I’ve written lots about twice exceptional learners in the past few months, mostly detailing the “LD” part of their equation while ignoring the gifted and talented part. This is due to the fact that the tiny portion of their learning disabilities produce about 99% of their emotional turmoil and frustrations. This makes it easy to focus on it, because the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.
This time, though, I’ve been thinking of the amazingly positive exceptionalities that come along with being a very divergent learner. Namely: creativity. Loads of creativity. So much creativity, it’s hard to contain it all in one little brain. Naturalist exudes creative energy. She is constantly making, either on a grand scale with some elaborate scheme, or on a smaller scale by folding paper over and over while she sits at the kitchen table.
In school, the schedule and process was to harness all that energy and dam it up behind routine, worksheets, and sitting still. As the outlets for her creative mind dried up, so did her reason and knack for learning. Boredom set in with all the rote memorization, and that is the kiss of death to a divergent mind.
It becomes disheartening for these students with eager, bright minds to continuously experience failure in school while learning and creating successfully at home. They also tend to have more creative productive interests. They are able to conceptualize quickly, to reason abstractly, to generalize easily, and to enjoy the challenge of solving novel problems autonomously. Basic automatic skills such as perceptual scanning, sequencing, organization, and study skills are at the center of their difficulties. Hobbies and interests that require keen motivation and creative thinking abilities are often observed outside of the school environment, while their performance in school is poor.
At home, Naturalist is never very far away from a few things: a lump of clay, some pipe cleaners, wooden craft sticks, and/or duct tape. I’ve learned over time to give her something to knead in her hands if I’m telling her something I want her to remember or learn. The physical act of creating something (a rudimentary sculpture while she listens, or even just molding the clay in her fingers) is tied directly to the part of her brain that stimulates learning and paying attention. I don’t know why this is so–it just is. And I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I just give her clay and let it be.
I am amazed at the steady stream of ideas she is constantly thinking up. If I’m ever stuck and can’t figure something out, she’s the one that problem solves it. Hubby and I call her MacGuyver, because she can take 4 unrelated items and put them together to create something amazing. She rarely plays games using the rules, but makes her own up because it makes it more interesting. In fact, she usually just makes the games up to boot. She frequently makes DaVinci worthy creations out of Legos without breaking a sweat.
When she is in her creative mode, she shines. This is not atypical of 2e kids, and is something to celebrate and encourage as often as possible. The way Naturalist acts when she has no creative outlet and is ‘bored’ is akin to dying a thousand deaths over a thousand years. Life is torturous to her when her creativity and divergent thinking is dammed up or stopped in some way (*cough*standardized schooling*cough*).
The kid who is dull and lethargic in class can often completely stun with what they can do outside of school with some K*nex, legos, clay, etc. Look for it, and share the joy!
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