This week and next we feature posts by Carol Malueg. Carol is active in gifted and 2e organizations locally and nationally; she also blogs on topics related to private and public schools, charter and magnet schools, gifted and talented students, and twice exceptional students.
Why should we worry about nurturing the creative side of our gifted children? In general, schools would prefer that we help manage the sometimes chaotic nature of the creative child, because chaos is the last thing most teachers want in the classroom. Aren’t we doing our children a favor by helping them fit in and play by the rules?
Education is an enormous, rigid, unwieldy beast comprised of federal laws, teacher education programs, state regulations, district policies, building rules, classroom practices, and student performance. Creative problem solving is essential for administrators trying to stretch a tight budget and for teachers who want to stretch the boundaries of the classroom, but the pressure is on to teach kids the skills necessary for them to move on to the next level, grade, or school. So, while creativity can be a positive characteristic for a teacher, a regular classroom teacher may get a little frustrated when Timmy uses his ingenuity to turn a stack of textbooks into bricks for an indoor igloo while she is trying to teach math to 25 kids. Timmy’s igloo may demonstrate his understanding of the stability of a dome structure, but the disruption takes the other kids’ minds off the math lesson.
Finding a good classroom fit for a creative child can be a challenge. We are lucky to have open enrollment in Minnesota, so we can pick and choose between schools and programs. Magnet and charter schools cater (within strict guidelines) to a variety of learners. An art magnet, gifted magnet, or classical education charter school might be a good fit for a highly creative child. Look for strong music, art and theatre programs. Your child may not be interested in artistic forms of creative expression, but you’ll know that the school embraces the creative process. A STEM or STEAM magnet might appeal to your innovative scientist—check that the program allows for individual exploration as well as structured group work.
One of the hallmarks of a good classroom for gifted and creative children is the appearance of controlled chaos. Kids are given choices, a little autonomy, and solid expectations for the quality of their work. The happy buzz is similar to a positive corporate environment where creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of the work. This type of classroom requires a special kind of teacher—one who is willing to be a guide, rather than the giver of all knowledge. It’s both humbling and rewarding to watch gifted students stretch their intellectual wings and fly beyond anywhere we have gone before. Look for flexible pacing, an appreciation of your child’s off-beat sense of humor, and teachers and staff who embrace individuality and “quirkiness.”
Your child will need to play by the rules in any classroom. Finding a classroom that is a better fit for your child shows that you respect his individuality and appreciate his unique strengths, and gives him a better chance of fitting in while standing out.
Carol Malueg currently serves as Vice-President on the state board of directors for the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented (MCGT), www.mcgt.net. A Master Facilitator and Trainer for Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted children (SENG) www.sengifted.org, Carol facilitates groups around the Twin Cities. She works with CollegeSphere as an Independent Educational Consultant, specializing in K-12 educational planning for gifted and talented students in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Carol blogs on topics related to private and public schools, charter and magnet schools, gifted and talented students, and twice exceptional students. You can contact Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Collegesphere blog at http://mycollegesphere.wordpress.com