Legos (and Grandma’s sugar cookies) are like crack for kids…at least they are in our house. Once any of us, dad and mom included, starts snapping together those technicolor pieces, time and reality disappear. But for my older son, Legos are a way of life. He eats, sleeps and breathes Lego creations, and he is truly Pavlovian when he watches a Lego master build ships and shopping malls on YouTube. He is well on his way with logging his own 10,000 hours to attain Lego mastery. His goal is to be an architect but his dream? To work for Lego.
Lego blocks are his passion but his stumbling block is math, and school in general. Without success at either of the latter, he will find it difficult to become a master designer or builder of any kind. In last week’s post I described how he is a bookend on the bookshelf of traditional schooling, but is something else, too.
A creative thinker.
I was actually doing research for a related post when I stumbled upon a chart put together by Bertie Kingore, PhD, author and teacher. On this chart he compares the characteristics of creative thinkers, high achievers and gifted learners. And the column for creative thinkers may as well have included a picture of my son, captioned “Yeah, like this kid here,” because, wow, Doc Kingore has him pegged.
And no wonder my son struggles in the classroom. And socially. He is fully as Kingore describes. And maybe your child is the same way: he may have trouble with school not because he can’t understand the work, but because he approaches it and his environment in a different and unique way.
Could your child be a creative thinker? Perhaps, if he or she:
•daydreams (easily mistaken for inattention)
•is an idea machine…but rarely fleshes out any of those ideas
•starts multiple projects and finishes few
•doesn’t care about school performance or good grades (think of homework power struggles…)
•shares offbeat ideas and opinions (for example, “Those cows are staring at us because they are maniacs” ~my son, age three)
•likes to work alone, but thrives in a small group of other creatively-minded peers (even after a full day of school, my generally-fried son, is the life of the party in his Destination Imagination group)
loves to make, create and invent
(taken from Bertie Kingore’s chart, posted on exquisite-minds.com)
My favorite part, however, is how the creative thinker likes to ask questions. Two in particular. The first is “What if…?” The second (my interpretation):
“Do I have to know this????”
The creative thinker, according to Dr. Kingore, questions mastery. When I read this, I could glimpse understanding of my son’s hatred of school work. No wonder he and I clash over our after school sessions at the kitchen table. He feels homework is a waste of time because he has to log on to Sims to complete a challenge or tweak and revamp his latest Lego creation.
Because, if you ask him, he needs the practice if he is going to build his mom a house with a real waterfall inside.
I mean, how can I argue with that? He’s still learning. Instead of taking pencil to paper he is using his hands and his imagination. He’s experimenting to make future creations even better. He‘s approaching problems in new ways and finding new solutions. He, like many creative, nontraditional learners, needs a Lego-type world in order to be engaged in learning (which I doubt, when in the “Lego Zone,” he even realizes he is doing). The question is this: How to teach creative thinkers without crushing the very part that makes them…them. Is there a way to reach these kids effectively in a classroom’s structured, scheduled setting without squeezing the creativity out of them? To answer this question we need an outside-the-box solution from a…
Which our world needs. A whole bunch of them. We need cures for disease, or at least a better way of treating illness. We have this big old ball of fire in our sky, begging for its energy to be harnessed and utilized. I think I speak for most of us when I say a (cost effective) robot who can do the grocery shopping, vacuum and clean the toilets would be an outstanding household addition.
We just need the right creatively-minded people, educated in a way that reaches them, to do it. And that starts with our children who like to experiment, ask “What if?” and, yes,