Archive for October 2013

Parable of the Pottery Makers by Ted Orland


Parable of the Pottery Makers

The Parable of the Pottery Makers is found in the book “Art and Fear” co-authored by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Recently one of my sons was going through a discouraging patch of inspiration in regards to the building up of his talent. In addition to my fatherly soft-and-tough pep talk about persevering and not giving up, I also repeated back a parable I had heard which also made complete sense to him – and brought a smile back to his face. That story was the Parable of the Pottery Makers as it originally was told in the book “Art and Fear” and relayed in the book “The First 20 Hours.”

This particular son, who is the most perfectionist of all my children, will tend to research and analyze the details of a new skill to the point that he becomes paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy and as a result never gets started actually practicing what he has learned. This is is why I recommend that in the beginning, as a parent, you shield your child from too much outside scrutiny so that he isn’t frozen into inaction. Encourage your child to get his hands dirty as soon as possible and to stumble (safely) through as quickly as possible in order to break beyond the first baby-step problems that a newbie has to go through.
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Art & Fear

Turn Socrates into Talent Time


You can turn every standard hour of history learning into an opportunity to push his talent forward.

How do you turn a standard history lesson on Socrates into an opportunity to build talent?

I will share with you how my 15 year old son is using history curriculum to push his talent forward. At the end of each hour of study for his Western Civ class, he allots 10 to 15 minutes to producing a single visual graphic that conveys one specific message of that lesson. This daily exercise forces him to focus on speed and efficiency in the use of his Adobe photo editing tools and forces him to wrestle abstract concepts into modern images that are attractive and yet still clearly convey a message that others can understand. Those two skills are being daily trained because the history gives him the necessary fodder to train himself to convey value and meaning, instead of just playing with visual effects that have no purpose. The side benefit to being talent driven first is that history is much easier to assimilate (a.k.a. “pegged” to his talent) because he has to interpret its message in a relevant manner each and every time.

Struggle Rewires the Brain for Talent

EEG with 32 elektrodes

Your child’s brain rewires itself to be faster and better the more he decides to struggle and work through a specific skill. It is the struggle itself that creates the improvement for his talent.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Teach your child to believe that it is in fact the struggle and the wrestling that is growing his brain to match the talent he wants to have. Teach him to disbelieve the popular, but completely FALSE notion that as soon as something is not easy, it therefore must mean he should not pursue that talent.

Unfortunately, as parents if we buy into that popular false notion then we will automatically assume that what is first easy thing to do (hey, look honey, we can sign up Billy into soccer camp!) and irrelevant (wow, I can have Susie learn to play the Ukelele because old Mrs. Winston is providing cheap lessons on Thursdays) is what their long term talent will be.

This is the truth about the stages of learning and talent:
1) learning the basics of a talent is a struggle
2) your brain changes in response to your effort and practice and rewards you by gradually and literally rewiring your brain for those particular tasks
4) eventually what was difficult becomes so effortless that it frees you to no have to think about the lower skill levels of your talent
5) friends and relatives then think your child was born with that gift without giving you or your child credit for all the hard work and planning you put in

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Break Down the Vision into Objectives for Today

Vision translated into objectives today

Our child waits on us to think about his future for him until such time as he is fully able to take charge. This means acting on opportunities for him today.


Break down the talent vision for your child, your parental vision, as big and blurry a cloud as it may be today, down into smaller objectives that are nearer to earth and that can be concretely reached at an earlier age.

If you sense that your child’s long term talent after the age 0f 18 will have an engineering bent related to it, then you will want to start coming up with intermediate objectives that you can reach by the age of 16 (perhaps finishing Calculus). And in order to reach those objectives by age 16, you will want to set even still smaller goals now for him to reach by age 14 (perhaps participating in local math clubs). When you have reached the age 14 objectives, perhaps new and even better opportunities will emerge by that time that will allow you and your child to come up with more specific long-term talent goals than just vague engineering. Perhaps by age 14, a fascination for how telescopes and microscopes work will have grown to such a point where you both agree that he would do well to now focus more narrowly on the science of optics instead of engineering science in general.

Six Common Questions by Homeschoolers

Good morning from #lakecalifornia via 10ktotalent

When your child’s daily hard work really does have an end goal in mind that is just for him, it feels like blue skies ahead.

Studying and learning with a meaning instead of becoming a recipient of data dumping, can make all the difference in child’s life. See if a focus on building real talent your child’s life can be a cure to one of these common questions:

  • How do I match my homeschool to my child’s learning style?
  • What kind of daily routines can I copy that make sense in our home?
  • How do I awaken my child’s entrepreneurial spirit?
  • What can I do to accelerate my child’s learning so he can finish school sooner?
  • How do I motivate my son who has no motivation to study or do anything serious?
  • (Question as heard from teenage homeschool students) How do I finally become really good at something, instead of always studying?
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