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Not surprisingly, people learn best when they
  • are ready to take on the challenge
  • want to develop the new skill, understand something, or gain new knowledge
  • understand what they need to do to get there
  • believe they can “do it” with effort and perseverence
  • feel good about the challenge before them (isn’t too hard or too easy)
  • enjoy themselves while they are learning
  • progress in their knowledge/ability at a steady pace
  • apply their knowledge or use their new skill
  • trust the source of information
  • feel confident that they can, through effort, succeed
Unfortunately, most schools today emphasize and reward verbal-linguistic (reading/writing), logical-analytical (math and science) and interpersonal (social) skills.  The minority of students who excel in these areas (IF they also have great short-term recall skills) are disproportionately praised and recognized because they seem to have “all the right answers” in class and do well on multiple choice and other tests.  Sadly, they and most of society see these students as “gifted” and “smart” people.  Not what they truly are: able to do better than their peers in these areas. This view is reinforced through the competitive, test-taking model of instruction that often ignores other measures of “knowing” that are just as valuable to our quality of life.
The “unsung talents” I’m referring to include: creative (artistic) people who are good at brainstorming and seeing “new ways” to do things, persons who work well independently (intrapersonal), the people who make our lives easier and more enjoyable (kinesthetic, musical), those who seek to save us from harming ourselves and other entities (naturalists, existentialists) and combination of these forces that we depend upon for our lives and quality of life.
For this reason, I say:  “No more teaching to the test; instead, let’s see all students’ best!”