It comes as no surprise to me that many gifted people, children and adults, love comics. Comics have a way of making the complex simple, of generating deep and empathetic feelings, of infusing humor into unlikely situations, of exposing hypocrisy, of giving flight to our imaginations, of assuring us that we are not alone in our rich inner lives, and making us think deeply about our lives. It also comes as no surprise to me that some comics really appeal to gifted children, and to those who know and love them -- their parents and teachers.
As a gifted resource teacher, I owned a highly sought-after collection of all of the works of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comic series, and these books figuratively flew off of my shelves as my students read them and recommended them to other gifted kids. This did not surprise me, either, for Calvin is the ultimate gifted kid. My students instinctively knew this, and I did, too.
While browsing the works of one of my all-time favorite writers on topics related to gifted, Ian Byrdseed, email@example.com, I came across this delightful blog entitled Calvin: The Unexpected Gifted Kid, and thought to myself, “He nailed it. Ian Byrdseed nailed it. This is why I love Calvin and Hobbes, and this is why my students love Calvin and Hobbes.”
According to Byrdseed, here are some recurring themes in Watterson’s cartoons that illustrate Calvin’s innate gifted characteristics:
In addition to simply enjoying Calvin and Hobbes comics, I have often used them as bibliotherapy for students, and have shared them as examples of gifted behaviors when speaking to educators and parents about gifted kids. The unadulterated audacity of Calvin, and the abiding acceptance of his ever-empathetic sidekick Hobbes, are the perfect way to elicit deep conversations about what it means to be a gifted individual, and to support gifted individuals.
If you’ve never thought about using bibliotherapy as a tool, I’d highly recommend that you think about Calvin and Hobbes comics as a starting place with kids, educators, and parents. I believe that you will be genuinely delighted with the results.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for this foray into using other perspectives to helping us understand giftedness.
Past President, WATG
Check out the title of this article. Is this just my experience, or is it yours, too? Have you discovered that gifted kids (at least many of them) hate to write? While most of them can and will easily talk for hours (or days) about topics of interest to them, ask them to write, and it’s as though brain-freeze, pencil-avoidance, keyboard-trauma, or just plain stubbornness sets in.
I have often wondered about this dread of writing, and what we can do about it to help our gifted kids. Of the many things I have tried over the years, I seem to have overlooked the obvious -- and that is to make writing more interesting AND MORE challenging (because many gifted kids thrive on challenge). This may sound counterintuitive, but it is worth a try.
The idea came from an article in NYMetroparents entitled Why Do So Many Gifted and Talented Children Hate to Write? In this article by Tobi J. Phillips, Headmaster and Founder of Village East Gifted, suggests that talking about a subject of great interest is relatively easy for gifted kids. They are vast storehouses of knowledge, and when talking, they don’t have to worry about conventions (grammar and spelling), word choice, flow of ideas, transitions, etc. -- all of the things that make good writing beautiful and perfect. Coincidentally, perfection is exactly what cripples many of our gifted kids when they write. If, instead, they were encouraged to write using a creative format, a challenge, if you will, they may focus on the challenge, and the writing will flow. Their natural knowledge of the subject will shine through, and their writing will also begin to look like more mature writing, worthy of the great ideas already in their mind.
Specifically, here is what Phillips suggests:
Give your child/ren a white board with red, blue and green markers (no paper allowed). Next, have children choose an exotic setting, an interesting character or characters, and some things that must be included in the story (example, a parrot, skis, an old shoe). Explain that the story must have a beginning, middle and end.Then apply these rules:
Sentence #2: six words
Sentence #3: seven words
Sentence #4: eight words
Sentence #5: nine words
Sentence #6: ten words
Sentence #7: ten words
9. The entire story must be told by the last word of the last sentence.
After your child has finished the challenge, celebrate and take a picture of your child -- you have taken a first step toward more complex writing. Hopefully, you are both smiling.
A couple of additional tips might be to have a Thesaurus and Dictionary app handy, a word bank of descriptive words (I call them 50 cent and dollar words), and some small treats. Writing well takes energy!
As always, I hope this foray into ideas that may help develop the talents of gifted and talented students helps you in your parenting or teaching.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Past President, WATG
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think