Why every child has a chance to become a genius in 2018!

Every user of social media will have come across the many and varied video streams that set out to educate and inspire each day. Here’s one from Goalcast, covering musician/comedian Tim Minchin’s acceptance speech of an Honorary doctorate from the University of Western Australia, where he had previously studied for his Arts degree.

If you have time, do watch the 18 minutes or so that Dr Tim gives the WA audience, because he hits multiple nails on the head really well. If there is a specific section that strikes me best, it sits 3:16 in when he has this to say about how to achieve well:

“I advocate passionate, dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. You never know where you might end up. Just be aware the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery, which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye. “

All the world’s leading advocates of ‘what works best’ are clear about the need to become really expert in the things you are passionate about.  If you don’t have a passion, still get your head down and learn stuff, because it is in the acquisition of knowledge, skills and understanding (KSU) about a person or a subject that a passion can be discovered, be that of course love for the person or the field of enquiry.

The header for this week’s blog comes from the Walltowall people who run the Child Genius TV series for Channel 4 and they are looking for gifted children aged 8-12 (and their families) to take part. Casting Assistant Producer Anna Greenaway wrote to me today to inform me of the above, and added in her email: “Currently I am seeking applications for the 2018 series and would love to hear from the parents of gifted and talented children who may be interested. Additionally one of the last weekends in January we will be holding a Mensa backed Open Day and are keen to speak to parents who might be interested in registering their child/children for this whole day event. This is an opportunity for 8-12 year olds to get involved in Mensa Challenges, quick fire quizzes, Strategic puzzles being just a few examples, but also to meet with other families”.

Let’s be fair, dear reader, we are not the only institution with amazing children herein. No doubt Anna’s written to every school in the country to widen her trawl, but these are busy times and most of the info will end up in the digital dustbin. So those of you out there, please do think about having a go – if you don’t, you’ll never know whether you could have made the grade.  I remember when the cox, Gary Herbert (Gold medal with the Searle brothers at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992) spoke at our school speech day shortly after that event.  He made it clear “If not you, who?  If not now, when!”  That’s one great life lesson I learned from a man who learned it the most difficult way possible, training for 4 years to become an Olympian. Anna concludes her email as follows: “Please be assured that there is no obligation to take part in the programme but for anyone potentially interested in hearing more about it can call me direct on 0203 301 8480. With thanks and kindest regards, Anna.”

Tim Minchin also sets out in this video to give some life lessons, 9 of course to echo of course the nine lessons of carols of the traditional Christmas service, of which we are holding at least 3 school versions next Friday morning. My teaser for next week’s blog is it’s title “Mr Wilding’s 9 lessons for learning”, based on the clearest evidence we now have on how learning happens best.  In the meantime, let me leave you with Minchin’s closing sentiments from his address, which though now at least 4 year’s old feel as fresh now as they must have sounded then:

“And in my opinion, until I change it, life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can. Taking pride in whatever you’re doing. Having compassion, sharing ideas, running, being enthusiastic and then there’s love and travel and wine and sex and art and kids and giving and mountain climbing, but you know all that stuff already. It’s an incredibly exciting thing this one meaningless life of yours. Good luck and thank you for indulging me.”

About jameswilding

Academic Principal Claires Court Schools Long term member & advocate of the Independent Schools Association
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