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The Value of Personal Process

March 28, 2020 4:25 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

Please enjoy this post from professional member, Katherine Peterson . . .

As I sit quietly quarantined with a headache and temperature, unable to read or make time useful, I am alone in my room. I have much time to think about many fertile memories as the parent of my 2E children. I am left to my own devices, much like my son was earlier in his education. Dozing and recalling the years when well-meaning professionals were compelled by their frustration and mine to label him “lazy.” I’m aware of the time it took me to develop the courage to take the view that only a parent can have. It wasn’t until early middle school that I was able to see the situation for what it was, through his strengths rather than his weaknesses. A deeply discouraged, very bright young man, submitted to a process that discouraged his love of learning, and I later learned, disrupted his own personal process to learn.

The idea of valuing personal process came from a kind and beloved expert who became a dear friend and support through a deeply disturbing and confusing time. “What if he has his own way of doing things? What if that is a process by which he proves to himself that he is learning something of value?” I paused at this powerful question, recalling the staying power of my son’s remarkable attention. He could manipulate and work with Lego pieces for hours, forgetting to come to lunch, not hearing the call to go to the park, so engrossed in his gleeful toddler pleasure that he almost forgot to use the bathroom. Those were days when I saw a shimmer of delightful engagement in his eyes. That happy look said, “I’m doing it myself! I’m trying it myself! I’m showing myself, proving to myself and to my own satisfaction!” He was not interested in the praise of an audience, or proving his own discoveries to anyone but himself. It took careful examination and skillful engagement to understand his process of learning. It was a fragile emerging tendril of growth, a personal process in process. I remember a system of discovery of which he needed fervently to be the architect. A consummate skeptic who was not much interested in the verbal exchange about his ideas, nor wanting to try the ideas of others. He wanted only to “do it my own way” balking vigorously when it was time to brush his teeth, dress for the day, or depart for preschool He was immersed fully, mindfully, bodily, in the depth of his spirit in an engaged personal quest for information about the form of things, the way they connected, how they worked together and so on. He slept satisfied and soundly through the night, emerging victorious in the mornings when he was able to reengage his curiosity and thirst for process.

In reading “The Good Neighbor; The Life and Work of Fred Rogers,” I note a quote that resonated in deep truth, “There are many people in the world who want to make children into performing seals. And as long as children can perform well, those adults will applaud. But I would much rather help a child to be able to say who he or she is.” This wisdom was not available at the time, but could have been the guiding principal for how the education of this young man played out. A bright quirky adolescent labeled “lazy” and “underachieving” when the adults in his life wanted performance, he wanted something completely different. I could not see, at the time, what that thing was. Still, the pain of watching him lose that sparkle and engagement in learning gave me the energetic courage to try a new approach. “I don’t know what I’m doing buddy, but if you’re willing, I’m willing to try to see how we can learn how to learn happily again.”

I’m still not sure how I dealt with the depth of discouragement. The principal of his school, the educational psychologist whom we hired at great expense, and even my husband were all wondering, doubting, and in some cases outright objecting. I pressed on, motivated by the memory of the shine in his eyes as the height of his Lego tower grew, and the bright pieces of building emerged quietly triumphant in the morning light, until at last, after dragging the heavy old step stool forth the tower fell, and the process began anew. In the solitude of my room I see that as the beginning of a wonderful journey of understanding, and later embracing the value of one gifted young persons personal process.

Today, our son is not an engineer. or even a architect, but lives independently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, immersing himself fully into the exploration of life abroad, living with simple needs, and a depth of satisfaction. And, yes, doing it entirely his own way, with a gleam in his eye and energetic purpose in his outlook.

Late in life parent, Katherine Peterson, found the courage to home school her son, and later her daughter, both 2E children. She learned through her own personal process how to be the intuitive guiding support to her children’s education. Katherine has a background as varied as her many interests including yoga instructor, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, and most recently Human Potential Coach, supporting the unique personal process of mothers guiding and facilitating the unfolding of their gifted children through the depth of personal process.

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The Chicago Gifted Community Center (CGCC) is a member-driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by parents to support the intellectual and emotional growth of gifted children and their families. 

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