Schools, through their emphasis on developing well-rounded personalities and because of their remoteness from vocational placement, many neglect this goal. It is natural for the counsellor to want to help a pupil consider as many opportunities as possible and discourage a vocational goal in which there are few employment opportunities. This poses a difficult problem in guidance creative adolescents, since many of their vocational choices are likely to fall in the category of rare or unusual occupations. Many pieces of evidence spell out the failure of educational institutions to find ways of rewarding divergent kinds of achievement. One of the more recent of these is a study byElizabeth Drews (1961b) of three types of gifted high school students; the studious, the social leaders, and the creative intellectuals.
The poorest teacher-grades were made by the creative intellectuals. In competitive examinations sampling a wide range of information, however, they performed better than either of the other two groups. 2.
Recognising Value of One’s Own Talent: Many creative individuals desperately need help in recognizing the value of their own talents. Otherwise, they will continue to despise what could be their most valuable assets. This guidance goal is not an easily achieved one. It is indeed difficult to believe that a talent is of value when almost everyone ridicules its display. This is true even though the individual may receive very rich intrinsic rewards from the exercise of the talent. It might seem to some that teachers and counsellors could accomplish this goal easily the administering tests to discover giftedness and then simply telling the individual the results. In some cases this may be helpful, but inevitably the locus of evaluation will be the individual, not the teacher, counsellor, or psychologist. There are numerous other techniques whereby counsellors and teachers can help the creative individual recognise the value of his talents.
3. Avoiding Exploitation: Since highly creative individuals frequently do not recognise the value of their talents, especially when these talents are ridiculed, they are especially susceptible to exploitation of various types. This may result in the ill-use of the talent, loss or debilitation of” the talent, or unrewarded talents. Children recognise this possibility in their stories of divergent talent. The psychological needs of exploited individuals are usually such, however, that they need guidance in recognising that they are being exploited. In the case of children, teachers and counsellors may have to intervene actively to prevent undue exploitation.
4. Accepting Limitations: Inevitably there will be limitations both within the environment and the individual. Parents, schools, and communities will be unable to provide all of the resources which creative children need to develop and test their ideas. The children will lack some of the abilities and skills they need to fulfill their dreams. Both kinds of limitations must be accepted, not cynically or with resignation, but creatively. In an early study of the psychology of inventors. Rossman (1931) found that this characteristic differentiates inventors from non-inventors.
Non-inventors only curse the defects of their environment and of themselves. Inventors, however, take a more constructive approach, saying, “This is the way to do it.” In the case of the school counsellor and the creative individual, the “record player” may be a hearing aid, a pair of eye glasses, a prosthetic device, a wheel chair, or a similar aid or help may be needed in accepting creatively such limitations as tallness or shortness, a long nose, stuttering, or other differences. 5. Developing Minimum Skills: Quite obviously the psychological conditions described in the introduction cannot be maintained, if the individual does not possess the minimum skills necessary for survival and for entry into situations where creativity can be expressed. Many possible causes might be cited for the failure of highly creative individuals to develop some of the fundamental skills essentials to any kind of achievement. Perhaps one of the most frequent, however, is the popular fallacy that gifted children do not need guidance and good instruction. Buhl (1961) in his study of creative engineering students found that members of this group were encouraged as children to make decisions regarding clothes, friends, and activities.
They were also given guidance and encouragement and plans and goals to work toward achieving. The researcher found these characteristics to a far greater degree in the backgrounds of the jet aces than in those of their less successful colleagues of the same rank and similar training and experience. 6.
Utilising Opportunities: Frequently questions are asked concerning the role of chance in scientific discovery (Taton, 1957). Certainly many great discoveries have resulted from the exploitation of a chance occurrence or unexpected incident. Because of their problems of adjustment, creative individuals may be blinded and fail to see such opportunities.
It should be dying teacher the counsellor’s goal to help free such individuals from this blindness. 7. Developing Values and Purpose: Studies of outstanding individuals in various fields almost always reveal that such persons seem to be impelled by feelings of mission or purpose. They believe that what they are doing is tremendously worthwhile, and they are thereby aroused to all-out efforts. When learning and thinking are made to be “tremendously important and worthwhile,” schools will become exciting places. Even gifted children may achieve more than we thought possible.
Since the values of creative individuals as different from those of their teachers, it may be that the school counsellor is the only person in some schools who can assist them in finding and holding to their purpose. 8. Holding to Purposes: If pressures continue unabated over too long a period, even the strongest personality is likely to ‘break’. In the case of the highly creative individual, this ‘break’ may include the sacrificing of his creativity or his purpose.
One of the problems of the teacher and the counsellor is to help creative individuals to accept the necessity for tolerating discomfort for long-range goals and purposes. This is an especially difficult feat to accomplish if guiding highly creative children from the lower socio-economic classes where immediacy and inability to delay gratification are strong. In studies of talent, commitment to a purpose or a creative career seems to be tremendously important in success. In guiding creative talent, teachers and counsellors may have to help such individuals develop a commitment to some purpose or career which they regard as important. In general, it is not necessary for teachers and counsellors to push talented children, although some may need help in finding ways of self-discipline. Commitment to a purpose or goal frequently helps them achieve this discipline and stick to a line of development until they have achieved something worthwhile. 9. Avoiding Equation of Divergence with Mental Illness or Delinquency: Many highly creative children need help in recognising that divergence should not be equated with mental illness or delinquency.
Since our culture does generally equate them, the counsellor may have to explain away their misconceptions and attitudes. The widespread existence of this misconception is reflected in the stories of children. Flying monkeys in the stories are frequently thought to be crazy or devils or under the spell of witches. Lions that won’t roar and cats that won’t scratch are thought to be mentally ill. In our studies of highly creative children, we find many evidences that they feel that their parents and teachers do not understand’ them.
Their teachers themselves admit that they do not know these children as well as they know highly intelligent (IQ) pupils (Torrance, 1959a). For some creative individuals only a school counsellor may be able to provide this understanding. 10. Reducing Overemphasis on Sex Roles: The inhibiting effects of overemphasis or misplaced emphasis on sex roles were discussed earlier. It is mentioned again since this overemphasis interferes so strongly with the achievement of the general goals outlined at the beginning of the chapter.
The primary creativeness described by Maslow, McPherson, and others requires that the individual be able to accept his softness and femininity as well as his intellectual autonomy. For “regression in the service of the ego,” one must have a sense of being in touch with his feelings and being free to have subjective experiences which imply how it was to have been a child and to have felt feminine, receptive, and helpless. He must also have the intellectual independence to be able to maintain his “anchors in reality,” as he regresses. 11. Becoming Less Obnoxious: Both our experimental and longitudinal studies (Torrance, 1960b) and studies of outstanding creative persons reveal that highly creative individuals do in fact possess characteristics generally considered somewhat obnoxious. They do, in fact, create problems for their parents, siblings, peers, teachers, and supervisors. Many of your elementary school authors recognize this problem.
We also need to help children recognise that outstanding talents may threaten others and make them uncomfortable and afraid. Our young authors recognise this and offer some interesting philosophies. The performance of important services and courageous deeds on behalf of the larger social group is seen by our juvenile authors as one way of reducing the social pressures on divergent individuals. In the terms employed by Pepinsky (1959) Roger had built up a “credit rating” with his peers through his service to them, and they had accepted his divergence.
In conserving creative talent, the problem resolves itself into one of helping the child maintain those characteristics which are essential to his creativity and at the same time help him acquire skills for avoiding or reducing to a tolerable level the social sanctions against him. Stein (1958) on the basis of his study of research chemists has offered a set of helpful principles whereby creative research chemists can become less obnoxious without sacrificing their creativity. This model probably asks too much of the gifted child, but at least it provides a model which may be useful in guiding him in becoming less obnoxious without sacrificing his creativity. 12 Reducing Isolation: Considerable attention has been given in professional literature to the problems stemming from the isolation of gifted children.
Isolation has been a favourite technique for handling individuals having almost any kind of divergent characteristic. As already reported, research has shown that highly creative children are especially estranged from teachers and peers. This must be especially difficult for the highly creative individual because of his unusually intense need to communicate. Teachers and counsellors must help the creative child learn to tolerate his separateness or they must help him in his search for someone with whom he can communicate.
In some cases, the counsellor may become the person to whom the creative child communicates. In others, it may be a teacher or principal. Several current streams of research (Drews, 1961; Torrance and Arsan, 1961) suggest that various kinds of homogeneous groups may provide means by which the isolation of highly creative children may be reduced and communication increased. 13. Coping with Anxieties and Fears: Neither gifted children (Torrance, 1959c) nor creative scientists (Roe, 1959) are free of handicapping anxieties and fears. Many creative children desperately need help in coping with their anxieties and irrational fears. Otherwise they may fail to be fully functioning mentally; they will be afraid to break away from the safest, most frequently travelled paths. An unusually frequent theme in the stories of animals and persons with divergent characteristics is the fear that one’s own talent will bring injury or destruction.