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Direct instruction and creativity/problem-solving

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Because of that, it is always so difficult for me to imagine a child who genuinely cannot "switch" modes, or just dumb things down for the sake of performance, or go through the darned book for the sake of performance, etc. That is what I am having the biggest block in understanding in this thread, I think.

 

Even you, Deb, say that you "translate" your thoughts to a linear mode when you work, do you not? And then, I am not sure that the fact that we do not work our best when under pressure is related to the type of thinker we are.

 

 

I do translate and can actually think linearly when I have to. But, tests show that I'm fairly equal left/right brained (and dyslexic) though I do my most creative and challenging work non-linearly. Given that it's difficult for me - one close to the middle of the spectrum, to deal with challenges in my less preferred way, I can imagine how a person who is way out at the end of either side would find that nearly impossible. They actually may not have another mode to switch to. I doubt this causes as many problems for people who are solely linear thinkers because education is more tailored to their thinking process.

 

Edit: From your description, it sounds like you're somewhere in the center. That you were ambidextrous is a sign of a possible left/right brain non-dominance, though one side could have become more dominant as you matured. I'm right handed, left eyed and left legged, btw.

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DS drew very three-dimensionally at a very young age. Even at 3 or 4, his drawings included perspective, foreshortening, and a sense of composition that were really unusual. The first drawing he did that really stands out in my mind (he was about 4) was an undersea scene with an octopus whose tentacles curved around themselves and other things like bits of coral, and the ones closer to the viewer were larger while the ones going back reduced in size the farther away they were. The fish in the front were larger than the fish of the same species in the back, and some were drawn from behind or in 3/4 view. He has always been able to look at an object, turn it around in his mind, and draw it from any angle, which is something I could never do, even though I'm quite good at drawing and had a successful career as a graphic designer. I'm afraid I am quite stuck in 2 dimensions!

 

Jackie

 

Yes my dd was "gifted" in drawing from a very early age. There was never any "sketching" or figuring out on paper what she wanted to draw. She'd get something in her mind and then put it down on paper. She'd start somewhere and then go somewhere else and in the end it would all come together. She was so confident in the lines she drew that she preferred using pens. It was fascinating to watch her draw. And there was always a sense that we were just being shown a snapshot of the whole event since people on the peripheral were there, but only the part of their dress that would be seen or their foot or whatnot. Her pictures weren't just a dancer in the center of the page, but all the dancers and where they happened to be around her. I have no drawing talent and dd has never had any lessons, but her drawings are beautiful. She definitely sees them in more than two dimensions too.

 

Ester Maria my dd never looked at anything when she drew. It all just came out of her head. She'd design dresses - often 18th and 19th century styles and each was unique and never one she had seen.

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Well crap.

 

So, apparently I'm VSL and fit it to a T. And INFJ kind of falls in with that, too.

 

I have all linear learners, and, actually enjoy teaching them that way. I DO get frustrated when they look at something and can't get it because though I can break it down for them (something I've learned to do) I don't automatically do it. I see it all at once and all the little threads of it.

 

If anything, that fact alone has caused the most disturbance in my marriage, because while I'm onto the next thing, Dh is still processing and I'm tapping my foot, waiting for him to catch up with me.

 

I totally get Esther Maria's not understanding in ways which is why I ignored this thread. And I totally understand not getting that everyone doesn't do it this way, because even though I know that fact in my head, I lean from the point of assuming everyone works things the same way I do. I learn everything through text. Don't read anything to me. I won't follow you. But, when I see it, I see ALL of it, and can spin it around in my head. I spent all my school years learning art in gifted programs.

 

(The thing that bothers me about these threads sometimes is that I'm NOT ADD. I know what it looks like, live with it, and, it makes me nuts. I don't think ADD is another name for gifted. They ARE gifted (many) but the personality problems that go along with it can many times overshadow any giftedness. Why did I just say that? Because where I got the VSL info. The co author, Freed, specializes in teaching ADD children.)

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But what about long division? Sure kids might have an intuitive understanding of how it works. But can they prove it? How about the quadratic formula? Same thing. He really needs to be able to prove it mathematically. On his own. It was always my experience in math class that a teacher would write out the derivation of these things but fellow students weren't necessarily able to recreate it on their own. At least not most of them. It's not just that he understands it better that way. Either he understands things completely or not at all. He is somewhat of an on off switch in this way. And like the addition algorithm understanding a conventional method and having an affinity to it are two different things.

In my experience of learning math back in prehistory :001_smile:, it always started with a problem that was especially suitable for the new concept, and then from the problem the abstract principle was derived and proven, and only then did it become a "scheme" to use in other problems. On tests, we were regularly required to derive formulae we use (once per test), such as in Physics, so the professor would know we have not just memorized it and filled in the numbers. The ability to manipulate the formula to suit a new perspective of the same problem was greatly emphasized too: those were the type of problems given for an A. I also attended a school with the bare minimum of weekly math hours because the focus on the classics so there was no really time for beating concrete exercises to death as the class time had to be used wisely, for conceptual understanding of what is going on. Most of my math education at school was about proving things that we were supposed to practice at home (and I did not LOL). Basically all of high school math were proofs. Now, there were people who managed to drill that without a deep understanding, but those were not "A material".

 

I even had a professor explaining derivations to a few of us when we first studied motion in Physics when we did not fully get something.

 

I think that part of the reason math is so tough on some kids, even if we ignore the element of catastrophic teaching that does happen at some schools, is that some minds just require the most formal proofs for what they are doing. The problem is that quite often to reach THAT level you need math proficiency to get you there - physics makes a lot more sense via calculus than via algebra, but you cannot do it with most kids unless they have a math background to make that approach accessible for them.

Similarly, once he understands a math concept on an abstract level, he doesn't need lots of drill and repetition to "cement" the concept

I can relate to this. I always considered exercises for the sake of exercises a futile effort and, in many ways, even deterring my conceptual understanding of things as I felt it drove me too much on a level where I rely on the "scheme" rather than think. My kids function the same way, so we do not sweat it either - we try to do engaging problems, which make you think and apply what you learned in new ways, rather than fill in the numbers.

In the example I gave, there were several "detours" into topics and materials that are not in the text, and the list of biology topics that DS has actually studied (posted a page or two later) is neither text-based nor linear. Similarly, the way he approaches history (currently, anyway) is that he uses Greece as his "base" and then travels around both chronologically (backwards as well as forwards in time) and geographically. He's also jumped out of the frame, so to speak, to look things up about the Ottoman Empire, the development of medieval weapons, the influence of Roman military strategy on medieval warfare, and lots of other little topics. I don't insist that he do things in a certain order or according to a certain schedule. Looking back, in hindsight, at what he's studied, it may be possible to draw a very meandering, loopy "line" connecting one topic to another, but I think calling that "linear" makes the term no longer useful in the way that Karen and I and others are using it.

I liked the expression you used, using textbook as a supplement rather than an organizing principle of the work. I get it, in fact, I am not even philosophically opposed to it - the only thing I would be personally concerned about is making sure the standard material, whatever it is, is covered by the end of the process.

 

We tend to do things mostly linearly as an organizing principle, but with some rabbit trails too. For example, we studied Exodus, and we did use the text as an organizing principle and approached it philologically, BUT, while doing so, we had discussions on: nation formation (and various starting points one could consider the beginning of a Jewish nation), verb choices in the text, art which depicts Exodus (the Israeli text we used as a guide included much of that), slavery throughout history (with some additional readings), the idea of leadership (with considerations of types of leader which "grow from the nation" - think Mendela, who was an example - and who "come from the outside" - think Moses), rabbinical commentaries on parts of the text, archaeological evidence - or lack of it - for the Exodus story, do we know where the places involved actually are (one kid tried mapping it, we talked about the confusion we get because of the new names which sound like Biblical or were even given by the Biblical model, but do not stem from that period) and various hypotheses were they might be, the relationship between myth and history, then we had a detour to Egyptian history and who might have the been the pharaoh of that period, the use of the word "miracle" in Bible and why or why not it is the semantic equivalent of how we use it in Hebrew today, some word plays in the text, what "should" be the relationship of a nation with its history, then the textbook had sections about "the current view" of many topics brought up on which we furthered reading (from slavery, de facto slavery, child labor, foreign workers and their condition in many places etc.), there was even a detour in Argentinian history and Plaza de Mayo, then we studied motives in the Biblical account which are commonplaces in Middle East mythologies (or mythology in general), then there were some theological points (on "anthropomorphizing" God by saying he "knew" or "did" or ascribining actions or characteristics to him), then we talked about social responsibility, took examples from literature and pop culture which emphasize it or deny it, we "translated" parts of the text into modern Hebrew, talked about the idea of "getting out of Egypt in every generation" (which then opened a broader context of Jewish history), then we did some "translation studies" by comparing the text to translations in the languages we know, which made one kid take a detour in some studies of Biblical translation in general, we studied the idea of a "chosen nation" and how it is articulated in the public and philosophical discourse today, then we did some intertextual reading of some things which appear in the different parts of the Bible, then we talked about legal traditions and early legal documents up to modern legal documents and the differences between some types of law, human rights, the idea of giving and modern concepts of poverty line... basically the whole course was intervowen with linguistics, history, archaeology, and a bunch of other connections. BUT, there definitely was a firm line which was definitely followed and all of the "classical" Judaic objectives of the course - such as familiarity with the text, the commentaries and inner significance for the "system" of Judaism - were accomplished. It was more than just "spiced" with detours into areas of interest, you could argue that most of the course was not work on the Biblical text or com, but that text was the organizing principle of the work.

 

Now, I can imagine going the other way round: starting from, say, archaeological interest, then going to the text and then to the tradition and detours into other areas, maybe even contemporarily. But what would be important to me as an educator would be that some "core" of knowledge was still covered in the process of all the meandring around (and I totally get why one would wish to do so) - especially if kids had to have it formalized and pass tests in it.

If the question is "are they 'versatile' enough to be forced to learn something through methods that are completely counter-intuitive to them," then I don't understand the point of that?

I am actually not sure there is not at least some merit to that idea... I find that it greatly enhances skills to approach things in non-intuitive ways in addition to polishing how you learn best. I think fostering that versatility opens more doors to you, multiple possible ways to assess the same field, etc. I have to think about this more, though, I am barely functional right now.

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Ester Maria my dd never looked at anything when she drew. It all just came out of her head. She'd design dresses - often 18th and 19th century styles and each was unique and never one she had seen.

Yes, my kid neither when she draws from her head - I was referring to the context of more "formal" drawing lessons which focused on objects you see and as realistic drawing of those as possible, where I could compare them both through the same experience, because my eldest rarely drew for pleasure on her own.

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(The thing that bothers me about these threads sometimes is that I'm NOT ADD. I know what it looks like, live with it, and, it makes me nuts. I don't think ADD is another name for gifted. They ARE gifted (many) but the personality problems that go along with it can many times overshadow any giftedness. Why did I just say that? Because where I got the VSL info. The co author, Freed, specializes in teaching ADD children.)

 

Dd is not ADD either, and I can see how that can put off a lot of people for whom the book might otherwise be extremely useful. I found it incredibly helpful in offering specific ways to teach a visual speller. I also found his chapter on reading very interesting -- he basically argues that visual learners need to be taught that it's okay to speed up and even skim, that oral reading is going to slow them down to the point that it begins to trip them up, which CAN look like a reading disability (and definitely isn't). Although I came across this well after dd was reading fluently, it's how she worked, in spades. He talks about the kids doing math in their heads rather than going through all the separate steps, which again fits dd to a T.

 

Freed sees a lot of kids for whom the two aspects or conditions do go together, but that doesn't mean they necessarily do.

 

And your kids are very lucky to have a teacher who can move easily between the two modes; I would suspect that's not a very common thing.

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...but what really interests me is the idea that some children genuinely cannot process some ways of learning that are typical for the academic setting because they are wired differently. I realize I have many underlying assumptions - such as the fundamental versatility one, or the idea that it is good to foster that versatility to a point rather than allow children to learn exclusively through a mode they find the most intuitive one - and I would like to see if there is a need to revise some of that.

 

It seems pretty clear that you have no need to revise what you're doing with your own children, from all the things you describe.

 

But at some point, I think you need to accept -- take that leap of faith -- that neuropsychologists, cognitive scientists, educational psychologists like Linda Silverman (who runs the VSL site Jackie quoted from earlier) and Jeffrey Freed (who wrote the book I referred to a couple of times), and parents of kids who need, absolutely need, to work in ways they know are most effective for them -- all of these people do know what they are talking about, are describing something real, because they live or work with it, or because they are, like Jackie's dh, this kind of processor themselves. It may never be something you can comprehend through logic at a distance. As I said earlier in this thread, that's not a flaw. I don't think I would have had a clue had I not been presented with the child I have. And even though I've dedicated myself to understanding her for fifteen years, there are limits to my understanding, which I recognize and accept.

 

For this kind of child, theories and assumptions about learning, and thus about education, DO need to be revised.

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So, apparently I'm VSL and fit it to a T. And INFJ kind of falls in with that, too.

 

 

This caught my attention because, while I am extremely, extremely INFJ, but I don't think I am particularly VSJ. Could you expound a bit?

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Freed sees a lot of kids for whom the two aspects or conditions do go together, but that doesn't mean they necessarily do.

 

And your kids are very lucky to have a teacher who can move easily between the two modes; I would suspect that's not a very common thing.

 

 

Ah. OK, then. I reserved the book at the library.

 

Into my early adulthood I thought the way I did things was normal. Only with age have I been able to straddle the two. I had to teach classes and got frustrated that other people just didn't get it. :D As I get older, I get better at breaking it down. Age and patience and all that. :tongue_smilie:

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This caught my attention because, while I am extremely, extremely INFJ, but I don't think I am particularly VSJ. Could you expound a bit?

 

in the article I was reading

 

Visual-spatial learners who experience learning problems have heightened sensory awareness to stimuli, such as extreme sensitivity to smells, acute hearing and intense reactions to loud noises. They are constantly bombarded by stimuli; they get so much information that they have trouble filtering it out. They tend to have excellent hearing, but poor listening skills. Their ability to retain and comprehend information auditorily is weak and they have difficulty with sequential tasks.
Visual-spatial learners have amazing abilities to "read" people. Since they can't rely on audition for information, they develop remarkable visual and intuitive abilities, including reading body language and facial expressions.

Many of the students described in this article were so adept at reading cues and observing people that they could tell what a person was thinking almost verbatim. Oftentimes, in school, they sense a teacher's anxieties and ambivalent feeling towards them, and react with statements such as, "that teacher hates me."

 

 

 

Totally INFJ me. *totally*

 

My kids hate it (you cannot lie to me, I can see it around you), and my Dh and I have problems with how sensitive I am to his body language and facial expressions.

 

I can't be around a lot of people all the time because they bombard me and wear me out. I've had to learn to turn them off. A guest has been here a week and I'm so sensitive to her anxiousness (it's just her personality) it's making me crazy (and that is shorthand for the torture I am feeling).

 

I hear everything but you can't read to me, I just can't follow it and it frustrates me to tears.

 

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Karen, can I ask a few more questions? :001_smile:

With dd, for the things in which she is interested, she simply DOES NOT WANT TO BE TOLD, not from any kind of oppositionality or rebelliousness (as Jackie and I have both noted, our kids are even problematic in their desire to follow rules and to please). She NEEDS to figure things out for herself.

I am still trying to wrap my mind about how much this is a preference and how much this is a need, in the way I categorize those two. You see, I function that way too, I prefer figuring things out on my own, but the worst thing that happens if somebody presents things for me is the "you ruined my party" kind of feeling. I know I am probably boring you to death because you stated already she needs to learn that way, but can you give me a few additional insights? For example, what happens if is she is explicitly told something - how does she react? Is it as though she was not told anything, ignores it, or it somehow rubs her the wrong way and affects negatively how she learns?

 

(By the way, somewhere you mentioned math and Latin as exceptions from how she normally learns - but in terms of time I think?)

I don't think of myself any longer as a repository of academic and cultural learning which it is my job to transmit to her.

And this also interests me. Mind you, not that I do consider myself that :tongue_smilie:, and my children are very independent, but I find that there is a certain "cultural package" they need to have. It is hard to articulate, in perfectly logical terms, why - other than following arguments such as national sensibility, tradition, family culture, tradition, canonical national culture, tradition, and so forth - but I know that I definitely want them to have it.

 

If you allow your child to be that self-directed, does it mean that you do not have a certain "package" you want her to have at all costs, which you would consider an educational sine qua non? An equivalent of that which are classics or Dante to me? If you DO have it, how do you go about teaching it if your daughter does not happen to "discover" it on her own? (I realize this might derail the thread into a whole different direction, which is not my intention, I am just genuinely curious as this also seems to be one of the differences between us, so I always wonder about it. I can maybe see how your approach can work wonders for a child wired that way but only if your view of education is not driven by some imperatives of coverage of some "must"s that I do include. How do you handle things you want to cover, or find it "standard" to cover?)

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in the article I was reading

 

 

 

 

 

Totally INFJ me. *totally*

 

My kids hate it (you cannot lie to me, I can see it around you), and my Dh and I have problems with how sensitive I am to his body language and facial expressions.

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OK, yes, your quotes above about VSL types do sound like me, as far as being hypersensitive to stimuli and to other people's facial expressions, body language, and moods. I think I'm a very verbal, very sequential learner, though. Interesting. :)

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I can't be around a lot of people all the time because they bombard me and wear me out. I've had to learn to turn them off. A guest has been here a week and I'm so sensitive to her anxiousness (it's just her personality) it's making me crazy (and that is shorthand for the torture I am feeling).

 

I hear everything but you can't read to me, I just can't follow it and it frustrates me to tears.

 

 

Every word of this is me! I made the huge mistake of having a guest room in my house, and now there always seems to be someone in it, and oh my lord, the stress. No one gets it.

 

And I can't follow things that are read to me either. I must see the words. Sigh.

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The post and the studies to which it refers may be of interest to those who are either seeking, or finding themselves unexpectedly taking, an alternative educational path. Those of us who have kids who seem to demand or to require a different approach may find it particularly encouraging.

 

I think some of my earlier confusion is clearing, as I closely read the posts on this thread. The OP with link seems to me to have been meant for a smaller segment of the high school homeschool board. Yet as I've read, I still can't help but think that most of what everyone is talking about, is pretty normal among a lot of kids. Among people, really. And I still think, aren't all these differences/quirks/uniquenesses/spectrum swings/3-D bounce-arounds big reasons why we are homeschooling? This person thinks this way, so we help him learn thus-n-such in this particular way. That person learns in a different way, so we help him with that, too. We also take curriculums/books/materials that we've chosen as best we can (or allow our children to choose), and tweak them all over the place to help our kids learn. What I wonder is, how much of what we talk about here is due to differences in kids, and how much is due to our personal parenting philosophy? I'm curious along with Ester Maria about the idea that a child CAN'T do certain academic things. Is "can't" the answer? I haven't seen anyone say "can't" yet (unless I missed it - if so, I apologize).

 

A simple example: I have one child who is able to spell anything and everything just by seeing it once on a page of a book (KarenAnne, you described figuring out word meanings in context or after thinking about it for awhile without asking questions - my child does this, too - I think a lot of people do). I was the same way as a kid, and won spelling bees because of it. And yet, when I came across a particular spelling program that taught spelling via sounds and rules, I "clicked" with it. Why? Because I knew my visual ability only took me so far in life, and I figured it would do the same for my child. So I decided that we would also study spelling patterns with this method. What happened as a result of that? We learned how to sound out more difficult words. Now, I know that in English this doesn't always work out perfectly. But I learned to make myself slow down and think (linearly, maybe?) through how to sound it out. I had never been taught how to do that. Was it a pain to do at first? Yes. Am I glad I did it and taught my visual child how to do it? Yes. That child is forced to piece together less common words, which I believe will ultimately help him in later studies that he absorbs himself in. I didn't harp on formal spelling study with this child for very long, because I understand his visualness, but my parenting philosophy (and life experience) dictates that he will need the other spelling pattern skills I taught him. So I did that. But not completely dictatorially - I tailored it, but we did it. To me, that's my parenting philosophy speaking. I observe my kids, I adapt things to them because I have the luxury to do so, and I allow them some choice in some things as they grow; but I do decide on some basic things they will study (and I focus more on academic skills than on content, though we do have content - and content is where they have lots of leeway).

 

So anyway, because of what I personally am inferring from all I'm reading in this thread, I think I could consider myself part of the intended audience of the OP, and have a few comments to make on the article.

 

I thought his personal story was very interesting. I loved reading about how he learned with his father, and the description of what happened when he got to school and was basically shut down. I know what that feels like - I used to ask a lot of questions when I was younger, and I had to stop. Most of his experiences and argument made me think, "This is why we homeschool, so that we can help our kids learn in ways they can understand."

 

But I don't think I agree fully with either of his hypotheses. As to #1, I do think there are some things that should be memorized, in order to be a baseline for that future creative thinking. I think some kids need to understand concepts before memorizing math facts, but I don't think memorizing math facts needs to wait until high school, either. Things like math facts, phonograms, some grammar definitions, a list of wars or Canadian prime ministers and the like, IMO, are all very helpful later on. I, the visual person, wish I had been made to do this when I was younger. But I wish I WASN'T made to memorize stupid random history or science facts. Lists and definitions of basic concepts, yes. Random facts, no. (unless a kid wants to, for fun. I remember in 8th grade deciding to memorize the circulatory system in the human body, simply because it interested me - it wasn't required for my science class - maybe it interested me because of the visual nature) So anyway, does memorizing math facts/grammar definitions/phonograms/spelling rules come easy to me, the visual learner? No. Has it been useful in the bigger picture of learning? Very.

 

Hypothesis #2. Maybe some people, but not all. Some people do need to have some baseline info. or memory work before they can branch out to innovate and problem solve. Some people will freeze up if you ask them questions to solve a problem, before they have some basic knowledge. If I look under the hood of a car, I can see everything there. In fact right now I can picture in my mind what it basically looks like. But, I don't know much about the physics about how everything inside all those metal casings and rubber tubes work, so I wouldn't dream of tackling it, taking it all apart, and figuring out why the engine won't start. I might timidly poke at an item or two. But I know about myself now that if I knew a little more physics, I'd be more inclined to reach under that hood with a little more confidence.

 

So, I guess I think neither hypothesis is completely correct. To me, the article was interesting, and contained some interesting studies and research and conclusions. It sort of also strikes me as a pendulum swinging in history towards the other side yet again. Theories come and go as cultures change, but I think we still need, right now at least at this point in North American history, to have some of both.

 

I apologize that this isn't as accurate and eloquent as I wish it could be. I "see" in my mind what I am thinking, yet I still lack the technical writing ability to be more accurate. Thus I am frustrated with myself, and thus my determination to help my kids develop these academic skills (with lots of outside help), because in my life experience, I think they are important. So I will (here's my parenting speaking) do my best to teach them, visualness/linearness/3-D capabilities and all. My kids have some of all of this.

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That's probably very close. I'm a non-linear thinker and a systems analyst. I don't use a structured systems design approach but rather I learn about the requirements and then a week or two later, the design, in it's complete form down to every detail, pops into my conscience thought space. Then my job is to translate that thought space into a linear form so that I can communicate it to the people who will work on it.

I'm severely, ridiculously spatial... and a database designer... and this sounds very much like what I do, design-wise (not so much translating - I have to make diagrams and point and wave a lot...) Thankfully on the scale that I work I do my own programming - I shudder to think what would happen if I had to break off a bit of a project and hand it to someone else to finish.... It really is the whole database right there in my head with all its relationships and connections and calculated values just waiting for me to start typing. I have two siblings that are programmers - both of them fairly linear, orderly people, and much better at plain code than I am. But neither one of them can make a proper database to save their lives. It's really hysterical. :)

 

But on the other side, I have a hard time "flattening" anything. If I'm leading a kids' book group, for instance, I can't go chapter by chapter or start with "let's just talk about this one character right now"... It's like all the details are suspended in jello, with strings connecting them. It's NOT that I want to draw a picture of the story - that's so far away from how I think I don't know where to start with it - it's that I can't proceed neatly from one point to the next without going "oh wait, did you notice this other bit" or "he said it this way this time but then later he's going to say it a different way which is kind of interesting" or "you know this character is kind of like someone in another book, and I wonder if that's on purpose" or "you know there are a LOT of dead animals in Tom Sawyer - quick, everyone grab a book and let's try to list them all"... Some books really lend themselves to that sort of reading, where a phrase or a pattern will hark back to another bit, connecting a string through the jello... Poems are even better. Few words, tons of strings. And the strings in a poem tend to go all over the place. :)

 

When I'm reading to learn (non-fiction that is) I generally have to make the connections myself if I'm going to remember a thing. I was just talking about this with a friend of mine - she highlights books to remember the main points. I have to rewrite them as notes. It's not that my hand has anything to do with it (or much to do with it anyway), but that the logic of the book doesn't stick. I need my own framework for it, re-ordering the bits that go together, making a group of things that work similarly, sketching little diagrams when prose just isn't doing it, making connections to things that have almost nothing to do with the topic at hand...

 

I'm working on a certification exam right now, reading the nice book with all the main points in it, neatly laid out in an order that even I can tell is well thought out... but still I'm covering pages and pages in my notebook with connections and examples and combinations of things that don't necessarily need to go together (except in my head). I can't just say "input goes with informat and put goes with format", as nicely as that works out - I have to organize all the ways you can use a format statement and why it works differently than an informat statement does... but once I have that worked out, I won't have to memorize - it will go where it goes because it does what I need.

 

I could never memorize the more complicated trig stuff either, but I could always derive it. All the way through precalculus I had to spend a few minutes at the beginning of each exam writing out proofs of the difference of cosines formula or whatever I needed, because otherwise the negative signs would be randomly distributed around the formulas.

 

I think, though, that it's not that I can't learn in a particular way, but rather that almost no kind of instruction will be sufficient. There is always a ton of stuff I need to do on my own after all the facts have been thrown in the ring (and after some explanations that might or might not be explanatory at all, and might have gone right out the other ear, finding no place to stick in my head).

 

And it's not so much that I don't want someone's explanation, but that their explanation isn't the one I'm going to go with. I need to translate it (or more likely a variety of things they didn't think were relevant, which I have to go find myself when they've stopped trying to teach me) into something of my own. It's not even that there's a particular way I think someone could just say it right -- it would have to take in all of the random stuff that might have some bearing... math, science, poetry, Star Trek episodes.... DH has the best shot at it, if only because we have 20 years of shared references (and he has a mind like a steel trap) -- but still it wouldn't be in his saying "this is how it is" but in our having a long conversation that wandered over several different topics but came around in some way to whatever it was, through a bunch of ridiculous comparisons and at least one completely inappropriate joke.

 

In the end, I think most of what comes out of me (my teaching, and definitely my writing) has an air of over-caffeinated squirrel. Poor DS... he's much more linear and would probably do great with someone just laying out the key points and letting him have at it... and he's much better than I am at sticking to the point... but he keeps up. LOL

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After a much-needed WTM break, this was the first thread I opened. (Head to desk, sigh) At first, I was delighted to see so many of my favorite posters gathered on one thread, but realized quickly that what started out as an interesting op had become the usual line in the sand apparently between the "traditional, rigorous" camp and the "creative "outside the box" camp. Several weeks of hiking, swimming, yoga, and overall much better self-care have failed to sharpen my mind to the point where I can see why there is a need for this line.

 

Colleen, I was really surprised by both your initial question and its tone. Perhaps because my experience over the past year of home schooling a high schooler has made me realize that teaching a student at home isn't really "alternative" if you are are simply doing school at home. I may be mistaken, but my impression after reading posts on this board for the past two years is that many, many of the posters do exactly that.

 

I don't want to come here and feel as though I have to choose between the KarenAnne/Jackie/Jenn and the EsterMaria/Jane/Colleen camps. If it looks like I am standing in the middle, you are right. I cannot do my job as a parent and teacher without both sides. My upbringing and personal education look much more the "traditional, rigorous" camp and much to my chagrin, it turns out that I am "blessed" with children that can sometimes only be reached and taught by stepping "outside the box." They are children who operate in the gray world under the radar: they do not fit as special needs, yet don't always respond as "normal" kids should. I cannot teach them to the best of my ability without input from all of you.

 

Tomorrow morning, after a good swim and a strong cup of coffee, I plan on getting caught up on here, starting with this thread.

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But on the other side, I have a hard time "flattening" anything. If I'm leading a kids' book group, for instance, I can't go chapter by chapter or start with "let's just talk about this one character right now"... It's like all the details are suspended in jello, with strings connecting them. It's NOT that I want to draw a picture of the story - that's so far away from how I think I don't know where to start with it - it's that I can't proceed neatly from one point to the next without going "oh wait, did you notice this other bit" or "he said it this way this time but then later he's going to say it a different way which is kind of interesting" or "you know this character is kind of like someone in another book, and I wonder if that's on purpose" or "you know there are a LOT of dead animals in Tom Sawyer - quick, everyone grab a book and let's try to list them all"... Some books really lend themselves to that sort of reading, where a phrase or a pattern will hark back to another bit, connecting a string through the jello... Poems are even better. Few words, tons of strings. And the strings in a poem tend to go all over the place. :)

 

When I'm reading to learn (non-fiction that is) I generally have to make the connections myself if I'm going to remember a thing. I was just talking about this with a friend of mine - she highlights books to remember the main points. I have to rewrite them as notes. It's not that my hand has anything to do with it (or much to do with it anyway), but that the logic of the book doesn't stick. I need my own framework for it, re-ordering the bits that go together, making a group of things that work similarly, sketching little diagrams when prose just isn't doing it, making connections to things that have almost nothing to do with the topic at hand...

 

 

What a vivid description -- and you've just explained what I could never understand, which is why my dd insists that non-fiction is just "badly written.":D This also explains why she fights the idea of highlighting tooth and nail; well, it explains it partly, as she also has a fierce belief that the pristine pages of a book must not be abused (that is, bent, marked up, folded, ripped out, all the things I do with books that horrify her). Thank you so much for helping me make sense of this!

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I am still trying to wrap my mind about how much this is a preference and how much this is a need, in the way I categorize those two. ...For example, what happens if is she is explicitly told something - how does she react? Is it as though she was not told anything, ignores it, or it somehow rubs her the wrong way and affects negatively how she learns?

 

How do you handle things you want to cover, or find it "standard" to cover?)

 

:bigear: I'm curious, too.

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Lisa -- I am SO GLAD to see you back! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and your experiences now that your dd has graduated.

 

I actually thought this thread was going rather well after a rocky start. Many of us are working quite hard to really try to discuss and understand a kind of mind-set we don't truly "get," because it's so foreign to us, including those of us writing about our VSL children. I respect Ester Maria more in this thread than I ever have, because I think she is truly, honestly trying to comprehend the differences Jackie, Jenn, and others experience with their children. I don't know whether that's possible given the kind of proof or evidence she's asking for and not feeling she's getting; but that is not a criticism, as I've said more than once, and I hope she takes it as it is meant.

 

Maybe I'm deluding myself, but for the most part this thread has felt like a real interchange conducted with respect. I'm delighted to hear from so many people I haven't heard much from before about their own VSL tendencies and descriptions of how learning works for them, and delighted to have had more than one moment of enlightenment about dd through others' descriptions.

 

I hope that's what you find when you come back in the morning, Lisa, and read the whole caboodle. There are some real gems here.

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Maybe I'm deluding myself, but for the most part this thread has felt like a real interchange conducted with respect.

:iagree:

 

The feelings are mutual, I think we are handling this well. I am trying to articulate what I do not understand, and I try to think very precisely, which is why I have "monopolized" much of the thread again with my questions, but I am trying to understand things.

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Colleen - If I had thought a bit longer before I wrote a knee-jerk response, I would have realized that I have never seen you ask a snarky question. Yikes! My apologies.

 

Karen - I did go back and start reading more posts and you are right, I can't wait to dig further into this thread tomorrow. When I saw the "rocky start" that you mentioned, I was afraid that the conversation had taken the usual tense twist and was disappointed. Silly me. I am not on here more than ten minutes and I violate my first WTM rule which is to read an entire thread before I open my mouth.:tongue_smilie:

 

It's good to "see" all of you here again, especially since this is my favorite type of WTM thread, well, minus the rocky start.:D

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Because of that, it is always so difficult for me to imagine a child who genuinely cannot "switch" modes, or just dumb things down for the sake of performance, or go through the darned book for the sake of performance, etc. That is what I am having the biggest block in understanding in this thread, I think.

But it's equally difficult for me to imagine why anyone would want a child to "dumb things down for the sake of performance." That is just not a goal or skill that I'm aiming to develop in my kids, whether they're capable of it or not.

 

That is my point in "versatility" in the context of fulfilling formal requirements not to be "handicapped" by not having had a "comparable" educational experiences - doing HARD things is still possible (like drawing for my eldest kid, or high school PE requirements for me who loathes sports), though maybe not pleasant or personally rewarding.

"Comparable" in content or methodology? I think those two things are getting confused here. I don't think my son will be "handicapped" if he learns science primarily in a hands-on, discovery-based way, in whatever order makes sense to him, and then fills in the gaps with texts as needed, instead of doing one science per year, reading the textbook chapter by chapter, and doing a few prescribed experiments. He's already done more biology "labs" in middle school than our local high schools do, and he's designed and carried them out on his own, because he wanted to know the answer, not because some teacher assigned it. His method of learning science (or history for that matter) is not "comparable" to a typical high school class, but if he ends up not only covering the same content, but understanding it at a much deeper level and maintaining his love of learning, I can't imagine what would be gained by forcing him to do it the "normal" way. Even I, who am not a VSL, found the "normal" methods of US high schools to be extremely boring and inefficient and a big waste of my time. I'm certainly not going to impose that on a kid who's wired in a way that is really not suited to those methods.

 

It's not as if he never does anything "hard" — he'll still have to write papers and study a foreign language, which will be at least as difficult for him as drawing was for your eldest DD. I just don't see the point in making everything harder than it needs to be, for no reason other than "that's how most people do it" — especially when those methods not only make things "harder," they actually limit his ability to understand and retain the material. Maybe I'm misreading what you're saying, but it sounds as if you think that unless a child is truly and completely incapable of conforming to the standard linear-sequential mode of schooling, then they should really be forced to learn in that mode. And I'm not understanding what's so special about linear-sequential learning that it should be a goal in itself, even at the expense of understanding content and risking destroying a love of learning in a very bright and capable kid.

 

Jackie

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Karen, can I ask a few more questions? :001_smile:

 

I am still trying to wrap my mind about how much this is a preference and how much this is a need, in the way I categorize those two. You see, I function that way too, I prefer figuring things out on my own, but the worst thing that happens if somebody presents things for me is the "you ruined my party" kind of feeling. I know I am probably boring you to death because you stated already she needs to learn that way, but can you give me a few additional insights? For example, what happens if is she is explicitly told something - how does she react? Is it as though she was not told anything, ignores it, or it somehow rubs her the wrong way and affects negatively how she learns?

 

I followed justamouse's link and found this, which might answer your question...

 

"Once spatial learners create a mental picture of a concept and see how the information fits with what they already know, their learning is permanent. Repetition is completely unnecessary and irrelevant to their learning style.

 

However, without easily observable connecting ties, the information cannot take hold anywhere in the brain — it is like learning in a vacuum, and seems to the student like pointless exercises in futility. Teachers often misinterpret the student's difficulties with the instructional strategies as inability to learn the concepts and assume that the student needs more drill to grasp the material. Rote memorization and drill are actually damaging for visual-spatial learners, since they emphasize the students' weaknesses instead of their strengths. When this happens, the student gets caught up in a spiraling web of failure, assumes he is stupid, loses all motivation, and hates school. Teachers then assume that the student doesn't care or is being lazy, and behavior problems come to the fore. Meanwhile, the whole cycle creates a very deep chasm in the student's self-esteem." (emphasis added)

 

Just one aspect, I'm sure, but I've been experiencing this with my ds in math. Perhaps I could keep pushing him to learn the "traditional" way, but it's been many years, he doesn't understand it or retain it like many kids can, and I'm tired of :banghead:, and his self-esteem re math is in the toilet. He's a bright kid and I never thought we'd be in this place. Well, maybe if I had trusted his and my intuitions more we wouldn't be. ENTP/INFJ respectively:tongue_smilie:. But it breaks my heart because I know how quick he is with big picture stuff and concepts. I'm still optimistic that the higher maths will somehow fall into place eventually and his love of science will somehow reinforce what he learns in math and vice versa. But it's time to jump the "traditional" math ship for me :D

I'm extremely grateful for this thread. Hearing from the various VSL moms has given me hope for him. I know my situation is not as serious as many others here have faced, but for us, the low "math-esteem" really shuts down his learning and I do feel like we keep getting stuck in a loop. I'm psyched to try a new direction and have him experience the excitement and aha moments like he used to have :001_smile:

 

But it's equally difficult for me to imagine why anyone would want a child to "dumb things down for the sake of performance." That is just not a goal or skill that I'm aiming to develop in my kids, whether they're capable of it or not.

 

His method of learning science (or history for that matter) is not "comparable" to a typical high school class, but if he ends up not only covering the same content, but understanding it at a much deeper level and maintaining his love of learning, I can't imagine what would be gained by forcing him to do it the "normal" way. Even I, who am not a VSL, found the "normal" methods of US high schools to be extremely boring and inefficient and a big waste of my time. I'm certainly not going to impose that on a kid who's wired in a way that is really not suited to those methods.

 

It's not as if he never does anything "hard" — he still has to write and study a foreign language, which will be at least as difficult for him as drawing was for your eldest DD. I just don't see the point in making everything harder than it needs to be, for no reason other than "that's how most people do it" — especially when those methods not only make things "harder," they actually limit his ability to understand and retain the material. Maybe I'm misreading what you're saying, but it sounds as if you think that unless a child is truly and completely incapable of conforming to the standard linear-sequential mode of schooling, then they should really be forced to learn in that mode. And I'm not understanding what's so special about linear-sequential learning that it should be a goal in itself, even at the expense of understanding content and risking destroying a love of learning in a very bright and capable kid.

 

Jackie

 

:iagree:

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But it's equally difficult for me to imagine why anyone would want a child to "dumb things down for the sake of performance." That is just not a goal or skill that I'm aiming to develop in my kids, whether they're capable of it or not.

Ideally, there would be no need for that, I agree - I do not see an inherent value for the student in doing so.

However, what happens when you switch to institutional context or take standardized exams or do any number of plain 'bureaucratic' things which may be entirely silly in and of themselves, but which also carry a certain weight with regard to formalities? (I am not sure though whether this is even applicable to your situation - I realize I may be talking with my 'baggage' here because we deal with outside examinations and things of the kind.)

"Comparable" in content or methodology?

Content - not necessarily methodology and not even the organization of that content over the course of the years (there are those who opt to do sciences simultaneously, those that opt to do it in one year blocks, etc.). From what you describe, your son will have a comparable educational experience even if attained principally through different methods or fleshed out a bit differently.

Maybe I'm misreading what you're saying, but it sounds as if you think that unless a child is truly and completely incapable of conforming to the standard linear-sequential mode of schooling, then they should really be forced to learn in that mode.

Not as a standard modus operandi, no - I generally find the ideal to be perfecting oneself, which greatly takes into the account the "economics" of doing so. Some things are, for lack of a better expression, "not worth it" to be polished to perfection just because you theoretically can and it is better to focus on developing what you are good at. There we agree - though I agree with in a sort of "long term" way.

 

What I mean, though, is that there is an inherent value in terms of skills (or, we may even argue, a certain cognitive benefit) in some experimentation - which applies to all kids, not learning exclusively in the mode they find the most intuitive one - and I think that it actually helps students to come up with their unique way of learning (think of it like interdisciplinarity: it allows you to "steal ideas" from other fields - here, I have in mind something similar, only in terms of study skills and, in broader context, general life skills). I also think that some fields naturally lend themselves more to a particular type of approach so maybe that should not be entirely neglected. I agree that an emphasis should be in stressing what works for students, but I still find it important, if possible and to the extent to which it is possible, to go beyond that. It seems however that you are doing this.

 

(I am probably not very coherent, I spent way too many hours on here amidst doing other things, but I hope it is clearer. There is a whole other component of this I will elaborate on sometime, I saved an unsuccessful draft LOL, which regards things I believe still "ought" to be done, ideally, in some ways and where my personal values enter the picture, but to develop that thought along with the meta-thought of what are my problems with that thought - because I have some - would be too much now. :))

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I followed justamouse's link and found this, which might answer your question...

Thank you for your effort in posting that for me, but it does not :001_smile: - those are generalties (many of which are applicable to me too or to my children, and some of which I would even classify as a comparatively 'universal' response - so I am familiar with some of that dynamic), what I would like to picture to myself, ideally, is the "mechanics" of that "clash" when the student is explicitly taught the material. I am looking into trying to understand it through a specific example or two - if somebody can write down for me a "synopsis" of a "film" I would be seeing if I were there in the moment of unsuccessful teaching, I could maybe imagine it a lot better.

 

I realize I am probably just asking for too much detail and driving you all crazy :blush: - I truly appreciate all of your individual efforts in talking to me, I am just still trying to "get" this. The thread has really helped me to clear out a lot of my thoughts, though. :001_smile:

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Justamouse raised an interesting point about the huge overlap between VSL and ADD:

Visual-spatial learners who experience learning problems have heightened sensory awareness to stimuli, such as extreme sensitivity to smells, acute hearing and intense reactions to loud noises. They are constantly bombarded by stimuli; they get so much information that they have trouble filtering it out. They tend to have excellent hearing, but poor listening skills. Their ability to retain and comprehend information auditorily is weak and they have difficulty with sequential tasks.

The way VSLs are constantly "scanning" the space around them, which is full of noise and images, takes up a lot of neural bandwidth, and then they're asked to focus on academic material that often presents information in a way that's quite foreign to them, while being bombarded with stimuli they struggle to filter out. Add to that the fact that it's incredibly easy to lose your "train of thought" when that "train" is actually a bunch of cars scattered all over the place rather than lined up neatly in a track, and something that looks quite simple and straightforward to a linear-sequential person can be a serious struggle for a VSL. Even slightly low levels of dopamine (necessary for focus and learning) can easily tip that balance into ADD. And yet when they're doing something that plugs into their visual-spatial receptors and is enjoyable (raises dopamine), like drawing or building with legos, they can focus for hours.

 

The sad thing is that this discrepancy was often used against them, because many parents and teachers believed that the ability to focus on something that was visual/spatial and enjoyable meant they could "concentrate if they wanted to," and that therefore their apparent inability to focus on a spelling worksheet or math text meant they were just being "lazy" or rebellious. Not only can they not just "turn it on" when they want to, but the confusion, frustration, and anxiety of trying to understand something that's presented in a way they really don't understand raises cortisol levels, which reduces dopamine, which makes it even harder for them to concentrate, and it spirals downward from there. That's why many of these kids just totally shut down and really truly can't learn when they're frustrated or anxious or upset. Getting "tough" on them doesn't fix that, it just makes it worse.

 

Another great irony of the modern educational system is that one of the things that increases dopamine levels is exercise. And yet school systems, faced with an epidemic of kids who can't concentrate and can't sit still, are cutting PE and recess. DS had one teacher who would punish him and the other fidgety boys for not paying attention by making them stay inside at recess, which pretty much guaranteed that they'd be even more distractible and unfocused for the rest of the day. Duh.

 

Jackie

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For example, what happens if is she is explicitly told something - how does she react? Is it as though she was not told anything, ignores it, or it somehow rubs her the wrong way and affects negatively how she learns?

I think KAR120C did a great job of explaining what this thought process looks like, and that being given an explicit explanation that structures the information in a way that works for someone else's brain, is rather pointless, because the VSL needs to repackage it anyway:

When I'm reading to learn (non-fiction that is) I generally have to make the connections myself if I'm going to remember a thing...

 

I need my own framework for it, re-ordering the bits that go together, making a group of things that work similarly, sketching little diagrams when prose just isn't doing it, making connections to things that have almost nothing to do with the topic at hand...

 

I think, though, that it's not that I can't learn in a particular way, but rather that almost no kind of instruction will be sufficient. There is always a ton of stuff I need to do on my own after all the facts have been thrown in the ring...

 

And it's not so much that I don't want someone's explanation, but that their explanation isn't the one I'm going to go with. I need to translate it (or more likely a variety of things they didn't think were relevant, which I have to go find myself when they've stopped trying to teach me) into something of my own.

Insisting that a VSL follow someone else's linear-sequential explanation can be really annoying for any number of reasons (or all of them combined): it could interfere with their attempts to put the information together themselves; they might consider it a waste of time because they know they're going to have to "redo" it their way anyway; they might be annoyed that the "answer" was given away instead of allowing them the pleasure of discovering it themselves; it could feel like they were being pressured to absorb, process, and respond to information immediately when they needed time to let it percolate; they may have instantly understood the concept and are impatient about having to sit there listening to someone explain it slowly step by step; etc.

 

I think the issue is even more complicated when dealing with VSLs who are also highly gifted. Some of the traits that tend to be associated with both of those groups end up being raised to the 10th power in people who are near the edge of both the gifted spectrum and the VSL spectrum. So in addition to what is a genuine inability to process information in certain ways, or in certain states of mind, there can also be a certain unwillingness to compromise their "true selves" just to fit someone else's idea of who they should be or how they should think — which seems perfectly reasonable to me. I think that's probably part of what's going on with Karen's DD, and to me it's not a "character flaw" but rather a strength, which will probably serve her well in the long run. Even if it does make her mother's life rather more difficult in the short run. ;)

 

Jackie

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Colleen - If I had thought a bit longer before I wrote a knee-jerk response, I would have realized that I have never seen you ask a snarky question. Yikes! My apologies.

 

Thanks.:001_smile:

 

It's not as if he never does anything "hard" — he still has to write papers and study a foreign language, which will be at least as difficult for him as drawing was for your eldest DD.

 

This is the kind of concrete example that helps me to understand your situation better. Thanks, Jackie.

 

However, what happens when you switch to institutional context or take standardized exams or do any number of plain 'bureaucratic' things which may be entirely silly in and of themselves, but which also carry a certain weight with regard to formalities?

 

...what I would like to picture to myself, ideally, is the "mechanics" of that "clash" when the student is explicitly taught the material. I am looking into trying to understand it through a specific example or two - if somebody can write down for me a "synopsis" of a "film" I would be seeing if I were there in the moment of unsuccessful teaching, I could maybe imagine it a lot better.

 

I think KAR120C did a great job of explaining what this thought process looks like

 

...kids who need, absolutely need, to work in ways they know are most effective for them -- all of these people do know what they are talking about, are describing something real, because they live or work with it, or because they are, like Jackie's dh, this kind of processor themselves. It may never be something you can comprehend through logic at a distance.

 

I don't know whether that's possible given the kind of proof or evidence she's asking for and not feeling she's getting;

 

I've bolded parts of what EM wrote above, because that is the part I keep getting stuck on and not seeing answers to. What I have been looking for in your posts, KarenAnne, is specific examples of what you are talking about (others have posted examples, and those have been helpful to me to understand their particular situations). What does your daughter actually physically do? On the outside? My question isn't so much about what goes on in her brain - you've written a lot about that, I understand that different brains work differently, and I won't ask you to reiterate or point to all that info.. I just wonder what actually happens if you ask her to do something that may be in a way that she says (or you might perceive) is difficult for her to learn by? A "film" of the outside events (not her brain) would be helpful to me, too, to understand.

 

(example: when I used to have my visual speller child go through the spelling pattern study, here is what it looked like by around grade 3. I'd sit on the couch, I'd ask child to get the spelling notebook, he'd say, "I don't want to do spelling, I already know how to spell!" and he'd run around the room resisting getting his spelling notebook. Me knowing this is true of many words for him, I would say, "OK, get your notebook and pencil anyway, and we'll analyze a few challenge words." He'd, depending on the day, either get his notebook and pencil and find a flat spot somewhere, or tell me again he didn't want to do spelling. I'd dig out the big science encyclopedia, find a section that I knew would catch his interest, and find the most complicated words I could find. I'd go through the whole question/answer/analyze routine that I do with spelling study with my kids, and he'd either get up and run around and protest that he didn't want to write it down and mark it, or he'd quietly but concentratedly and quickly mark his word and answer my questions about the spelling/rule patterns. So, what it looked like on the outside varied from day to day depending on a lot of things - age, mood, weather, sleep the night before, etc..

 

But, is this not the case for your dd? Would the same exact thing happen every time you might ask her to do something that she says or you perceive is difficult for her, instead of the varied reactions I just described? And if so, what are these outside events?)

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I could never memorize the more complicated trig stuff either, but I could always derive it. All the way through precalculus I had to spend a few minutes at the beginning of each exam writing out proofs of the difference of cosines formula or whatever I needed, because otherwise the negative signs would be randomly distributed around the formulas.

 

This made me laugh. I thought I was the only one who had to do that at the start of a test!

 

Now, if someone could give me a way to derive the blue/red hot/cold relationship. Is blue hot because it's the hottest part of the flame or is it cold because my lips turn blue when I get cold? Or is it red hot because of red-hots or is it cold because my cheeks turn red when I'm cold and red is the cooler part of a flame? You can laugh at me while I laugh at myself. :lol:But I'm not kidding.

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Ideally, there would be no need for that, I agree - I do not see an inherent value for the student in doing so.

However, what happens when you switch to institutional context or take standardized exams or do any number of plain 'bureaucratic' things which may be entirely silly in and of themselves, but which also carry a certain weight with regard to formalities? (I am not sure though whether this is even applicable to your situation - I realize I may be talking with my 'baggage' here because we deal with outside examinations and things of the kind.)

 

 

Tests can be tricky. In college, I almost never got more than a C on a multiple choice test, though I almost always got A's on essays. Once, at the peak of my frustration, I brought a test that I had flunked to my professor to try to figure out why my answers were wrong. We went through each question, one by one, and I explained to him why the answer was always none of the above. For each one he had to sigh and mark it correct. He noted that all my work in the class had been of a very high level and decided that my test scores would not count towards my final grade. I wish I had figured out to do this with each of my professors before my senior year because it may have raised my GPA quite a bit. One comment I got often is "I expected you to get a higher test score because of the depth of your in class discussions."

 

Generally standardized tests are a little easier in that the questions are more consistent from test to test. Practicing is probably a good idea because one of the keys to these sorts of tests is to figure out how test writers think. Take that silly IQ test question where you are give a list of four things and you are supposed to figure out which three are related. Yikes! I generally can list at least 1/2 dozen relationships. Sometimes I just have to stop coming up with more because I need to answer the question. The trick is to figure which relationship they want and that requires figuring out how they think - it's more akin to reading body language. So, practicing standardized tests, checking each answer along the way for immediate feedback, is probably a good strategy for VSLs. They need to learn to approach the more open ended questions from the perspective of what answer the test is looking for, not what answer is correct(which is generally none of the above, several of the above or part of one and part of another) to the VSL.

 

The good news is that adult life is not a standardized test. In adult life you can prove your intelligence based on what you do with it. If you can get through childhood and young adulthood with a scrap of confidence left, you'll be okay moving forward. VSLs are often those people who do poorly in school but are quite successful in life.

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:bigear: I'm curious, too.

 

I'll try to share how it looks from my dh's perspective, in everyday surroundings.

 

I followed justamouse's link and found this, which might answer your question...

 

"Once spatial learners create a mental picture of a concept and see how the information fits with what they already know, their learning is permanent. Repetition is completely unnecessary and irrelevant to their learning style.

 

However, without easily observable connecting ties, the information cannot take hold anywhere in the brain — it is like learning in a vacuum, and seems to the student like pointless exercises in futility. Teachers often misinterpret the student's difficulties with the instructional strategies as inability to learn the concepts and assume that the student needs more drill to grasp the material. Rote memorization and drill are actually damaging for visual-spatial learners, since they emphasize the students' weaknesses instead of their strengths. When this happens, the student gets caught up in a spiraling web of failure, assumes he is stupid, loses all motivation, and hates school. Teachers then assume that the student doesn't care or is being lazy, and behavior problems come to the fore. Meanwhile, the whole cycle creates a very deep chasm in the student's self-esteem." (emphasis added)

 

 

 

The bolded was my dh in school. Whoever posted about smell and stimuli, that is dh. He smokes and I have sinus issues, he still smells better than me.

 

Technology and the internet have been a valuable resource for dh. We've had internet since you could have internet. Being able to jump from topic to topic helps him immensely.

 

Right now he's trying to learn how to write phone apps. He bought a couple of books on the subject and has had a hard time getting through them. He's not a reader by nature. But he'll spend hours online reading, searching, and studying about them, but getting through the text is very difficult.

 

He found school boring and to this day he has trouble putting effort into things he finds uninteresting, Add type A personality too. He's 50, so school was many years ago. School made him feel stupid. He equated his experience with failure.

 

We started homeschooling in first grade. It didn't take long to realize ds learned in a similar manner to dh. I have no doubt he would have been put into remedial reading and maybe math. He can do equation problems in his head, but still has trouble with the times tables. BTW, The Secrets of Mental Math is a great set from TTC, very helpful, but wait for the sale. We realized homeschooling was protecting his self-esteem, not just in a I want to feel good about myself way, but at the very core of how he views his place in the world. Homeschooling is allowing us to build up his skills as they emerge, not in a forced environment. Someday he'll have to sit in a college classroom, my hope is by the time he has the skills in place. Threads like this are helping.

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I am following this conversation with deep interest--it is marvelous.:) I was thinking last night and this morning about what has been said here about VSL and their learning and approach to the world generally. Could one make the analogy between their learning generally, and the way someone acquires a foreign language through immersion, ie. no formal grammatical study?

 

I was thinking about "seeing" the patterns which arise out of seemingly random pieces of information--and had a vivid recollection of my childhood experience of learning German in a German school, where I had no previous knowledge, grammatical or otherwise. For me at that time, the experience was at first simply awful, because all these people were standing around asking me questions in a nonsense language!;):tongue_smilie: But after a not-very-long while, with the help of an intuitive teacher and her cooperative students (but still no formal grammatical instruction), I began to see the threads in the jello, to see how this word connected to that, to English words I already knew, etc. And voila, fluency!

 

So, is this a potential way to help understand the experience of a different learner, or am I way off? :001_smile:

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I know my posts seem like I'm off on a wild tangent in this thread, and in many others too, :tongue_smilie: but you have no idea how helpful this thread has been. I'm understanding things about my dd that I haven't been able to before and seeing how different aspects are related. Now I know why she likes to do her school work separated from any distractions, now I know why when it comes to spelling sometimes instead of answering me orally she asks to write it first and then read that, now I know why she can do so much of the math in her head, and now I know why she asked to learn on her own from texts instead of me teaching her and reading aloud from Core Knowledge books and all that we had been doing. I so could have used this info years ago. Thank you for helping me to understand my dd. Now I have to figure out what, if anything, we'll do differently in our few remaining years of homeschooling.

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School made him feel stupid. He equated his experience with failure.

 

We started homeschooling in first grade. It didn't take long to realize ds learned in a similar manner to dh. I have no doubt he would have been put into remedial reading and maybe math. He can do equation problems in his head, but still has trouble with the times tables. BTW, The Secrets of Mental Math is a great set from TTC, very helpful, but wait for the sale. We realized homeschooling was protecting his self-esteem, not just in a I want to feel good about myself way, but at the very core of how he views his place in the world. Homeschooling is allowing us to build up his skills as they emerge, not in a forced environment. Someday he'll have to sit in a college classroom, my hope is by the time he has the skills in place. Threads like this are helping.

 

School made me feel stupid. Yup. Most days I still feel pretty stupid.

 

But here is where I lost the conversation, as an adult, I immeasurably value rote drill.

 

Was it plain old maturity that enabled me to process that way? I don't know. But I feel richer now, for using it (as I like, of course). I don't see a dichotomy between rote drill and fluid learning. Yes, as a child and young adult it was torture, but many things in life are. I see both as tools that are applicable in certain situations.

 

Your son is very blessed to have you protecting him.

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This thread is fabulous! I'm so thankful to those of you sharing your experiences with your VSL learners, and to the VSL learners here for adding their personal stories of how information is absorbed. I have gained a lot of insight into my own learning style from reading these posts.

 

Apparently I have strong VSL tendencies as well. That explains a lot! Justamouse, that article you linked and your post with excerpts really spoke to me, too. I remember being shocked when I first learned that not everyone had their own 'bs meter', because I always just read people by much more than their language. And while my hearing is extra sensitive and reading is a wonderful mode of learning for me, it is nearly impossible for me to absorb anything that is being read to me. (I seem to be getting much worse at this, actually.) I often need to create a mental image to go with what someone is telling me in order to remember it, which is why I usually ask people to spell their names for me when I meet them... then I can 'draw' the word in my head and have a better chance of later recall.

 

As for the idea of kids that learn differently figuring out how to cope with the more 'standard' processes... I did very well in school, largely helped by the fact that I was always good at taking tests. But that's because I figured out how to manage my short term memory using a more visual bent; I would write notes for what I needed to study and then, at the last minute, would look through the notes and create a picture of everything. Then, during the test, I would pull up those images and read through my notes mentally so that I could grab the right answer. Afterwards, unless there was some reason the information was useful/meaningful for me, I promptly forgot it all. So even though I figured out how to work within the system I was presented with, I honestly fail to see what it gained me, or why I would feel my own kids would ever need to be set up to work in such a way.

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In searching for something else, I came across this article which fits right in with a few of the threads currently going. It's a pdf file, so I can't link the exact address - or at least I don't know how - but if you go to this google search link and go to the first site and then go to the first article, of three, listed underneath, you'll get the article I'm referring to.

 

http://www.google.com/search?q=visual+sequential+learners&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

 

In it, the author uses inductive vs deductive learning to describe what we've been talking about with regards to doing experiments first and supplementing with text vs reading the text and then doing the experiments. The article relates to teaching in the engineering field, but is applicable to other areas as well. Interesting.

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I'm curious along with Ester Maria about the idea that a child CAN'T do certain academic things. Is "can't" the answer? I haven't seen anyone say "can't" yet (unless I missed it - if so, I apologize).

 

I'd like to address this with the caveat that my child is likely a bit different than the others. For one I have a hard time seeing him as VSL (though he is DEFINITELY not sequential). He just isn't visual at all, not one wee bit.

 

He is dyslexic though. This runs in families and I think is a good example of whether one can't do something one way or just prefers not to.

 

I teach both of my kids O-G spelling. Dyslexia runs in my husband's family and no one was remediated for dyslexia. They all survived and many went on to higher education. However they still can't spell or read phonetically. My son can. So I think I can be pretty comfortable saying "no" he can't learn the same way as other children.

 

But that said he actually does study in a more traditional way now. He reads textbooks (currently "Worlds Together Worlds Apart" and "The Cosmos") and writes the chapter assignments. He is academically motivated and he knows he needs to be able to write well to go to college. His ideas are bigger than his writing capacity so essays have been a struggle. We tried WTM style writing and it didn't stick and then I had a bio text with some long answer questions. I thought "this kid needs to write". So I showed him the book and said "how about trying these?". It's become a habit, when he's done with his 2 hours of math he reads and writes, pages and pages.

 

I think when you are talking about whether a learning style is a preference or an absolute, it comes down to how strongly you want to give your child the best education possible. I could have forced my child to fit into a certain educational mold. It would have made him unhappy and he would not be nearly as educated as he his today.

 

I also think that being flexible with my child when he was small, has made him more flexible now that he is more mature. I see two reasons. First, he actually has the skills to do the things I am asking him to do. Second, I am modeling flexibility for him.

 

I can't say this would work for every child but that's how it has played out here. It's one of the reasons why I didn't chime in to the rigor vs. flexibility threads. I see this as a false dichotomy. Here in my home we adopt a certain amount of flexibility in order to pursue educational excellence. It's not an and/or question it's more a question of sequence, which will we do first.

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I am following this conversation with deep interest--it is marvelous.:) I was thinking last night and this morning about what has been said here about VSL and their learning and approach to the world generally. Could one make the analogy between their learning generally, and the way someone acquires a foreign language through immersion, ie. no formal grammatical study?

 

I was thinking about "seeing" the patterns which arise out of seemingly random pieces of information--and had a vivid recollection of my childhood experience of learning German in a German school, where I had no previous knowledge, grammatical or otherwise. For me at that time, the experience was at first simply awful, because all these people were standing around asking me questions in a nonsense language!;):tongue_smilie: But after a not-very-long while, with the help of an intuitive teacher and her cooperative students (but still no formal grammatical instruction), I began to see the threads in the jello, to see how this word connected to that, to English words I already knew, etc. And voila, fluency!

 

So, is this a potential way to help understand the experience of a different learner, or am I way off? :001_smile:

 

I hope people who are VSL themselves will answer this, but it seems very like one aspect, particularly when dd is learning something very new (I'm thinking of learning to read here). One of her qualities, which is quite common is VSL processors and those with heightened sensory perception, is that she takes in EVERYTHING; she doesn't filter matter many neurotypical people tend to throw out unconsciously and automatically. To process that much stimuli and information is really difficult.

 

It's also exhausting, as it is when you're first thrown into another language environment -- I was a foreign exchange student in Paraguay, and even though I had some Spanish background, it was still completely undoable and awful for a while. I remember being tired all the time. My ears even physically felt like they were going to drop off.

 

But this is probably also a big part of what allows her to make huge leaps and arrive at answers out of what seems like nowhere.

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But here is where I lost the conversation, as an adult, I immeasurably value rote drill.

 

Was it plain old maturity that enabled me to process that way? I don't know. But I feel richer now, for using it (as I like, of course). I don't see a dichotomy between rote drill and fluid learning. Yes, as a child and young adult it was torture, but many things in life are. I see both as tools that are applicable in certain situations.

I'm curious what things you use rote memorization and drill for as an adult? I know DH is still completely unable to learn things that way. E.g., he needed to type his own cell phone # into the phone many times before he could remember it, and even then what he remembers is actually the pattern of the numbers on the phone. He still doesn't know the times tables. It's not a case of rote memorization being really unpleasant but doable; he really can't do it.

 

Jackie

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I'm curious what things you use rote memorization and drill for as an adult? I know DH is still completely unable to learn things that way. E.g., he needed to type his own cell phone # into the phone many times before he could remember it, and even then what he remembers is actually the pattern of the numbers on the phone. He still doesn't know the times tables. It's not a case of rote memorization being really unpleasant but doable; he really can't do it.

 

Jackie

 

Ha, I saw the "dichotomy between rote drill and fluid learning" and thought that I had inadvertently posted it. "What was I thinking?" Then I realized that no, that wasn't me.:D

 

Here too rote drill doesn't work. I think if you have a child who learns that way though it can be a false dichotomy. It all depends on if a child can digest information in that way.

 

There is nothing wrong with rote if it is useful for your child. It's just that for some kids rote information just bounces off. It doesn't stick and so it's a complete waste of time. You can try but they won't learn.

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I am still trying to wrap my mind about how much this is a preference and how much this is a need, in the way I categorize those two. You see, I function that way too, I prefer figuring things out on my own, but the worst thing that happens if somebody presents things for me is the "you ruined my party" kind of feeling. I know I am probably boring you to death because you stated already she needs to learn that way, but can you give me a few additional insights? For example, what happens if is she is explicitly told something - how does she react? Is it as though she was not told anything, ignores it, or it somehow rubs her the wrong way and affects negatively how she learns?

 

 

It occurred to me that spelling, which was one of dd's worst struggles for many years and which convinced me and others that she had a true learning disability, might offer you an example.

 

I assumed -- and the educational culture and curricula around me encouraged that assumption -- that every kid learned to spell phonetically. Dd was such an early and amazing reader that I assumed also she would pick up spelling largely on her own. By around third grade it was clear that wasn't going to happen. So I bought a regular old spelling problem, phonetics and word families approaches included, and we used that for four years.

 

What happened? Absolutely nothing in terms of her learning to spell. She did, however, begin to refer to herself as a "failure" in spelling. She started to think that there was something wrong with her because she couldn't learn to do it right. She grew to dread the spelling materials coming out onto the table.

 

And strangely, the errors she made grew MORE engrained. For years, for instance, she'd spell the word "captain" (she loved Captain Kirk) as "captian." I would always tell her that if you read that word it sounded like the word "caption." Didn't sink in. We wrote pages of words with "ai" combinations, then added captain to the list. Didn't matter. I had her write "captain" 50 times at a sitting; if you know anything about me you'll know how much desperation that was sign of, because this is the very, very last kind of thing I ever want to do with a child, especially mine). The 51st time, she spelled it "captian."

 

In other words, we were going nowhere fast. And not only was she not learning; she was becoming incapable of learning because she thought she was stupid.

 

Then I read Jeffrey Freed's book, with his chapter on teaching VSL kids to spell. One of the things he does is have them look at an individual word, written in a bright color perhaps, for a few minutes. Then they close their eyes, spell the word orally, and then SPELL IT BACKWARDS, also orally. He says you don't even have to start with small words.

 

I thought this was insane, so I jokingly tested it with a word like "elephant" or "hypnosis" or something along those lines. Dd promptly spelled it forwards and backwards, multiple times. I about fell off my chair. This was a child who, as a family friend who is a psychologist said of her at the time, "can't spell the word cat."

 

I went on to have dd imagine the word on her "mental blackboard," as Freed suggests, and then copy it from there onto paper. Bingo.

 

In the next 18 months or so, dd rose five grade levels in spelling -- on fifteen to twenty minutes of work several times a week -- and now spells reasonably well, all things considered. It's not her strength, but neither is it the terrible problem it was for years.

 

So, in that case, continuing to follow a standard algorithm:

--did not produce one iota of learning;

--made her feel stupid;

--reinforced rather than fixed errors.

 

In other cases, such as with private school but also with a few other mistakes I made, following direct instruction and/or incremental, sequential, linear modes of teaching produced:

--no retention;

--more feelings of inadequacy (on both our parts);

--dread of a topic or subject;

--in extreme cases, a determination not to have anything to do with the matter again, even if it were a matter such as writing which she truly loved if given leeway to use her own methods and explorations. I explained this a bit in a previous post.

--in one extreme case, a breakdown.

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I also think that being flexible with my child when he was small, has made him more flexible now that he is more mature. I see two reasons. First, he actually has the skills to do the things I am asking him to do. Second, I am modeling flexibility for him.

 

......It's one of the reasons why I didn't chime in to the rigor vs. flexibility threads. I see this as a false dichotomy. Here in my home we adopt a certain amount of flexibility in order to pursue educational excellence. It's not an and/or question it's more a question of sequence, which will we do first.

 

:iagree: which is why I don't post in these threads as well. I have 2 children that definitely fit the description (and a 3rd younger child that I am not sure exactly at this pt.) One of my kids has always seen the world in patterns and images. It is how he processes the world. His conversations when he was 5-6ish were very revealing about how he was learning and teaching himself things that he understood very clearly but not in ways he had been taught or ever even been exposed to. He also really struggled to learn how to read b/c of how he processes information. Math has been easy for him and is a love and passion; languages extremely difficult. I still expect normal output from him in reading and writing. He is also studying 2 foreign languages (one which he despises and really, really struggles with.)

 

I don't see it as either/or. I think working with their strengths and developing their critical thinking skills via how they learn is obviously the appropriate approach, most especially when they are young. However, targeting their weaknesses and deliberately structuring activities and assignments to develop those skills should also be a main goal of education.

 

Balance is an educational goal for my children. W/o a serious disability which completely inhibits development, I push and encourage in their weaknesses as mush as I encourage their strengths. (Just like my Aspie has zero context in judging social situations, he can be taught to look for certain facial expressions and body language and taught what they mean. He doesn't have to be left w/o any way to function even though he does not possess the normal mental process. Communicating certain steps and skills can be taught and mastered in a similar fashion.)

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Karen, can I ask a few more questions? :001_smile:

 

And this also interests me. Mind you, not that I do consider myself that :tongue_smilie:, and my children are very independent, but I find that there is a certain "cultural package" they need to have. It is hard to articulate, in perfectly logical terms, why - other than following arguments such as national sensibility, tradition, family culture, tradition, canonical national culture, tradition, and so forth - but I know that I definitely want them to have it.

 

If you allow your child to be that self-directed, does it mean that you do not have a certain "package" you want her to have at all costs, which you would consider an educational sine qua non? An equivalent of that which are classics or Dante to me? If you DO have it, how do you go about teaching it if your daughter does not happen to "discover" it on her own? (I realize this might derail the thread into a whole different direction, which is not my intention, I am just genuinely curious as this also seems to be one of the differences between us, so I always wonder about it. I can maybe see how your approach can work wonders for a child wired that way but only if your view of education is not driven by some imperatives of coverage of some "must"s that I do include. How do you handle things you want to cover, or find it "standard" to cover?)

 

I'm very unlike you, in that I do NOT have a specific package or list of content I want her to have at all costs. Skills, mental abilities, ability to do certain things, yes. But a content/cultural package, no. So hold on to your chair or grit your teeth or otherwise gird yourself.:D Not looking for a debate on this, just stating the view from this side.

 

What follows is partly a result of my own education and research, partly a response to my individual child and the philosophy of learning I have developed because of her needs. I understand it's completely antithetical to your views, but here are some of its components:

 

First, content. No, I do not see nor believe in one Great Canon, which is fairly fixed and universal. I believe in a greatly expanded, fluid, contingent canon in which there are also a huge number of works by, for instance, women writers, works of extraordinary beauty and richness which were hugely undervalued by the people who were responsible for canon formation until fairly recently. I see these works as equal "mountain peaks," which I think is how you have described the more traditional list of Great Books. They are equally resonant in later texts, equally the object of reference, imitation, critique, and rewriting, but they not recognizable as such if you have not read and studied them. This also holds true for science, as Richard Holmes shows quite eloquently in The Age of Wonder, and for art, among other things.

 

So I don't have one specific list of books I want dd to have read "at any and all cost" by the end of high school. If I had a different child, one who wasn't 800+ pages into the unabridged Don Quixote this summer because she was "curious" about it and then found it hilarious, I might be much more worried about this. As it is, I'm not.

 

The fact that she gravitates toward alternate classic literature -- political satire, things like Mac Flecknoe -- and I am expecting her now to fall in love with Stern's bizarre novel Tristram Shandy when we hear a TC lecture on it shortly -- along with her love of drama means that her interests manage wonderfully to hit exactly on all the genres which either do not interest me or which I find really hard to read! But that doesn't mean I find her choice in any way problematic, somehow "less" than a different set of texts, or not conducive to my end goals.

 

The other factor I mentioned is that dd's striking differences have forced me to reconsider and reframe nearly everything I took for granted about education and learning. I don't start with content or academic goals; I begin with the child. That means, inevitably, that every education will be different. But hers will be strikingly so, because her variation from the neurotypical norm is so great.

 

I'm concerned not even to "give" her an education that suits her, but to help her create an education, foster a way of learning, that suits her, because that is how she is wired and driven.

 

Where many people on the boards are concerned -- and it's perfectly reasonable to feel this way and act accordingly for many children -- with giving their kids a transcript that looks like, matches, or "tops" what kids from institutional schools might have, I'm going to be doing things quite differently. Dd's transcript will be a record of how she thinks, what she thinks about, what her driving needs and passions are. Again, she's making this easy (relatively speaking) for me in some areas, because she's a very intellectual kid, and because despite all the resistance to direct instruction or certain topics or approaches to subjects, I'm pretty certain now that I'll always be able to help her find an angle. It may or may not produce content coverage that fulfills state-drafted standards. But I honestly don't care. I don't see the state standards as the embodiment of any superior wisdom about ideal subject matter knowledge; nor do I think that a kid who acquires a different combination of content during four high school years will be handicapped for life.

 

This doesn't mean I'm always certain that I'm doing the right thing, or that I don't have intermittent panics about "shoulds." But I know what works for dd, and at bottom, that is what I hold as my own standard.

 

I will also say, and perhaps this is the farthest I'm willing to go in discussing dd personally, that when your child has had a breakdown as a direct result of conventional instruction methods, academics does not loom nearly so large in importance as continued health and well-being. Restoring and fostering both a love of learning and a confidence that her own wiring is perfectly valid and that she knows best how she needs to learn -- these remain at the very top of my values list for this child.

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I know my posts seem like I'm off on a wild tangent in this thread' date=' and in many others too, :tongue_smilie: but you have no idea how helpful this thread has been. I'm understanding things about my dd that I haven't been able to before and seeing how different aspects are related. [/quote']

 

I'm really glad I'm not the only one who is getting so much from it! I'm so happy you're finding it useful too.

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So in addition to what is a genuine inability to process information in certain ways, or in certain states of mind, there can also be a certain unwillingness to compromise their "true selves" just to fit someone else's idea of who they should be or how they should think — which seems perfectly reasonable to me. I think that's probably part of what's going on with Karen's DD, and to me it's not a "character flaw" but rather a strength, which will probably serve her well in the long run. Even if it does make her mother's life rather more difficult in the short run. ;)

 

Unwillingness to compromise their "true selves" -- yes, that is exactly, exactly it.

 

And if they do bring themselves to compromise, there is tragic damage to that true self.

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I think when you are talking about whether a learning style is a preference or an absolute, it comes down to how strongly you want to give your child the best education possible.

I think whether a learning style is a preference or an absolute will also vary enormously from one person to the next. Some kids, who are more towards the middle of the spectrum, can easily shift modes from one to the other; others can do it if they work incredibly hard at it in pursuit of a goal that's important to them when there is simply no other choice (but they will find it completely exhausting); and other kids simply can't, no matter how hard they try. And that will vary from subject to subject and activity to activity as well; some kids are able to find techniques, like using visual mnemonics, drawing their notes, etc., that allow them to at least function (albeit not optimally or efficiently), in another mode for some subjects but not others.

 

Research has shown that many gifted kids score highly in visual-spatial areas but are also gifted in the auditory-sequential mode. However, there are also kids at the extreme end of the visual-spatial spectrum who perform very poorly on linear-sequential tasks:

 

Two basic learning styles—visual-spatial and auditory-sequential—have been found in gifted children through psychometric assessment (Silverman, 1989a; 1989b). Highly gifted children excel at both types of learning. In 1980, a pattern of visual-spatial strengths was observed in children whose scores fell beyond the norms in the manual. Item analyses revealed that it was exceptional performance on visual-spatial items on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (Form L-M) (Terman & Merrill, 1973) that enabled some children to attain extremely high IQ scores. A second group was identified in 1981 who had very high visual-spatial abilities coupled with significantly lower auditory-sequential abilities. They could perform well beyond age level on memory for abstract designs, spatial orientation, visualization, and mathematical induction problems, but they could not repeat five random digits, repeat sentences accurately, or name the days of the week in order. The majority of children in the second group were underachieving in school, with marked weaknesses in spelling, computation and writing skills. In addition, a correlation was found between this second pattern and chronic otitis media (ear infections) within the first three years of life (Silverman, 1989a). The sequential weaknesses observed were often tied to weak auditory processing abilities, confirmed in later audiological evaluations.

 

Over time, the term visual-spatial learner has become synonymous with the second group of children who are strong on visual-spatial items and weak on auditory-sequential items. From the descriptors of sequential and spatial learners listed in Table 7, it becomes apparent why the educational system works more effectively for sequential learners than for spatial learners, and why sequential learners are more often selected for gifted programs than spatial learners (Dixon, 1983; Silverman, 1989a).

 

I think we've been talking in generalities a lot, in terms of "how VSLs think" and what they can and can't do, but I wanted to caution against assuming that just because some VSLs can use rote memorization, or can outline textbooks, or whatever, that doesn't means that all VSLs are therefore capable of it and it's just a "preference" to do otherwise. Many people, especially among the gifted population, are gifted in both areas. The term VSL, however, tends to be applied to kids at the far end of the spectrum, for whom thinking and learning in a linear-sequential way is extremely difficult.

 

Jackie

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I think whether a learning style is a preference or an absolute will also vary enormously from one person to the next. Some kids, who are more towards the middle of the spectrum, can easily shift modes from one to the other; others can do it if they work incredibly hard at it in pursuit of a goal that's important to them when there is simply no other choice (but they will find it completely exhausting); and other kids simply can't, no matter how hard they try. And that will vary from subject to subject and activity to activity as well; some kids are able to find techniques, like using visual mnemonics, drawing their notes, etc., that allow them to at least function (albeit not optimally or efficiently), in another mode for some subjects but not others.

 

 

I don't know how to bold part of a quote, but the line about the fact that the degree of a kid's VSL mode might vary from subject to subject struck a chord. Dd also has the equivalent of a photographic memory in terms of auditory input, particularly if it's in the form of narrative. She learns really well from lectures in certain topics, but not in others. She learns really well from fiction; she can pick up all kinds of information that I totally miss when I'm reading. But she can't learn from most non-fiction -- a couple of posts earlier discussed this issue and I found it fascinating. In some areas dd takes conventional notes (physics), while in others she either doesn't need them or they don't work for her.

 

I'm rushing because I have got to go -- but I'd love to return to this variation later, and I hope others post about it as well.

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I'm curious what things you use rote memorization and drill for as an adult? I know DH is still completely unable to learn things that way. E.g., he needed to type his own cell phone # into the phone many times before he could remember it, and even then what he remembers is actually the pattern of the numbers on the phone. He still doesn't know the times tables. It's not a case of rote memorization being really unpleasant but doable; he really can't do it.

 

Jackie

 

I finally memorized my times tables. FINALLY. Freaking finally. Phone numbers forget about it. I just try to get them in asap. I still get my new one wrong and I've lived here a year and yes, for my Aunt's, Dr and parents phone # I memorized the pattern and though I know it, I rely on the pattern. When I recall a phone # I recall the pattern, not the #s. But over time I've developed those skills more. (My parents, Aunt and Dr ahve had the same # for over 20 years. :p )

 

Memorizing the parts of speech and what questions they ask. Proper punctuation. Because I teach the kids and the day after day work of asking them the questions made me memorize it.

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Unwillingness to compromise their "true selves" -- yes, that is exactly, exactly it.

 

And if they do bring themselves to compromise, there is tragic damage to that true self.

 

 

Yes...however once the child realizes that part of the purpose of childhood is to grow as a person , the child may realize that the true self is not being damaged; instead the true self is growing.

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