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Talent for Learning

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Talent for Learning An Article describing a refreshingly new and inspiring definition of 'talent'. Includes 6 steps for developing a talent-based ethos in school.

Talent wins games but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
Michael Jordan

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
Albert Einstein

Talent: gift or hard graft? Talent: revealed, discovered, nurtured or earned? 
Talent management: a school’s fundamental purpose?


This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Gifted, Able & Talented, Multiple Intelligences, Skills-Based Learning, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Gifted Able & Talented
Airport bookshops used be filled with titles such as:

• Fish! A Remarkable way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
• Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change
• The One Minute Manager
• Our Iceberg is Melting
• The Carrot Principle

Then they filled with ones like this:

• Outliers: The Story of Success
• The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t Born, it’s Grown
• The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
• Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In the genre of popular feel-good-get-effective publishing we’ve moved from pithy management techniques to an acute awareness of personal potential. The focus has changed from leading others to enlightening ourselves and is underpinned by new thinking about talent. 

Talent and the success it brings is not a free gift for the elite; it’s the right of the masses. Is Bill Gates a genius or an especially talented guy?  Bill Gates is successful partly because in 1968 he had access to technology before his contemporaries; a head start they could never make up. Gates was fascinated by computers and this drove him to put in the hours. So much so that he and his gang managed to find security loopholes in the school’s one computer to gain them extra access time. After discovery and a ban they later traded this expertise to buy additional access time. 

Gates had motivation, unswerving self-belief, opportunity above and beyond his peers and was prepared to graft. This is the essence of talent. We are not enslaved by our genetic heritage but we are at the mercy of life chances and self-belief. 

The talent zeitgeist is simple: You can make your own success.

This reworking of talent has emerged from psychology and neuroscience, been picked up by sport and business and is now seeping into education. I find that ironic. Talent should be the domain of schools. It should start in the classroom. Teachers’ expertise in managing it should emerge naturally, prompting psychological and neuro-scientific research that in turn inspires sport and business to improve themselves. It’s the wrong way round. But rather than trying to ‘turn the tanker’ let’s make the most of this inspiring new ethos of success. Let’s think about what teachers and school systems can do. Here’s a six-step process. I call it “Who moved my fishy cheesy talent code?” (see above)

(Re)define talent and success
 Bin unhelpful, limited, restrictive and outdated ideas of talent and success
 Read any book with the word ‘talent’ in its title and published in the last 2 years
 Believe that talent is more opportunity than genes; more hard graft than plain sailing

(Re)define yourself
 Examine your mindset – do you believe you are talented and successful?
 Model talent and success in front of children; allow them to see how success works
 Bring your interests and talents outside of school into your teaching

Understand motivation
 Use your knowledge of children: What inspires and engages them? Build it into lessons
 What inspires and engages you? Build it into your life, work and learning
 Understand and use human needs: significance, certainty, surprise, reward…

Understand hard work
 Collect examples of hard work and relentless effort that have paid off
 Tell children about your own way of putting in effort and getting things done
 Leave no stone unturned in looking for and praising repeated effort and positive self-belief

Embed talent rituals
 Weekly opportunity audit: what opportunities have you given your children in the last 5 days?
 Weekly circle time sharing success, talents, effort
 New awards: Challenge of the Week, Mistake of the Week, Success of the Week

Embed talent strategies
 Develop a whole school talent management strategy for children, teachers and parents
 Link every aspect of your curriculum to your concept of talent and success
 Create a single page A4 Talent policy


Related Resources:

Hard Work

Huff Thinking

Including Gifted, Able & Talented Children
in the Primary Classroom
by Mike Fleetham

No Such Thing as SEN?

Reward, Habit and Motivation

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