Grey Sneakers

“I’m really optimistic about the De Bono 6 Action Shoes Grey Sneaker plan for Sprite’s education!” Columbus Cheetah told me.

“This plan has real potential for getting Sprite all the way along the Gagne DMGT Road  from Natural Abilities (Gifts) through to Competencies (Talents). As long as they let her work at the rate she can manage and are not too restrictive and formal Sprite will enjoy having the opportunity to research topics!”

Grey Sneaker plan programs are based on investigation, exploration and gathering evidence.
The possible Grey Sneaker plan programs for Sprite could include contract learning, project work, passion based projects, incursions and excursions, communities of inquiry, philosophy and metacognition programs, investigation of learning styles and brain research.
They may lead to formal qualifications and may be the introduction to a life-long love of learning.

And the beauty of the Grey Sneaker plan programs is that they are not only focused on Sprite learning by investigation, exploration and gathering evidence. They apply equally to the teachers; who will be finding out about Sprite’s abilities and challenges in order to help her achieve. They will be attending PD sessions and searching for information about learning styles and assistive technology. The best teachers are those who are life-long learners themselves.

The Grey Sneakers plan programs are flexible enough to allow for variations in the methods of teaching and researching and in the way in which the information gathered is presented and assessed.

I found Sprite in the garden happily investigating the night sky.
“I’m doing my homework!” she said. “I have to do a project about a topic I love, and I can use any assistive technology I need.”

Pink Slippers

“I AM doing my homework!” Sprite said, getting in first before I could ask her if she had finished her homework.
To me she appeared to be sitting in a comfy chair, with her feet up, drinking hot chocolate while she watched ferns and floating feathers on TV with pleasant but not particularly challenging or stimulating background music.

It had been a Pink Slipper day for Sprite at school. Pink Slipper action planning with De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes leads to programs which take into consideration doing what is caring and compassionate and paying attention to feelings and sensitivities.
The possible Pink Slipper programs for Sprite could include programs that focused on social / emotional needs, pastoral and spiritual care and coping strategies. They could also be service clubs, environmental concern groups and fundraising programs. Some of the programs are very helpful and necessary as support programs but most of them do not actually offer curriculum content.

“I’m having lovely lavender lathers later” Sensual Dabrowski said.

“Bravo, Sensual! Lovely Lavender Lathers Later is alliteration in L and, if Sprite thinks about it, Fractal Ferns and Floating Feathers is alliteration also”

There was a chorus of “Shut up Intellectual!”

“These pink slippers don’t really look as if you could run fast in them” commented Columbus Cheetah. “I think they have limited application for acceleration. I am not sure whether Sprite would be able to get all the way along the Gagne DMGT Road wearing slippers”

“Well” said Sprite “I do love love my Pink Slippers.”

“But you can’t run very well in slippers and they are not really suitable for wearing outside. Slippers are the most comfortable shoes for my left foot but too loose and flappy for my right foot and I feel really self conscious if I just wear one slipper because it draws attention to the problem.”

“I can see that the Pink Slipper programs are a big help and they do make it easier to study. Having the Pink Slipper programs might be the thing that helps students to continue and not drop out.”

“But it is a real temptation to just stay in in your comfort zone in the support programs.”

Orange Gumboots

The day after the meeting  Sprite came home wearing one orange gumboot.

I recognised this as representing the Orange Gumboot (Emergency measures) plan.
It appeared to be a stop gap measure to attempt to address Sprite’s giftedness which had not taken into account her difficulties. When that became apparent she had been told to just put on one orange gumboot and hop until they thought of something suitable.

She also brought home a flower in a pot which she claimed was her homework.

Columbus Cheetah consulted the diagram of Gagne’s DMGT Road Version 2.0 http://www.templetonfellows.org/program/FrancoysGagne.pdf  from Natural Abilities (Gifts) through to Competencies (Talents) and declared that, in theory, the Orange Gumboots (Emergency Actions) plan could produce exciting opportunities for acceleration and fast tracking allowing rapid movement between natural ability and competence.

“I know!” said Sprite. “I was really excited when they first suggested putting on the orange gumboots. This is what I thought was going to happen”

“But when they saw I could not get the second gumboot on they said it would not be safe to proceed with that action plan”

“And this is what I ended up doing! They made me an assistant for the day”

“And what do you have to do for homework?” I asked.

“I have to practice watering this flower so that I can show the little kids how to do it tomorrow. I’m not learning anything new myself. It is a real waste of time!”

The Meeting

The meeting with Sprite’s school went reasonably well, as far as I could tell at the time. However, as I think back over it, I am having some concerns.

They explained that there had been several staff changes because of teachers moving interstate, suddenly leaving because of serious health issues or going on maternity or long service leave; and that there had consequently been changes to the programs that the school offered. The new teachers were still getting to know the students and would find suitable solutions soon.

The handover had not been very smooth but then… given that some of the teachers had left suddenly …that was understandable.

I reminded them about the course of action we had embarked on to find the ideal education for Sprite for her journey along Gagne’s DMGT road
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/gagne-dmgt-model/
from innate giftedness to fully developed talent using the De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes as the planning method and they agreed we would continue to use it.

However they said Sprite should receive more testing in just the same way you would need to be remeasured when being fitted for new shoes.
Sprite has been subjected to testing in numerous ways by psychologists, therapists and education consultants and found to be both exceptionally gifted and to have specific learning difficulties.
I did wonder whether they were stalling for time and why they could not use the results of all the testing she had received so far.

I made a mental note to myself to reread Derrin Cramer’s blog post Do you need to test again?
 http://derrin-thebrightside.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/do-you-need-to-test-again.html

I was also reminded of my own words of a few weeks previous https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/advocacy/

They were made into a photo quote by Mary St George at http://www.flickr.com/photos/51965108@N05/7621345972/in/pool-1680413@N20

And it appears in an album of Gifted Education Photo Quotes at
http://www.flickr.com/groups/1680413@N20/pool/with/7621345972/#photo_7621345972

Various programs and assistive technology measures have been tried with varying degrees of success. You can see these represented by the different types of footwear Sprite wears and you can see by her body language how her comfort and optimism levels vary!

It is one thing to find out which are the best shoes for the DMGT Road but quite another to find ones that will be a good fit.

They said they would review Sprite’s needs but were rather vague about what provisions they could offer.

One thing which did concern me was that they seemed to be emphasizing the deficits and discussing those. They talked about a number of remedial measures, study skills sessions and social/emotion support but did not speak about challenging Sprite at appropriate depth and level in her areas of strength.
Most of the measures suggested sounded like Pink Slipper – (Do what is caring, compassionate and comforting) plans. Although Sprite loves her pink slippers she needs more of the Brown Brogue (Do the most sensible thing) and Grey Sneaker (Investigate) plans at this stage.
Maybe in the future she will be able to manage the Blue Formal Shoes and Leadership Purple Riding Boots type of plans.

I stressed that they should recognise Sprite’s giftedness even while they were trying to remediate the problems and they repeated that they would review the matter.

I left them with a link to a collection of articles and websites at https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/new-zealand-gifted-awareness-week-2012-tba-post-4-part-3/

We set a date for a future meeting in a month’s time.

********************************************

The day after the meeting Sprite came home wearing one orange gumboot.

I recognised this as representing the Orange Gumboot (Emergency measures) plan.
It appeared to be a stop gap measure to attempt to address Sprite’s giftedness which had not taken into account her difficulties. When that became apparent she had been told to just put on one orange gumboot and hop until they thought of something suitable.

Patterns Exhibition

It was a lovely day for an Art Exhibition. Intellectual Dabrowski had set up the sketches which I made during the five days of the Brilliant Chaos Group on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/brilliantchaosonline/ creating challenge and the Twitter Bird patterns and tessellations for Sprite and the others to view.
I became quite anxious when I saw P’est pour Parfait, the Perfectionist Poodle inspecting the pictures.

Sprite was most impressed with the Twitter Birds large tessellation picture.
“How do they do that?” she asked

As I had been given a behind the scenes tour I felt confident to describe the method to her but before I could reply Imaginational Dabrowski chimed in.

“The Grand Twessellator comes to orchestrate it. They have drummers to keep the beat so that they all act together and he calls out the orders. They march up into their places and the Grand Twessellator calls out which ones have to rotate.

“What happens then?” asked Sprite. “Are they stuck in the pattern for ever?”
“Of course not!” said Imaginational “They meld into clouds or fishes and escape from the edges of the tessellation!”
“And what does Twitterpate mean?”
“That is when they announce their creations to the world on Twitter!”