Diversity in the fishy type of school…not so important!

…Spoiler alert! The fish are our kids…


That tree? Standardised tests, limited categories worthy of recognition & merit and adult-centred content. Well that’s less fun to think about than fish climbing trees! Time to embrace the beautiful diversity our children have to offer. 

What are you actually talking about!?

I am of course talking about the famous Albert Einstein quote (although it has been disputed that he actually said it!); “If you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will spend it’s lifetime believing that it is stupid”.  That’s what we’re doing to kids when we expect them to reach certain milestones, learn specific academic content and largely just go on developing at the same pace as their peers.

As parents, and a lot of educators (I’m not anti-teacher I promise – in fact, I am a teacher and I love teaching too!!), we know on a deep level how amazing and special each of our children are. We know that they each bring their own set of talents, interests, quirks and strengths to the table and when we acknowledge and allow space for this diversity, education – and life, becomes infinitely more magical.

We also know that many of our modern day classrooms just don’t allow for this magic to flourish, there’s a list of objectives that students have to meet at the same time, in the same way, and there are very few talents that are deemed worthy of recognition within school merit systems.   

I get it…. I really do

As a mum and a teacher, I’m very aware of both sides here – I know there’s pressure from above to meet standardised criteria, to contribute to the collection of data and to “score well”, I know there’s a never-ending list of things you’re supposed to teach and zero time to achieve these goals – I get it!


… what about the kids?

  • What about the joy they’re missing out on?
  • What about the damage this is all having on their development?
  • What about their mental health?
  • What about the creativity and imagination being stolen from their precious worlds?

Val Klenowski et al. acknowledge, in their research published in ‘Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice’, that curriculum delivery is being skewed to cater for standardised testing. They point out that many “extra” content areas and teaching practices are being removed in order to achieve results in a few “testable” areas. As a comparison – the Finland education system is known for it’s high student engagement levels, higher attendance rates and delivery of a truly inclusive and equal education that celebrates diversity. It is not mandatory or common for students to receive traditional grades until the 8th grade, leaving plenty of time for celebrating individual learning styles. So It’s very doable, and hugely advantageous.


The learning Lab provides a great blog all about how educators and communities can teach children about diversity as a strength… have a look here  …AMAZING!!!

If classroom teachers and parents aren’t advocating for the imminent reform of the education system as it stands then who will? Of course it’s difficult… nothing that was worth it was ever easy!

We need to be encouraging and celebrating our creative arts performers, sporting superstars, story tellers, abstract artists, gardeners, farmers, computer programmers…

However even more importantly, kids that just don’t fit into any box! We don’t need to be placing and labelling them… their access to freedom, creativity and space to explore are far more important… and it’s these freedoms that should be their natural right within an education system that by now, should know much better.

“There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.” – Fred Rogers

We all remember these teachers, those that made us want to learn, want to achieve… they made us feel heard, appreciated! They truly advocated for the importance of diversity in education. When we allow children the opportunity to be themselves, to display their strengths in their own ways and make them feel like they belong just as they are – that’s where the magic is!!

Of course schools will have academic goals, however what I am arguing, is that we allow students creativity in reaching these goals, and flexibility in timelines. We also need to celebrate the myriad of bright, shining individuals in our schools and communities and how powerful this diversity can be for everyone.


So… what can we do as parents?

Jim Taylor discusses the importance of raising self-reliant and independent children who find their own reasons to achieve in his blog that you can read here

 These children are often those that were given the opportunity and guidance to explore achievement activities of their own choosing. This blog also shares some helpful tips on ways to foster this relationship as a parent.

Within the Triangle Genius community, we celebrate all children and the magic they’re bursting to display. We feature businesses that celebrate these same ethos and are contributing to the change we need to see. We aim to help parents navigate the directory and find services that match their unique needs.

We are always on the lookout for businesses, particularly those in regional communities or based online to reach families who may be struggling to find support for their wonderfully out-of-the-box learners, and we pride ourselves on quality recommendations that will help you, help them – SHINE.

Ashlei ~ Triangle Genius

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