Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Abstract Student and The Concrete Teacher

Welcome to this week's series:
Hey, Ma, She Just Doesn’t Like Me; Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Your Child Just Isn’t Keeping Up.

If your child has a preference for abstract thinking, he is probably considered intelligent. I emphasize probably because Dr. Geil Browning says in her book, Emergenetics: Tap into the New Science of Success, "Since the analytical attribute can translate to the outside analytical world what the conceptual attribute is thinking, this can be a powerful thinking style."

The student who has a preference for abstract thinking has a strength for understanding the concept of his teacher’s lecture. When the student participates in a group project, his strength is realized from the beginning when he sets the vision or the big picture for the project.

The challenge for the abstract thinking student comes when he gets mired in the details of the project. This is not his strength. He doesn’t like the details. It doesn't mean he cannot do it but it does mean, typically but not always, that he is big picture.

More than likely, the abstract thinking student is good at math but that does not mean he will necessarily like the subject. He is logical and rational and will oftentimes look for his teacher to prove their point (whatever that point might be). If the teacher does not prove their point, she will lose all credibility with her abstract thinking student.

A teacher who has a preference for concrete thinking likes details and structure. If the teacher is a First-Third Expressive (likes control), which is something we will talk about in the coming weeks, she may very well demand structure in her classroom. The abstract student is not big on structure, and this can cause conflict.

More than likely, the concrete thinking teacher’s lecture style will be systematic. One might easily find a PowerPoint presentation loaded with bullets points. Class is likely to begin on time and end on time. Therefore, if the abstract thinking student arrives late for class, he can expect to be disciplined whether in the form of a comment or something more hash. It will depend on the situation. Concrete thinking teachers don’t like to have their routines disrupted. I want to emphasize here the importance that this is typically but not always. Once again, a lot of this will depend on teacher’s level of self-awareness.

An abstract thinking student might easily become bored in class after he understands the concept of the lecture presented by his concrete thinking teacher. I know as a facilitator whenever I teach a class I can easily spot the abstract thinking participant because his eyes will gloss over if they become bored with too many of my details. That’s why movement is important to the abstract thinking student. When referring to a student, have you ever heard the phrase, “He is not being challenged?” I have to wonder if they were talking about the abstract thinking student.

I hope you have enjoyed today's post.

Please join me tomorrow as we discuss: The Social Student and The Analytical Teacher

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