by Wendy Hirsch Weiner, Ed.D.

There are gifted students who are very driven to succeed at an early age—their grades are stellar and they spend a great deal of their waking moments being productive. And then there are the gifted students who have certain areas of giftedness, but by 5th grade are riddled with anxiety, not turning in homework and often labeled as bored and lazy.

The purpose of Edluministic Learning is to spark critical thinking, a passion for knowledge and independent learning through a combined method of arts-integration and problem-based learning. The methodology was designed to meet the needs of twice-exceptional students. Many of these individuals are designated as gifted and most are at risk. Through extensive observations and meetings with teachers in the classroom, I have found that this population of students learns directly opposite the way the traditional lesson plan structure, based upon Bloom’s taxonomy, has been created. Instead of learning facts and a sequence of information leading towards the greater concept, our targeted population has strong conceptual skills and abstract reasoning and very poor concrete, sequential skills, therefore they are most successful with a program starting with the concepts and working backwards to learn the facts and order.

The Edluministic Learning methodology integrates the performing and visual arts and problem- based learning as the core of its teaching strategy. Problem-based learning strategies are used to bring an issue of concern to the students and have them come to their own conclusions through inductive reasoning. Students are guided to find the research required to master the information and then express their findings not only through a paper, but through artistic expression, which may include performing a short play, a painting, cooking a meal, producing a song and/or shooting a film. The visual and performing arts are incorporated into each lesson as a way to process the information. Organization is taught through art. Empathy, cooperation and spatial awareness are taught through theater. Timing and sequencing are both explored through music, and script writing through film is used to enable the student to express thoughts.

Gifted, underachieving students are often misunderstood, which may lead to poor self-esteem and high anxiety. Edluministic Learning brings out the excitement of learning while addressing their strengths and challenges through the arts and critical thinking opportunities.

Dr. Wendy Hirsch Weiner is the founder and principal of Conservatory Prep Schools in Davie. She can be reached at 954-680-5808 or [email protected]