I have been part of a network for parents of gifted children for several years and have been able to share the experiences of other families through the network. Here are quotes from what some of the highly intelligent children said about schooling:
“It’s like sitting and waiting on the bus all day and it never comes.”
“I have read and understood the papers our teacher delivers already before she distributed it to everyone. Then I have to wait and wait until everyone else has understood. It can sometimes take the whole lesson. So I work actively for 30 seconds and then sit bored for 39 min and 30 seconds.”
“All the years I’ve just been listening to things I already can. Imagine if I had learned something instead. Then I would have known a lot now.”
I recognize what the children expresses. To me it took many years before I realized that my high intelligence had to do with the matter. For a long time I was only convinced that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. Because I understood that the others worked differently. It felt a bit like being surrounded by turtles.
Easy to like but slow. A little indolent. Satisfied with the explanations they received and did not seem to want to know more. Like they were not particularly curious. And I rarely understood what was difficult with what they said was difficult. However, I understood that they were as one would be. They were turtles. I was more a bouncing duck.
How can we work so differently?
How can that, what is the right work pace for many, be a single long wait to others? The short answer is that it depends on our brains. Depending on how our brains work, we need information in different amount and speed.
In order to understand what is happening around us, the brain needs information from the environment. It also needs information on what is going on in different parts of our body. The gathering of information is done by means of the different senses. The perception of the outside world is based on differences. Differences we get through our senses. A t-shirt does not feel the same as a flannel shirt against the skin. The cat’s spinning is different from the refrigerator’s low buzz. Chocolate with 72% cocoa flavor tastes different to one with 80% cocoa. Even small differences are perceived.
Is there no difference to perceive, there is nothing for the brain to process. Is there no new impression to sense, is everything status quo, our advanced communication system can not work. Place a person in a completely white room, without sound and without anything that differs from the white one, and it won’t be long before her brain gets big problems. Things that one can usually do automatically, distance assessment, color perception and reading ability can stop working. Please check out the movie clip I linked below. It is a well-known experiment about what happens when the brain is deprived of all stimulus.
When the brain lacks stimulus
For me it was like that, for a great part of school time. I found nothing new to process.
- Imagine watching concentrated on a dot on the wall
- Look so concentrated that everything around gets blurred
- Finally, the dot you focused on gets blurred too.
- Focusing on nothing becomes blurred
As in the lessons. It was almost possible to hear how the brain shut down. It would rattle and buzz for a while. Then it became completely quiet. The buzzing from the electrical signals in the brain had ended and I entered a state of emptiness. In one way, it was nice when the brain was extinguished. The perception of time ceased and the school became bearable. The downside was that it took several hours to wake up after the school day. A little like getting started a projector. You press the start button, but it takes time for the lamp to warm up before it starts to shine.
Closing the brain is no healthy way to deal with the situation. Instead, some gifted children choose to create the stimulus the brain need by themselves. Daydreaming can work to a certain limit. Start a quarrel, with classmates or teachers can be another way to get something to happen. It is healthier because the brain gets impressions to process, but in the long run it isn’t very constructive either.
What happens to you when you suffer from too little stimulation? Is it primarily in school it has happened or does it happen in other contexts as well?
Links about what happens when man is deprived of stimulus
More to read:
Marylou Kelly Streznewski ”Gifted grownups, the mixed blessing of extraordinary potential” Chapter 2, pp. 25 – 34 provides good and more in-depth information on how the high-intelligent brain works