Reaching full potential – Student’s Perspective

Reaching full potential – Student’s Perspective                                           

I discussed in anther blog  ’What does it mean to be an Educator?’ about enabling the student to reach their full potential. But what does it mean for a student in an educational setting?

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary ‘reaching full potential’ is defined as ‘to become the best one can be’- does this mean that the person is somehow not ‘the best’? That the individual is lacking in some way i.e. reaching full potential is in the future not in the now.

This mindset is limiting and not particularly supportive or encouraging to hear from a young person’s perspective because it indicates that only in the future there is a ‘better’ version of themselves, that the current version is incomplete or not good enough. This may be the basis of the current education system across the globe i.e. that we assume that the student comes from ‘lack’ of knowledge or potential and that they need to be topped up to become a fully-fledged unique human being.

Recently, as I sat in the hairdressers’ I overheard a conversation that their two junior trainee hairdressers (who are only a few months short of fully qualifying) had left and went on to do something entirely different during the latest lockdown. Now, one works in a warehouse and another at a butchers. Their reasons for leaving were that they wanted to ‘earn more money.’ I only heard the salon’s point of view and do not know the full story; they were lamenting that these trainees were so close to finishing that they shouldn’t have left the training. 

As an educator I agreed at the time, though upon reflecting with the practice of the SEJ, I realised that it may not be the ‘end’ of their training but actually at the ‘start’ of their new training to reach their full potential. Admittedly they were both good at the training; confident, skilled with the tasks that being a trainee hairdresser need to have and all-round promising would be hairdressers. But there was more; they were both very interested and engaged with life, with people they met and with all the opportunities to expand their horizons. They possessed all the qualities of young people at the cusp of growing into adulthood.

It got me thinking that from their perspective, they have reached their potential as hairdressers, and they were seeking to grow and expand more to experience a new potential they have yet to discover. In other words, they were already at their best as hairdressers, and they wanted to try different aspects of their talent. Who is to say that they are not successful already? It would be arrogant of us ‘adults/trainers’ to assume that they are incomplete somehow. It matters more that they turn up to life engaged, eager and enthusiastic in living to their full potential, which they clearly have so far.

I applaud them and wish them all the best. All I can do is question my limited idea about them through the practice of the SEJ, as well as nurture and enable young people to reach their full potential no matter what that may be.

As I said in the last blog “When we ourselves reach our full potential by questioning our own beliefs and preconceived ideas, by the practice of the SEJ in every moment, we will know how to respond to each individual student by giving them the time and space to succeed.”

Dr M Howard-Kishi

20 April 2021

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