Perspectives in Gifted Education: Compilation of Thoughts Part 2

This summer I took “Perspectives in Gifted Education” as part of my masters in curriculum and instruction program. The course was held online, so all conversations took place on BlackBoard. Below is a compilation of my responses to various questions.


Pic Credit: www.MindMeister.com
Pic Credit: http://www.MindMeister.com

On the myth: “The best way to learn something is to teach it. Relearning and reviewing never hurt any student.”

This gets to one very basic question for me – “what is the point of schooling?” If our answer is simply that we want students to pass a state mandated test, then review and relearning seems a logical strategy.  Since, as educators, we know that this is in fact NOT the point, then reteaching and relearning the same thing over and over again is a complete waste of time for a student who has proven mastery. I don’t think teaching is the best way to learn, necessarily. I think DOING is the best way to learn and we have confused teaching with doing. When we say teaching is the best way to learn, we also mean that we need to be teaching something we didn’t previously understand, not teaching something we have mastered. A student who has proven mastery of a content or skill is not getting any value from teaching it to a student who doesn’t get it. Now, if a student was being asked to teach something they too were still struggling with, then in fact the strategy may be beneficial. This is too often not how this strategy is implemented.

Often, when gifted students have been beat over the head with content that is well below their ability, they resign themselves to boredom and do much worse on the test because “why bother?” I had a gifted student tell me that just this year. He is reading in the 99%tile according to the NWEA. He is clearly brilliant in many ways and could easily pass the SOL. He didn’t passed advanced because he didn’t feel invested in it at all (he shared this very openly with me) and found it boring, so he told me “why bother” and “what does it really prove?” And he was right. He had spent most of his education bored and the test seemed an extension of this boredom.

Clark states, “There is a limit to the educational value of going over again and again materials and concepts that have already been mastered. Gifted students need to be grouped and interact with other gifted children for some part of their learning experience so that they may be understood, engaged, and challenged” (93). If I know how to write the letter A, what is the value in continuing to practice that? Wouldn’t there be more benefit to moving on to other letters to expand my knowledge of the alphabet even if this puts me ahead of others? As Clark states above, at least for some part of the time, gifted students need to be grouped with other gifted students to move beyond that standards and really expand their learning. I noted that Clark did not say ALL of the time and I think this bears repeating. There is value in homogeneous groups as well as heterogeneous groups. Gifted students can benefit from these experiences, just as other kids can benefit from being grouped with students who are gifted, but sometimes, gifted students need the opportunity to work well beyond the levels of their class instead of beating them over the head with the content they mastered, often before even entering the classroom.


On the myth:”What is good for gifted students is good for everyone. A good teacher can teach any student, because if good teaching is used, that is all that is needed.”

This statement is right and wrong at the exact same time. Clark states, “…in addition to the need for exemplary educational techniques that support the learning of all students, teachers of students who are gifted need some special abilities” (91). I would argue ALL teachers need special ability, not just those who teach gifted, in order to meet the variable needs of all their students. While teachers may need to be able to meet the needs of gifted students by being able to accelerate, provide complexity, novelty, etc, they also need special skills to help students with learning disabilities, and every one in between.  Teacher preparation needs to do a much better job of providing teachers with these skills at both ends of the spectrum instead of training teachers to meet the needs of only those students who fall in “the middle”.

I agree wholeheartedly that what is good for gifted students is good for everyone. Best practices in teaching don’t change based on the student’s level. Best practice doesn’t mean that the teaching is exactly the same though. Teachers must scaffold their teaching and lessons based on the students to whom they are teaching. Too often what happens is that best practice is abandoned for both the highest and lowest ability students in a classroom. For our higher ability kids, we force them to work at lower levels because we can’t be “bothered” to worry about them when they are so far ahead and we have kids who need more support. For our lower ability kids, we over simplify the work, resort to drill and kill or rote memorization techniques in place of actual learning in hopes of increasing test scores. No one is winning in these situations.

For instance, in my advanced and non advanced classes, we do the exact same units. They read the same texts, they learn the same skills and knowledge, but everything is scaffolded based on the individual learners. The reality is, that even within the classes, there are high levels of variability. So, while all my 7th grade ELA students may be reading The Use of Force by William Carlos Williams, comparing this to an article from The New Republic about forced quarantines due to Ebola, then researching a use of force in their community, so that they can prepare an issue brief to present their ideas and research, pacing, delivery, depth, breadth, complexity, process and product – EVERYTHING – is scaffolded to meet the needs of my students. In this way, all students are receiving good instruction that meets them where they are.


On A Comprehensive Continuum of Gifted Education and Talent Development Services

So, this table SCREAMS Montessori to me! My three children all attend a private Montessori school and I love it because students are exposed to all of these things regardless of labels of “gifted”. For me, this is a reminder that what is best practice in gifted is often best practice for ALL kids. What kid wouldn’t benefit from all of the things on this table at some juncture or in some domain?

In Montessori, students work independently and in groups, as needed, and their independent gifts and talents are nurtured while time is devoted to their areas of weakness. I think of my oldest son – he started reading at age five. By age six, he had read the entire Harry Potter series and the entire Percy Jackson series. Not just read, but was able to hold conversations well above the level of analysis and comprehension of most five and six year olds. He has been tested and is reading well above his age level, in the 97%tile. He also shows some signs of giftedness in the social sciences, according to his teachers.These gifts were nurtured in a Montessori setting. In a public setting, he may have been limited because in a Kindergarten class (he has a November birthday so wouldn’t have started until age 6) he would have been limited to the “age appropriate” reading texts that were deemed appropriate for the class as a whole instead of being allowed in school to read at his level. Kids aren’t even expected to know how to read when entering kindergarten, so he would have been well ahead of his age level peers.

In his Montessori setting, the teachers noted an avoidance of math, mostly because he loved reading. They were able to nurture this area of “weakness” over the years and create individualized instruction for him (differentiation) while other kids were well ahead of him. Because of this approach, he has caught up and well exceeded what kids in public school are doing at the same age. There are kids in his school who excel in the sciences and are not held back by mandated standards. They are allowed to nurture their areas of interest and move forward through curriculum at the pace that works for them. They are also grouped loosely by age (classes are set up in clusters of ages, so there is a Primary class that is age six to nine and the Lower Elementary kids are nine to twelve.) Students move fluidly through these classes depending on their levels and interests. In other words, my son was able to visit the Lower El class when he was six because he was reading on the same level as many of the kids in that class. In a Montessori school, all “subjects” are equally important (there is no cutting of arts or music) and none are compartmentalized in the way we do in a public setting.

Since every child is so unique, I would love to see public schools start looking into more alternative educational philosophies and start moving away from traditional education. I think the first step is probably more magnet schools that implement different philosophies, such as Waldord and Montessori. Then, even within schools, we can offer these different options so that all kids, not just our gifted kids, can benefit from these opportunities.


On Blocks to Creativity

Cultural Blocks – Idea Squelchers

Early in the school year, we talk about creativity (although, I have many more ideas now that I’ve taken this class.) We have conversations about the fact that there are no “right” answers when we are analyzing literature as long as you can “back it up.” It takes a while for students to internalize this idea, since their entire education has been under NCLB and high stakes testing. By mid year, students know when the come to me for help that I am not going to guide them to a right answer, but instead will help them flush out their idea but asking questions.

Additionally, when I used to work at a restaurant, the manager always told us that we couldn’t say “no” not even to say “no problem.” In DI, team members can’t say no to an idea from any other team member. I think this is something I want to institute into my classroom in the coming year. So often, in small group work, students will shut down each others ideas, not always because they think they are wrong, but because they want to be the leader or right one. This inhibits students, especially those who aren’t strong enough to stand up for their ideas. By instituting a “no to no” rule, students would have to listen to each other. This would create a safe space for those who fear sharing because they may be shut down.


On Brainstorming and Ideation

I LOVE the idea of reverse brainstorming. I first heard about it from a friend who is an ED for a local nonprofit. The idea that we list the opposite of what we want, the wrong things, gives us a jumping point for figuring out what the right things are. There are so many ways to utlizize this in an English classroom. In one of my units, students identify a use of force in their community (local, state, national or international), research and create a solution to propose via an issue brief. Using reverse brainstorming based on their research about what is actually happening would get them thinking about more creative solutions. I find that their solutions are typically pretty “obvious” and lack depth. This may be a great way to get them thinking more creatively about possible ideas. In a social studies class or cross curricular unit, students may be presented with real world historical problems – WWII, Jim Crow, etc and use reverse brainstorming to start thinking about the ways to solve these issues before they are presented with what actually happened. Anytime you present students with a problem to solve or a dilemna, reverse brainstorming could be a great way to get them thinking.

I also like the way they have presented idea evaluation. I think this is where students struggle – especially with judgements. Students may end up fighting about the right option and it comes from a place of not wanting to be wrong. By weighing the ideas against a rubric, it becomes more about the idea (objective) and less about them as a person.


On Coping with the Environment

Wow. This is a tough question to answer. When it comes to things, such as discussing test results and comparing test scores, teachers have very little control of these things outside of their classrooms, where most of these behaviors occur. I work very hard all year to stop students from sharing out their scores. I do not allow students to pass out graded assignments or trade and grade, so that students do not have the opportunity to see each other’s scores. I try to limit the exposure to other people’s grades in my class. When ever grade sharing starts, I immediately put a stop to it. Despite all of my efforts, students still mouth their scores silently to one another and pressure each other to share. I think a lot of times, my gifted students will employ many of the strategies mentioned (placating, lying, etc) in order to avoid being stigmatized. In regard to making fun of other students, that also goes back to the classroom culture teachers create and I think you can eliminate it in the classroom, but what happens outside of your room is harder to control.

I think in all regards, educators and schools need to begin shifting their cultures. I think it goes back to the response I had in another thread about changing cultures to ones of buy in where we all care for one another instead of one of competition. While it may motivate some, I don’t think it motivates most kids, especially not the ones who need the most encouragement.

and…

Comparing grades is the new reality, and it is so interesting, when you ask students what a grade means, most can’t tell you. I’ve not had a student yet who could explaint ot me what their grade meant. When I ask them how they decode what they know and don’t know based on a grade, they can’t tell. I know some districts are moving towards standards based grading. Chesterfield is implementing it next year at the elementary level (although, from what I’ve heard, that comes with a rigid pacing guide which strangles teacher freedom). But, standards based grading should be the direction we are moving for all of our students so that they can understand what they know, what they are still needing to work on and what they haven’t even begun or are just beginning. I’ve seen some great examples of this through my reading online. Starr Slackstein (twitter user) does standards based grading with her high school students (even though it isn’t mandated) but she still has to assign grades. She has some interesting stuff about it. I think moving in this direction would help students understand what they actually understand better and would take some of the emphasis off of the letter grade and move towards knowledge. Perhaps we would hear students having conversations that sounded less like “what grade did you get on that assignment?” – “A B” and more like “Hey, how did you do on that last assignment?” – “Umm, I’ve mastered direct characterization, but I’m still working on really understanding how to find other clues about characters using indirect characterization.” – “Oh! Well, I’ve got indirect characterization mastered. I can help!”

Just imagine!

and…

I’ve been wanting my school to abolish awards ceremonies for awhile now. My principals speak often about trying to move our community away from seeing school as a place to earn As and towards a school where students and families value learning. This is a huge shift to undertake, but then I ask myself, why are we still doing awards ceremonies? Aren’t we sending mixed messages to both our students and our families? I read a great article from Chris Wejr (http://chriswejr.com/2010/06/02/death-of-an-awards-ceremony/) and I know many, many others have written about the same thing. I wish I could find the first article I ever read on this three years ago. It was the first time it clicked in my head that I should be thinking about the kids who are left sitting in the stands watching the “smart kids” get an award. We tend to focus on those receiving these awards and not on the kids who are left behind. This isn’t anything new in the world of psych – the interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – and the ways in which offering rewards/awards can harm intrinsic motivation. With the implementation of high stakes testing, the ultimate “reward” for hard work – I feel we’ve seen a steep decline (I have no science to back this up) in students’ enduring understandings and ability to transfer their learning beyond the test. Our entire school system is predicated on a system or rewards – grades,sticker charts, student of the month, etc. Yet, students who don’t already do well are rarely motivated by these rewards, instead they often internalize their “failure” more.


On Creativity and Demographics

In my Curriculum Development class, we talked extensively about Universal Design for Learning and expert learners.In one of our reading, research stated that it takes 10k hours of quality exposure and practice to be considered an expert. Therefore, it doesn’t not surprise me that such a small percentage of highly creative people account for a large portion of the major creative products of a time period. Children who do not come from privilege would not have the opportunities necessary to nurture their gifts or creative tendencies by meeting the requisite 10k hours to master their domain if their basic needs are not being met.

Additionally, I’ve read research recently about how first children also have higher IQs and that this falls depending on birth order. This reaffirms the idea that first children are normally more highly creative and when paired with professional families, this level of privilege lends itself to success. For me, this further solidifies the need to provide services to those families who are living in poverty so that a large portion of our population is not being ignored and highly creative individuals are not being neglected because their families and home life is missing the nurturing characteristics that would life them to greatness.

As I’ve said, I’ve worked in both a low-SES school and a high-SES school. Students in my current (high) school, spend their required hours at school, participate in sports, clubs, music lessons, etc. for hours both before and after school, as well as spending considerable time in the evenings working on homework, studying, and practicing. There are supports and expectations for their success that simply do not exist in this same way in the other school I taught in. It is interesting to me to see the ways students exhibit high levels of creativity based on their circumstances. I would be interesting to see a study that categorizes areas of creativity based on things such as a race and class. How do these intersections of identity affect where students excel…

On birth order

There is a lot of research around birth order and success, and I have to wonder why we don’t talk about this more in education. Clearly, if this is the type of impact birth order can have on people into adulthood, why are we not considering this when we discuss how we are meeting the needs of educating students? I also wonder, if in light of this current research on birth order, creativity, IQ, etc., if there isn’t a way to educate the difference out of people, if we were addressing these things in the classroom. If we considered that a child was the youngest in a family, could we differentiate and educate them in such a way to nurture their leadership abilities in the classroom, since very often, being the youngest in a family would not grant them those opportunities? I also wonder if we are losing creative potential, or just potential in general, when we don’t consider birth order in educating children.

I’m not sure the research is definitive, to be honest. A 2007 study found significant difference in IQ based on birth order. Yet, a study that came out two days ago finds that while their are differences in both IQ and personality based on birth order, they are not prevalent. So, the results, I would say, are yet to be determined (I’ve posted links to the studies below, by the way). I think “educating the differences out” was too harsh. In looking at my own children, I see the benefits for my son of being the first born. Two years of being an only child granted him many benefits in terms of our time and attention. By the time we had our third child, I had begun working full time, my husband was finishing a Masters and there were two toddlers running around that demanded attention. Despite our best efforts, we do not read to my youngest as often as we did the older two. We do not enrich her daily the way we were able to the others. There are effects that are very real based on birth order. While I realize my anecdote does not prove causation, I think it is worth digging deeper into. And I think educators would be smart to consider these things when educating children. If only to offer opportunities that have not otherwise been offered.

2007 Study: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/21/science/21cnd-sibling.html?pagewanted=all

2015 Study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150716124449.htm

In response to a teacher who didn’t believe there was time for creativity in the classroom

Why do you feel there is not time for creativity in your classroom? I assume teachers feel this way because of the emphasis on high stakes testing. In my experience, students struggle with these opportunities at first, but they buy in more when there are opportunities for them to problem solve, think independently, apply their learning in new and creative ways. This is best practice. This fear of test scores has paralyzed teachers into thinking there isn’t time for these types of “extra” opportunities. I’m very interested in how we can begin to shift the culture in schools away from the testing fears and help teachers realize that there is in fact time for these opportunities and they should be embedded in lessons and units that are standards BASED but not standards ONLY teaching. In my observations of classrooms and in discussions with teachers across the spectrum of student populations, they are all scared of the repercussions of low test scores. In my experience, implementing best practices in my classroom that deemphasize standards in favor of high level thinking, creative opportunities, problem solving, etc produce much higher test scores than those teachers who focus all of their energy on test prep. In looking at the data from this last year at my school, 65.5% of my students passed advanced on their SOL. I had the highest pass advanced rate by over 40%. I also had the highest over all pass rate at 98%. The next closest teacher had a pass advanced rate of only 18%. When you look at the difference in our teaching methods, you could walk into my room and never see or hear mention of an SOL. There were daily opportunities for creative thinking, problem solving, independent study, etc. When I share this data, I normally get some comments about the kids I teach being highly privileged. They are. But I have the same success in a low-SES school in Richmond City. My last year teaching history, I implemented a Montessori approach to my curriculum planning. We never talked about SOLs. I had an 88% rate in my class that year. The same students in the previous year in the same subject had only 30% pass rate. Clearly, this is a passion area of mine. My first years teaching were spent carrying the same fear of testing scores. It took a leap of faith on my part to ignore mandates coming down from both my school administration and my district, but at the end of the first year, I was able to say that my approach was clearly successful. Four years later, I have unequivocal data to show the benefits of ditching the test prep mentality and taking that leap of faith to implement best practice teaching methods in every classroom for all students. When we say “there isn’t time” because of test standards, we are working from a a place of fear and I hope to help turn this tide, first at my own school, and then nationwide.


On Definitions of Creativity

Osche, Jensen and Bandura all defined creativity through social validation, in other words, contributions to culture or a field that are recognized by peers, publications/patents, awards and the cost benefit. In this respect, creativity is limited to those who have success in their field and leaves out those who do not have the means to be successful. Does this mean that they are not creative? Does the artist who doesn’t “make it” because they need to help their parents take care of younger siblings no longer qualify as creative because they haven’t been socially validated? This research seems to limit creativity to those who are successful. Therefore, in light of these definitions, those in field of education and research, would do well to spend time considering those traits identified in creative individuals and explore ways in which we can nurture those in less privileged communities in order to help them achieve success in the areas in which they are creative. In my experience in low-SES schools, the climate is one of helping students pass a state mandated test and little is done to nurture gifts and creativity. In fact, I would argue that creativity, problem solving and other higher level thinking exercises are being obliterated in students in favor of test prep. With what we know about creativity and gifted education in general, educators are doing a grave disservice to students nationwide when they leave out opportunities to nurture these traits in students.


On Adversity and Creativity 

This section is very interesting to me. Adversity myst be paired with something more to help foster high levels of creativity. I would argue that this would only be possible in situations where a perfect storm of conditions was present to help a person overcome adversity and then benefit or capitalize from this experience. I would argue that in order for this to happen, people most have their basic needs met, come from or have access to a supportive environment, have a personality type that doesn’t crumble under adversity, etc. The author used Bronte and Woolf, both white affluent women, as examples of eminence rising from adversity. Without this privilege, time to wright, etc, would these women have used writing as the same creative outlet if they had other responsibilities, such as work or childcare? Or, how many highly creative people who have risen out of adversity are unknown to us because their circumstances prohibited them from making their creative products known to a larger audience (such as publishing) because they didn’t have access to the types of resources that would allow them to make their products known to a wider audience?

In response to someone who disagreed by saying

“I have to suggest that the studies of these women writers might be an actual valid example as women, even privileged women, of Bronte’s and Woolf’s times were existing as underrepresented individuals who were unable to be seen as having valid opinions with regard to real world problems.”

I don’t disagree. Many women, such as Bronte and Woolf, were able to write about their oppression and use their creativity to address social and political issues in their time. How many poor black women were able to do the same? There was still an element of privilege that allowed them that space to write about those things. I don’t mean to rank oppressions, mind you, or to say that one groups oppression is more valid than another. Surely there were highly creative people though, from other oppressed groups, that even posthumously, were not able to gain notoriety due to the circumstances of their identity. Even though these women were underrepresented, seen as hysterical, oppressed and voiceless, it was through their privilege that a space to write was granted. A more modern example would be the Piper Kerman and her book (and subsequent TV show) Orange is the New Black. Black and poor women (or just African Americans in general – specifically men) have been victims of the prison industrial complex for a very long time and are disproportionately represented in prisons. Yet, no black or poor woman (or man) has been able to capitalize on the experience of imprisonment the way Kerman has. Why is that? Looking at the statistics, black people and poor people are disproportionately represented in prison populations. Does this simply mean that in the history of prison, none of the detainees have been highly creative enough to share their stories? Or is it that Kerman has an unearned privilege that validated her story in way that is not granted to “others”? That this disparity exists does not invalidate the works of Woolf, Bronte or the like. Just that there is work to be done in our underprivileged populations to ensure that the opportunities exist equitably for all.

In response to someone who said…

But what about the starving artists? Van Gogh only sold one painting, and that to his brother, I think, and definitely not wealthy. Does a person’s creativity have to be recognized in his or her lifetime to be considered creative?

Because Mother Teresa lived amongst ‘the least of these’, never made any money but found a thousand ways to care and provide for widows, orphans and leppers, was she any less creative?”

I’m not entirely sure how your examples disprove my point. While VanGogh may not have directly capitalized on his art, he did benefit from some privledge that allowed the time and space to create. I did a quick read, because I’m admittedly not familiar with his background, but he came from an upper middle class family, attended school, was given opportunities to travel and eventually taught in England. I also see he suffered from mental illness (his adversity), but it was the socio-economic status that would have allowed him the space to use art as an outlet.

Mother Teresa – again, I don’t know much about her background, but her relationship with the church, I’m sure, is what allowed her to do her work. Clearly, support was coming from the Catholic church for her and she came from a place of privilege where she could choose a life of poverty.

I think the confusion in my original post may have been the word capitalize. I don’t mean that they were able to make money on their creativity. I meant that there was something in their life, prior to adversity, that allowed them to benefit from the adversity, or in other words, use it to their advantage instead of being consumed by it from the onset.

How many VanGoghs are lost to us in the slums of Haiti? How many Mother Teresa’s can not do the work they feel called in the very areas Mother Teresa served?

The idea that everyone can pull themselves up by their boot straps is simply not the reality. Cycles of poverty, violence, abuse – these are powerful inhibitors. Unearned privilege is a powerful helper…in my humble opinion.


The following definition appeared in 1993 in the federal report National Excellence: A Case for Developing America’s Talent and is consistent with the definition provided in the Javits Gifted and Talented Education Act:

“Youth with outstanding talent perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children and youth exhibit high performance capability in intellectual, creative, and/or artistic areas, possess an unusual leadership capacity, or excel in specific academic fields… Outstanding talents are present in children and youth from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor” (U.S. Department of Education, 1993, p. 3).

What is your response to this definition?

“age, experience and environment”

This was my huge “D’uh!” moment! But, also an “uh-oh” moment because clearly this isn’t what is happening. Across the country, in districts, states and even the DOE, people are attempting to standardize everything which inevitably leads to the lowest common denominator being the standard. You have to create a standard that everyone can obtain, but if we aren’t considering the differences in experience and environment, we are not considering our students holistically or serving their individual needs.

In the TEDTalk by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Changing Educational Paradigms” he said “we still educate children by batches; we put them through the system by age group – why do we do that? Why is there this assumption that the most important thing kids have in common is how old they are. It’s like the most important thing about them is their date of manufacture. Well I know kids who are much better than other kids at the same age in different disciplines, or at different times of the day, or better in smaller groups than in large groups, or sometimes they want to be on their own. If you’re interested in the model of learning you don’t start from this production line mentality.”

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

I think this speaks to exactly this part of the definition that we have to consider kids beyond their age. We have to look at the whole child, their experiences (how do we compare a kid who comes from wealth, travels the world, has cultural experiences within their own city, etc. to a child who has lived their entire life in a six block radius?) and their environment (the child who grows up surrounded by educated adults, who grows up with healthy families, a support system, role models, etc to the child who grows up in poverty, in a family where their sole parents is sick, where they are helping raise their siblings due to death or incarceration, etc.) in order to fully meet the needs of all children – not just our gifted and talented kids. I feel like this part of the gifted definition should be in every definition of students and educational purpose that exists.


On “Is it easy to recognize creative talent?”

I think it certainly can be easier than we previously thought. Knowing what we know about the traits of highly creative persons, paired with opportunities to demonstrate creativity in our classrooms, students would have opportunities to shine and if we are consciously looking for these students, we should be able to find them. We may not find them all, but certainly, we can improve our track records. As we have been reading these pieces on creativity, one previous student continues to jump out in my mind. I’ve mentioned him before – highly gifted, and highly annoying to his peers. He exhibits ALL of the traits of highly creative people (but is not ADHD identified). He has a lot of confidence. He isn’t shaken at all by peer expectations. He was drug through the coals via social media by peers last year, and it never shook him. We spoke about it at length and he chalked it up to their immaturity. He is a very independent kid. He has no problem acting on his own, especially if he thinks others won’t be able to equally contribute to his work. I could go on – but they are all there. He also has many of the more negative traits – which is why I think he struggled socially last year, as well as struggled with teachers. He even demonstrates many of the traits associated with ADHD – overeagerness, rapid talking, inquisitiveness and high energy.

Going back to last year, had I known the things I know now, I think I would have identified him as highly creative and been able to better serve him. I had an idea that he was creative, judging from his work, but these traits solidify it. If every teacher was equipped with this knowledge, I think we would be able to better understand and identify our students.

Like I said, we may not get them all. Part of that is that students have to demonstrate these traits. Some students may be so used to conforming (culture block) and other social coping strategies, that they have repressed this part of their self in educational settings and reserve their creativity for safe spaces, such as home, lessons or camps. The current culture in schools, where creativity has been devalued in lieu of test prep, students have numbed the creative sides of themselves in order to fit in. It goes back to the talk I posted in another thread from Sir Ken Robinson about how students have had creativity and divergent thinking “educated out” of them. It would be difficult to identify students who no longer feel school is a safe place for their creative ideas.

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