Should schools reward skills or talent?

Talent is something you’re born with.

Skill is something you earn.

Skill comes from commitment and practice and self-discipline. The skill of earning skills is a lifelong advantage.

Without a doubt, encouraging kids to leverage their talents is a skill. And yet…

Who gets to be the center of the kids’ volleyball team–the tall kid or the one who practices the most diligently and brings the most teamwork to the game?

Who gets an ‘A’ in math–the one who can breeze through the tests or the student who asks intelligent questions and challenges the assumptions?

Who gets into a fancy college…

You get the idea.

Leaders talk about developing real skills and encouraging people to develop into their full potential, but too often, we take the short-term path of betting on raw talent instead. And of course, what looks like raw talent might not be. It could simply be our confusion about first impressions compared to the power of commitment, enrollment and persistence.