Our society is littered with competitions that place emphasis upon individual and group performance. Elections – whether state, national or international – as well as various sporting competitions (including an internationally famous horserace) all pit individuals and teams against one another. All of these competitions require individual preparation (even if there is sometimes group preparation) in order for individuals and groups to perform optimally.
Emeritus Professor Françoys Gagné's widely accepted talent development models outline the importance of learning, training and practise in the development of talent. These models also include the role of chance; however it is made clear that chance is just one element and the development of talent cannot be left to chance. Individual effort has a much greater impact in ensuring optimal performance.
Similar factors apply to the development of academic talent. Even where an education system is not competitive, individuals and groups are. In order to perform optimally in an academic context – as demonstrated through the results of various assessments: assignments, tests and/or exams – focus upon and effort expended in preparation, is considered crucial.
Certainly chance has a part to play: whether the assessment is on or includes a topic that the student likes and knows extremely well; whether the mode of assessment enables a student to demonstrate their existing knowledge well; however all students should be trying to demonstrate optimum performance and appropriate preparation is the key to being able to do this, well.
Elections, sports and academic achievement are each illustrated by results. Scores indicate the performance of individuals and teams; these result in reviews and dissection of final scores, often determining what could/should have been done differently and directing future efforts.
How individuals and groups perform vary according to (as Gagné demonstrates) natural ability as this is developed into talent. It is the developmental process that Gagné emphasises and in his later model (DMGT 2), he outlines the importance of investing greater amounts of time and energy in order to achieve at a higher level.
The concept of Personal Best (PB) is well-incorporated into a range of sporting endeavours; academic performance can also utilise a focus on Personal Best performance in order to optimise performance at each point; however it is important to incorporate adequate preparation in order to achieve one's Personal Best in any endeavour.
As can be seen by recent events, competitions of various forms are entrenched in our and other societies. We can try to reduce the competitive aspect but optimal performance depends upon sustained, adequate and intense preparation.
© Michele Juratowitch