As someone who has tested IQs for a living for many years, I know how valuable they can be in terms of helping see patterns of processing strengths and weaknesses, but I’m also the first to acknowledge their limitations in truly understanding the depths of someone’s giftedness. I don’t really believe that there is a number, especially not a full scale number, that defines giftedness. The number also reflects the quantity of correct answers, but not really the quality of answers, especially when it comes to the verbal portion of the test. This is why qualitative information is so crucial when we look at learning and giftedness!
I was inspired to revisit this post from Jennifer Harvey Sallin on Intergifted on High, Exceptional & Profound Giftedness, which talks about levels of giftedness. While they do give numbers for general reference, it is the qualitative experience that differentiates the levels.
She talks about standard linear thinking that goes from point A to point B.
Then there’s skip thinking that jumps points and processes things faster.
Then there’s what she calls meta-thinking or matrix thinking that takes and makes complicated connections.
This got me thinking of all the complicated ways of thinking I’ve come across and I jotted down a few little notes on a post it about how different brains might work. I showed this to a student recently and he was able to point to one and elaborate on how it works for him. I thought it might be fun to share so we can think of our own matrix brains and how they work. There are infinite possibilities, but here’s a few that came to mind. Interestingly, when I “visualize” these things, I am not actually creating an image in my head - most of my own thoughts come in words, which is why I like to jot down little pictures of what others might see in their mind’s eye.
Mind Map - The closest thing I’ve come up with to explain my own brain is a giant 3 dimensional mind map that is constantly connecting seemingly unconnected things. Someone I talked to recently looked at the different images I’d jotted down on a post it and said, “well this may sound weird, but it’s like that one, only the circles are 3 dimensional.” Doesn’t sound weird at all, but it can be very helpful to articulate and have someone acknowledge it!
Venn Diagram - Another way I find my brain working is in a Venn Diagram, finding the overlap in relationships to everything. I really like the idea of the Venn Diagram, but it’s a little more difficult to imagine in 3D space. There are so many ways to group and categorize things that when it gets too complicated, drawing lines between things on a mind map becomes the easiest way to convey, but at the basic level I really like the way Venn Diagrams represent overlapping categories.
Spiral - I once had a boss who was 2E ADHD and everyone thought he was all over the place when he spoke. I began to realize though that he always got back to the point eventually. It was like he talked in a spiral and would come back to the point every time it came back around.
Puzzle - A friend once described someone as having lots of puzzle pieces but having a challenge putting all the pieces together. Another friend described her job each year as putting the pieces together in a puzzle and then having them all dumped out again. We each have different approaches to putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Some are quick right out the gate, some learn in time how to put them together and others feel like a piece or two is missing.
Tree - When I think of my multi potentiality, I tend to think of a tree. The roots dig deep to form my foundation, but when I get too many things going at once it’s like wild branches that need pruning. When I was working full time in my day job I over pruned and didn’t have any time for the enriching stuff and when I first branched out on my own (see what I did there?) I went in way too many directions at once. This year I am focusing on pruning and strengthening just a few branches at a time.
Spider Web - I see the spider web as sort of a combination of the spiral and the mind map. It’s another way to visualize making constant connections. Like real spider webs, they are never quite as neat and tidy as you might find in a symbol or graphic but can get quite messy.
3D Chess Board - When I brought this idea up to a friend and parent, she shared the idea of a 3d chess board. Not only are you navigating and strategizing on one flat plane/dimension, there are multiple plains to navigate and strategize on all at once.
Maze - One final image that came to mind is a maze where you follow one path and may come to a dead end and have to back track to find your way back.
When I do educational assessment, I don’t just look at numbers but aim to help understand what’s going on in their brains. Often times what I come up with is just confirmation for what they or their parents already knew at an instinctive level, but sometimes the numbers can help explain or justify the pattern. I recently found this imagery really handy to help someone articulate what was going on in their own brain!
I will be continuing to explore how we can befriend our own brains and figure out how to work with our strengths so we can stop working harder and start learning how we work! I believe this can be helpful for adults as well as children and am exploring tools to further explore this domain!
One thing you can explore now is how your own intensity and excitability may play into how you tick through my free Find Your Superpower course. You can access it here! I’ll be working on putting together a list of other self exploration tools soon. If you have one to suggest, let me know!
So how do you best explain your brain?