Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Aptitudes: Language

Originally posted on April 4, 2013

I am interested in individuality, a concept that calls the reality of individual differences into sharper contrast. People differ in so many ways and one of these is the aptitude for picking up languages. Some people have a tin ear for music while others are naturally more talented. Michael Erard just wrote a book ( Michael (2012). Babel no more: the search for the world’s most extraordinary language learners. New York: Free Press.), and it meshes with an awareness —ever enlarging— that so many abilities operate on spectrums from insensitivity or disability to highly sensitive or genius ability. (By the way, I suspect that sensitivity to spirituality is also distributed on a spectrum, and write about philosophy etc. also on my website or blog.) So the main point here is just to note yet another of innumerable ways that we’re different.

As for implications, I’d like to see a program of vocational guidance in late middle school where kids could get a bit of experience doing different things, trying different things, and finding out what they’re good at and enjoy. (Some kids are smart and relatively good at things they don’t enjoy, so some sophistication is needed here. Similarly, some kids are tall and better at basketball, say, but that’s not really what they like to do.) So we should try to find out what kids are good at so we can then help them live more fully. Kids—people— are different in terms of temperament, ability, interests, background, and we need to stop treating them as if anyone could be great at anything if only they’re try.

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