Is Talent A Thing?

As something a bit different, today i want to share a really thoughtful and interesting radio broadcast from the UK BBC Radio 4, on the subject of talent.

It comes from the perspective of how people get employed for jobs and how the typical recruitment interviewing process does a rather poor job of matching the right people to the right role opportunities. The presenter, having done a pretty good job of debunking talent as a reason for recruiting people, goes on to explore what would be effective and sensible criteria for recruiting.

Along the way, she takes inputs from Google HR, Carol Dweck (on Mindset) and Angela Duckworth (on Grit). She also explores the concept of ‘cultural fit’, growth in intelligence (at the individual and society level) and some techniques for better interviewing that gets us beyond simply employing the people we like.

BBC Radio 4 – Is Talent A Thing?

These are issues that go to the very root of how we ensure that, as often as possible, we get “the right people on the bus.” Maybe there are no organisations where this is more important that schools. I believe it’s so critical that we be given the support of our school communities to recruit for character and attitudes, rather than paper qualifications etc. However, when companies employ for attitude they do so in the knowledge that they then give themselves the time to train for the skills specifically required on the job. However, in schools, parents have a direct interest in the skills levels and their expectations are immediate. Therefore, often, a parent will want that the person with the better immediately applicable skills (subject knowledge, classroom management techniques etc.) is employed as that immediately impacts their child’s education, even though that person may not have the best attitude or be the best person to have in the school for the longer term.

In International schools where the Principals and other campus leadership are on relatively short fixed term contracts, these short term vs long term issues are even more critical. The teacher who can deliver something today will too often be preferred over the one with much to offer in the longer term. When compared with other types of organisations, i fear this puts schools at too big a disadvantage. can you recruit for immediate skills and teach/ train/ mentor for attitude? I rather fear that is a long and bumpy road. I’m really not sure that schools are ready or able to train teachers for those things.

For us as educators, there’s another dimension that is critical. This is that we must also be helping our children to acquire these attitudes and attributes to enable them to have the best possible choices available to them and the best chances for success in their future lives. Grit, Mindset, resilience, EQ and other factors have to figure prominently in our thinking for the pupils – and they won’t come from drilling syllabus in to them! Further, teachers with Grit, growth mindset and positive social and emotional skills are most likely to be equipped to help pupils acquire those skills and attributes.

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Learning to Learn Well

If, in education, what we really care about is learning – then why do we spend so little time training, refining, giving feedback on and advancing the skills and techniques of learning? My suspicion has long been that when the early models of education were set up, it was meant to be a filtering system – and a filtering system that has everyone succeeding isn’t at all effective. So, if some accidentally had effective study and learning techniques, they succeeded. And, bad luck for the rest.

Whatever the reasons, they need no longer apply. This was actually one of the issues that motivated me to move in to the education field, based upon my own experiences in school and college when i was trying to figure out how to be an effective learner, largely without assistance. I believe today, we have a duty to share best practices and knowledge about the learning process with every student – ariming them with the skills to make themselves the best learners they can be.

Here’s an interesting, short article from Inc.com, written for adults, but setting out five practical steps that can be applied by learners of any age;

Inc.com – 5 Super Efficient Ways to Learn More in Less Time

I firmly believe that as students master the skills of learning effectively, they’re more likely to maintain interest and motivation, more likely to want to learn more and more likely to develop the habits that will see them become lifelong learners.

Happy Learning !!!

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