Can everyone turn into a genius? (about Genius in All of Us, by David Shenk)

I must say up front that I have not read The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong, by David Shenk. I’m only writing about the Talk of the Nation NPR show “Not Too Late To Tap Into ‘Genius In All Of Us‘” discussing it.

I really liked the following statement:

“Having high expectations is always crucial. Another is that (and I do not envy the teacher in this) that the critical thing in a classroom of 20 kids or 30 kids or, God forbid, more than 30 kids is trying to find out the level of all these different kids and hit all of them just slightly above their level – not too far above, because that’s going to be discouraging to anyone, certainly not too far below because that’s going to feel really boring and be discouraging for a different reason, and also trying to find, in each of these distinct personalities, what gets them going.”

I wish David Shenk elaborated on the “discouraging for a different reason” piece, but overall he did say he does not talk much about education in his book. Too bad…

It is nice to tell the kids they all can be who they want to be and reach for the stars. I assume that this is what Genius in All of Us is saying.

But what about the kids who are very smart but whose passion for learning (and whose advanced synaptic connections) are killed by teachers forcing them to stay way below their level of ability?

Baking bread and perfect life

My son was invited to a birthday party last week and I had a great conversation with other moms about our school district, about meds, about how we manage stress, and about lots of other things. It was very helpful for my emotional and mental well being to find out they are dealing with similar issues I am.

We were also talking about  blogs and blogging and I mentioned I this blog but said I haven’t written anything in ages. I was saying I don’t have the time, but then, it doesn’t really take that much time to write short posts, which is what blog post should be (short). And as the teacher in a “Writing and Editing for the Web” class I checked out (but didn’t take) was saying — you have to give yourself five to ten minutes to write it. Edit it once. And post it. You can’t agonize over everything you write. You have to learn how to write fast.

How does that relate to baking bread and perfect life? One of the moms apparently reads a blog written by a mom who has four kids and, if you believe the blog, she’s perfect and her life is perfect. (I’m afraid I do not remember the title of the blog.) The mom I spoke to sneeringly said that the blogger mom even “bakes bread every day.”

I found that interesting… If baking bread every day would make your life perfect, I should already have a perfect life. I do bake bread every day, but our life is … what it is. I only bake our own bread because organic bread without preservatives is expensive, and I don’t want to feed kids the “normal” bread full of stuff other than what should go in a bread — milk or water, flour, some sugar or honey, oil or butter, and yeast. By the way, my “bread bible” is Bread Machine Magic, Revised Edition: 138 Exciting Recipes Created Especially for Use in All Types of Bread Machines.