Yesterday was the end of year assembly at my boys’ school. It’s the one where awards are given out and the school captains are chosen. There is excitement and I can imagine for many children, there is disappointment as they watch others receive medals and it’s never them on stage.
When I went to school, I was an all round achiever, meaning I was above average at English, Maths, Science etc. but never the best at anything. Never the one that got any awards. It’s 30 years on that I know why as hard as I tried, I could never have been the best…because what I excelled at wasn’t measured by our archaic system.
Whilst ‘archaic’ seems a little harsh, let me ask you – how many jobs have you got recently where you have only needed IQ? How many of you were creative and felt out of your depth or bored to death at school? How many of you excelled at human behaviour and emotional intelligence that was never even mentioned at school, let alone measured? How many of you have developed a successful life without any formal qualifications whatsoever?
In the past 7 years I have changed careers and I now know what it feels like to be the best. Because when I sit with another human being, be it a parent, a teacher or someone else. I am able to help them be their best and do what they love. Every. single. time. I am able to facilitate transformative results that did not even exist in my realm of possibility for most of my life.
Because emotional intelligence (EQ) wasn’t on my report card. Nor was human behaviour, nor was resilience and unfortunately they weren’t skills that were understood by my parents to point out to me either. Yet they are my strongest skills.
So most of my life I’ve felt unintelligent… It hasn’t been easy to shift my beliefs about myself, but it’s happening and I don’t feel unintelligent anymore.
To clarify, being the best is not a comparison to another. It’s a comparison to myself. Am I doing me? Am I being who I am in the world? This is what I want for every one of us.
Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid ~ Albert Einstein
So when my youngest son came home with a medal for academic excellence in mathematics, of course I was excited for him and of course I celebrated his achievement and asked him how he felt about his achievement, because I know that maths is his happy place and he is exceptional at it. But what angered me is my other child, who like me is an all rounder at school. He has high emotional intelligence – a skill I know is at the heart of the skills required for the future of work. I was angry because he has never been recognised or awarded for the thing he does best, because the current system doesn’t measure this.
So yes, I’m angry and disappointed for every child out there that has a genius that is not recognised in the education system we currently have. Let me be clear, this is not an individual teacher or school problem. This is far bigger than that. There needs to be a societal shift around what we value. As organisations shift what they value in employees, universities will shift in their requirements. As universities shift so will schools. And at the other end of the spectrum we as parents can be mindful of the diversity we advocate in our homes first of all.
I’m hopeful, because I see more and more organisations, universities, schools and parents looking outside the box for solutions to this problem.
EVERY child has a genius. It’s all of our responsibility to help them own it.