Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What If You Embrace the Limitation?

In a previous post I talked about failure and the learning that can come from that.  In this post, I'd like to talk about the necessity of accepting and working with difficulties.  Every one has some sort of handicap in life.  For some this may be an actual physical disability, for others it is more subtle.  Some students have great difficulty with math, or reading or social skills.  It is a rare student who excels in every area.  What if instead of avoiding the limitations that we each have in our lives, we embraced it?  What would that look like?  How could we teach and model for our students this concept?  Here is a terrific TED talk by Phil Hansen called, Embrace the Shake:

Although Phil is talking to adults, his message has great meaning for educators as well.  What if we encouraged children to see their limitations as new possibilities?

Phil Hansen's point of embracing the shake that he had developed due to permanent nerve damage is a new perception of a physical difficulty.  What if instead of trying to hold the pencil tighter and decrease the shaking in his hand, he just let it happen?  What new way of creating would he discover?  Likewise, what if instead of trying to overcome difficulties by trying harder, we looked for the gift, the opportunity in the midst of them?  Hansen makes an important point when he describes the first time he had enough money to buy a ton of art supplies.  He was faced with the possibility of creating virtually anything.  Instead of being creative, he found himself being paralyzed by having too many choices.  He entered an artistic slump.  In many instances, students are in the same situation.  We can be more creative and more successful when we limit our choices. 

I think this idea of learning to embrace what ever limitation we are faced with is an important one.  It is different from giving up on something because we failed.  It is different from overcoming the limitation by trying harder.  Instead it is embracing the difficulty and working within the confines of the limitation in a new way.  It is changing our perception.  How does this relate to your personal limitations?  How can you teach this concept to students?

As I begin a new Wyatt book, my focus will be on the disappointments and failures that children face in life and how to cope with them.  The book is well underway and I would love to hear your input.  You can sign up to be a part of my Insiders group and get updates and a free download of the book as it becomes available.  Sign up here:  Wyatt Insiders

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