America’s into talent of all types, and we seem eager to watch, based on show ratings and tallies of millions calling in to vote for their favorites. This past Sunday we had a school talent show. In what was a thoroughly enjoyable display of amateur ability we had singing, dancing, a fencing demonstration, quick sketching, a song parody, comedy, and dramatic readings. What made this display of skill so energizing and exciting? I think part of it was giving teens the opportunity and freedom to express themselves in ways besides the academic.
We say that in our environment teachers should share more of “who they are” with their students, as these role-modeling opportunities are built into the fabric of Jewish educational programming. This works both ways. Students also need to share their talents with teachers, and not in ways that are limited to annual classroom ice breakers.
At the show, we were able to see these students at their best, doing what they love while being generous enough to share it with others. It’s interesting that as much as we think they might be afraid to be judged by their peers, they were incredibly open about performing in front of them. I hope that we will continue to give our teenagers opportunities to shine and get applause.