Watching this made me think of all kinds of questions:
1. How much does he practice this?
2. How long has he been doing this?
3. Has his mom told him not to do that in the house?
4. How many things has he broken in the house by a flying yoyo?
5. Has he demonstrated this in school?
6. Has he been reprimanded for doing this in school?
7. Has he done this during class and disrupted the class?
8. What is his behavior like in class?
9. Is he more interested in doing this than paying attention in class?
10. Does he do his homework?
11. Do other adults praise his talent?
12. What is his self esteem like?
I wonder if schools highlight students’ talents enough. I had a student who was extremely talented with a skateboard. In fact he would have his friends videotape him on the skateboard and many times show me the CD of him skateboarding. He loved skateboarding and anything about skateboarding so I tried to gear his lessons around skateboarding. I found articles for him to read about skateboarding and let him write up persuasive arguments on why he felt it was a safe sport. I also let him videotape a commercial (which he has to prepare and write up) about skateboarding and he also wrote a paper about the history of skateboarding. He did a presentation for the class about ramp building and all the things that have to be taken into consideration in order to build the ramp. I was very interested in his talent and he knew it so he was a wonderful student in my class with very little behavior problems. Unfortunately he had been diagnosed with ADHD and had issues with impulsivity so I tried to take that into account was preparing lessons for him.
Even though he was great for me and I was able to gear lessons to meet his needs and accommodate his interests, this did not happen in other classes. His behavior was atrocious (according to other teachers) and they could not control him. He would not fit into the “mold” that other students did. Because he had little interest in the subject, he would not pay attention or complete assignments. This was a shame because this boy was very smart and charming but other teachers hated him. I would ask him why he was so good for me and not others and he looked at me and said, “You like me and wouldn’t let me get away with any of that.” He felt the other teachers didn’t like him but he knew I cared and that made a big difference to him. It makes me sad to hear that after I retired, he quit eleventh grade. I felt like if I had stayed, he might have finished so I’m feeling guilty about that (but that is a whole other story).
I believe if teachers found out about students’ talents (teachers may have to dig for this), it would affect their relationships with their students. The yoyo kid obviously has the ability to focus and learn new things and persist until he gets it right. So did my skateboard boy. How do we harness this enthusiasm for the classroom? How can we learn from these students in order to make the classroom successful for them? I think we have to start by getting to know the students and find out their interests and abilities outside the classroom. If possible, integrate their interests into the lessons in order to hold their attention. We need to not take it personally when a student misbehaves in our classroom and think of how we can preempt the bad behavior so being in class can be a positive event for all involved. Let the students showcase their talents which will build up their self esteem. By doing some of these things, maybe schools will be a place where students want to stay and learn.