Is Educational Achievement the Result of Natural Talent?
Many educational approaches maintained in educational establishments are based on the principle of encouraging students to engage in the learning activity and stimulate their interest in academic subjects. At the same time, children with high capabilities sometimes have increased attention on the part of teachers and receive all the necessary help, while students with insufficiently outstanding learning indicators do not have appropriate incentives.
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Quite often, natural talent is called one of the key aspects of educational achievements and is believed to guarantee unique opportunities to those children who perform outstanding knowledge. Nevertheless, when considering innate abilities as the main success factor, the coordinators of the educational process forget about other components of learning – diligence, hardworking, craving for knowledge, and other elements of success.
This work is aimed at identifying additional incentives that can improve the academic performance of students, and the potential negative outcomes of supporting exceptionally talented children. The educational system based on the assessment of natural talent as the fundamental component of success is doomed to regress since no efforts are made to arouse students’ interest in scientific disciplines.
Implications of the Opinion on the Uniqueness of Natural Talent
Sticking to the standpoint of the uniqueness of natural talent as the major component of educational achievement is controversial for several factors. The academic environment in which students do not receive proper stimuli is characterized by poor progress or its complete absence. Certainly, innate capabilities are a valuable source for helping children to perceive learning materials and remember them better.
However, without proper background and additional classes, talent can turn into a negative side. It is essential to help children understand that without any efforts, no ability will develop into important attainments. According to Olszewski-Kubilius, Subotnik, and Worrell (2015), “the talent development process involves several key transitions whereby potential is developed into competencies, competencies into expertise, and expertise to eminence” (p. 195). Consequently, innate skills are the basic stage of success, and their development is the integral part of learning in any academic environment.
Another argument in support of the limitless possibilities of natural talent lies in motivation. In case pupils do not have relevant goals and do not seek to find the ways of implementing them, even high capabilities will not help them to achieve academic success. Johnsons, Crosnoe, and Elder (2001) give an example of an educational environment with minority students and argue that their motivation is often higher than that of most of their peers. An opportunity to receive education is often one of the few tools that contribute to obtaining important knowledge and, consequently, contributing to career development.
The authors note that children from minority social groups are “more likely to enter academic curriculum tracks,” which, in turn, increases their chances of learning success (Johnsons et al., 2001, p. 323). Talented students who do not show interest in education lose their ability to think extraordinarily, and their level of development becomes not much different from that of their peers. Therefore, it is essential to keep students motivated and remind them of the importance of developing those strengths that they have since only in this way, can progress be made.
Incentives to Turn Natural Talent into Motivation
In order to prevent the regress of learning and stop talented students from missing a valuable opportunity to hone their skills, it is crucial to establish an appropriate academic environment where pupil motivation plays an important role. As such a model, one can resort to various methods and compare the approaches of different pedagogical doctrines. Chen, Bennett, and Maton (2008) cite a case study based on the opposition of two learning systems – western and eastern. According to the authors, the western educational model is characterized by flexibility and the promotion of critical thinking (Chen et al., 2008).
Today, when much attention is paid to developing the cognitive skills of students, this form of work can be productive. Moreover, talented children have an opportunity to realize their potential since such a program provides for different degrees of the complexity of educational materials and dynamic assessment systems. The eastern model of education is characterized by “conformity, passivity, and dependence on authority figures,” which cannot have a positive effect on learning outcomes (Chen et al., 2008, p. 307). Therefore, in the context of an emphasis on motivation, the flexible form is more acceptable.
Another alternative way of influencing students and stimulating the development of their talents is the mixed form of education. Jolly and Hughes (2015) and Swan et al. (2015) cite case studies where this type of teaching is supported and consider the advantages and disadvantages of such a program. According to Jolly and Hughes (2015), gifted children should count on additional support from teachers, and their role in the educational process should be essential. When both talented pupils and children with ordinary academic performance study in the same class, this creates a semblance of a competitive environment and helps both parties to benefit.
Students with high capabilities feel their responsibility and strive to maintain high-performance results. Pupils with ordinary academic success tend to catch up with their peers and make an effort, which also has a positive effect. At the same time, such an environment is possible only if teachers are interested in supporting both groups of children and intend to coordinate their activities responsibly.
Swan et al. (2015) also explore the mixed form of education and provide various considerations regarding the effectiveness of this mechanism, focusing on implications for gifted students. According to the authors, in order for pupils with natural talent not to lose interest in studying and to be ready to develop their abilities, “a blended learning” should be promoted (Swan et al., 2015, p 297). This environment contains various forms of teaching, including both traditional and modern techniques. Various online courses and optional training can be effective instruments for supporting talented children since not only standard educational materials are offered but also innovative systems.
Such pupils need to understand the responsibility that they have, and their desire to improve their knowledge should be encouraged in different ways. In parallel, as in the previous case study, students with ordinary academic performance may try to succeed by imitating their peers. Such an academic environment is beneficial, and today, there are many opportunities to implement it comprehensively. Accordingly, teachers should be interested in helping children and facilitating their productive learning process.
Additional Factors Affecting Educational Achievement
In addition to the aforementioned nuances that influence the academic performance of students, some additional factors may be affected. For instance, Considine and Zappalà (2002) argue that a socioeconomic aspect is one of the criteria that have an effect on the quality of child learning. At the same time, regardless of children’ talents, the standard of living of their families can be a fundamental reason for their academic performance. Also, the authors mention such factors as family structure, gender and race, geographical location, and some other aspects (Considine & Zappalà, 2002). Based on these data, it can be assumed that talent has a far-reaching role, and only personal aspiration and motivation can guarantee students real educational achievements.
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The efforts of students and teachers to achieve high performance have a more significant role than natural talent. Gifted children may lose their skills over time if they do not have appropriate motivation to learn. Accordingly, the task of the educational environment is to help to not only uncover a specific talent but also to stimulate it. Otherwise, regression will be inevitable, and no manifestations of high capabilities will be noticeable.
Chen, R., Bennett, S., & Maton, K. (2008). The adaptation of Chinese international students to online flexible learning: Two case studies. Distance Education, 29(3), 307-323. Web.
Considine, G., & Zappalà, G. (2002). The influence of social and economic disadvantage in the academic performance of school students in Australia. Journal of Sociology, 38(2), 129-148. Web.
Johnsons, M. K., Crosnoe, R., & Elder, G. H. (2001). Students’ attachment and academic engagement: The role of race and ethnicity. Sociology of Education, 74(4), 318-340. Web.
Jolly, J. L., & Hughes, C. E. (2015). The educational experience for student with gifts and talents. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 47(4), 187-189. Web.
Olszewski-Kubilius, P., Subotnik, R. F., & Worrell, F. C. (2015). Antecedent and concurrent psychosocial skills that support high levels of achievement within talent domains. High Ability Studies, 26(2), 195-210. Web.
Swan, B., Coulombe-Quach, X. L., Huang, A., Godek, J., Becker, D., & Zhou, Y. (2015). Meeting the needs of gifted and talented students: Case study of a virtual learning lab in a rural middle school. Journal of Advanced Academics, 26(4), 294-319. Web.
Working to Live or Living to Work
Modern living realities impose certain obligations on people, and one of the significant aspects is work as the necessary source of income. Unemployment as a phenomenon is an acute social problem and the criterion that largely determines the economic viability of a particular territorial unit. At the same time, the motives of different people applying for work may be different. For someone, permanent employment is the integral component of life, which allows a person to earn money and realize natural needs. There are those individuals who receive aesthetic pleasure by performing certain operations and considering their activity the main business of their life.
Accordingly, all people have different reasons pushing them to realize their professional potential. Attitude to work largely characterizes a human’s personality and his or her behavioral characteristics. The purpose of this essay is to analyze the inclinations and preferences regarding employment and leisure from the standpoint of sociological perspectives. Attachment to work is formed by such factors as the standard of living and personal ambitions, and the degree of attachment to a personal occupation is a purely individual criterion.
Pursuit of Income as the Driver of Labor
In terms of income, work is the main driver that encourages many people to take actions. The need to maintain a normal lifestyle and realize all one’s interests and needs are key reasons for those who do not look for satisfaction in his or her job. According to Leana and Meuris (2015), “income is often used to designate social status and is used by policy makers as a primary indicator of the well-being of individuals” (p. 56).
This idea is also supported by other authors who see work as an opportunity to provide the necessary conditions for life in society. Ransome (2019) argues that, in accordance with most sociological concepts, no one is born with the desire to earn as much money as possible, but gradually, a pragmatic approach to life changes ideas about work. Income becomes the integral component of existence and can be compared with such natural phenomena as the desire to start a family, help children, and other manifestations of human nature. Therefore, in this case, the concept of work to live is more natural.
The evaluation of work as the main source of income characterizes a person as practical and socially oriented. The lack of interest and initiative, in this case, is a frequent occurrence since people who hold the opinion that employment cannot bring them anything but money are not prone to self-giving. On the contrary, the need to fulfill routine obligations is considered by them as a standard and sometimes not the most pleasant process, which, however, is important. In sociology, human pragmatism is the evidence of a mature personality, and due to the fact that income is “a relatively stable aspect of a job,” the supporters of such a position can be regarded as people with established views (Leana & Meuris, 2015, p. 56).
Despite professionalism and certain skills, those people who are sure that work is necessary in order to live are usually not ready to devote much time and many efforts to realize their potential. This principle is common today, and in the context of modern society, a pragmatic approach to work is understandable and explicable.
Living to Work as a Struggle with Boredom
The concept of living to work is not as frequent as the aforementioned theory of income, but it also exists. One of the manifestations of this attitude to work is the desire to diversify a personal lifestyle and obtain new experiences and impressions. Rottenberg (2017) cites the example of women who choose to work when their children are at an early age. The author argues that such priorities indicate that today, the roles of gender and social status are not decisive in the distribution of household duties (Rottenberg, 2017). Attempting to change one’s life through working hobbies allows speaking of an individual as the psycho-type that needs a constant change of the environment.
From a sociological perspective, the concept proposed by Turner and Edmunds (2002) may be mentioned, which describes the theory of sociocultural interests. According to the authors, every person has certain priorities and preferences that he or she seeks to realize, but over time, interest may disappear (Turner & Edmunds, 2002). With regard to the topic under consideration, the working environment can serve as the means of diversifying one’s life and an attempt to combat routine and boredom.
Accordingly, when setting life priorities, work can play the role of one of the main aspects that induce to actions and cause vivid emotions. In this case, the principle of living to work manifests itself most clearly, and the supporters of this approach, as a rule, are distinguished by creativity and the desire for changes. Their attitude to leisure is ambiguous since too long inaction inhibits them, and ultimately, they find an occupation that is able to captivate their attention.
It is essential to note that people who live to work often choose creative professions that allow them to realize their full potential. The study conducted by Rottenberg (2017) proves that, regardless of gender, many people are willing to devote themselves to work selflessly and adjust their habits to their occupation. Therefore, all the given arguments may support the theory of the possibility of living to work.
Passion for Work as an Attempt to Avoid Troubles
One of the possible sociological perspectives that characterize the attitude of individuals to work may be in the desire to ignore problems, deliberately avoiding responsibility or the lack of clear priorities. As an example, Holligan (2016) cites a sufficiently long-standing study where a group of university graduates was asked to answer questions about their plans and prospects for the future. According to the results of that survey, only 3 percent of the subjects were able to give relatively unambiguous responses regarding job perspectives (Holligan, 2016, p. 53). The rest of the young people had no idea about their field of employment and labor motives.
Such statistics prove that employment is not always a conscious step, and the desire to receive a job may be due to social principles rather than personal preferences. In order to avoid censure or misunderstanding on the part of their communication circle, some people work without showing any interest, and such an approach may indicate indifference to their own ambitions.
This type of attitude to work is the direct consequence of the lack of motivation and unresolved life problems. For comparison, Melnick and Wann (2010) consider Australian sports fans who spend much time at various competitions and tournaments, avoiding routine and domestic difficulties. At the same time, the authors remark that such behavior is not the result of problem rejection but the manifestations of collectivity and cohesion since communities are formed with the involvement of family members (Melnick & Wann, 2010). Moreover, the passion for sports is not a job, and such a pastime can only be called a hobby.
The lifestyle that is based on complete unwillingness to take labor initiatives is dangerous from the standpoint of socialization because a human is not ready to change and grow. For such personalities, it is difficult to give an example of whether they follow the concept of living to work or, on the contrary, working to live since they are not interested in either.
Although attitude towards work is individual among different people, some factors, for instance, the standard of living and personal ambitions influence certain preferences. Various interests and goals serve as the means of expressing particular priorities, and job aspirations are the reflection of inner motives. Both concepts discussed differ in the ways of achieving results and the sociological perspectives that underlie human decisions concerning working prospects.
Holligan, A. (2016). Are you living to work, or working to live? Leader to Leader, 2016(82), 53-57. Web.
Leana, C. R., & Meuris, J. (2015). Living to work and working to live: Income as a driver of organizational behavior. The Academy of Management Annals, 9(1), 55-95. Web.
Melnick, M. J., & Wann, D. L. (2010). An examination of sport fandom in Australia: Socialization, team identification, and fan behavior. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 46(4), 456-470. Web.
Ransome, P. (2019). Sociology and the future of work: Contemporary discourses and debates. New York, NY: Routledge.
Rottenberg, C. (2017). Neoliberal feminism and the future of human capital. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 43(2), 329-348. Web.
Turner, B. S., & Edmunds, J. (2002). The distaste of taste: Bourdieu, cultural capital and the Australian postwar elite. Journal of Consumer Culture, 2(2), 219-239. Web.