"Is talent a bad thing? Are we all equally talented? No and no. The ability to quickly climb the learning curve of any skill is obviously a very good thing, and, like it or not, some of us are better at it than others.
So why is it such a bad thing to favor 'naturals' over 'strivers'? In my view, the biggest reason a preoccupation with talent can be harmful is simple: By shining our spotlight on talent, we risk leaving everything else in the shadows. We inadvertently send the message that... other factors--including grit---don't matter as much as they really do." (Duckworth, 2016, p. 31)
Duckworth tells about the life of a psychologist just two doors down from her. Scott Barry Kaufman has several degrees from prestigious universities, has often had his research published in scientific journals, and plays the cello just for fun. However as a child, he was considered to be a slow learner, performed poorly on an IQ test, was placed in special ed classes, and repeated the third grade.
When he was fourteen an observant special education teacher questioned why Scott wasn't in more challenging classes. Scott had always assumed that his lack of talent would always limit what he'd be able to accomplish. "Meeting a teacher who believed in his potential was a critical turning point: a pivot from This is all you can do to Who knows what you can do?" At this point Scott started challenging his boundaries. He signed up for Latin, choir, the school musical, etc. These weren't exactly easy to him but learning the cello was. He began practicing eight to nine hours a day in order to show people that he was "intellectually capable of anything". He improved so much that he earned a seat on the high school orchestra. He kept up the work and found more time to practice such as during lunch time. By the time he was a senior he was second chair! He was winning all kinds of awards in music. He began taking honors classes and doing well in them. All of his friends were in gifted and talented programs and he wanted to join them, however the school psychologist told him that with his low IQ score he would not be able to.
Scott wanted to start studying intelligence and applied for the cognitive science program at Carnegie Mellon University. Even with his high achieving grades and extracurricular accomplishments he was rejected. He concluded it was because of his low SAT scores. He was determined to get into Carnegie Mellon so he auditioned for the opera program and was accepted because the music program did not look at SAT scores. He gradually took more and more psychology courses and then made psychology his minor. Eventually he transferred his major from opera to psychology and graduated Phi Beta Kappa!
"As much as talent counts, effort counts twice." (Duckworth, 2016, pp. 32-34)
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The directors of PEERS love sharing anything that will help parents more easily be involved in their child's education and feel successful as a parent of a school aged child. We have all felt the struggle and found successes along the way that we want to share with you!