Children With Special Needs:
Children with special needs are often also referred to as ‘exceptional children’. These children may either be ‘special’ because of their innate characteristics or the environment in which they have grown.Children with exceptional talents are called gifted and have their special needs. Similarly, children coming from materially deprived and socio-culturally disadvantaged backgrounds have their own special needs.
Traditionally, children with special needs (except the gifted, who are ignored) are labeled as defective and kept away from regular classrooms. ‘Labeling’ children under special categories, many people argue helps in identifying their specific problems and arranging special programmes for them. On the other hand, the disadvantages of labeling, many people believe, are overwhelming. Labeling often is an incomplete description of a human being, focusing on the negative and lowering one’s self image. Second, incorrect labeling or over generalization may lead to incorrect treatment.
Some psychologists believe that creativity is a personal quality or a trait. Others suggests that it is not a personality trait but a skill or a process that produces a ‘creative product’, such as a painting, invention, computer programme or solution to a personal problem. To be creative, a new invention or creation should be intended. A brilliant work of art resulting from an accidental spilling of paint is not considered creative unless the artist recognizes the potential of creating new designs by intentionally spilling paint. Creativity, however, is not restricted to art alone but creative work is possible in all subjects.
Early psychological research in the decade of 1960s suggested that creativity and intelligence are different but related cognitive capabilities. They found that though high levels of intelligence is a requisite trait for high levels of creativity. The following abilities require high levels of both intelligence as well as creativity:
- analyze situations
- see relationships
- separate relevant from irrelevant
- make good decisions
- ask good questions
Guilford (1963) suggested that both convergent and divergent thinking are important in the structure of intellect. In convergent thinking, the answer is often predetermined that is the recognized ‘right’ or ‘best’.Divergent thinking, on the other hand, is characterized by producing a wide variety of alternative solutions,each of which is logically correct. Guilford said that divergent thinking is characterized by fluency, flexibility, and elaboration. Fluency refers to the number of different responses based on retrieval of information from the memory. Flexibility refers to the ability to transform information, to reinterpret it or redefine it and adapt it to new uses. Elaboration refers to thinking about implications and applications of original ideas.
How can creative children be identified? One of the ways of identifying creative children is by looking at their biographical information for creative activities that they have been engaged in. Does the child constantly make or build things? Does he or she have wide interests, hobbies or unique collections? Does the child have unusual experience or talent in art, poetry, creative writing, handicrafts, music, dance, computers or science?Research has shown that involvement of adolescents in theatre is a definite sign of creativity. Children who playwith imaginary friends at the pre kindergarten level also show signs of creativity at a later stage. Besides these,self reported involvement in creative activities, action researches and high levels of task commitment are also signs of creativity. Formal identification procedures include conducting Renzulli’s ten item creativity rating scale, Torrance tests of Creative Thinking etc.
How to promote creativity amongst children:Once a child has been identified as creative, it is important that the creativity be maintained and promoted. Some of the ways to promote creativity amongst children are listed below:
- Encouraging role play and imaginative play
- Helping children apply principles to new situations
- Encouraging children to ask ‘why’ and ‘what if’ questions
- Showing that unusual questions and ideas are respected
- Tolerating dissent
- Providing opportunities for self initiated learning and giving credit for it
- Motivating intrinsically and avoiding tangible rewards and focus on evaluation
- Allowing time and space to try out new activities
- Tolerating disorder during the creative process
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