Thursday, June 14, 2012

Teaching the boring moment

I am in the midst of reading Thinking about YOU Thinking about ME by Michelle Garcia Winner. This book is a well written and practical text on teaching perspective taking to individuals with social cognitive learning challenges. The diagnoses that primarily comprise these people are autistic spectrum disorder and nonverbal learning disability.  I am continually impressed with Michelle's grasp of the needs of the individuals and her ability to communicate her curriculum. If you are working with people in these populations, her work is a great tool.

Yesterday the item that hit me profoundly was "teach about the boring moment." Everyday we experience boring moments: waiting in lines, listening to "boring" discussions, not having something to do... For people with social cognitive learning challenges, their list of boring may be much larger than for the general population because of their restricted interests, limited skill sets and/or egocentric worldviews. I know with my son, the complaint of boring rears its ugly head on a regular basis, accompanied by increasingly inappropriate behaviors.

Michelle argues that it is important to teach people that there will be boring moments in the day, lesson, experience, and it is up to us to accept and deal with it. The first step is recognition of the omnipresence of these boring moments. They exist. They can even be put on the agenda. Once acknowledged, people need to fake interest or the preferred activity, whatever it may be, may be delayed or removed. I think this is a valuable lesson for many students who think a teacher's job is to provide entertainment all day. If we can teach appropriate responses to boring moments, many lives will be improved.

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