Recently I received a request from a teacher to answer some questions relating to giftedness to help her develop a persona doll for an assignment she was doing.
She supplied this information about persona dolls and the doll she intended to create.
“A persona doll is a doll developed by a practitioner/educator to enable children to gain an awareness and understanding of the richness and diversity of different backgrounds and lifestyles as well as to help children learn strategies for dealing with unfairness against themselves and others.
The dolls are given personalities, family and cultural backgrounds, likes and dislikes and the stories that are created around them enable children to explore positive and negative emotions.
To be able to develop one, I need to research and consult with children and their families to develop the persona doll identity and story. This is to avoid stereotypes and to provide an authentic representation of the children and their challenges.
I believe that developing a persona doll about giftedness can also be a way to advocate because children, families and educators where it will be shared will be cognizant of the current realities and difficulties faced by children that are gifted.”
I wrote a post about Persona Dolls for Gifted Resources blog at http://giftedresources.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/persona-dolls/
She then asked a large number of detailed questions about ethnic, socio-economic and cultural conditions and everyday life matters to help her build a unique and authentic persona for her doll.
She would have liked to ask the questions to my youngest child also, hoping to hear a child’s voice expressed. Our youngest is now in his late twenties; so was not able to provide the child voice.
After replying that gifted children can be found in every ethnic, socio-economic and religion group so she could choose whatever background she felt most comfortable to use when developing her persona doll; I answered the giftedness related questions and some of the everyday life issues questions using my twice exceptional blog character, Sprite, to personalise the answers.
I was delighted to find that I was able to give quite a detailed portrait of Sprite from references to posts in the blog. I provided this picture.
Here are my replies to some of her questions.
Name: Sprite https://spritessite.wordpress.com/about-2/
Age: Not specified – a pre-teenager in middle – upper primary school but about six years ahead of age group for academic level
Cultural background: Australian
Area of giftedness: Intellectually gifted with passionate interests in sciences (especially astronomy) https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/talkfest/
Hobbies are playing guitar and playing with her imaginary friends. All her toys have complicated back stories and she likes to make banners for them and set them up to stage protest marches https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/marches/
Is giftedness diagnosed? Sprite has been assessed as being in the exceptionally/profoundly gifted range http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm
by a psychologist with specialist knowledge of giftedness and her (unspecified) learning difficulties/different learning styles have been diagnosed by education consultants like the (fictitious) Dr. Ed Needs https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/casting-sprites-education-in-a-new-form-part-1/
Sprite has a Visual Spatial Learner style of learning
Sprite has a Memory Elephant. The Memory Elephant is a personification of memory and the Visual Spatial Learner’s style of thinking https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/memory-elephant/
As with many gifted people Sprite is an introvert and has many intensities and sensitivities including Dabrowski’s Over excitabilities which are depicted as the Five Dabrowski Dogs and can be prone to depression depicted by the Black Dogs
I have checked whether my readers perceive Sprite in the way I intended to portray her and have found that they did
Class or Socioeconomic Status
Gifted children come from every social class, socioeconomic and ethnic group and religious background. So how you depict your own Persona Doll is up to you and will influence your response to the cultural and lifestyle questions
For myths about giftedness see http://www.giftedresources.org/gr/columbuscheetah.htm
Languages spoken: Sprite speaks English (she would like to learn other languages)
Religion: Sprite is a Christian. Her faith is very important for her and she thinks very deeply about it and asks many questions. She has been asking questions about life and death, God, the universe, ecosystems, philosophy etc since she was very young.
What holidays does she celebrate? She celebrates Christmas https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/christmas/ and Easter https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/easter/ She wonders whether she should celebrate Halloween herself but the Dabrowski Dogs always dress up for it https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/halloween/ She also likes playing tricks on 1st April https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/april-fools-day
Socio-economic group: She is from a middle class socio-economic group neither extremely wealthy nor extremely poor
Sprite, like many gifted children, has difficulty getting to sleep. Her brain is so active that she has trouble switching off. She is a perfectionist and will mentally review the happenings of the day and what she should/should not have done or said in the situations. She has a vivid imagination and is sure that the shadow on the wall is Leaping Attack Black Dog coming to get her. She also has vivid dreams https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/all-the-dabrowski-dogs-part-3/
Sprite has trouble relating to children her own age as she has very different interests which she likes to discuss at great length https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/friendships/
Sprite likes most foods and her favourite flavour is chocolate.
She has been fortunate enough to try food from many different cultures.
However because of sensual overexcitabilities she does not like some textures of food such as mushy or sloppy foods. So she likes to keep food of different types separate on the plate. She also does not like food that is very spicy or too acidic or too fatty. She is not allergic to any foods but knows that many people can be.
Her friend, the gifted Twitter Bird chick, Tweetelle, has become a ‘seedetarian’ for moral reasons https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/tweetelle-becomes-a-seedetarian/
Sprite’s favourite colour is blue and her favourite clothes are a blue skirt or shorts and a blue tee shirt. Because of sensual over excitabilities she does not like scratchy materials and does not like tags left on her clothes or having seams on her socks.
Shoes are very important (see under Do you have a tailored program?) Her favourite shoes are her De Bono pillow soft pink slippers.
She does enjoy dressing up
Does she have a tailored program?
Sprite’s Site blog is about finding the educational provisions that will be most suitable for Sprite as a twice exceptional student.
She needs to be challenged in her areas of strength and supported in her areas of weakness.
Feetspeak: 2E shoes is about planning programs that will be suitable for gifted students who also have a learning difficulty or different learning style using Edward De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes as the planning tool and road testing their effectiveness using Gagne’s DMGT model.
Sprite is always depicted as having an injured left ankle and needing to wear different shoes on each foot to illustrate the concept that she needs different educational provisions for both her giftedness and her disability.
So could a Sprite Persona Doll be useful to advocate for the understanding of gifted or twice exceptional students? Imaginational Dabrowski and I think she could.
I began to consider the idea of buying a persona doll
and dressing it as my Sprite (I already have all the mini versions of De Bono’s 6 Action shoes and a mini plaster cast); or of sewing one myself.
I found sewing instructions here http://www.livingcrafts.com/blog/doll-room/a-doll-for-every-child
This is what I imagine a Sprite 2E twice exceptional persona doll would look like.