The Most Important Thing

How often does life reward us for being the smartest one in the room? TV trivia show prizes aside, how many things in life come to us because we know more than anyone else?

Will it assure us entrance into a good college?

Will it find us a life partner?

Will it advance our career?

No, no, and no.

The fact is, intelligence alone is almost never the measuring stick for success. Don’t get me wrong – it’s good to be smart. We need quick learners and strong thinkers in this world. But the ones who go farthest in life are those who can work with others and communicate their ideas clearly. That can be hard news for a kid who’s labeled gifted or talented, or “GT.” After all, if I define myself by my intellectual ability, where does that put me once it’s no longer such an big deal?

While it’s an adjustment, this shift in attitude is also a relief. Without the pressure to be the smartest one in a group, children can take risks and make mistakes. It also eases the feelings of competition that often surface when “GT” kids are placed together. Students can focus on creating partnerships in a learning community. As a teacher, I take the job of teaching concepts very seriously.

But life is about so much more.

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5 Responses to “The Most Important Thing”

  1. suzy hutchison Says:

    As a parent, not a trained educator, I’ve always thought it important to have my children involved in activities that do not come easily for them. This creates an opportunity for them to learn to how to learn a new skill and hopefully, an appreciation for the efforts of people who struggle with things that come easily to my children. In addition I think it is very important that as parents, we are careful to not exclusively compliment on intellectual achievement, and comment in front of our children about impressive efforts of people, even if the person did not succeed.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Yes! And I know they don’t like struggling (I know that personally now!) but hopefully they will appreciate it in the long run. It takes a lot of work, this whole parenting thing, doesn’t it?

  2. Pat Says:

    Yep, you got it! 21st century learning = creating, collaborating, communicating, and more. Learning happens at the “I don’t know” place.

  3. Jean Says:

    I’m going to wallpaper my kids’ rooms with this. I have always maintained (and as of late, often expressed) that the numbers mean NOTHING if not backed by a kindness, cooperation and quality of character.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      I’m right with you. I wish there were more parents who had such a healthy attitude toward learning and life.

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