Sunday, July 22, 2012

Potential: a state of latent excellence

If we look in a dictionary and we researched the word ‘potential’, it would first of all tell us that it can be used either as a noun or as an adjective. If we first, take a look at this from its noun perspective we are told it is a latent excellence or an ability that may or may not be developed. It also tells us it is someone or something that is considered worthwhile; a worthwhile possibility. At this moment everything is still latent, it hasn't grown, and that is exactly what a child is, a latent package of possibilities that can do or be anything, what it becomes being a direct result of what is experienced throughout its life. It is this which makes those first five years vital in laying down the basis upon which the child can grow.
Moving on and exploring it as an adjective it says that it means it is possible, as opposed to actual, in other words it is ready to explode, and as soon as it is activated it will become all that it can be from the experiences it has now stored; until it is triggered it cannot and the child remains in that cocoon stage of almost but as yet not completely.

The archaic meaning for potential is potent, and to me that is the crux of the whole thing, because it is that latent power we as parents and guardians can unleash through the inputs we expose our child to during those critical periods which come and go during this time. Being me, I went to the Latin dictionary and found its root, potentia or potentialities. Linking these two words I understood ‘potential’, it is the possible power of the mind, the body and the spirit of that individual; it is the horizons they have in front of them when they start school and it is the ever growing horizons which express themselves through their talents in music, sports, the arts and science.
When we look at a baby in our arms, we are holding the sum total of all of that, and it is our responsibility to release that giving our children the very best of what they can be.
Throughout those early years, as expectations and limitations which surround them in their families, society, and peer groups, impacts upon the child, it can begin to close that original horizon of opportunities, narrowing it down to a set of expectations experienced by their family, their friends, and the society in general. This can be far less than they are capable of being, but the biological desire to remain one of the group, will prevent them from stepping too far outside the box of ‘normality’ and hold them fast in whatever tier of education and expectation they sense around them.

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