Are you a little slow?

Sat Sep 12 2020 - by Kirill Zubovsky

My friend is a successful professional, having done startups and big co's, he's making a living with his work and is doing well above the norm. Yet, when he was in high school, growing in a small town in the middle of the country, he was told that he would not account to anything. According to his teachers, he was "a little slow." If you or someone you know is in the same situation, I just want to tell you how it's a load of baloney!

We live in a society that has got it all backwards. Schools are designed to babysit kids, to work as predictable nine-to-five shelters that occupied kids, while parents go to work. What most schools aren't designed for is to enable the creative and intellectual freedom that many kids yearn, but don't get.

Typical schools divide learning in blocks, by age, by grade, by ability, and by subject among other things. It is presented as a way to help children learn, but in practice it is nothing but the tool to fit school content into a repeatable systems that is easy to implement and oversee across the country. There is absolutely no reason why a 5 year old cannot learn grade 3 math, or why you have to stop drawing your masterpiece half-way, only to go on a break and continue to another class. A typical school is anything but designed to let minds prosper.

"Slow" kids see this early on, and they demand better. They want to learn on their own pace, in their own world, skills and interests that appeal to them at that time. Students that feel the drive in math and physics want to experiment: roll things, launch things, blow things up. Students who want to express their mind make art. Others consume themselves in sports. Some want to participate for 5 minutes, while others are happily self-occupied for 5 hours. Slow kids want things in a way that works for them, not for the school, but instead of rewarding the drive, schools label these kids non-confirming, and proceed to eradicate the disease.

Schools should be encouraging creativity, nurturing it, giving it all the opportunities to explode. Instead, schools peg students into groups. "Smart" kids, those with high marks, willing to follow the process, play by the rules, learn at the pace set of them by the norms, those kids are praised and rewarded. Meanwhile, the kids who want more are labeled and set aside.

Schools are a wild place for learning if you crave better, if you are not satisfied with the status quo, if your passion lie outside of the boring norms. You can operate within them, get through them, but you are probably not going to make the most out of them.

At the end of the day, "slow" kids are the ones who build companies, compose symphonies, sculpt historical monuments and make a difference. Meanwhile, most of those smart kids end up someplace middle-management. Woopty doo!

The next time someone says you are slow, ignore the haters, and you do you.