Saturday, March 7, 2009


Yesterday in our teacher's meeting we talked about TAG (talented and gifted) funding.
  • First, remember I am a shop teacher and only can process information at my ability level.
  • Second, I know from logic and from past experience I am not always right, but I do believe what I say.
  • Third, "controversy causes learning" which means debate helps us determine the best way. Fear mixed with collective thinking will suppress the potential of individuals and groups. Do not be afraid, especially concerning something you care about. Seriously, on the other hand, if you don't care, put up with anything because, in this case, "mediocrity is underrated" (This is one of my original quotes and a favorite around the supper table at home as I teach my boys how the world works and how to set priorities. As surely as you can excel in somethings, you must accept mediocrity in somethings.)
So, where am I heading? Below are two videos of two high school students from Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. I am not comparing these two students but using them to prove a point. One student you should know. She is a national hero and a world wide celebrity who attends the same high school as my boys. In fact, one of my sons recently talked to her at a Valentine's dance a few weeks ago. The other video is of one of my high school sons performing today with his trumpet. He was featured in a song with his jazz band today and I put the video online. I am most certainly not comparing these two students. One is preparing to appear on the TV show "Dancing with the Stars". The other just left for work at the Italian restaurant (Bravo's) where he waits on tables. What I am going to talking about is the TAG program that neither of these people were involved in at their public schools to help them develop the areas of skill in these videos. They had good teachers, great teachers, but what they do in these videos comes from their own drive and their own parent's support, not from government funded TAG program. Remember what I said above. You have to set priorities. You can not individually, nor as an institution, be everything to everybody. Identify what you do and excel in it. My dad told me many years ago:
If you want to be a success, first, find out what you are good at and then do it all the time."
I think schools need to do this.

I am just a shop teacher with an idea that I want to present to help us find the best way. I have more to say concerning TAG including the concept that all kids are TAG, but many times schools can not identify the students area of strength because they do not teach to that area. Nor should they. Remember, focus on what your mission is and do not let someone else tell you what your mission is. Establish priorities and let the parents pick up in the areas we have chosen to accept mediocrity in. Here's the two videos of a junior and a senior at Valley High School in West Des Moines that are not in TAG.

Hawkeye, who plays the trumpet in the video above, fell in love with jazz music back when he was in the DCG middle school and took summer lessons from the legendary Mrs. Irwin. Valley High School has over 2,000 students. Hawkeye knew he wanted to be one of the best trumpet players there, so he sought out a private teacher on his own and then paid his own money to get private lessons from the trumpet professor at Drake University for the last couple of years. The public school provides a very, very good band program. I paid for the trumpet. The rest was up to Hawkeye. I do not think Hawkeye is TAG material in music, but I do know he is gifted at working hard and getting things done. My wife and I fall asleep (or, get awaken) most nights between 10:30 pm- 1:00 am to Hawkeye practicing his trumpet when he gets home from work which he goes to after track or cross country practice after school. If a kid is gifted (and, I think they all are) they should give something to society instead of demanding more from society.

As a shop teacher, I like this video of Shawn because there is a clip of her with safety glasses on at school:

Another Shawn Johnson video filmed at her home
Mr. Wiemers

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