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Cultivating Promise Through Talent Development

At Lang, our assumption is that talent and talent development requires work and effort. We believe that talent is nurtured and grown. Talent requires grit, determination and commitment. Our Talent Development program strives to spark student imagination and engagement. We do so in the Lower School through our KidWorks offerings, and in the Middle and Upper School, students are offered an opportunity to engage in a project of their choosing through the IndieStudies program.

So, what exactly is KidWorks? Over the years, KidWorks has evolved, but it has always been about giving students a chance to discover something new in which to engage, or, if not new, then an opportunity to develop and refine existing skills, knowledge and interests. We try our best to offer Lower School students a range of domains to explore with the hope that these domains and areas of interest will stoke passion and further inquiry. KidWorks has always offered opportunities for students to break out of their homeroom, and learn and work with students from other grades in the Lower School. It’s a time to create, discover and share.

Students are presented with a menu of choices and asked to sign up for two different activities within the hour long period.  KidWorks has generally focused on a number of specific domains - Tinkerers, Illustrators, Storytellers, Musicians, Designers, Builders, etc. This year, the options have included sewing, crafting, music, illustration, moviemaking, building, Dungeons and Dragons informed storytelling, magic and debate. Lang kids have an amazing array of interests and areas of deep knowledge. KidWorks seeks to have these curious young students discover new worlds in which they can become immersed.

KidWorks operates as a natural precursor to what Middle and Upper School students are asked to consider for the IndieStudies class - What intrigues you? What have you always wondered about? What inspires you? IndieStudies challenges students to conceive and “pitch” a proposed project, or topic of interest, to a panel of peers and teachers following a structured and supported design phase. We know our students can often need a lot of scaffolding and support, and our aim as teachers and coaches is to guide students towards a project that they can truly commit to with passion and genuine interest. All students prepare a project proposal presentation and engage in a brief discussion with their panel. Once approved, work begins on the projects, and this year has again highlighted the diverse and wide ranging interests of our students.

Projects this year (to name just a few) have included tattooing, jewelry making, construction of a Leyden jar, multiple student projects on video game designs, Japanese language, weaponry in the Second World War, and the history of football (soccer), with special attention paid to some of the great rivalries in that sport. Students are currently in the process of preparing their final presentations, and we know this can be a demanding situation for some of our students. Fear and anxiety related to sharing and being exposed to critique can be a real issue for a Lang student. As coaches, we remind students that the final “product”, whilst important, is not the be all and end all. We encourage students to share their journey, from initial concept to realization, in the hope that the process (not the end result) is where growth and development has occurred. Roundtables give our students an opportunity to develop their presentational skills and build confidence around sharing work and discussing their process. In the past, we have observed some truly wonderful Roundtable presentations. 

We know our students are interested in a fascinating array of topics and areas of expertise. We also know that for some Lang students, finding a way to express themselves and fully realize their passions can present any number of challenges. Our Talent Development programs provide one of many pathways that allow students at Lang to thrive and feel successful in areas of genuine interest.

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