joshwriting: (Default)
All comments are screened. Anonymous posts are permitted (but not required). IP addresses are off.

For some people, discussing emotions is a fairly simple and straight forward process. If we think of them as colors, they tend to have a basic set of 10 or 30 (or some other number of) colors. This is the genesis of the face charts of emotions we see:
Ten Emotions - What colors would *you* give them?
30 Faces of Emotions - What colors would *you* use for each one?

But many of us are aware of experiencing many more emotions than those charts - even those with many more faces. Hence the effort to take advantage of the hexadecimal color system to provide greater variety and gradation of emotional expression.

The way that hexadecimal colors work: each digit has 16 possible values, going from 0-9 with a-f added on the end to count as 10-15. The first two digits of the number represent the brightness of red, f being the brightest, 0 the darkest. the second two are for green, and the last two are for blue.

In this system the first two digits (those representing red) stand in for physical excitement; with 0 being a very slow, and f being high on adrenaline.

The second two digits (those representing green) standing in for mental excitement, or the amount of noise and thought going on in ones head. A 0 here would mean it is very hard to think, while a f would mean the thoughts are tumbling on top of each other too fast to keep track of.

The last two digits (those representing blue) stand in for pain vs pleasure. a 0 here is very painful, and an f very pleasurable.

This gives a way of categorizing emotions using color. for instance: When all are at their highest value (the most physically and mentally excited, and pleasurable), we get white; while the lowest values on all three would show black.

As this is very much an idea that is early in its development, it would be very helpful if you would use the charts above and the Hexadecimal Color Chooser to provide the colors that would represent those emotions to you and then either post them anonymously below or send them along to

Our intention is to use the information provided to us to develop a better guideline for using the color selector or other system for expressing one's own emotions. We will not use anybody's name or identifying information without advance permission nor do we anticipate doing so with permission.

Thank you for your time and assistance!
joshwriting: (Default)
The following questions are aimed at those who have a high sensitivity to others’ emotions, whether they use that sensitivity in any professional way or not. All answers on this page will be kept anonymous unless you expressly wish them not to be. Comments are all screened such that only I can read them, but in addition, if you want to comment anonymously that is an available option. LiveJournal may record your IP, but I won’t be checking them (even if they would tell me anything about the poster). I think I have turned off IP logging on the Dreamwidth account.

This information is going to be used by me in presentations I do and in work I do with adolescents and adults. While there is no immediate plan to formally publish it in any medium, I imagine that at some point I might, depending on (a) whether I actually learn anything worth sharing in that fashion and (b) getting out of my own way!

Preamble, preamble, preamble…

Please direct any inquiries to me: Josh Shaine,

Role: _____ Professional in a therapeutic field _____ Former professional in a therapeutic field
_____ Out of College (or school), not working in a therapeutic field _____ Still a student

Information that would be welcome, but which you may choose not to answer:
Race(s): ______________________________ Gender(s) __________________________Birth Year _____

1. Was there a point in your life at which you either developed or suddenly discovered that you had a high degree of sensitivity to other people’s emotions or have you had it as long as you can remember?

2. Do you remember becoming aware of this being something you did and others did not do? If so, do you know how old you were when you had that realization?

3. Did you (do you) find yourself feeling overwhelmed by too much emotional input when you are in a group or a crowd, whether or not they are directly interacting with you? If so, what have you tried to do about it and has any of it worked for you? Are there particular situations or settings in which the overwhelmed feeling is likelier/likeliest to occur?

4. When you are working with an individual (regardless of whether this is in a professional capacity), do you intentionally seek to be more sensitive, to dive deeper or get a broader sense? If so, do you know how you did it and if it worked?

5. If it did work, have you ever tried that technique in reverse to be less attuned to others’ feelings? Did that work?

6. Have you experienced burnout as a result of your emotional sensitivity, whether or not you had been intentionally using it? If so, have you found an effective way to deal with those burnout feelings? What have you tried and what has worked?

7. Have you talked with any others about your sensitivity to others’ emotions? How did that go?

8. Are there any questions you think I should have asked you? If so, what question and what would be your answer?
joshwriting: (Default)
This January, assuming enough students sign up for it, I will start teaching a 15 week course through GHF Online (Gifted Homeschoolers Forum). (See link at bottom.)
Powers Beyond the Ordinary: ‘Super’ Women and Men in Science Fiction and Fantasy
In addition to the titles/topics listed, I am interested in your thoughts on what would be good works to include - books, movies, plays, etc. I know I won't even remotely have time to even check out all of them between now and then, but I know I will look at many of them and make note of the others - including them in a broader list for students who want to go further in the topic. (Students should be 12 years old and up for this course.)

A few of the items on my list beyond those mentioned in the course outline: )
There is no way that I will even thoroughly cover the topics I already have - but I imagine I will be teaching this again!

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

Course description as well as outline are at the link.

Click here for the course description and outline.
joshwriting: (Default)
(Today's blog entry is dedicated to the late Sharon Lind, a passionate defender of and guide for the gifted, whose succinct explanations of Dabrowski continue to echo in my head.)

For almost 25 years I have been hearing and reading about gifted kids and Overexcitabilities (OEs). Dr. Linda Silverman provided my first view of them at a conference run by the Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children, then my second view of them in her (wonderful) book, Counseling the Gifted and Talented (Love Publishing, 1991).

The thing is that both of those presented me with the OEs but also with Dynamisms, Factors, and Levels, all parts of Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD). These days, as I read articles on Overexcitabilities, it’s a fortunate event when Dabrowski is mentioned and a pleasant surprise to see TPD mentioned even in passing. Dynamisms, Factors, and Levels do not show up at all and there is very rarely an intimation as to what is being disintegrated, why it might be disintegrated, and what the OEs have to do with any of it!

I understand the attraction of the OEs, really I do. They have a face validity to a substantial majority of parents who have gifted kids and almost as surely for themselves when they reflect on their childhoods or even their current daily lives. “Oh! That’s me!” comes almost as quickly and often as “That’s my kid(s)!”

Having a label for the twitching and bobbing, the sensitivities, the endless questions, the wild stories, the melt downs over seemingly trivial issues or unmanageably large issues, provides a degree of calm for at least a moment and a language for discussing these bits with other people where before it was almost always pure defensiveness. An honest–to-god theory that talks about this stuff?! Hooray!

I get it.

Unfortunately, the purveyors of Overexcitability information are largely doing you a disservice, in my opinion, by perhaps giving just a link to more information or, more often, not. There is so much more to the OEs than that first blush would suggest!

To get a small taste of what I am talking about, check out the beginning of Cait Fitz’s OE blog entry on My Little Poppies, where she dives deeper than most into the Theory of Positive Disintegration. (But then come back!)

The Rest of the Story (with apologies to the late Paul Harvey)

Welcome back. :-) Let’s start with a few basic background pieces that might be of interest, that might be obvious to many a reader, or at least won’t bore you too much:
  • Before Dabrowski called it overexcitability he called it hyperstimulatability and then nervousness.

  • The Polish word that Dr. Dabrowski used for this set of traits, nadpobudliwość, is now one of the translations for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

  • Just as it is the first part of TPD to catch most people’s eyes, it was the first to catch Dabrowski’s attention.

  • From a Dabrowskian perspective, OEs exist for several reasons; the reasons vary with the specific OE and one’s Level of Personality Development. (More on this later.)

  • One specific purpose, at lower levels, is to create conflict in one’s world. The stronger the OE the greater the chance and degree of disruption and, as Cait pointed out, Dabrowski was a great believer in the “no pain, no gain” school of thought.

  • Where there is an individual with more than one OE, there is an individual whose OEs do not exist in isolation from each other. For example, children with both imaginational and emotional OEs might be distraught on behalf of the last leaf of a tree, feeling its loneliness and fear deep in their being.

  • With the Intellectual OE seems to travel a ‘sense of justice,’ that looks at unfairness beyond how it might serve or offend one's personal needs.

These points are important and largely disagree with most of what I read:
  • There were times when Dabrowski felt a client’s Overexcitabilities might indicate the need for medication and/or psychotherapy.

  • Dabrowski believed that the development of inhibition of expression of the Overexcitabilities was appropriate and necessary for development of Personality.


To say that the gifted seem to show more OEs than the average person is not exactly true, though you will read statements to that effect all over the internet. Sensual and Psychomotor OEs seem to be spread out across the population, with no particular regard for giftedness. It’s harder to be sure with Emotional, Imaginational, and Intellectual OEs because a) there is conflicting data and b) our instruments are largely inadequate, at best. (That also means that all those internet questionnaires that purport to tell you how much OE you or your child has are not worth the electrons they are not printed with, because they have not been normed or validated in appropriate ways, IMO.)

I noted above both the conflict function and that there are other uses for OEs according to the Theory of Positive Disintegration. One example of that is Psychomotor, which provides the energy and impetus for growth. Without that energy, a traumatic, potentially transformative experience is likely to result in an individual’s settling back into a familiar life, rather than disintegrating.

Huh – there’s that word again! Disintegrating is a description of the process of growth in personality through a series of transformations in world view:

  1. Primary Integration: No sense of alternative world views, no sense of hierarchies of values. A substantial number of Level 1 individuals are about self-aggrandizement. No internal conflict, just external.

  2. Unilevel Disintegration: Recognition of alternative world views, but still no hierarchization. (Hence unilevel.) Dabrowski represents Level II as very unstable for the majority of people there. Internal conflict and external conflict as well.

  3. Spontaneous Multi-level Disintegration: The realization that some values are higher than others, with the nearly crippling conviction that they are unattainable. Predominantly internal conflict, increasingly so as one develops.

  4. Organized Multi-level Disintegration: Generally living without much external conflict, but usually an ongoing drive to grow. Living far more closely in accordance to one’s ideals.

  5. Secondary Integration: Personality Ideal; living for the purpose of making the world a better place. Self-promotion is no longer a valid self-concept or goal.

It’s all well and good to list these as if they are clear, distinct ways of being, but one can have a foot in more than one. And even the concept of “being in one” is not really valid because one progresses within each of these, as if there were dozens of steps along the way, even though they are not commonly identified as such in Dabrowski’s works, with the exception of Level 1 for which there is a beginning exploration of the shades of “oneness” one might have gone through or at least which one can identify.

Some brief points about the Levels and how other pieces of TPD and of life fit with them:
  • The chances of going past Level 1 or Level II (which seem to have 60-80% of the folks) depend on “Developmental Potential,” again as Cait noted. The more and the stronger the OEs, the more likely there will be progress. But no Psychomotor means reduced chance of development from lower levels.

  • Self-Shame and Self-Astonishment and other modes of internal dialog/awareness (referred to as Dynamisms) reflect and affect the growth of the individual. (Dynamisms could be a year of blog posts all by themselves!)

  • First Factor is one’s genetic component. A strong first factor is important. A weak one may be impossible to overcome. Second Factor is environmental. More feasible to overcome a weak Second Factor, but it is hard. Third Factor is autonomous drive – to this author’s mind, one of the most poorly defined elements, but dealing with the internal push toward self-perfection.

  • OEs (remember them) change in manifestation as one develops, shifting from running an individual’s life to providing some background richness. Where Psychomotor was vital before, the others become far more important for development.

  • Everything else in life changes, too, as one becomes less caught up in the regular human/rat race – and the theory includes explanations of just what those look like along the way.

  • Yes, there is such a thing as Negative Disintegration. No, no explanation tonight!

  • Along the way, as you look at yourselves or your kids, keep an eye out for Positive Maladjustment – when you go against your immediate community or group because what they are doing feels wrong to you. The opposite, negative adjustment, is when you go along to get along, even though what is being done is hurtful and/or inappropriate.

Some of Dabrowski’s material is available currently, though not a lot of it. More is on its way, however!

To get more of my sense of Dabrowski and the Theory of Positive Disintegration, check out either of these links: From overt behavior to developing potential: The gifted underachiever was written in the 1990’s and reflects my first real exploration of the OEs in application. Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration - A Narrative Overview was written in 2010 and is a more comprehensive look at TPD.

For far more material, wander over to Bill Tillier’s site,

Acknowledgements and Credits

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on Overexcitabilities. I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions. In particular, I would like to thank Linda Silverman, Cheryl Ackerman, Bill Tillier, Patti Rae Miliotis, Leslie Forstadt, and always Susan Shaine for their parts in this journey into Dabrowski.

Please click on the graphic above (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the titles, blog names, and links of other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

(And stay tuned for a few big announcements in the next few months on this topic!)
joshwriting: (Default)
On hiding your gifts:
If one is unwitting about one's intelligence, then hiding it is not the issue, because it is not a goal. However it is still quite possible for it to remain hidden *depending on the area of giftedness* and how it manifests.

If one is aware of one's intelligence and one *wishes* to hide it, the ways to do so are myriad and moderately trivial, personality depending. The simplest is near-silence. Few or zero comments makes it pretty hard to judge. Then whatever work you do is what you are evaluated on by the teachers and, to a lesser extent, your age mates..

A bright enough kid can (and does) figure out a system for seeming to fit in. A socially adept kid can even fit in without such extreme measures - and they often do. Top 1% can and does include some kids who do not stick out unless they choose to, after a certain age - and sometimes that age is 2 or 3.

On finding true peers: Miraca Gross's paper on Sure Shelters is perhaps the best at discussing this that I have read, in terms of presenting the issues - for all that it has bits that are... more technical than necessary for this particular discussion.

The introverts among that 1% are seldom seeking more than 1 or 2 "best friends." The extroverts are... often frustrated. However, we don't need a 1-1 match in interests. However divergent we may be as we spread in aptitude from the center of the bell curve, complementary personalities exist sans depth of mutual interests. And... as one delves into the worlds of specialization, one finds others with that common obsession passion! The age gap may be a tad wider than expected by the unassuming parental units, but the shared focus is more powerful than that chronological split for many.

(My personal example of the age issue was when I asked my mother if I could bring a friend with me for a particular chess tournament and she gave her permission. She was more than a bit taken aback by the 45 year old cabbie at her door for the ride north to the tournament. *grins at the memory*)

(For the examples of the divergent interests/deep bonding, you will have to wait for the book.)
joshwriting: (Default)

  Author Title
1 Davidson and
Genius Denied
2 Webb, Amend, Webb,
et al
Misdiagnosis, Dual
3 Winebrenner Teaching Gifted
Children in the Regular Classroom
4 Gross Exceptionally
Gifted Children
4 Webb, et al A Parent's Guide
to Gifted Children
6 Rivero Creative
7 Daniels Living with
7 Ruf 5 Levels/Losing
Our Brightest Minds
7 Tolan & Webb Guiding the Gifted
10 Eide & Eide Mislabeled
10 Galbraith Gifted Children's
Survival Guide (pre-teen)
10 Lovecky Different Minds
10 Templeton
A Nation Deceived
10 Winner Gifted Children:
Myths and Realities
15 Halsted Some of my best
friends are books
X Carolyn K. Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
16 Assouline Developing
Mathematical Talent
16 Clark Growing Up Gifted
16 Gladwell Outliers
16 K. Kay (Ed.) High IQ Kids
16 Rogers Reforming Gifted
16 Silverman Upside Down
22 Assouline,
Forstadt, et al
Iowa Acceleration
22 Bauer & Wise The Well-Trained
22 Cross Social and
Emotional Lives of the Gifted
22 Delisle &

When Gifted Kids
Don't Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs
22 Gardner Creating Minds
22 Grost Genius in
22 Hollingworth Children Above 180
22 Holt Learning All the
22 Kerr Smart Girls,
Gifted Women
22 Kranowitz &
The Out of Sync
22 Sousa How the Gifted
Brain Works
22 Strip & Hirsh Helping Gifted
Children Soar
22 Tolan Welcome to the Ark
35 Asher Cool Colleges
35 Baker, Julicher,
& Hogan
Gifted Children at
35 Bloom &
Developing Talent
in Young People
35 Bluedorn,
Bluedorn, & Bluedorn
Teaching the
Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style
35 Card Ender's Game
35 Castellano &
Populations of the Gifted
35 Colangelo &
Handbook of Gifted
35 Coleman &
Being Gifted in
35 Colfer Artemis Fowl
35 Delisle any book
35 Dreikurs Children - The
35 Elman Unwritten Rules of
35 Feldman, David Nature's Gambit
35 Feldman, Ruth Whatever Happened
to the Quiz Kids?
35 Feynman Surely You're
Joking, Mr. Feynman!
35 Fuller Talkers, Watchers,
and Doers: Unlocking Your Child's Unique Learning Style
35 Galbraith &
The Gifted Kids
Survival Guide: A Teen Handbook
35 Gilman Challenging Highly
Gifted Learners
35 Gilman Educational
Advocacy for Gifted Students
35 Golon? Raising Topsy
Turvy Kids
35 Hirsh-Pasek, Eyer,
& Golinkoff
Einstein Never
Used Flashcards
35 Hollingworth Gifted Children:
Nature and Nurture
35 Hollingworth Human Intelligence
35 Jacobson Gifted Adults
35 Johnsen &
Teaching and
Counselling Gifted Girls
35 Johnson Identifying Gifted
35 Kean The Disappearing
35 Klein Raising Gifted
35 Ku The Spirited Child
35 L'Engle A Ring of Endless Light
35 L'Engle A Wrinkle in Time
35 Lindskold Brother to Dragons, Companion
to Owls
35 Llewellen The Teenage
Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
35 Lowry The Anastasia Krupnik books
35 McCaffrey Dragonsong/Dragonsinger
35 Mendaglio Dabrowski's Theory
of Positive Disintegration
35 Neihart ??
35 Neill Summerhill
35 Olenchak They Say My Kid's
Gifted: Now What?
35 Owen To be Gifted and
Learning Disabled
35 Paterson Bridge to Terabithia
35 Piechowski Mellow Out' They Say. If I
Only Could
35 Pierce Circle of Magic
35 Pipher Seeking Peace: The
Journey of the Worst Buddhist in the World
35 Fitzhugh Harriet the Spy
35 Porter Young Gifted
35 Potok The Chosen
35 Ratey Shadow Syndromes
35 Rimm Keys to Parenting
the Gifted Child
35 Rimm Why Bright Kids
Get Poor Grades: And What You Can Do About It
35 Sachar Angeline
35 SENG SENG Booklet
35 Shore Best Practices in
Gifted Education
35 Shurkin Terman's Kids
35 Smith, Julie Dean Call of Madness
35 Smutny Reclaiming the
Lives of Gifted Girls and Women
35 Streznewski Gifted Grown-ups
35 Suzuki Giftedness
35 Terman, et al Genetic Studies
35 Thompson Gypsyworld
35 Tomlinson The Differentiated
35 Van Tassel-Baska Comprehensive
Curriculum for the Gifted
35 Van Tassel-Baska Excellence in
Education of Gifted and Talented Learners
35 Waitman The Merro Tree
35 Walker Survival Guide for
Parents of Gifted Children
35 Wallace, Amy The Prodigy
35 Wallace, David
Consider the
Lobster (honest!)
35 West In the Mind's Eye
35 Willis &
Kindle Hodson
DIscover Your
Child's Learning Style
35 Zaccarro Math and Science

joshwriting: (Default)
I want to thank those of you on LJ who responded to my questionnaire!

4% of my respondents were LiveJournal members. They recommended an average of 8 books each. The most frequent recommendation was Ender's Game, which was not recommended by anybody who did not identify LJ as their source for the survey.

I will probably run a follow-up survey aimed just at fiction, as more of you listed fiction than any other group, and I would be interested in seeing more of that input.

The overall responses showed those to be the 2nd and 3rd most frequently cited books (22% and 20% respectively), with the Davidson's Genius Denied as the book mentioned the most, with 24% of the survey-takers endorsing it.

104 total books were mentioned, including 15 fiction titles. In addition, Hoagies Gifted was mentioned multiple times.

Top Nine Titles:
1. Genius Denied
2. Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults
3. Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom
4. Exceptionally Gifted Children by Miraca Gross
4. A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children by Webb, Gore, Amend, & DeVries
6. Creative Homeschooling by Lisa Rivero
7. Living with Intensity, edited by Daniels and Piechowski
7. 5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options by Ruf
7. Guiding the Gifted Child by James T. Webb, Meckstroth, & Tolan

No other book was mentioned more than 10% of the time.

Again, thank you for your help!
joshwriting: (Default)
One of the questions that arises along the way is "Are gifted children at risk?" Inevitably, the question brings the reply "At risk of what?"

Dropping out, depression, drugs, delinquency, and death (self-inflicted) are the answers. 4 of these five are pretty commonly discussed within the gifted lit - and often researchers seek to support or refute them. There are lots of stories and fewer statistics - and what stats there are may be misquoted, misremembered, or misremembered.

For the moment, I am going to focus on delinquency. I've been reading one of the studies that set out to disprove the notion that violent adolescents are any likelier to be gifted than the general population: High intelligence and severe delinquency: Evidence disputing the connection, by Dewey G. Cornell, in Roeper Review, May 92, Vol. 14, Issue 4.

Dr. Cornell had 157 violent offenders to examine and he did a pretty thorough job of illustrating his general point. Of the 157, "only 2 subjects obtaining scores greater than 130, and 2 more scoring greater than 120" on their full scale IQs (WISC-R or WAIS-R). He took it further, correctly observing that prison populations are known for higher performance scores than verbal.

"There were 13 subjects with Performance IQ's of at least 120. This included two subjects with IQ's greater than 140 and two more with IQ's greater than 130. In contrast, there were only 3 subjects with Verbal IQ's of 120 or higher, and all 3 had equivalent or higher Performance IQ's."

13 out of 157 is not overrepresented for 120+ (9% is the expected percentage.)

He talked a bit about race, and looks at the fact that the 'minority' members of the 13 above 120 performance IQ group were only 31% (4 of 13) vs. being 75% of the below 110 population. From there, he continued to explore his 2nd question, "Do highly intelligent delinquents differ from other delinquents in their social background and prior adjustment?"

And that is where I think Dr. Cornell made his mistake.

The white population of the total 157 group was 44, or 28% of the whole. The number of whites who scored 120 and above on the Performance Scale was 9, or more than 20% of the white population, when 9% would have been expected.

Cornell wrote, in conclusion: "The results of this study provide evidence that high intelligence is not associated with severe delinquency. In fact, the majority of delinquents are of below average intelligence, and only a few delinquents obtained scores above the high average range. While it is possible to identify delinquents with high intelligence, it is not reasonable to infer a connection between delinquency and high intelligence."

I think he missed a vital segment of his population.

This is hardly conclusive to prove risk, let alone to be as definitive in the opposite direction from Cornell. But it does at least raise an unanswered question: Might there be a greater risk for gifted (high performance scale) white adolescents to become seriously delinquent than for the norm?
joshwriting: (Default)
I'm prepping a bibliography for a class. If you have an opinion on the topic, would you mind sharing it? Thanks!

What is your favorite book about gifted kids, gifted education, gifted adults, or generally about giftedness?
joshwriting: (Default)
The literature on giftedness, what it is, how to raise and/or teach and/or counsel these children, is fairly extensive. It goes back more than 100 years ago, and about 90 years ago, they had a pretty good idea of what worked and what didn't.

Doesn't mean that they did it at any point in the intervening years or that there are many places doing it now. Merely that the failure to do it well is from a failure to do one of a few things: 1) Research; 2) Believe what you read; 3) Learn from your mistakes.

This is the generous view of it...

On the fictional side of things, there are only so many plots that are out there.

The first breakout is that you have one gifted kid or you have a bunch of them. The Odd Johns of the world - both IRL and fiction - are plentiful. The groups are less common, excepting only the super hero genre of comic books and novelizations.

Wilmar Shiras wrote about Children of the Atom years before the X-Men (or the Tomorrow People) came into being. A brilliant boy doesn't quite fit in without calling attention to himself and gets found out by a psychologist. Together, they seek out more like him, find them, and pull them together, only to discover that society is not ready for these kids to be working together. But, they are good kids, and want to make the world a better place.

Stephanie Tolan's Welcome to the Ark tells a similar tale, though there is more to these children than just intelligence.

The X-Men are mutants and, originally, gifted youngsters who need to learn to use their powers. The bigotry against them, as mutants, is usually blind and without regard to circumstance. It doesn't help that not all mutants are altruistic. Some are 'merely' self-serving and/or opportunists. Some have the urge to dominate and control others. Some just want to tear things down.

This, then is the crux of the issue: How do we know that if we have kids with these powers, that they will use them for the good of humanity, or at least our nation?

John Brunner's Children of the Thunder asks that question and suggests that not only do we not know it, but that if there are some of these kids with noble objectives and others with more self-centered goals, that all other things being equal, the negative approach will win out.

There is another wringer to be tossed in here - perhaps the most common type of tale that explores this stuff even slightly seriously. What if the institution that is training the children is corrupt, regardless of the original plan? John Brunner addressed this before he ooked at the other - an individual gifted person, escaped from his school where he felt he was mistreated. Much of the novel is spend following our protagonist as he eludes capture in a world made up of plug in employees.

Jarod, in The Pretender, a TC series, has a remarkably similar path - escaping from The Center and adopting a variety of guises and careers to find out about his background while being a do-gooder everywhere he goes.

James Patterson's Maximum Ride series takes the perfidy of mad scientists and the evil institution and combines them with kids who are not merely gifted in their thinking. They have wings - and they have escaped from The School, whose owners and directors do NOT have the kids' best interests at heart.

But in many ways, the questions asked, the puzzles shown, are consistent from book to book and show to show. How alone am I? How do I connect with others? If I run, where will I run too? What happens when my friends discover just how weird I really am?

Why am I so alone? And often, What is wrong with me?
joshwriting: (Default)
A few years ago, on a mailing list to which I no longer belong and which shall not be named, an effort was made to gather material for a book. I wrote a chapter for said book, as did my mother.

Our chapters (which formed one whole) were accepted, but the suggestion was made that I make my submission under a pseudonym, for self-protection, as it was rather candid about my work/school difficulties.

I declined, claiming that nothing in there was something I felt the need to hide. A couple weeks after that, I was told that unfortunately, they would not be able to take our chapters.

Nearly 7 years after that initial inquiry, the book has finally come out.
joshwriting: (Default)
1. Enrollment in Relation to Age and Grade

Two of the very easiest facts to observe and record about the pupils in any school are age and grade. If they are recorded as in Table 1 on the following page, even these simple items tell much about the working of the school in question. Thus, looking at each vertical column, one sees at once the enormous variability in age of those who reach the same grade or educational standard. In the third grade in Connecticut in 1903, children were reported as young as four years old and as old as seventeen. To include nine tenths of the children in this grade, a range of five years is required. Over three years are required to include even three fourths of them. In the fourth grade, only a quarter of the children are of the so-called "normal" age of ten; a fifth of them are twelve or over; in a class of forty there will usually be one child fourteen or more years old and four children eight or less. In the elementary school, even in the lower grades, there are many adolescents, beginning to be moved by the instincts of adult life. In the high school are many boys and girls under fifteen who, though intellectually gifted, are physically, emotionally, and in social instincts little children.

(from page 3.)
Educational Administration: Quantitative Studies (1913) By George Drayton Strayer, Edward Lee Thorndike

As I noted elsewhere (I think), "With all of its defects the country school of a quarter century ago was strongest in caring for the unusually gifted children. These were given great freedom in thought, in rate of accomplishment, and in the materials assigned. The graded system with all of its improvement has decidedly narrowed the range of opportunity of the gifted child."

Thorndike's work, both then and later, provides a lens through which one can examine educational practice today, not only of the gifted, and see some of the places in which we fall terribly terribly short.
joshwriting: (Default)
Optional Work. - A wide variation in the abilities and attainments of
children makes optional work an essential factor of effective teaching.
Since all pupils cannot go the same pace, it is important that some
special provision be made which will insure a maximum accomplishment for
each. In well-regulated schools this condition is provided for by
adjusting the assignment to the average ability of the class and then
providing special aid for the weakest of the group, and optional work of a
supplemental character for the unusually gifted children.

With all of its defects the country school of a quarter century ago was
strongest in caring for the unusually gifted children. These were given
great freedom in thought, in rate of accomplishment, and in the materials
assigned. The graded system with all of its improvement has decidedly
narrowed the range of opportunity of the gifted child. Supplemental
provisions, such as optional work, must be introduced to restore these
opportunities for maximum development.

To be effective, optional work should not be merely incidental or 'busy
work.' It must be an organic part of the school program. It should feature
in both the assignment and the recitation with as much prominence as does
the regular work of the class.

(Leaving the discussion of gifted)

Constant acceptance of the utterances of textbook writers and teachers, by
pupils, slowly but surely develops a servile dependence which negatives
the underlying factors in responsibility.

Unfortunately the school has fostered an enormous amount of docility.

The Essentials of Good Teaching By Edwin Arthur Turner, Lotus Delta
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Historical events appear to have been much more potent in leading races to civilisation than their faculty, and it follows that achievements of races do not warrant us to assume that one race is more highly gifted than the other.

Dr. Franz Boas, from:
Human Faculty as determined by Race, in the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1894.

Isn't it amazing how far we have come from there?
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From A Plea for the Queen's English: Stray Notes on Speaking and Spelling By Henry Alford

140. We seem rather unfortunate in our designations for our men of ability. For another term by which we describe them, "talented," is about as bad as possible. What is it? It looks like a participle. From what verb? Fancy such a verb as "to talent!" Coleridge somewhere cries out against this newspaper word, and says, Imagine other participles formed by this analogy, and men being said to be pennied, shillinged, or pounded. He perhaps forgot that, by an equal abuse, men are said to be "moneyed men, or as we sometimes see it spelt (as if the word itself were not bad enough without making it worse by false orthography), "monied."

141. Another formation of this kind, "gifted," is at present very much in vogue. Every man whose parts are to be praised is a gifted author, or speaker, or preacher. Nay, sometimes a very odd transfer is made, and the pen with which the author writes is said to be "gifted," instead of himself.


He wasn't all that pleased with "superior" or "inferior" as in, "He is a clearly inferior man," either.


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