Here in New Orleans, young children are tested to see if they are gifted and can go to the best magnet schools in the city. These tests are geared towards a standard intelligence that is recognized by committees as best. There are no tests for other types of intelligence.
If you were to test 9/10 of the African American children living in poverty in this city, you would be shocked by the range of intelligence they display. Spiritual intelligence. Aesthetic intelligence. Musical intelligence. But no one is looking at these children as beings with unbounded potential – they are looking to have them all fit into a culture that already denies them.
I often think of Tin’s birthmother, challenged from birth by an environment – both familial and external – as well as his natural father and his own constraints. It’s as if they were born in chains and were supposed to overcome them through some super heroic acts of volition.
Because these two human beings gave birth to my son who is a wonder. Tin’s perception of music, of aesthetics, of intelligence is so vast compared to what the perception of his parents’ gifts are and yet they created him.
A friend was observing Tin noodling on the piano with his godfather and she was amazed at his sensibility and his interpretation of what was around him, and she was telling me about what has been written about the many forms of intelligence. Howard Gardner is one author of this recognition of multiple intelligence, but there are others who have written about this as well.
We chose Waldorf for Tin not because it is offering him the racial diversity we would have liked, although we as a New Orleans Waldorf school are working on that aspect, but because it offers an environment where Tin could grow into a full human being with all of his faculties engaged.
I wonder about his birth parents and if they had been offered the same opportunity, what contributions they would be making to our world, instead of trying to saw through their chains with a nail file – a way of life set up for failure.