary: what are our responsibilities to our talents? (7 comments)

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  •  Wonderful reflections (1+ / 0-)
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    teacherken

    These are deep thoughts, TK, and worth pondering.

    Sometime I'd like to write at greater length about the spectacular, life-changing middle school experience I shared with an unusual group of teachers and a fortunate group of kids. A seemingly ordinary public school district, on the agricultural fringe of what was just starting to become Silicon Valley, had a district superintendent with a gift for hiring remarkable teachers, and then letting them teach.

    Our group coalesced in sixth grade under a teacher who was a story in himself - an explorer on several continents, forced into very early retirement from that by illness. He and his successors the next years set very high standards, but made it clear everyone was expected to meet them, and that we could do it by helping each other. And so we did. He also brought out in us an awareness of the incredible diversity of gifts our fellow students had - not just the obvious athletic or music or core academic gifts. We had a kid who was a gifted manager - if he was in charge of a project, everything got done. Another girl had a remarkable gift for empathy. If you felt bad, she could understand and give comfort. Others were already gifted as teachers. Constant refrain: "We are so lucky to have X in the class, because he (she) has this unusual gift!" The common middle school cliques and meanness? Did not happen. That would have violated our code of cherishing our class and what each person meant to us.

    This class was the embodiment, for me, of the "beloved community", secular version. Of roughly 25 kids in that class, 3 (that I know) have died, and almost all the rest are still in touch, still get together, and still share these memories. It's not an air-brushed version: we all share the same story, and the same ideal. It really is possible for school to foster learning, recognize and cultivate individual talents, and nurture the skills to build a better community.

    So for me, your reflection on talents - how to use what your are given - reminds me of the lesson from our class - we are called to use our gifts in community, as you say, and part of that is rejoicing in the talents of those around us.

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