We are wasting the best talents of our next generation.

16 July 2013

As the original texts are written in Turkish, English translation is provided for non-Turkish readers. The author apologizes in advance for any and all possible changes and losses in meaning due to translation.

The school year has just ended and many students of all levels should have a short (!) time to breathe. However, are students really doing this?

A vast majority of students are already rolled up in prep schools, camps and education centers, in order to prepare themselves for the next semester. Parents are more stressed (mentally and financially) than the students themselves. Why? To give parents credit, their instinctual behavior and attention is ” not to make any mistakes” when it comes to the future of their children. For this reason they are acting upon the advice of the teachers and are using all efforts to improve their child’s academic records in the areas where their weaknesses are.   As a parent myself of three, my wife and I often question ourselves on the topic of how to find the right balance between focusing on the weak areas and nurturing the strength of our children.

Interestingly (empirically) the main dominator of a child’s success in life will be her natural talent, strengths, way of thinking and her uniqueness.  They will succeed life because of these specific talents they have. The best sales person is not one who has the highest GPA or one who comes from a top school, but more the person who has the unique talent, the individual personality to deal with customers. We look at people who solve problems differently, who are creative in addressing issues from different perspectives and angles. When we at Siemens focus on new talents for our company we do not only look at the academic grades. We look and assess the individuals unique capabilities, thinking patterns, and values  and how they solve problems differently. It is of question whether  our education system is teaching and grooming upon these aspects? Unfortunately the present system of education is still lacking in making us subservient, mechanical and deeply thoughtless. It may awaken them intellectually but inwardly it leaves them incomplete.

In our education system ( not only in Turkey) we place too much emphasis  on the explicit conventional knowledge training. Another knowledge exists however which we call Tacit knowledge. The term “tacit knowing” or “tacit knowledge” was first introduced into philosophy by Michael Polanyi in 1958 in his magnum opus Personal Knowledge. Here we talk about a specific knowledge and thinking pattern which is difficult to convey to another person in writing or simple verbalizing. Our children know more than they can tell but they may not be able to articulate it in the conventional academic way and as a result of  time pressure.

Teachers and parents are often not aware of the knowledge their children possess or how it can be valuable, if nurtured wisely to the future children or our society. In light of this our teachers and our school system needs to adopt a revolutionary change.
The ultimate aim of education and educators should be grooming the future citizens of our nation by focusing on those with diverse thinking capabilities which should be construed as a gift and not as a failure.

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