Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, temporary ceramic poppies installation at the Tower of London, Armistice Day 2015.
Photo by Andy Rain.
In English idiom popular in the United Kingdom and Australia, the tall poppies are the people who receive criticism as a result of accomplishments that put them above their peers. In contrast to the "crab mentality," where peers try to pull down those who rise up, the "tallest poppies" are often cut down by older observers or those in positions of authority in order to ensure the flowerbed stays at a uniform height.
Intellectually gifted children are often "tall poppies" who are regularly "cut down to size" so they won’t continue to stand out among their family or classmates. A gifted child might experience the feedback from older siblings, extended family members, coaches, and even teachers to take care and "don't look too good, or talk too wise."
It is curious that older observers and authority figures don’t see all gifts in the same way. We don’t seem to have the same reaction about the gifted youth athlete, musician, dancer, or artist. However, some adults seem to fear that intellectually and academically gifted children might become arrogant and self-absorbed if they are celebrated. Instead of praise, they are often gently (or not so gently) teased with labels--“the little professor," “nerd,” “brainiac,”--or given guidance to hold back on their efforts: “How about giving someone else a chance to shine?”
"Tall Poppy Syndrome," Hopscotch Dance, 2014, Choreographer Kat Walker
Intellectual challenge and rigorous, thoughtful responses coming from a youth may trigger a negative reaction from older brothers and sisters, parents, extended family, and other members of the community. Science writer Arthur C. Clarke observed, "the old are often so very jealous of the young," when the topic at hand is one of knowledge and intellect. A younger pair of eyes and set of hands can surprise our senses with rich art; flexible, stronger bodies are capable of great athletic feats and breathtaking dance performances; precise control and timing create beautiful music from a youth soloist. However, when knowledge, thought, and judgment are at stake, we counsel students, "have some respect for your elders."
Tall poppies deserve to understand why their accomplishments are not always celebrated, and they deserve to be nurtured so that they stand proudly. When you look at the world around us and the challenges we face, it is clear that our global society cannot afford to lose its tall poppies.
--Art by Barbara Harms, fabric quilt sculpture, 2013.
Almost everyone has experienced the sense of being so engrossed in what they’re working on that they lose sense of time? It doesn’t feel like work: it’s work and play at the same time.
Throughout the 1990s, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi became famous for his research on these moments of optimal experience, a state that he called “flow.”
So when are students and adults most engaged, approaching a flowlike state?
As students work each week to respond to the challenges of research and planning a presentation about a science or social studies topic, how we look at our skills, knowledge, and effort impacts our progress. Class discussions about the projects include observations of our own thinking or metacognition about the challenges of the content or subject matter, critical thinking, and creation.
A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static qualities which we can’t change in any meaningful way. For a fixed mindset, success is the validation of that unchanging intelligence, an assessment of how fixed qualities measure up against an equally fixed standard. Avoiding failure at all costs becomes a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
A “growth mindset” thrives on challenge and sees setbacks or missing the mark not as evidence of lack of intelligence but as a springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. In this fluid, changing worldview, failure is about not growing or not reaching out for the things we value. For a growth mindset, every new situation allows us to keep pushing into unfamiliar, uncharted territory to make sure we’re always learning.
Our classroom Mindsets discussion materials and activities are based on the work of developmental psychologist Dr. Carol S. Dweck of Stanford University. For more information, please visit http://mindsetonline.com/.
We will use Thrively for research and student self-paced activities:
Login: student number (8 digits, no @richland2.org)
Welcome Passcode: ybltt1
You will be able to set your own password.
Be thoughtful about what you will use for your password.
Enjoy the new possibilities of Thrively!
Several students have had difficulty when they encounter a video in the Thrively Survey. This is the video--
Meets the Robinsons, Disney, 2007.
Lewis makes a peanut butter and jelly spreader that does not work as he expected.
Brian Morris, "These Small Hours," Meet the Robinsons, 2007.
Classroom journals and student-created websites are a place to play with ideas by recording and reflecting on . . .