Sunday, February 10, 2013

Different but not Less

Retrieved Feb. 10, 2013 from here
Task 3 in the Neuroscience in Education session caught all my attention this week (4th). This is the first time to hear about Temple Grandin. Googling this name, I found her an autistic scientist, professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, designer of livestock handling facilities, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, inventor of the "squeeze machine," a system which tightly hugs people to relieve stress, bestselling author, speaker and more. Although she is an autistic person, she found her way to excel and innovate using her gifts and special visual thinking skills. The questions that come to my mind while reading about her are "Who is behind her success? Who pushed her to do all these things? What kind of motivation she has; inner or something comes from outside?"

You can also see this video here
Many things have become clear after watching the video segment above. Thanks so much to the Neuroscience team for selecting these scenes and adding the subtitles. These touching scenes encouraged me to search for the whole movie to find out the whole story of this great woman.If you are interested, please click here to download it. 

Here is what I have found:

Role of the Parents: 

Temple's mother refused to believe that her girl wouldn't speak. She ignored doctors' recommendations to have her institutionalized as a response to her delayed development. She did her best to teach her. And above all, she managed to instil in her girl that she was different but not less. Temple's mother played a very important role in her entire life. She kept pushing her all the time to make use of her different way of thinking. Just imagine for a moment if this mother gave up and sent her baby to an institution  

Role of the Teachers:

 We are not just teachers. We have to play all the roles to find out our students' abilities and gifts. The science teacher (Dr. Carlock) who encouraged Temple to go a head is a great model to follow. He looked at his student from the bright side. He tried to find her strength and reinforced it by providing her challenges that can match her visual thinking. He also guided and taught her how to decide, to choose, to open new doors and to build self-confidence in herself. This teacher successfully managed to reach his students.  

Role of the Self:

The role of parents and teachers is of a paramount importance for every student. However, unless a student is intrinsically motivated, he/she can't succeed. It is the inner power of Temple that made her a great success. She wanted to prove her excellence and creativity not by words but through deeds. She even created her own ways to adapt with the new people she meets or situations she faces.The "squeeze machine" is an example to relieve her stress. Her inner voice is another great tool she used to encourage herself to achieve more and new goals. I think that she succeeded to know herself well.  

To sum up,
Retrieved Feb. 10, 2013 from here
Every student is unique. They can be creative in a number of ways. Being a handicap in some areas doesn't mean that they have nothing at all. As teachers, it is our job to help parents find their children's special gifts and make use of them. I know that it is so difficult to do this job in a class of 60 students. However, technology now provides a lot of tools that help us to analyze students and their capabilities easily. Creating a Facebook group or an Edmodo class that allows students to talk to their teachers can be a starting point for discovering what they have. Spending some time with students and listening to them will make it easy to know how their brains work and how they think. It is not a practical way to ask teachers to find a special approach for each student in the class. I just want teachers to teach their students to be more strategic, to find their own way to store and process information, to create products using tools that match their way of thinking and so forth. In short, "teachers open the door, but students must enter by themselves" as the proverb says.  

More about Temple Grandin:
  1. Dr. Temple Grandin – Bio - A Growing Culture  
  2. Temple Grandin: Biography 
  3. Temple Grandin Quotes - BrainyQuote 
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