Personality Guides Diversity

PERSONALITY GUIDES DIVERSITY

Currently type related articles, internet posts, Chapter groups and type practitioners are asking the following question “Is there a correlation between certain types and a cognitive processing issue or a learning disability ?” For example it is often asked if ESTP’s may be diagnosed more often with ADHD than other types or if INTP’s are more likely to be diagnosed or more importantly misdiagnosed with Aspergers or the often misunderstood NVLD ( non verbal learning disability), more than other types.

Often individuals juggle their learning, memory or processing concerns while their natural type preferences can sometimes mask, sometimes exacerbate or even help overcome a diverse cognitive learning concern. At times our individual typology may bring characteristics that mirror cognitive risk characteristics thus compounding the diagnostic process and often leading to misdiagnosis. We might see that the exuberance of an extrovert has often been misinterpreted as hyperactivity and the complexity of an extreme introvert (I) coupled with a consuming passion for studying nothing but tree frogs could lead an unsuspecting practitioner to begin a discussion about Asperger’s Syndrome or NVLD.

Conversely type preferences can offer a foil to the factors that make the exceptional need a challenge. For example the diligence and organizational skills of an ISTJ could dramatically assist when attention concerns are in evidence. A young type practitioner explains “ I have strong rooted rules to help govern and self-manage my ADHD that disguise it to the point I am ADD… there are signs that make me look like an N or a P but they are not my comfort nor preference. I need order, organization, pattern, structure in my life, being a creature of routine is my preference..” The ISTJ gifts can temper the severity of the attention concern resulting in assistance being withheld even confusing an unsuspecting practitioner to downplay the severity of this individuals attention struggles. The diligence and organizational skills of the ISTJ dramatically assists attention concerns however the factors still exist and are no less troublesome for individual living with the diagnosis. Frustration may in fact be more significant as the outside world asks how this individual can in fact suffer from some complications from attention issues.

When we observe type in combination with many other cognitive risk factors we immediately notice type may at times temper, modify or even alleviate some of the at risk factors managing to diminish some of the more debilitating aspects of those diverse learning characteristics “Introversion and an avid, consuming interest in activities, such as mathematics and computers, for example, could prompt an uninformed clinician to misdiagnose a gifted child or adult as having Asperger’s Disorder. Both have an inward focus, but a child who is merely an introvert will be aware of, and capable of, changing his focus. (Webb pg 101) With beginning readers we know that often Sensing types (S) get behind in school almost instantly because of their natural tendency to be accurate, tackling one word at a time never skimming, often not using context clues or phrasing techniques. Intuitive (N) types get ahead instantly because of their ability to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of getting on with reading. N is associated with comprehension, inferred meaning and abstract concepts rather than the S’s practical, seeing all the facts, never missing a detail approach to reading. When learning to read little S’s remain on word one or two of the story, waiting for the teacher to help with word three, while N’s have read only half the words but understand the story is about a dog, instantly moving to depth of understanding. Without an understanding of typology an unsuspecting educator or parent might misinterpret the S’s need for accuracy as inability to learn to read fluently. These characteristics stay with learners through school and post- secondary classes especially when writing exams. When addressing test taking skills or exam preparation with pre-college or college students this an excellent place to begin a discussion when helping them cope with the complexity of examinations. It is essential to understand how each type and any one of a multitude of cognitive diverse learning characteristics influence each other.

Each type has mirrored or was overpowered by an exceptional processing characteristic at one time or another. Many, many individuals with EP or N in their preferences have been known to mistakenly ask if they might have memory processing difficulties and most individuals with ADD or ADHD will ask for memory assistance or that medication that assists memory. The stereo type of the gifted athlete who would never be accused of being a good student could easily have its roots in the combination of a visual speed processing difficulty combined with a number of divergent personality characteristics that could cause no end of trouble.

It is important to study the interplay of any number of a multitude of learning issues ie. ( ADD/ADHD, Aspergers, NVLD, Visual, Auditory or Motor Learning Disabilities, Visual & Auditory Speed issues etc. etc. etc) with individual TYPE preferences. As in the area of IQ testing ( as only one example of many), we as educators need not be proud of the gains made to change school systems. Often educators and especially our educational institutions have not kept pace with the changing minds of our students. When we consider the issue of changing brains we must acknowledge that not only will students display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, an inability to regulate emotional life and a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed to support efficient learning strategies.In an attempt to minimize conformity in educational systems and maximize the use of individual differences, it is essential to understand which unique individual differences or which diverse characteristic it is most important to give deference to. In the search to honor both the individual and the structure of an organization like a school system, we are faced with the problem of accurately predicting and understanding what individuals, within the larger organization need, want or absolutely require .

Whether students have learning concerns or exhibit debilitating learning differences that cause some disruption in the learning process it is wise to seek a professional assessment from a qualified learning specialist, psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in learning concerns in the area in which you live!!!! There are often WARNING SIGNS for parents, teachers or family members to be aware of prior to seeking assistance with the diagnosis of a learning concern.These initial signs on their own seem insignificant but once a formal diagnosis is made a cluster of these observable traits may pinpoint the areas a trained diagnostician will begin.

General Observable Traits
(several characteristics might indicate further study,concern or a suggestion to seek professional expertise/opinion or an official diagnosis)

*difficulty with ideas or concepts easily mastered by most young people of the same general age or grade ( similar age, grade, school expectations abbr.AGSE)
*constantly claiming tasks are boring or consistently making what adults characterize as silly mistakes
*homework is a struggle and much more time consuming than is expected by teachers or parents or in comparison to AGSE
*may re-read materials over and over and over again
*will spend hours and hours on a 10 minute homework assignment
*reading for long periods of time seems utterly exhausting
*multiple or even 2 step directions can cause confusion
*would rather be reprimanded or even suspended from school rather than read in front of others
*will not read out loud even in the safe environment ( at home or with a tutor)
*is very articulate but will write in a much simpler style than they speak
*writing or printing may be unusually slow and laboured and at times may mix both cursive writing and printing
*doesn’t find reading pleasurable
*may be unusually upset by very small insignificant changes in routine or regular activities
*may often be very emotional about going to school
*rarely volunteers to answer in class or in a group at team meetings or even fun activities where there are many peers or others watching
*may have difficulty keeping up with quick changes in directions in athletics, dance or organized games
*may have underdeveloped eye hand coordination with movements not appearing as fluid as similar AGSE
*may demonstrate very challenging behaviour when new ideas are suggested whether in a learning situation or even in leisure activities
*may have difficulty remembering passwords, phone numbers of friends or details given by others verbally
*may be irritated by loud noises compared to peers

*a discrepancy between achievement and a much greater potential
*irregular achievement with come very high and some very low skills

*the only thing consistent in the educational / learning path is inconsistency
*delayed language development (AGSE)
*delayed or compromised long or short-term memory skills (AGSE
*awkward physicality, may stumble, trip, slow to respond or repeatedly dropping things
*is not enjoying school attendance constantly wishes to escape the formal learning situations
*may give up much more easily than peers of the same age at games, in learning situations or the acquisition of basic skills
* low frustration level when learning is not going smoothly— temper may flare easily
*shows frustration when putting ideas or feelings into words
very intelligent but progress is much slower than potential indicates
intelligent but far behind peers ( AGSE)
*may become very discouraged by seemingly insignificant adult direction or redirection
*unable to complete activities ( in school or play) or assignments within the given time frame
* may show extreme talent in one area and total disinterest in many other areas
*young children may have had chronic ear infections
*young children may have had difficulty or an inability to coordinate both sides of the body
*older students into adulthood may still have mispronunciation problems,basic skills difficulties in reading, calculating, copying, illegible handwriting, spelling and may still hold a pen or pencil very tightly
*older students may still have directional issues
* older students although very intelligent may still have trouble remembering peoples names or continue having rote memory issues well into adulthood
*older students although very intelligent may read much more slowly or acquire new learning much more slowly than their potential would predict

Of the thousands and thousands of students I have worked who have had “Learning Differences” ( Healy) for over 30+ years I don’t think that any one type correlates to the ethical and legitimate diagnosis of any learning disability, disorder, attention concern ( ADD or ADHD) or language based difficulty including Dyslexia, Dyscalculia or Dysgraphia. I do agree that traditional schools/classrooms are the antithesis of an optimum learning environment for most exceptional needs ie. perceptual speed issues, visual/ auditory memory concerns, the autistic spectrum, ADD or ADHD to name only a few. I am also dreadfully concerned about the misdiagnosis of exceptional needs ADD/ADHD being only one of many, however, I do truly believe that there does exist dramatically increasing numbers of properly diagnosed exceptional needs cases. From very solid researchers in many areas ( ie brain researchers, neuroscientists, DR’s who specialize in the area) there are some very compelling reasons given for the increase in the number of diagnosed exceptional needs cases ( especially ADHD, ADD) but there is a need to consider some essential cautions also.

Some of their reasons for an increase in all exceptional needs diagnosis are:

  • better diagnostic information/ greater depth of understanding
  • there is a strong societal expectations that students now should at the very least finish at the very least high school, if not college, to get any type of job but 50 or 60 years ago many of those same individuals would have left school much earlier to become extremely successful in careers that used their skills more effectively. Higher education and teaching style has not kept pace with a much more diverse population staying in school much longer that in previous generations.
  • over the past few decades ( brain researchers tell us) children’s minds have changed dramatically because of our fast paced,plugged in society,recreational drug use, toxins in our air, food additives, “hurry sickness” (Researcher Glick)
  • Three excellent researchers that offer a very comprehensive look at this area are ” JANE HEALY in her book ENDANGERED MINDS” and more importantly “DIFFERENT LEARNERS: Identifying, Preventing and Treating Your Child’s Learning Problems” provided a warning years ago that we now see coming true at how children’s minds are changing and why.Edward Hallowell and John Ratey have also researched extensively on ADD/ADHD. They have a theory that 5% of the population may actually have ADD/ADHD but they have coined the phrase PSEUDO ADD and they think because of environmental factors that 50 % of the population legitimately exhibits ADD/ADHD symptoms.
  • the other areas that may affect the ability to sustain attention has been with us now for a long time and that is too much TV not even mentioning computers, cell phones etc. etc. etc.
  • Stress also can dramatically affect the ability to sustain attention (Executive Functioning) and our world has become dramatically more complex and stressful thus causing interactions between stress, type and learning concerns…

“IS THE TRAIT A CHARACTERISTIC OF A PATHOLOGY OR AN ADAPTIVE STATE NATURAL TO THE INDIVIDUAL’S PERSONALITY TYPE?” and HOW DOES EACH TYPE INTERACT WITH A MULTITUDE OF DIFFERENT LEARNING ISSUES?

Please also read the article “HURRY SICKNESS” if you would like a little more background.

Temperament

Temperament

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People are the school’s greatest resource. They are something that, if treated properly, budget cuts can’t destroy and change in policy can’t defeat. The maximum utilization of the individual differences of people within a school organization is a worthy goal for all its inhabitants and one which is easy to believe in, but more difficult to implement. Honouring the expertise and strengths of the individual, within the organization, would tap an often overlooked and sometimes unused natural resource, whether the individual strengths be those of an administrator, teacher, parent or student. “Education is a people business. Perhaps every issue that we deal with in schools is basically a human relations situation. The effectiveness of curriculum, instruction, discipline, management, community relationships and the degree of academic achievement can often be traced to the ability of people to identify common purposes and work productively together. where we find open communication, high morale, positive climate, commitment of community and parents and enthusiastic caring professionals we find excellence in learning and teaching.” (Guild and Granger p5)
Our personalities / temperament profoundly govern choices made within the structure of our lives and then of course within the school system. Having an accurate understanding of a person’s temperament gives the onlooker ways to recognize the strengths or blind spots that a certain type of learning, teaching or supervisory style might have. Often we are talking to another individual but are we really communicating? Are we speaking the same language? Our own style often limits our view and blinds our full understanding of another’s style. The balancing act becomes extremely delicate when attempting to honour the diverse need of individuals within the complex structure of a school system. The study of temperament offers a deeper look into our ability to anticipate what motivates individuals. We see that a scientifically developed style instrument does effectively predict preferences choices, communication styles or educational belief systems. It also gives us insight into organizational or philosophical preferences and various processing styles. “Style (temperament) is at the core of what it means to be a person. It is an old concept that has been explored for centuries, but recently infused with new energy and direction. It is essential to any educators philosophy. It touches on classroom practice, administration and curriculum development. It relates to staff development and to students study habits. Perhaps more importantly it calls upon educators to recognize actively that people are different, and these differences inevitably surface when people learn, teach, supervise and develop programs.” (Guild & Garger pVIII-IX)

The application of temperament theory in an educational institution can be effectively applied in staff relationships where collegiality needs to be encouraged or where the teaching/learning relationships must be improved or where conflicting educational philosophies exist. The use of a style instrument assists in opening lines of communication. The information gained can aid in helping to prepare any group for changes that must be made. There are definite temperament differences that are not always obvious through observation alone, and understanding these differences can aid people of different types to built bridges between themselves and others, between individuals and representatives of an organizational system. “Those who are sensitive to others preferences in a way have privileged information. this privileged information cannot be faked and must be treated with respect and courtesy. If you know what internal processes someone is using you can tail or your words to fit his or her representational system.” (Laborde p59)

Given the premise that individuals display identifiable behavioral patterns, a style instrument like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) becomes a valuable tool in helping people predict strengths, needs, concerns or potential problem areas in any human relations situations. Research sets up a framework that recommends that our behavior is shaped or at least profoundly influenced by our natural style characteristics, and that the natural progression of development in situations would be to diagnose, understand, relate and finally, generalize to situation with the school system.The brain researchers, now,are becoming aware that a persons temperament dramatically affects his/her approach and reaction to the surrounding world. They also are very aware that biology has a greater affect than they previously thought when considering an individuals reaction to events. Scientists are beginning to mention temperament in addition to other influences that have significant impact on the development of an individual. Dr. Herbert Melter of Case Western University Medical School in Cleveland suggests, “It’s quite possible that by the twenty-first century there will be a biology of temperament and character that can help us understand ourselves as a species”(Kotuluk p106)
“Put to the test, this traditional nursery rhyme (Monday’s Child is fair of face,Tuesday’s Child is full of grace, etc.) would be a poor predictor of a child’s personality or temperament. However, its underlying notion-that we are somehow born to be ‘full of woe’ or bonny, and blithe’ -turns out to have some basis in biology. Neuroscientists and psychologists are producing a growing body of evidence that one’s predisposition to view the glass as half full or half empty, or to be shy or outgoing, may have biological determinants…Research conducted during the course of more that two decades by DR. Jerome Kagan, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and the director of the MInd-Brain- Behavior Initiative at Harvard University, suggests that our individual brain chemistries bias us, even as infants, to react to the events of life with equanimity or fear. kagan and a number of other investigators have found striking correlations between, on the one hand, such physiological measurements as heart rate and brain activity and, on the other, observably timid or fearless behavior. These studies offer fascinating clues to the question of how we become who we are. But biology is not necessarily destiny, Kagan emphasizes. Parents, society, and we ourselves have a hand in shaping the way we react to what life throws our way.” (Conlan p29,30)

Temperament research suggests that, through the use of an individual style instrument, like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, we are given an accurate understanding of a person’s temperament thus we are able to make accurate predictions about motivation and choices to be made in relation to preferred ways of dealing within the structure of any situation. Whether adult or student, the suggestion from researchers is that, our most profound choices are governed by our personality/temperament. Although each individual with the structure is unique there exists a very complex framework by which predictions can be made. Style/temperament instruments provide a wealth of information about the complexity of the individual and the unique variations within patterns of temperament that clearly exist. These theories go on to explain how this information can be used to humanize organizations.

“The theory and data on type differences in education helps explain underachievement and overachievement. Type (temperament) theory permits an educated guess about the application and interest students will bring to their studies… Since the aim of education is for all types to achieve and complete their studies credibly, the importance of the data on type differences occur so that students can plan their learning and teachers their instruction to maximize the aptitude, interest and application of all…” (Myers & Mc Caulley, p96)

Although we acknowledge the concept of individual learning differences in theory we very often deny it in practice. (Lawrence, Provost, Briggs-Myer) Temperament theory not only helps predict ways of keeping the communication process open it also allows staff to anticipate and then create more effective learning situations for all students. Temperament/personality theory is especially useful in offering insight into fragile disconnected students and suggests strategies for supporting their development both academically and personally; however, it has also been suggested that fragile students might not have been so fragile if their learning preferences had been anticipated and honoured to begin with.

Our educational systems profess and even require through policy the acceptance of and recognition of individual differences but “drop outs, push outs and disruptions are symptoms of problems in our educational system and in our society.” (McCaulley & Natter p99) We cannot continue to lose large numbers of students whose difficulty in school is not that they are intellectually incapable but rather that their style/type/ temperament is in direct opposition to the structure and existing organization of the classes they find themselves in. Isabel Briggs Myers explains that her type instrument does not measure the ‘quantitative differences’ in students but rather it measures ‘qualitative differences’ in their preferences. Theorists stress that students definitely react very differently to formal education, to studying situations, to instructional methods and to the organizational structure of a school system. We as educators, cannot afford to ignore the wealth of potential, we might be wasting, in many of our young people.

Researchers have consistently suggested that “temperament is primary, and predisposes the person to certain ways of thinking, wanting, emoting and acting. Thus, each of the personality styles has its own way of learning, its own way of being motivated, its own way of relating to others and its own way of being satisfied.” (Golay p25) As schools assess their understanding of students brains, hearts and temperament we will be better able to aid individuals to cope with the organizational structure of educational institutions whether those individuals be administrator, teachers, support staff, students or parents.

The following visual shows the types of individuals a style instrument like the MBTI indicates and how they are interacting in a regular classroom setting. This type of information  is significant in that it strongly suggests we are able to predict accurately that certain temperament types do make very significant choices is an educational setting. They choose drama or music or science or they choose to drop out of school or get help before they hit the wall.

When doing some graduate work many years ago (1988-91) I set out to study some of the most notable predictions MBTI researchers were making at the time, relating to temperament and the learning process. Over a 20 year period the theory proved itself when looking at staff profiles, student and parent profiles.

The most notable predictions based on the learning process seem to often revolve around the S – N scale, the J-P scale IN – ES differences and SJ, SP, NF, NT temperaments. It has been suggested (Briggs-Myers , Chillenden, Bussis, Amarel, Courtney , Hammer, McCaulley & Natter ) that Sensing types (S) get behind in school almost instantly because of their natural tendency to be accurate, tackling one word at a time never skimming, often not using context clues or phrasing techniques. Intuitive (N) types get ahead instantly because of their ability to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of getting on with reading. N is associated with comprehension, inferred meaning and abstract concepts rather than the S’s practical, seeing all the facts, never missing a detail approach to reading. Little S’s remain on word one or two of the story, waiting for the teacher to help with word three, while N’s have read only half the words but understand the story is about a dog. The researchers suggestion was that S’s often stay behind in school for the remainder of their lives and N’s progress much more quickly because of a predisposition for symbolic/abstract learning.

The other prediction that researchers suggested be explored was the relationship between J and P. As you can see from the charts( see Statistics section). J’s rarely ever leave school and P’s leave on mass. This trend is extensively studied in the PLP section of this manual. Another very interesting type related speculation suggests that schools are in fact biased to IN types and that the bias must be corrected through instruction. “Recognizing that biases are largely unconscious and unintended it must be pointed out, however, that intellectual success is usually determined by IN types. The writers of textbooks, standardized tests and intellectual tests are mostly IN’s and their standards seem to be held sacred even by the opposite but most commonly found teacher types ESFJ. There are other ways of assessing intelligence, for promoting learning and growth, and for recognizing the abilities of EN and other types. It is time to stop neglecting the learning style and developmental needs of the majority of the students.” (Hoffman, Betkowski 22) Given that IN’s control much of the structure of the learning in schools, administered by SJ’s, the above Hoffman Betkowski view is quite frightening given the prediction of Keirsey and Bates who have suggest that IN’s comprise only a small percentage of the general population.

One other rather frightening prediction that comes out of the research on temperament and type (Brownsword Golay , Keirsey & Bates ) is the suggestion that of four temperament styles SJ, SP, NF, NT one group will leave school more often than other types. All three theorists predict that SP’s will leave school more often than other types. This I have confirmed in the studies I have done over the years. SJ’s predominate in the teaching profession, SP’s leave more readily than other temperament groups and NF’s are at risk most often but they ask for help and access any alternate program that is offered. Please the attached statistical views  in the STATISTICS SECTION referring to many of the above predictions.

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#1 The above visual represents  a classroom of 35 students each with very different characteristics.This classroom grid further describes the visual to follow.

#2 Please notice that in a class of 35 students the interests your students have is quite mind numbing. The top left corner group SJ’s want to follow all your rules. They will be on time and arrive with flowers and good wishes. The bottom left group are also SJ’s but a more out going variety. They need their friends but they too will arrive to class on time and be ready to work. The center left are the SP’s . They really need their freedom and even at this age they are beginning to feel restless within the structure of school. They will amuse,charm and entertain you or fix anything in the room that is broken. Keep them busy and they will be so pleased. They have difficulty seeing the practical reason why they should in school. The top right quadrant are the IN’s they love school and intellectual pursuits however they are very private and would much prefer to be reading or doing a solitary task. The middle left group love to act, create invent or discover and the bottom left group will lead your group even if no one wants to follow. They are so sure of the vision they rarely look back to see if anyone is following, however, they always have a crowd to play to and their self esteem rarely is ruffled.

Also look very carefully at the J and P scale.This scale holds and enormous clue to why students leave school. The FP combination also is significant. See the statistics section to observe real choices of real students.

Addtional Research Suggests:

Several researchers have, in fact, measured differences in a baby’s frontal lobe, depending on temperament, emotional response, and even his or her mother’s mood…All of these new findings on babies’ temperaments help us better understand how a child’s brain develops and how we can enrich this growth and increase ability. this is because the parts of the brain that process emotion grow and mature relatively early in a child and are very sensitive to parental feedback and handling. (Diamond & Hopson p123,124)

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“Students of the brain know a great deal about the roles of …brain regions, and know a substantial amount, as well, about how these emotional structures and circuits unfold as the infant grows…They know that the reticula system ( a set of nerve tracks in the brain stem) is fairly mature at birth, since the baby’s brain stem is itself already fully functioning to regulate the newborn’s heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and calmness or anxiety” (Diamond & Hopson125)

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“Most neuroscientists now argue that the biological organ inside our skulls is both source and repository of our elusive identity and of all aspects of cognition and emotion. The balance of chemicals in our individual brains may predispose us to react to life’s ups and downs with a characteristic tranquillity or agitation. disturbances of that chemical balance can trigger mood disorders and mental illness. And burgeoning research into the connection between the brain and the body is reinforcing the idea that the influence flows in both directions-that is, our attitudes and emotions, once regarded as purely a function of ‘mind’ can affect the health of the body, and vice versa…Your particular array of genes we were born with may make us susceptive to manic-depressive illness or alcoholism, for example, but an environmental trigger, or ‘second hit,’ must activate the genes in question in order to make us ill or alcoholic. So although we may not be able to modify our genetic inheritance, Hyman reminds us that the brain is phenomenally responsive to experience. If the brain can learn addition, for example, it can also be taught to unlearn it.”(Conlan ed p3,4)

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“…any predisposition conferred by our genetic endowment is far from being a life sentence;there is no inevitable adult outcome of a particular infant temperament. As neruoscientists are discovering, the brain is a remarkably adaptable and malleable organ, especially early in life. Even though research suggests that inherited neurochemistries, whatever they may turn out to be, bias young children to react in particular ways- running away from strange people and strange circumstances or embracing the new with enthusiasm- the child’s interactions with family, teachers, and peers can shape that predisposition significantly. where some event happens will-nilly, on purpose, or by accident, we learn and change in response to these interactions, to experiences of caring or abuse, even to the experience of, say, a severe childhood illness. By the time a child is only two years of age, his or her temperament is already part of a tapestry who’s biological and environmental threads are so tightly woven as to be impossible to tease apart.” (Conlan Ed p32)

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“…despite an initial temperamental bias, each child’s environment has an important influence on his or her developing profile…if subjected to trauma or abuse, or even less dramatic environmental stress, can lose their released style. but it was rare for them to become consistently inhibited…” (Conlan ED p41)

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“Underscoring the give-and-take of genes and environment is the fact that it is very difficult to change one’s inherited temperamental predisposition completely. Even though children with high-reactive temperaments can learn to overcome their fears, to the point whereby appear to be as confident and outgoing as most other children, it is extremely rare for a high-reactive child to show, over the years, the vitality, fearlessness, and emotional spontaneity that is characteristic of most low-reactive children. (Conlan Ed p 41)

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“research on the relationship between the biological underpinnings of temperament and the environmental influence of parents and society holds several implications for the developing behavior of the growing child. Depending on environmental circumstances and events, innate temperamental inclinations can have both adaptive and maladaptive outcomes. (Conlan EDp48,9)

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“Given that stress is very much an individual matter-what’s stressful for one person isn’t necessarily stressful for another person-what are the factors that determine vulnerability, distress, and allostatic load? Genetic predisposition and early trauma can contribute to a lifelong pattern of emotional responsiveness-that is, a tendency to be hypersensitive to mildly stressful events, or even to events that wouldn’t even register on most other people’s stress meter. Conversely, some people seem to thrive on stressful conditions. (Conlan Ed p99)

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“Just as studies show stress tends to blunt the body’s immune responses, making us more susceptive to infection and disease, research also shows that a supportive social environment or group therapy, by reducing stress hormone levels, can enhance immune response, including resistance to such diseases as cancer…Recognizing out individual styles of handling stress-whether we’re prone to just feel anxious, for example, or talk to a friend, or head out the door for a run-can help us modify our stress responses if necessary, and can help maintain optimal activity of the immune system and a balance of health. (Conlan Ed p121)
xxxNotes from before Mike Merzenich of the University of California, San Francisco experiment and made a significant finding notes pg174xxx “All of us- even identical twins that share the same genes-are brought up in uniquely different social environments. We interact with different people, have different experiences in the world. As we learn from each of these experiences, the genetic switches in our brain cells are turned on or off, producing structural changes that make each of our brains unique. (Conlan Ed p 176)

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****whether or not the temperament of the care giver is outgoing or reflective it is essential to be aware of the stages of child development and deal with the need of the child at any given level xxx “The traits of the care giver are often thought to be positives or negative in their own right, but in our developmental model their influence depends on the particular stage the child has reached. A child needs one sort of nurturing in the first stage, when she is learning to achieve calm attention, and quite another as she moves toward complex gestural communication or symbolism. an interactive style that teaches attention or encourages falling in love may fail to teach a capacity to think or imagine, and vice versa…Each developmental stage influences the outcome of the interactions between nature and nurture. The child’s mastery of the task at each stage depends on how well her human and physical surroundings mesh with her own physical characteristics. the nature of her needs are also affected by how well her development went at earlier stages. Neither nature nor nurture, therefore, is a fixed entity.” (Greenspan p137,8)

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“Whether children’s temperaments are innate has inspired a great deal of research over the years…Many researchers argue that a person’s basic temperament or approach to the world remains strikingly consistent through the life span… the work on temperament by the pioneers Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas and their followers has helped both families and child development experts appreciate that no method of care giving, discipline, or education suits all or even most children.” (Green span p138)

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“Children also differ in how they comprehend their world. One might have a tin ear that confuses sounds but an architect’s eye for figuring out how things relate to each other spatially. Another could be just the opposite, an acute and perceptive listener who tends to find spatial relationships bewildering. some children have low muscle tone, so that even holding up their heads or turning to look in one or another direction requires extraordinary energy…these physiological patterns appear to be influenced by heredity as well as by factors in the prenatal environment…” (Greenspan p140)

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“The analogy of a lock and key helps us to understand the relationship between nature and nurture. A baby’s characteristic strengths and weaknesses are like a lock that will open only if fitted with the right key. A number of keys will work, but an even larger number wouldn’t. to help the infant progress through the stages of development, the care giver must find keys- that is to say, patterns of interaction and response-that will help the child use her biological gifts to master the tasks of the stage she has reached. Every child, of course, complicates the challenges of parenthood by periodically changing the tumblers in the lock each time she reaches anew developmental stage. whether and when her parents can repeatedly find the keys that will release her potential vastly influences the child’s emerging personality…psychological traits in themselves do not necessarily limit or define a child’s potential. Moreover, the more compromised a child’s endowment, short of massive and incapacitating damage, the more powerful and decisive the influence of the nurturing he receives. A child who is physiologically well equipped to master a given developmental task will probably succeed at it despite mediocre nurturing, whereas one with fragile abilities may not attain mastery unless his surroundings provide exactly the help he needs…with care giving geared to their individual differences, many youngsters born with even serious weakness can and do achieve healthy mental development.” (Greenspan p143)

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“…people habitually differ in how they modulate their stress-responses with psychological variables. Your style, your temperament, your personality have much to do with whether you regularly perceive opportunities for control or safety signals when they are there, whether you consistently interpret ambiguous circumstances as implying good news or bad, whether you typically seek out and take advantage of social support. Some folks are good at modulating stress in these ways, and others are terrible.” (Sapolsky p262)

SEE ALSO:  Personality Preferences  or  TV, Movie and Fictional Character Preferences

Originally Published Bulletin of Psychological Type Vol.37.4 Jan 7/2015

 

Wired but Searching to Connect

Today I went to lunch with a friend. The restaurant hostess may never recover from the trauma of our technological blunder, as we did not have our cell phones to be paged when a table became free. She hardly knew how to respond. As we enjoyed our lunch there were four women beside us all texting and e-mailing intermingled with a few selfies which included photos of what they were clearly not eating. They did not interact with each other very much as they seemed mesmerized by their phones. On the other side of us was a young father reading his extensive number of e-mail messages, texting and he even managed two phone calls. His young son was pelting his little sister with rolled up pieces of pizza and kicking her under the table, unbeknownst to Dad, who was engaged with his phone. Ironically, it seems, the more we are connected the more disconnected we seem to become.

Connectedness

It is impossible to articulate all the positives that technology has given to us over the past 60+ years. We are able to carry all our music, photos, video of loved ones or messages from our friends in the palm of our hands. Technology via medical and scientific research has saved countless lives and made astounding discoveries. .“E-mail, for example, has revived the almost lost art of letter writing… On-line services and the Internet permit people to meet others who share their interests, regardless of location…” (Greenspan 176) We see dictators shutting down web access and global social media sites in an effort to control their populations and keep the eyes of the world from observing nefarious human rights violations, the moment they happen. Technology has given journalists the tools that allow us to instantaneously witness any joyful or tragic event from anywhere on the globe and beyond. This connectedness to any and all parts of the world is both comforting and yet addictive as we shop, interact, friend thousands all over the world, pay our bills while at the theater and try valiantly to keep up with constant technological upgrades.

Technology has hurled us into the 21st century but we are moving at a pace that is causing concern and stress related side effects, with no age barrier. Our homes are not always the refuge or resting places we expect them to be. Home is often more like a pit stop on the race- way called the information super highway. New and more efficient technology and ‘time saving devices’ have done little to aid with the rush and frenzy of our lives. We do not really need to read Gleick’s book to understand his concept of ‘hurry sickness’. We are always connected !!!

ALWAYS CONNECTED YET DISCONNECTED

Theorists have articulated one of the side effects of our 24 hour a day connectedness as being increased disconnectedness. “People increasingly lack face-to face interaction at their jobs. The opportunity for the emotional growth afforded by genuine human interchange is much reduced….. technology is increasingly being used in ways that reduce personal contacts in the interest of efficiency or cost cutting. Automatic teller machines replace familiar faces; ‘voice mail’…. Ordering goods by phone, fax, or e-mail cuts down on trips to the store and impromptu encounters that nurture relationships with neighbors. Faxes and e-mail are even substituted for chats with the person at the next desk. Entertainment delivered by television, electronic ‘home theaters,’ and personal computers means fewer ventures out into public places crowded with others. In thousands of small way, people’s opportunities to spend time interacting individually with those who know them well are evaporating…we will see that nations as well as individuals can coexist only in a world where people know each other well and understand one another’s particular needs, motives, and intentions. Lack of such understanding brings needless peril.” (Greenspan p 176)

Edward Hallewell expresses similar concerns. He states “There are two main reasons why our world is ‘ADD-ogenic.’ First is the electronic communications network that envelops all of us. … all these technical wonders have so connected us that we are constantly reachable. This means we are constantly expected to reach back….The second factor that contributes to creating pseudo-ADD in modern life is the reverse of the first. As hyperconnected as we are electronically, we are disconnected socially…..We therefore see two powerful factors, electronic connectedness on the one hand and social disconnectedness on the other, combining to create a modern landscape that induces the symptoms of ADD. While only 5 percent of the population has true ADD, I’d guess about 50 percent has pseudo- ADD.” (Hallowell WYWACYL p 102,103)

The significance for those who study type is profound. The use of a style instrument assists in opening lines of communication so much needed in today’s more connected but disconnected world.

MINDS ARE CHANGING

Not only in our jobs or recreational hours changed significantly but much more importantly the lives of our children have been dramatically altered by our new fast paced,multi-tasking, quick reflexed spectacularly vivid technological world. Many theorists have been warning us for decades that the world we live in is actually biologically altering our children’s minds. “The discovery that the outside world is indeed the brain’s real food is intriguing. The brain gobbles up its external environment in bits and chunks….. Then the digested world is reassembled in the form of trillions of connections between brain cells that are constantly growing or dying, or becoming stronger or weaker, depending on the richness of the banquet.” (Kotulak p 4)

Jane Healy also warned through her books ‘Endangered Minds” and “Failure to Connect” that children’s experiences do in fact alter the brain significantly because much of the brain’s structure does depend directly on the way it is used. Healy has been saying for decades that we must consider the issue of changing brains acknowledging that not only will students display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed for efficient learning but also an inability to regulate emotional life.

The media provides such intense emotional experiences they must go unmatched in real life.
“One of this century’s best-kept secrets is the way in which technology has transformed
violence into a spectacle of stunning beauty. Violence, when it’s stylized, when it’s choreographed and hyper accelerated or played in slow motion, when it is set to the strains of a poignant Beethoven sonata, the minimalist pulses of a Philip Glass creation, or the tremulous strains and corrosive screams of a Diamanda Galas vocal, can be thrillingly sublime and breathtakingly beautiful. Since the advent of cinema and television we’ve been blessed with endless variation: several heads floating through the air in all the splendor only freeze-frame decapitation can convey; severed arms gliding down elevator shafts while still pulsing huge arcs of blood.” (Steinberg & Kincheloe pg. 115)

To keep individuals connected to real life, real emotion and satisfying relationships becomes a necessary task that may also need to be orchestrated as these may no longer be automatic in our connected world. For those of us who are of an age when ‘play dates’ or ‘online dating’ did not exist the more formal orchestration of relationships seems unnecessary but it appears to be a necessity for those changing minds of our most technologically adept generations.

Our increased disconnectedness comes at a time when theorists have finally decided that it is emotion that is one of the key factors in our ability to think critically, to learn effectively to remember accurately and to handle the every day stresses of our lives. At a time when we read of the importance of emotional issues, emotional IQ and emotional well being it is strange that the very nature of our lives makes it increasingly more difficult to keep and maintain healthy emotional balance.

The application of type theory can be effectively applied where collegiality needs to be encouraged, where relationships must be the main focus or where conflicting philosophies exist. As generation after generation of minds change it becomes essential to focus on communication issues as well as all our new spectacular technological advances.

References

Davis, John (1996) Educating Students in a Media Saturated Culture Technomic Publishing Co. Inc.
Gleick, James (1999) Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc, New York / Toronto.
Greenspan, Stanley (1997) The Growth of the Mind:The Endangered Origin of Intelligence. Perseus Books, Reading, Massachusets.
Hallowell, Edward D. & Ratey, John J. (1994 ) Driven to Distraction New York: Pantheon
Healy, Jane M. (1990) Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think. Simon and Schuster, New York
Kotulak, Ronald (1997) Inside The Brain: Revolutionary Discoveries of How the Mind Works Andrews McMeel Publishing. Kansas City.
Steinberg, Shirley & Kincheloe, Joe Editor (1998) Kinderculture:The Corporate Construction of Childhood Westview Press, Perseus Books L.L.C. Boulder, Colorado.

 

Originally published: A Place for All Learners at Personality Type in Depth Nov 2013

Original Published: Type & Exceptional Learners @ Personality in Depth April 2014

Pay Now or Pay Later: Is This Later?

Mary Anne Sutherland (unedited notes for above mentioned article: see the above website for the edited article)

The Impact of Typology on Exceptional Needs: A Gift or Encumbrance

Often in education we lump hundreds of skills together and refer to them as if we were speaking of one component. Learning is one word but it represents thousands of complicated interactions. ‘Trouble learning’ could become an entire section in the library or ‘trouble reading’ might be caused by one or a combination of several hundred small idiosyncrasies of our brain’s development. A poor speller is a complex mix of many,many individual components of the learning process. Memory too falls into this category. It is a complex multi-faceted process that feels like ‘one thing’. When many individual ideas are activated to encourage a memory they are activated in such a way that they “become available to consciousness as a bundle, and thus seem to be a single impression with many facets.” (Wade p88) Memory, good or bad, is often attributed or blamed for an astounding array of qualities and circumstances.

In learning situations as well, we claim, it is often our memory that failed the exam or saved the day. Our thinking skills get ignored. Students who have diagnosed difficulties with learning often claim ‘memory’ to be the culprit and students with attention difficulties will often refer to a medication that ‘fixes’ memory and wish they too could have that ‘memory drug’ in order to miraculously become a better student. Parents and sometimes teachers of ADD/ADHD students will be under the same misconception. Unfortunately our memory, as with most of our other gifts or challenges, exists on a continuum of strengths and weaknesses, however, it is often quite common for people to think of all these aspects of learning as one gift or affliction.

It has been fashionable to profess and even assess individual differences but in the same breath we search for one efficient method to make us better educators, for the most efficient way to test or we pursue that one special program that holds the key to all the ills of a complex educational institution. Unfortunately we have also begun to search for that one special pill to fix our most challenging and enthusiastic students and that one label that will help explain the complexity of the teaching and learning process especially with our most at risk students. We especially fall into this “bundling” mentality when we discuss learning disabilities (hundred’s of possible definitions), ADD, Asperger’s syndrome to name only a few.The extreme complexity is often clouded by the ‘oneness’ of the definition causing us to over simplify the complex continuum of learning difficulties. I believe this often leads to much of the misdiagnosis and misunderstanding that is becoming epidemic when dealing with so many of our students.

To add another layer of complexity we know that temperament is able to provide a wealth of information about the intricacy of individual types and the unique variations each type brings to the teaching/learning situation. When combined with exceptional needs, learning disabilities or other risk factors this mix of characteristics may in fact overwhelm the student or thankfully it could significantly aid the student’s progress. ( Article 1??) Our individual typology may bring tremendous gifts to assist the learner but can also bring characteristics that mirror at risk characteristics thus compounding the diagnostic process and often leading to misdiagnosis. For example the exuberance of an extrovert has often been misinterpreted as hyperactivity and the complexity of an extreme introvert (I) coupled with an consuming passion for studying nothing but tree frogs, for example, could lead some unsuspecting educator to begin a discussion about Asperger’s Syndrome.

Conversely type preference can offer a foil to the factors that make the exceptional need a challenge. For example the diligence and organizational skills of the ISTJ could dramatically assist when attention concerns are in evidence. Recently in one of the linkedin sites “MBTI PRACTITIONERS” a young educator Kevin J. wrote about being the ISTJ in a family of individuals with attention concerns. We were responding to the post entitled ‘ADHD: how to differentiate between function or disorder’. My comments were very much what I have written in this article and Kevin graciously agreed to allow me to quote his response. He explained “To give one example of type and ADD diagnosis. I am diagnosed ADHD Inactive ( ADD) and am an ISTJ. My dad and sister are both ADHD Active (ADHD) and ENFP’s… To clarify with my own condition as a more human example. I have strong rooted rules to help govern and self-manage my ADHD that disguise it to the point I am ADD… there are signs that make me look like an N or a P, but they are not my comfort nor preference. I need order, organization, pattern, structure in my life, being a creature of routine is my preference..”

With beginning readers we know that often Sensing types (S) get behind in school almost instantly because of their natural tendency to be accurate, tackling one word at a time never skimming, often not using context clues or phrasing techniques. Intuitive (N) types get ahead instantly because of their ability to sacrifice accuracy for the sake of getting on with reading. N is associated with comprehension, inferred meaning and abstract concepts rather than the S’s practical, seeing all the facts, never missing a detail approach to reading. When learning to read little S’s remain on word one or two of the story, waiting for the teacher to help with word three, while N’s have read only half the words but understand the story is about a dog, instantly moving to depth of understanding. Without an understanding of typology an unsuspecting educator or parent might misinterpret the S’s need for accuracy as inability to learn to read fluently. These characteristics stay with them through school and post- secondary classes especially when writing exams. When addressing test taking skills or exam preparation with pre-college or college students this is the first place I begin.

Student’s natural learning preferences offer a comprehensive guide to both their gifts and many potential learning challenges but often we choose to ignore those natural tendencies opting for a one size fits all approach.

The World We Live In: A Clue to the Misdiagnosis Epidemic

For all our advances in education, our increased knowledge and our superior educational assessment capabilities something is still going very wrong. Healy explains “Our knowledge about how to teach has actually improved… I have been around university education departments since the fifties; during that time professional training has been considerably upgraded. Thoughtful research on how children learn has paved the way for dissemination of better classroom methods and instructional materials as well as a much clearer understanding of students who have trouble learning in traditional ways. It hardly seems reasonable to believe that the majority of teachers have suddenly become so much worse. In any school visit I find many good, dedicated professionals. They claim tried-and true methods aren’t working anymore. Why?”( Healy p17 )

As educators we read or hear in the media that schools need to reform or that schools are failing but often these judgments are made from a narrow view of the structure and concerns educators face. Most educators say they are not doing what they know is best because of curricular requirements, standardized testing pressure or everyday stresses that overwhelm our schools. Educators, well read and aware of the state of education are also very concerned about making our schools viable communities to engage the young people we are privileged to have in our care but for very different reasons than our critics understand. We don’t need to change because the political party of the day needs more votes or because some world marketing conglomerate needs to have access to our children for more sales or because one group or another needs a scapegoat; we don’t even need to change because our own colleagues suggest we must. We do, however, need to change!!!

We need to change because our student population has changed dramatically. Their actual minds have changed, their abilities and very considerable gifts have altered dramatically. “Environmental events are really causing molecular changes in the brain… It is frightening to think that we may be doing some very dreadful things to our children” (Kotuluk p85). Many brain based theorists, the constructivists, the sociologists, the neurobiologists, the neuropsychologists and a multitude of educational experts continue to warn us that the world we live in is actually biologically altering our children’s minds. They have been telling us for decades that children’s minds are changing as fast as the world they live in. “We are dramatically under realizing the true potential of human beings, so that if you took random selections of one hundred humans at conception and looked at their potential in areas of anxiety regulation, emotional connectivity, and cognition these would be far greater, far higher than the average you see when they grow up. Even in the best settings, in many healthy families in very healthy communities, there are a whole host of unrealized experiences that leave portions of our population underdeveloped in every domain of brain function…Since experience impacts the organization of the brain, we can literally evolve or devolve, depending on how we value and treat the learning and stimulation of children” (Diamond & Hopson p293,4)

“Our technology, economy, and society are transformed at ever greater rates, while our institutions hold ever more tightly to outmoded ideas, perhaps it is time for some really fresh thinking-especially from a quarter where it might have been least expected. The old measurement scales do not quite fit, as many have long known, in spite of what they were told. And many have suffered for no good reason as a consequence. (West preface) Educators and educational institutions have not kept pace with our changing student’s minds. When we consider the issue of changing brains we must acknowledge that not only will students display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, an inability to regulate emotional life and a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed for efficient learning.

What we can be sure of is that our students will need to be able to learn independently, think critically, cooperate effectively and solve problems creatively.

Misdiagnosis!! Misunderstanding!! Underachievement!! A Modern Tragedy (Webb)

I receive TED TALKS daily ( a 20 minute talk given by experts at the top of their field…) The TED Talk for Dec. 6/13 was given by educational researcher Sugata Mitra. He suggested that, not only in North America but all over the world there is a growing consensus that our educational systems are broken and that the task of re-imagining school should be a top priority. He gave a history lesson on why schools came into being and explained how our schools today have not moved very far past the original model. He suggests” The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a ( schooling) system that was so robust that it’s still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists” ( Mitra TED TALK) How many times do we need to hear the same message? Is it not possible we have reached the end of the number of generations of students we can lose before we listen???

Many of our students have extraordinary untouched capacities to learn, to be creative, and to be genuinely excited by learning. That is what the mind does. All our young people have exceptional talents that school just does not tap into or use to the best advantage. “With far more comprehensive forms of assessment, educational efforts could be focused on developing areas of unusual strength…avoiding the common practices of either streaming students based on an average across a limited set of conventional indicators or placing them in remedial groups based almost exclusively on areas of unusual weakness…the main emphasis should be on cultivating these individuals for their varied and unusual gifts and abilities rather than mainly remediating them for their special difficulties” (West p41)

In the text Misdiagnosis. etc. by James Webb and six very experienced practitioners explains three scenarios that I believe are significant in many school systems. “ This book describes a modern tragedy. Many of our brightest, most creative, most independent thinking children and adults are being incorrectly diagnosed as having behavioral, emotional, or mental disorders…..The tragedy for these mistakenly diagnosed children and adults is that they receive needless stigmatizing labels that harm their sense of self and result in treatment that is both unnecessary and even harmful to them, their families, and society…Other equally bright children and adults experience another misfortune. their disorders are obscured because, with their intelligence, they are able to cover up or compensate for their problems… And there is another group of intellectually gifted children and adults who suffer from very real disorders, but neither they nor the treating professionals are aware that their disorders are related in any way to their brightness or creativity.” (Preface (xix) Webb and his colleagues continue “Gifted children….certainly can have ADD/ADHD, Asperger’s Disorder etc. We are not attempting to explain away real psychological or medical disorders. However, we do believe that the characteristics of gifted children and adults can sometime imply pathology when here is none.” ( Webb…pg8)

I would venture to stress that the same patterns can be observed in the general population and that preference choices, typology and personality traits are treated in the same way.They either intensify or mitigate the characteristics leading to misdiagnosis. For example.” Children who are particularly bright can, in the earlier grades, pay attention to only a small portion of the class period, yet because of their intellect they can still perform well on the tests or other assignments when compared with age peers” (Webb pg 37) This is particularly true of many, many intuitive students. Their ability to quickly gain meaning without noticing all the facts allows them to progress. Often students are able to juggle their learning concerns while their natural preferences and skills can often mask a learning disability well into their high school years. The tragedy is that they have not been eligible for many accommodations that would have reduced their stress and allowed them to demonstrate their full understanding of topics.

The most interesting but also frustrating part of my career was the assessment and adjustment of programs for thousands of students. I was constantly disappointed when trying to explain results to colleagues, parents and even students themselves. I excitedly would explain all the positive qualities I had discovered, how intelligent they really were or how a very workable accommodation to their program should allow them to easily reach their full potential. Both parents and teachers would look at me in disbelief when I would explain how capable, bright, talented or able their students really was. Often it took a 3 or 4 year relationship with staff and students to finally prove I was right and the initial diagnostic evidence was an underestimate of their considerable abilities !!! Students just thought I was being kind. They took a great deal of convincing. No matter how talented, accomplished or capable the student he or she would invariably point out what they could not do. “ If I am so smart why can’t I spell….or compute…or read quickly….or keep up with my classmates???” Staff, students and parents have a very difficult time understanding “some of the most original thinkers in fields ranging from physical science and mathematics to politics and poetry have relied heavily on visual modes of though. Some of these same thinkers, however, have shown evidence of a striking range of difficulties in their early schooling, including problems with reading, speaking, spelling, calculation, and memory” ( West p. 11)

Having that gift of time with so many students I began to observe so many of their natural style preferences were misinterpreted as more severe cognitive difficulties.

IS THE TRAIT A CHARACTERISTIC OF A PATHOLOGY OR A NATURAL ADAPTIVE STATE?

ADD/ADHD: What Does Attention Look Like?

Of the hundreds and hundreds of ADD/ADHD students I have worked with over the years I don’t think that any one type correlates to the ethical and legitimate diagnosis of ADD/ADHD. I do think that EP & SP are sent more often than other types for assessment of attention concerns. They may also be misdiagnosed more often. I would venture to guess that ADD/ADHD is currently one of the most misdiagnosed exceptional needs of this century. (my opinion only)

Regarding the concept of ‘changing minds’ and the frightening trend we are seeing regarding the misdiagnosis of individuals with learning concerns Dr. Edward Hallawell ( a foremost specialist in ADD/ADHD)adds further evidence. When addressing the misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD he explains his concept of ‘Pseudo- ADD by saying “Only a professional can make the diagnosis, and even then it is a tricky one to make. Many other conditions can mimic ADD; not the least of those conditions is modern life…In children and adults, modern life induces a syndrome I call pseudo-ADD. This is not true ADD. but looks just like it. There are two main reasons why our world is ‘ADD-ogenic.’ First is the electronic communications network that envelops all of us. The fax machine; the telephone with its cousins, the cell phone and the answering machine; the television and VCR; movies; the radio; the personal computer, with its modem and access to the Internet…the remote control; satellite communications; FedEX; and on and on- all these technical wonders have so connected us that we are constantly reachable…. We have so speeded up our lives, and our children’s lives, that we feel constantly distracted and restless, two of the cardinal symptoms of ADD.

The second factor that contributes to creating pseudo-ADD in modern life is the reverse of the first. As hyperconnected as we are electronically, we are disconnected socially… All this disconnectedness, created distraction, insecurity, and displacement, all typical feelings in ADD.

We therefore see two powerful factors, electronic connectedness on the one hand and social disconnectedness on the other, combining to create a modern landscape that induces the symptoms of ADD. While only 5 percent of the population had true ADD, I’d guess about 50 percent has pseudo- ADD.” (Hallowell WYWACYL p 102,103)

Classroom design and built-in flexibility also play key roles in attention deficit disorders. A great dilemma for the students who live with attention concerns is that they are expected to look like they are focusing, which takes them away from the many strategies they have devised to remain on task. These students must do something other than just listen or focus solely on the teacher, parent, or even a good friend when being spoken to at length. The very nature of attention deficit disorders causes them to do amazing things while forcing themselves to listen to what the instructor is saying, and the antics they use to stay focused often are perceived as an insult to the speaker. Then the student’s strategy becomes the problem to be addressed, and addressing it escalates the disorder. The book, Rethinking Attention Deficit Disorders, makes a valid point: “Teachers expect students to ‘look’ like they are paying attention. This includes looking at the teacher during lessons, especially when she is speaking or demonstrating something. Students are also expected to listen when others are speaking . The assumption that one must both look and listen is rather silly, but is often accepted as axiomatic. The fact is that listening can sometimes be facilitated when one does not look at the speaker (especially if the speaker is exhibiting distracting stimuli), and not looking is absolutely required if one is trying to take notes. Still, it is remarkable how often we hear ‘look at me’ as a demand for proof of attending. … Students are often expected to listen carefully and quietly, even if they can’t understand the content. This presents a double bind to many who cope with attention disorders. Asking too many questions tends to get you into trouble, at best: at worst it will lower your position in the knowledge hierarchy of the classroom and maybe even in the social hierarchy. Yet asking too few questions will impede your ability to follow the lesson and to complete the usual follow-up assignment” (p. 130).

The attached visuals are taken from the notes of two male grade 11 students, one ESTP and one ESTJ student, both diagnosed with ADHD. Although very different in personality and in severity of disorder, they had identical ways to cope with their attention concerns. Both students were considered bright and capable and both apparently wanted to do well in the classes they were attending. Each had a way of doodling and note taking that was necessary to maintain attention, but their teachers considered their notebooks an insult because they did not understand that doodling was the method by which the student controlled his attention. If the students had been forced to stop doodling they also would have been severely hampered in their ability to attend to the task at hand. Each had hundreds of pages of doodles.

A CASE STUDY FOR MISDIAGNOSIS AND UNDERACHIEVEMENT AT IT’S MOST EXTREME

One of the most frustrating situations I experienced as an educator was to watch very bright young people lose confidence in their own abilities. So many of our troubled or at risk students give up and then we end up labeling them incapable of learning, slow learners, behavior problems and a multitude of other quick labels.

I encountered a young man (ENFP) who had been placed in a Vocational Training School (25%ile or below/ WISC-R) as it was believed his ability to handle any regular subjects would be totally beyond his capability. His father thankfully refused to send him and registered him in our regular high school.

This diagnosis had been reinforced for so long (5 or 6 years) that he began to act like a mentally challenged individual. His walk, his speech patterns and his mannerisms suggested someone who was mentally incapable of interacting with his surroundings . His bow tie, hat pulled over his ears and raging attention problems certainly didn’t help.

This was the most alarming case I had ever encountered. When we spoke to him in front of other students we received a Forest Gump type response ( a movie he refused to go and see) but when I spoke to him privately it was like speaking to one of my colleagues ( only a more articulate,verbally eloquent version). This was almost too much to comprehend when it happened within the span of five minutes. The two images were extremely diverse. When this young man was re-assessed it was astounding. He was exceptionally gifted with a combination of visual and auditory processing difficulties complicated by very profound attention concerns. To further complicate matters his natural style preferences were actually causing the most difficulty.

Originally he had been assessed in elementary school just after an incident in art class when he totally stopped participating in any school related activity. He was identified at a very young age as a gifted artist unbeknownst to his task oriented grade school art teacher. He was asked to do a picture of a mountain and he produced a picture with varying shades of black and charcoal. His teacher reminded him of the ‘mountain assignment’ and he explained to his teacher that this was the night time view of the mountain. She was not amused and expressed her frustration and he refused to do much in school after that until reaching high school and a new assessment of his considerable skills.

His learning concerns put him at risk, his superior intellectual ability kept him afloat but his ENFP preferences compounded his sensitivity to his learning concerns, his ADHD and a grumpy art teacher. As a shield (Fi) he had created a persona (Ne) for his friends and classmates that was light years away from who he really was. He was extremely protective of his ART (his passion area) and pursued it very privately. His withdrawal from school for so many years had left him skill deficient and misdiagnosed as incapable of learning beyond a rudimentary level. As he entered high school he was in danger of losing himself to the Forest Gump persona he had created for himself.

“Sometimes the visual thinkers and “dyslexic visionaries” may see things that others do not see…as individuals and as institutions, we need to be open to the idea that sometimes, to find a way in time of crisis, we will have to turn to someone who was at the bottom of the class” ( West p. 278)

In ( Article 1) a reader commented on the number of ENFP students who were at risk of dropping out or who had dropped out of the program mentioned. Most of those students were very similar to the young man just mentioned, in varying degrees. They (Fi) had reacted very strongly to a situation, usually with their instructor or instructors.They each allowed the sensitive nature of the situation to rule resulting in the potential loss of a class or entire year.
Responsiveness of NVLD and Asperger’s Syndrome Students to Learning About Type
“Introversion and an avid, consuming interest in activities, such as mathematics and computers, for example, could prompt an uninformed clinician to misdiagnose a gifted child or adult as having Asperger’s Disorder. Both have an inward focus, but a child who is merely an introvert will be aware of, and capable of, changing his focus. (Webb pg 101)

The students diagnosed with non-verbal learning disorders (NVLD) or Asperger’s Syndrome exhibited the most astounding reaction to learning about personality type of all our exceptional needs students. I would never make or recommend any adjustments to a program based on their type preferences, but there was a spectacular side effect to instruction on type theory: The NVLD and Asperger’s students could synthesize all the details immediately. In fact, type theory gave them a framework for observing the actions of others without initially requiring them to actually get involved with people. They could sit back, observe groups in action for long periods of time, and use their type information materials to match actions to the definitions. This gave these students an orderly, theoretical road map which opened up for them a way to view other individuals and the seemingly mysterious choices they make.

For example, one young man observed a group of students learning basic sign language for almost seven months before he felt comfortable approaching. For two more months he sat with t the group like a stone figure, though in his own eyes he was participating with enthusiasm—which, I suppose, he was. He and I used type language to talk about how others like to be approached and to help him feel more at ease with people. It gave him a roadmap to help understand people. It was like having organized notes for approaching life.

These students desperately need to have a classroom that honors their need to sit where they are comfortable and to engage with others in their own way but it is also very essential that they receive guidance with their discomfort in social situations or support when in social situations. Typology provides these individuals with a safe, orderly framework to begin to understand personal preferences other than their own.

We Must Begin to Assess Rather Than Test:  Diversify Rather Than Standardize

As an ISFP my initial exposure to the MBTI peeked my interest immediately but I was also very concerned at the portrayal of the SP and their uneasy relationship with the traditional school system. Initially I found it difficult to accept that 4 of the 16 types could have such a challenging relationship with the school system, however, I could not deny the hundreds of SP’s I had encountered with less than positive experiences via their school history.

SP’s are often the victims of a mismatch between the structure of an educational institution and their own personality preferences. So many of our Drop Outs or potential drop outs had the SP profile ( see table 2) Often this group of students are also misdiagnosed or misplaced in special programs for students with cognitive processing concerns ( IQ testing). The narrow assessment practices in many school systems continue to label many students incapable of learning ( unintelligent) “ A Yale study, based on the premise that intelligence has analytical, creative and practical aspects, shows that if schools start valuing all three, they may find that thousands of kids are smarter than they think. (Sternberg p20)

In her book ‘Endangered Minds’ Dr. Jane Healy offers an opinion about ‘competency ‘ testing after observing thousands of school systems. She suggests that “test scores go up as charts replacing student artwork on the walls of the superintendent’s office… Attention to ‘standards’ must be a national imperative, but a ‘quick-fix’ mentality militates against meaningful and lasting learning…Scores on higher-order tests have been falling precisely because we have been overreaching for (standardized achievement) tests at the expense of the other skills” (Healy ) In an atmosphere where the cry from both within and outside the educational system is to train our students to think, it is frustrating that everything researchers tell us about training critical thinkers is diametrically opposed to this type of standardized achievement exam.

Educators all over the world agree we don’t see, as often as we should, passionate learners forgetting to move on to the next class because they were so engaged in what they were doing. Instead we observe many more fragile learners, we notice bright students giving up and sometimes choosing to leave school before graduation. We also notice a large number of bright capable students who do not seem to be succeeding even though we know they are extremely talented. We are losing too many excellent minds and finding too many turned off students not to mention the fact that many students with exceptional needs are being relegated to special classes when they could easily be succeeding within the regular structure of any classroom. We know that so many more students are being properly diagnosed because of the explosion of diagnostic information available to educational organizations, more comprehensive assessment tools and trained assessment specialists BUT sadly we also notice too many students misdiagnosed for a multitude of learning concerns.

We must guard against being ruled by standardized competency exams and yet we must train our students to approach them without allowing these exams to rule our classrooms“…The simple cry ‘Make them learn’ soon runs afoul of the developmental reality that brains learn in different ways and on different schedules…we must accept the need to diversify instruction for learners with different styles and timetables for mastery. Such sensitivity does not imply that some are ‘inferior’ or that they cannot learn; it simply acknowledges that just as all adults should not be expected to enjoy and master sculpture, journalism, baseball, or eye surgery with equal facility, all children will not learn math or rope-climbing with comparable ease.” (Healy)

References:
Carter Rita & Frith Christopher Scientific Advisor (1998) Mapping the Mind University of California Press, Berkeley, London

Cherkes-Julkowski, M., Sharp, S., & Stolzenberg, J. (1997). Rethinking attention deficit disorders. Northampton, MA: Brookline Books Inc.

Csikszentmihalyi,Mihaly (1996) Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention Harper Collins Publishers.

Conlan, Roberta, Editor (1999) States of Mind: New Discoveries About How Our Brains Make Us Who We Are The Dana Press, John Wiley & sons, Inc. New York

Darling-Hammond, Linda (1997) The Right to Learn:A Blueprint for Creating Schools That Work Josey-Bass Inc. Publishers, SanFrancisco, CA.

Davis, John (1996) Educating Students in a Media Saturated Culture Technomic Publishing Co. Inc.

Diamond, Marian & Hopson, Janet (1998) Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth through Adolescence Penguin Putnam Inc. NewYork, New York.

Gleick, James (1999) Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc, New York / Toronto.

Greenspan, Stanley (1997) The Growth of the Mind:The Endangered Origin of Intelligence. Perseus Books, Reading Massachusetts. ISBN 0-732-0026-3

Hallowell, Edward D. & Ratey, John J. (1994 ) Driven to Distraction New York: Pantheon

Hallowell, Edward D. & Ratey, John J. (1994) Answers to Distraction NewYork : Pantheon

Hallowell, Edward D. (1996) When You Worry About The Child You Love: Emotional and Learning Problems in Children Simon & Schuster New York.
Healy, Jane M. (1990) Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think. Simon and Schuster, New York

Healy, Jane M. (1992) How to Hold Intelligent Conversations With Your Child. Doubleday, New York.

Kotulak, R. (1997) Inside the brain: Revolutionary discoveries of how the mind works. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Sternberg, R. (March, 1997). What does it mean to be smart? Educational Leadership, 54, 6, 20-24.

Wade, Nicholas Editor (1999) The Science Times Book of the Brain: The New York Times The New York TImes.
Webb, J. T. [et.al]. (2005). Misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis of gifted children and adults: ADHD, bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, depression and other disorders. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.

Workshops, and Training Sessions

Topic: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Diagnosis and Treatment give by Dr. Russell A. Barkley ( 1992 Calgary)

Topic: Coping With Attentions Deficit Disorder given by Edward Hallowell ( 1997,2006 Calgary)