Oh, and I strongly encourage setting aside the 19:14 it takes to watch this video.
Gearheads can name off every part of a motor and its role in making the combustion engine move a vehicle forward. Can you?
SHADES OF LIPSTICK
Makeup artists routinely match the best shade of lipstick for their customers, oftentimes knowing the names of each and their orientation in relation to other shades. Do you?
Actors can memorize and recite, with true replication and passion, a Shakespeare monologue, time and time again. Can you?
People have built maps so elaborate that they are laced with historical relevance and precision. Some have the ability to memorize entire maps, even multiple maps, as a way of navigating and creating better worlds. Are you able to?
PLAYS IN FOOTBALL
An NFL playbook has anywhere from 700 to 800 pages of plays, just on offense. These individuals run these plays and execute their routes or assignments with precision while being under ridiculous amounts of stress. Could you?
MUSCLES IN THE BODY
Human beings have over 600 muscles in their body. There are people capable of identifying each one from memory and describe their function. Could you? Even half? A quarter?
We have students in our classes, every single day, that fit into these categories or something else that exemplifies intelligence in a different light. However, we label them as below basic, failing, and lead them to believe that they are dumb because they can't regurgitate 20 math standards on a standardized test.
Instead of reprimanding them based on their grades in school, we need to be valuing their abilities in something that they are passionate about. There is no easy fix to the education system, to grades, and to making kids feel welcome. If we can somehow show them that what they are doing is amazing, we might be able to produce better people. This isn't a fluffy, feel good anecdote; it is an opportunity to show students that 4 subjects don't dictate your overall intelligence.
I had a student near the beginning of the year tell me that he was a failure because he failed a test and, concurrently, wound up with a temporary F in my class. When I asked him what he likes to do, his immediate response was playing the guitar. He was shocked that I didn't know the first thing about how to play. He was smarter than me, by a lot. I want my kids to know that they are smarter than me in something, anything.