2e Tuesday (on Wed….oops!)::Let Them Shine!

So, we’re talking about totally out of the box thinkers here–if you are one, you know it. If you have one, you know it. Out of the box thinkers happen for lots of different reasons…mass creativity, right brain thinking, learning differences that create a quirky combination of strengths and round-a-bout thinking.

Society is hypocritical when it comes to out of the box thinkers. One the one hand, there is a general theme of how it’s good to be unique and totally yourself. Until you ARE unique and totally yourself, and then everyone tends to get freaked out that the status quo is being messed with. Out of the box thinkers are the ones that think so differently, they end up changing the world. They are also the ones that are so divergent, they tend to not agree with or want to do things the way everyone else is doing them. If you’ve got a kid in school, or school age, then this creates some (!!!) tension with other educators and/or yourself.

For instance, back in school we were given a whole list of diagnosis about why Naturalist wasn’t doing well there, and all the ways she was different from the ‘norm’ or ‘average kid’. The standard she was being judge on was how close to the norm she was. The standard for the NCLB Act and Public School Policy is how close to average they can get every kid in each grade. The standard for general curriculum, whether public school or homeschool, is based on an indescriminate ‘average knowlege’ that some person somewhere that you’ve never met has decided your kid, who they have never met, should have.

Pardon me, is my unschooling showing? lol.

I know I have a nice mix of people who read this and have chosen all different kinds of ways to help their OOTB thinker, whether in public, private, or homeschool. Sometimes it goes great, and other times we can feel failure, frustration, and shame down to our cores. For those down times, I suggest….think long and hard about what standards you are using to define and shape your OOTB child. Are you judging her/him based on their own unique strengths and weaknesses, or are you judging them by comparing them to ‘the norm’…peers, grade level, how you were at their age… The more we compare OOTB kids to others, the more hopeless we can get that they will ever be ‘normal’.

The point isn’t to have normal kids. The point of the school district is just that, and they will remediate and medicate a child to do it. However, you don’t have to tow that line. Lets face it, our OOTB thinkers aren’t normal…and is that so horrible? It’s a prerequisite for revolutionaries and world changers!

In any curriculum, Naturalist’s ability to write and draw backwards isn’t useful at all…in fact, most places will try to remediate this out of her.

However, it is a skill that is essential for light writing, or, writing in the dark while taking a picture using a long exposure speed. It’s something she and I did a lot of up at the cabin by Yellowstone. 🙂 To do this, you take a flashlight, set the camera shutter to about 30 seconds, and then draw a picture or a word. In order for it to turn out, though, you have to draw from right to left and backwards. This is as easy as breathing to Naturalist, and we took turns drawing and writing with light:

To showcase how difficult this can be for most of the population, here is my brother trying to write my name backwards:

Spending these nights with her, seeing how brilliantly she created light art, underscored how important it is for me to let her shine…divergent skills, thinking, and all. Many times this will run counter to the objectives of people and places around us who have quantifiable ‘in the box’ goals for her. But they don’t know what her path will be in life. I don’t know what her path will be. But I know that everything that makes her who she is will be a part of it, and it’s my job to stand up for those unique parts and keep them intact so she has them as she grows up.

Ideally, this is the goal of teachers and the institutions they work for. But if that isn’t the case, then it’s up to you to run a little counterculture on behalf of your OOTB thinker. If you haven’t already, come join more of us trying to do the same thing for our kids (and even ourselves!) at the Out of the Box Group.

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2 Responses

  1. That is sooo cool!!! (Great post too – I have an OOBT and need to remind myself occasionally that he will never be “normal” – and I don’t want him to be. I want him to be happy within himself with his own unique abilities and skills. That’s why unschooling is working best for us too!)

  2. Ooooooh I love this!
    Not sure what my slowest shutter speed is, but we’ll definitely try it out!!

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