THE LITTLE PICASSO
When I was in 4th grade, I met this guy who was really cool. He was very popular in the school among the students and teachers, for he had a very especial drawing skill and also for he held the Guinness record for school detentions, basically because he used to spend most of his time exercising his skill, even in class… in fact, especially during the classes time.
It was not that the teachers did not recognize his talent. On the contrary, he was used to being praised for his deeds by them all of the time. It was rather the school system that did not how to handle with this potential maestro because it didn´t consider him as such in the first place.
That was the early 80´s, though I don´t think the situation would be any different if this young Picasso attended 4th grade today. Basically because despite the major paradigm shift in our understanding of intelligence, owed in part to Harvard professor Howard Gardner´s work and others, the traditional notion of intelligence (understood merely in terms of Logical-Mathematical, Verbal-linguistic or even Spatial reasoning) is still widely upheld.
Some days ago, I happened to meet my school friend again. After greeting him, I asked him what he was doing for a living and he told me he was working as a bartender. I asked him about his interests as a kid (meaning his extraordinary gift) and he said something like: “Arrrgh! Childish stuff!”. In that moment I realized that the problem did not have to do much with the means (this or that concept of intelligence) but rather with the ends: the lack of an appropriate answer to the fundamental question of “what we educate for?" That question where the less fortunate answer is “to teach people how to survive…” because that would be very sad.