The Identity Day

I have just had the privilege of looking at a podcast of a presentation given at the 2010 Reform Symposium by George Couros.

George is the Principal of Forest Green School, located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada.

The presentation was about the school’s “Identity Day” which was an opportunity for all adults and children in the school to set up a display and present to parents, friends, indeed anyone who turned up, about their “passion”.

The presentation can be found at http://reformsymposium.com/blog/2010/08/05/podcast-george-couros/

This was a brilliant idea. George starts from the premise of getting to know the students. He said the day was emotional and that he personally discovered some things about his students that he never knew like one quiet girl who turned out to be a BMX biker! I also loved the slightly difficult child who has a passion for cowboys and told everyone all about his interest dressed in a great cowboy hat!

I feel that this is so important. I am reminded of a story that a colleague told me once about a child in her class who had to be cajoled by his fellow students to come up and tell them that he had just become the Junior Champion Ballroom Dancer for the U.K.!

My experience was of a child in my class who had just won a U.K. Under 12’s Golf Championship when he was barely ten years old!

This idea of allowing the children to express their passions and tell them what makes them excited (or indeed proud, as in the example of the Inuit native Canadians who showed examples of their heritage and culture) is a wonderful one and more schools should be having days like this.

I am, as those who know this blog will know, a great fan of Sir Ken Robinson and his ideas about children finding their passion  which he wrote about in the book “The Element”. In the book he tells the story of Bart Conner and how he found his passion one day when he went into a gymnasium and felt like he was in heaven. Young Bart was to become a great gymnast and to win Gold medals at the Olympic Games and later go on to marry Nadia Comeneci, the great Rumanian gymnast and together they now help coach disabled children to participate in gymnastics  in Oklahoma.

I wonder what Bart would have made of an “Identity Day” at his school. I wonder if his teachers realised his great passion for gymnastics and that he expressed himself best in a physical way? I am sure that the children of Forest Green school are now known for their interests and their passions…as George says it is the basis of understanding them and what makes them tick and of helping them to learn.

I would love to see more schools trying this idea out. I would think it would make an excellent thing to do at the beginning of the school year (i.e. now). It was actually held towards the end of the school year. It was such a great success that they intend to repeat it again in the next academic year.

George himself presented about his love for the L.A. Laker basketball team. He says that next time he will show another of his passions and no doubt many of his students and staff will as well and they will get to know each other even better.

Well done George, in your honour I’m putting a “Lakers” badge picture in this post!

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