A book found me at the library: "Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined... The Truth about Talent, Practice, Creativity, and the Many Paths to Greatness" by Scott Barry Kaufman. The notion of "giftedness" has always intrigued me. "Giftedness" is a huge piece of the Big Dreams curriculum. My personal concept of giftedness is that we all receive multiple gifts from the Creator before we come into this life...gifts that we will need in order to follow our chosen path...in order to complete our "life mission". Big Dreams are often times a tie-in to that mission. Perhaps a Big Dream is a next step on our path.
Scott Kaufman, by the way, has not written a book about following a spiritual path. He is a researcher and writer on the topics of intelligence and learning theory. What pulled me to his book were a few comments in the prologue: "We have general education, where we group children together by such arbitrary criteria as age, ability, grade and subject matter. Information is presented in discrete units, with little information given about how it is all connected or how any of it can be applied in the world at large.... In this artificial world of school... labeling is important. Individual differences collide with limited resources..." That is completely in line with my experience of our educational system and it is something I'd love to have a voice in changing. [Big disclaimer here: I taught public school art for one year and I have infinite respect for teachers. I think teachers deserve to be paid tons more and then, let loose to really teach instead of just following core curriculum, assigning numerical value to test results, and baby-sitting. A great teacher is one who inspires his/her student with a love of learning, a desire to see what comes next, and shares how the learning may be of value in that particular student's life. A great teacher also has huge passion, compassion, and hopefully, great intuition. Can these skills be taught to teachers??!]
Kaufman goes on to say, "All of us - no matter what labels we have been given - have areas of strength and weakness. What is viewed as a great asset in one culture may be overlooked in another culture. Some people are lucky and are born into environments that support and highly value their particular strengths. Others have to alter their environments to display the value of their strengths." This has a personal meaning for me:
I have over many years felt embarrassed by my propensity to cry easily...to cry at sadness, at kindness, at joy...even at emotions found in TV commercials! I felt uncomfortable knowing that my eyes and nose were reddening and that they would continue to get more deeply red as I attempted to hold back tears. Eventually, I would give in to the tears and deal with the discomfort of those watching me cry. I remember reading once about the job of professional mourner in India (probably in a cultural anthropology class), a position that does not exist in our culture. This job made sense to me. It was a job I knew I would excel at because of my gifts (ready tears and empathy). In recent years I have uncovered a value in our culture for my non-traditional gift: it makes me a better teacher. Let me explain. Through years of experience I have come to understand that my tears are a clue that there is a great truth at hand. When I read, hear a news story, listen to a friend, etc. and begin to tear up I now know that there is truth and relevance for me in those words. My tears snap me to attention! This has turned into a useful teaching tool. In class, when I read a quote or share a story that has this ring of truth and I become choked up and teary in the process, my students seem to understand the importance...the truth...also. It seems that my closeness to my emotions is finally displaying its value.
I hope that you, Dear Reader, will find the value in your less than traditional gifts as well!