As a researcher and educational consultant, I have spent a lot of time in a variety of educational settings. Over time, I have become aware of an interesting pattern—many exceptionally bright kids struggle in school. They aren’t having difficulty with learning or recalling concepts and information but are just not doing the job of school very well. This phenomenon became one of my areas of focus—gifted and twice-exceptional kids who struggle with executive functioning skills.
I have found that a disconnect between intelligence and school success is somewhat ‘normal’ among a portion of the gifted population that tends toward explosive thinking, rather than linear thinking. In other words, school works best for folks who enjoy working in an orderly fashion, e.g., “I start at 1 and need to get to 10, so I take the most efficient route, which leads straight through 2-9 and lands on 10, getting me there five minutes early.” School does not work so well for people who enjoy a less structured path—e.g., “I start at 1, jump to 9, side trip to blue, visit outer-space, and wonder why the neighbor’s grass really does look greener. I may or may not remember that my goal is 10. If I do remember, I’ll show up there, maybe ten minutes late. If I don’t remember, I may never get to 10 without a little assistance, but I will have developed several theories about color and perspective along the way.” Does this second example sound like anyone you know?
I am a learning coach for gifted and twice-exceptional kids and families for a number of reasons:
- The work I do with educators, parents, and other adults who live and work with gifted kids is much more effective if I know that what I’m talking about makes sense for those gifted kids.
- The students I work with tend to be very creative thinkers, so developing strategies goes both directions—some of the best strategies I share with parents and educators are developed through my work with students.
- If I can in some small way counteract the message that there is just one right way to manage time, organize materials, and do meaningful work, then it’s a great day in my world!
- I really enjoy guiding gifted and twice-exceptional kids through the process of discovering how to use their strengths to cope with their challenges, and helping them to realize that their unique take on the world is a thing of beauty and value.