Paving the Runway
Updated: Sep 4, 2018
How can adults help children on their respective paths? Here's my two cents.
Potential in children is what drives us to be their greatest cheerleaders. On the flip side, it also can make us their worst nightmare. We have expectations of children—some reasonable and some not—because we want them to succeed. But if we want them to succeed on our terms and on our timeline, we are thinking about ourselves and not the future civil engineer that started her own nonprofit think tank at ten and then brokered peace between warring nations by her eighteenth birthday.
I had a former colleague who said that, "the job of adults is to pave the runway for children and they will take off when they are ready." He also added that, "you may need to pave a longer runway than you initially envisioned." For example, it can't be possible that every child in Mr. Smith's math class is ready to understand the quadratic formula at the same time— Markus is going to need a bit more time but will get there eventually; which takes me conveniently to another transportation metaphor.
[A]ll students will get where they're going; however, they may not get there the way you imagined.
The saying that, "all trains will eventually arrive at the station" describes the reality of all of our students. That is to say, all students will get where they're going; however, they may not get there the way you imagined. Some may arrive by train but others may come by horse, helicopter or pogo stick. In the end, the lesson is the same; adults need to provide gentle guidance and ample space for children to develop on their own unique timelines.