Why is talent and hard work so easily dismissed?

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Registered: 05-13-1998
Why is talent and hard work so easily dismissed?
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Mon, 06-20-2011 - 1:03pm

I've been frustrated before and I'll be frustrated again but I don't know that I'll ever understand. Another school talent show has come and gone. I actually appreciate DS's school talent show because unlike DD's elementary, DS's show is almost entirely filled with kids actually taking lessons and working on skills. You'd assume that the majority of audience were there to support their own child and so could appreciate the work going in but they were still a terrible audience.

For example, the 9-year-old who played her own piano accompianment as she sung a Disney song got polite applause despite the fact that she was really very good (I was incredibly impressed with her piano skills and her singing was clear and on key.) The girl who mumbled through a canned

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Registered: 04-16-2001

First, sorry for the double post above.

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Registered: 09-13-1999

My kids aren't particularly athletic nor are they into theater.

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Registered: 07-23-2002

Even though I live in a community that is sports-impoverished and arts-rich, I see the same thing Turtletime does. Soccer games here have the sidelines packed with parents, siblings, classmates, aunts, uncles, grandparents, family friends and general members of the community all cheering away. The newspapers always give plenty of column-inches to reporting on sports leagues. Our little local rag is a bit more balanced than most, but the regional newspaper is atrocious. An unschooling friend of mine once did an analysis comparing column-inches. The ratio of sports to arts coverage for children's activities was 17:1, while the participation ratio was 2.5:1.

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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Registered: 05-13-1998
Tue, 07-12-2011 - 12:27pm
I don't think anyone was putting performing arts value over sports. This topic just started with a talent show rant.

What you are experiencing with your family, I don't believe in the norm... or at least in our area. Sports are huge and even the 6-year-olds have grandparents/aunts/uncles coming out of the woodwork to cheer. My kids were the only ones with such a crowd at most of their arts performances. Most kids we knew from school were lucky to have one parent there. We attended several basketball and volleyball games a season for my nieces when they played. We've attended many games of the kid's friends (or our friend's kids) who never had any interest in attending an orchestra recital or play.

In our family (though it's just me now that the other kids are adults) we just send occasional emails with upcoming dates. If you can attend great. If not, no biggie. Time is precious. Not all shows are free and so you can't expect everyone to come and drag their families.
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Registered: 04-16-2001
Tue, 07-12-2011 - 10:33am

Coming a bit late to this discussion, but it is very interesting.

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Registered: 04-16-2001
Tue, 07-12-2011 - 10:28am
For school "talent" shows the loudest cheers are often for the child that has the most (or loudest) family membersin the audience or who is very popular with the other student and not related to the level of talent. Sometimes parents cheer loudly for the kid that is not a natural performer and thus it is a big deal to get up there and perform, even if there is no or limited talent. The audience members who may be the best judge of talnt, may not be as inclined to scream. IMHO, the audience recognizes the "best" students, even if they don't show it. I would say it is lack of showmanship, and not jealousy, that results in talented kids getting less applause.

Our elementary school did a Variety Show every year which consisted primarily of kids "dancing" to popular tunes. When my oldest was there, the 5th graders did talent in between the younger kid acts. Talent consisted of singing, piano, gymnastics or dance - with the students developing their own numbers. As the school got bigger and the kids more willing to perform, issues arose regarding what level of talent was required, who decides, and whether kids were left out. At this point, it has become parent driven and the 5th graders are in just another number. I think a lot has been lost in that the older kids don't get to be creative. OTOH, it was hard to watch a less talented (or frankly not talented) student follow one who was highly talented. It was hard for parents to say to a 10yo, you aren't good enough and many parents in this town are not realistic and would complain bitterly if their child was not allowed to perform. All in all, I think a school talent show (esp in the younger grades) is really not for talent, but to give kids a chance to perform. By middle or high school, however, talent should be required.

It is interesting to me that these posts have all focused on musical and theatrical talent, while athletics is somewhat dismissed. While it is more common for gifted kids to be focused on those areas, I have one that is athletic. In our case, we have family members who expect us to attend every theatrical performance of their children (which were are generally happy to do) and will give us a lot of grief if we have a conflict, but have never made the effort to attend even one of my son's games and he has been playing his sport for 5 years. Many of the games are within 10 minutes of their home. He works just as hard, if not harder, at his passion as my older son or his cousins have worked on theater given that the season is longer and the hours per week not much shorter. I would hope we can support gifted kids in developing all of their talents, even if it is more mainstream.
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Registered: 05-13-1998

I was thinking of your DS last night. We live in a large county with tons of youth theatre. Some are fantastic and some I'd never let my kids near however, it can't be said that

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Registered: 05-13-1998
I can see some of that. I do think many parents have a limited view on what qualifies as learning. I think many of us default to acadmics because it's something we know and sometimes even remember how we learned it. My own kids weren't interested in academics until later but "later" was like older 4 and 5. I'd have had to void the house of books for them to not learn how to read. I'd have had to stop cooking for them to not take an interest in fractions and want to learn more about them with pen and paper.

Waldorf has a lot of lovely practices and ideas. The "religion" of it gets in the way though. They want kids to "develop in their own time" and yet have very rigid ideas of when those times should be. They are inflexible as you say and that sort of education doesn't really seem to work for gifted kids.
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Registered: 07-23-2002
"I would say that it's not a passion for academics but for learning itself that really drives these kids."

Well, often they're driven to engage in a particular style of learning, one that doesn't fit well into the realm of fairy stories and felted dolls, whether it's "academic" or not. Waldorf adherents guide children away from academics because those areas tend to contain a lot of deductive reasoning, rote memory and fact-based learning and use of discrete symbolic languages like phonetics and numerals. According to their philosophy, the child's spirit will be harmed if, prior to the age the first teeth are lost, he engages in this sort of learning. But these are the areas many young gifted kids are innately drawn towards. In the absence of exposure to academic resources they are the kids who will memorize their parents' credit card numbers, or the names and stats of every baseball player on their favourite team, or the names and appearances of fifty different kinds of tractors or dinosaurs. They are the children who will take the pinecones from the nature table and build pyramidal arrays and make sense of the mathematical relationships of triangular numbers. Those things, even though they're not strictly academic, are still frowned upon by Waldorf adherents.

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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Registered: 12-06-2010
Yeah, one huge problem with Waldorf is that their methodology is so inflexible. So if your first grader is already spontaneously reading chapter books, Waldorf will still insist on having him/her draw the letter K like a king for that day's lesson.
Still, I have to wonder if how strong that "personal desire for academics" really is in gifted kids, especially really young gifted kids. I would say that it's not a passion for academics but for learning itself that really drives these kids. Waldorf's problem is not its focus on nonacademics as much as its inflexibility.

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