March 28, 2014
What’s it like to be on the receiving end of well-meaning sympathy for your learning disabilities, accompanied by low academic and career expectations? How does it feel to want to engage in the challenging learning activities that your friends in the gifted class are experiencing, and to be told you never will? Cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—scientific director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Imagination Institute—describes his personal journey through special education, and what it taught him about the nature of intelligence, talent, and creativity.
I’ve been thinking and writing about these issues for a few decades, but nonetheless, my copy of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined is full of underlines and dog-eared pages where I’ve marked research findings, quotes, and ideas I hadn’t yet encountered or thought about in the way Kaufman describes them. This book gave me fresh perspectives on many important ideas in my field and deeper understanding of many of the foundational concepts, as well as introducing me to research findings I hadn’t seen.
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September 5, 2013
Creativity is more accessible (and more effortful) than most people realize. Most parents want their kids to experience the joy and fulfillment that come from productive creativity–the kind of creativity that makes a difference.
Here are seven ideas for parents who want to support their children’s productive creativity:
1. Curiosity. All kids are born curious. They want to understand more about the world around them. Support your child’s curiosity, and you’re taking the first and probably most important step toward him discovering the joys of productive creativity.
2. Passion. Support your child in finding out what she wants to learn more about. Whether it’s musical, artistic, athletic, intellectual, domestic, scientific or something else, follow her curiosities, and help her think about possibilities for further exploration. A passionate desire to go farther is at the heart of productive creativity.
3. Opportunities for learning. Productive creativity is built on knowledge and understanding. Your child needs something with which to be creative. Help him find opportunities to learn and to experience challenge in his areas of keen interest. Productive creativity happens in all domains–a scientist or a chef can be as productively creative as a musician–so help him feel free to follow his interests wherever they take him.
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May 11, 2013
The secrets of successful schools have nothing to do with money. Some of the best schools around the world are in poor communities and poor countries. Findings from international research show that a school’s ability to teach its students well doesn’t depend on how much money is spent. Nor does a school’s success depend on the socioeconomic status of the students’ families or communities.
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March 19, 2013
Happy people make different choices than others, and the good news is that their habits can be learned–kindness, seeing problems as opportunities, expressing gratitude , and more. These behaviours are all choices that parents can teach their kids to make. No matter a child’s temperament–and yes! some kids are a lot more difficult than others!–she can learn to choose happiness.
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March 13, 2013
Even the best students are arriving at university unprepared to do well there. ‘Top Students, Too, Are Not Always Ready for College’ is the title of an article in today’s edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education. In thinking about this problem, the author—the Executive Director of Johns Hopkins’ prestigious Center for Talented Youth—argues for changes at the high school level that will engage kids’ minds and intellectual passions, and develop the habits of mind that lead to academic success in higher education.
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January 5, 2013
January is a good time for taking stock, for thinking about what’s good in one’s life, and what might need some shaping. One place to look for adjustments is whether our focus is on gratitude or entitlement.
Some children find enormous pleasure in helping others, and feel gratitude for what’s good in their own lives. They discover themselves that way, and make friends at the same time. Others are robbed of these happy pleasures by feelings of entitlement, thinking it’s smart to take care of themselves and ignore the needs of others.
Recent research shows that the experience of awe can be a catalyst for becoming someone who feels gratitude rather than entitlement, and who lives that out in acting positively to others. Parents who express their own awe–whether it’s at a sunset, an act of kindness, or a mathematical equation–help their kids learn to do that, too.
December 16, 2012
Creativity is mysterious, but it’s a lot more accessible than most people realize. The hard part about it isn’t the magic, but rather the fact that it’s built on and emerges from a whole lot of hard work.
Mark Changizi is a theoretical neurobiologist, who describes himself as ‘struggling with creativity both as a scientist trying to remain creative, and as a scientist trying to understand creativity.’ He writes a delightful blog for The Creativity Post on all manner of creativity topics.
In his most recent post, ‘The Provably Non-Incremental Nature of Creativity,’ he writes about the slow, painful, messy slogging that’s required to get to the beautiful magical AHA! moment: ‘Discoveries can be dressed up well, but the way we go about finding our ideas is almost always an embarrassing display of buffoonery.’
His analysis is both discouraging–creative breakthroughs take a lot of work over a lot of time, and require a tedious painful detailed muddling-through process–and totally encouraging–creativity is accessible to anyone willing to put in the work. He writes, ‘There’s no recipe for discovery… I’ve been able to prove that for some discoveries it is intrinsically impossible to know how close one is to reaching the end. For these puzzles, sudden breakthroughs—aha moments—are in fact logically required rather than due to some quirk of human psychology.’