'He Likes to Dive'
Does personal meaning have a place in learning today?
In a conversation recently, a friend of mine made the offhand comment that his son "likes to dive." That was it: "My son likes to dive." Because of this like, the father explained, he and his wife were taking the boy to the pool every day, just so that he could dive.
I found my friend's comments refreshing because they were not accompanied by what I call the "world-class standards" conversation. We all have experienced this. It happens when an adult is given the opportunity to describe the gifts of a young family member or other close relation. The conversation starts with an activity that the child appears to enjoy intensely and at an early age. Adults view this interest as a sign of great things to come: Today a child likes to dive, to hit a ball, to run, to play chess, to sing; tomorrow, the grownups will find themselves sitting in stadiums or concert halls with thousands cheering their offspring's achievements.
For parents, close relatives, and, unfortunately, many of those who should know better (teachers and coaches, for example), kids aren't to be encouraged simply to like to dive, or to play baseball, or to ski, or even to read. In our contemporary "culture of excellence," kids are expected to transform a proclivity into a world-class skill. A skill that has the potential of...
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