Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Edison-Trait Kids

Torch designed and built by Boo-Boo.
Pie tin to reflect the light, and funnel to catch the dripping wax.
Yes, he did light it (on the back deck), and it did catch on fire. More than intended.
There was no permanent damage.


I’m currently reading Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos by Lucy Jo Palladino, PhD. It’s about kids (and, eventually, adults) who are right-brain dominant, or divergent, thinkers. The book was originally titled “The Edison Trait”, because Palladino cites Thomas Alva Edison as the prime example of a divergent thinker. Not just the genius inventor part of his character, but also the kicked-out-of-school and burned-his-father's-barn-to-the-ground (oops) parts. She gives three classifications of Edison-trait kids. There is frequently overlap in these classifications, but often these kids are very strongly one or another. See if you recognize anyone you know in these descriptions.

“Dreamers - Some Edison-trait children…daydream. They live in the sky with their heads in the clouds. They are imaginative and artful. Ideas and stories have personal meanings to them. They can become quite absorbed in “inner space.” If your child can tell you what star date it is, but not the actual month, day, and year, he may be an Edison-trait Dreamer.” (That's T-Bear to a tee).

“Discoverers – Some Edison-trait children….are doers. They must see what happens for themselves, so they “do” first, and ask questions later. They are insistent in their opinions and their inquisitive, adventuresome ways. They are passionate, spontaneous, and often dramatic and entertaining. Like Thomas Edison, they like to experiment, so they test to see how far they can go. They experiment with themselves, with others, and with the rules. If doing things his own way is paramount to your child, he may be an Edison-trait Discoverer.” (That's Brother and BooBoo).

“Dynamos – Sometimes, Edison-trait children….also have an inordinarly high energy level. These are children who are constantly on the move. Sometimes they have an aggressive streak. Their impulsivity lands them in various kinds of trouble, which usually disturbs those around them more than it does them. They can be dauntless. They like power and speed and a personal challenge. If your child can’t pass up a race or a dare, he may be an Edison-trait Dynamo.” (Also BooBoo...nice combination, huh?).

A few lists. Edison-trait children tend to show the following qualities:

• Openness to multiple sights, sounds, and thoughts
• A daring or wandering imagination
• A global perspective
• Creative urges or compelling attraction for new ideas
• Intense focus on his own pursuits and interests

Culturally, we tend to phrase these traits in a more negative light, especially when they are in a classroom setting:

• Is easily distracted
• Lives in a state of disorganization
• Neglects important details
• Doesn’t follow things through to completion
• Won’t obey or comply

Edison-trait kids find some things come easily:

• Thinking up wild or unusual ideas
• Standing up for, feeling strongly about, and getting involved in those ideas
• Making things up, and imagining the future
• Trying things out
• Starting new projects

And, some things are more difficult:

• Focusing on someone else’s ideas
• Letting of his own ideas
• Remembering things he’s been asked to do
• Practicing skills repeatedly
• Finishing things

Now, the author keeps talking about “if you have an Edison-trait child” as if any family would ever only be blessed with one of them. Unlike my family, which has been blessed with three kids who clearly have these traits. And a husband.

I think I need to read faster.


  1. Hmm, reading that I have a discoverer with a touch of dynamo :) And you're telling me that's a good thing, right?!

  2. Yeah, Kez, that's a good long as they survive childhood :)

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  4. Dreamer- that is definitely my older son. The description reads as if written with my son in mind. I can't get him to do ANYTHING that is not of interest to him. He doesn't fight me, he is very passive. He just isn't "there." He literally has the attention span of about 2 seconds if it is not of interest to him so he can not complete any task that was not self chosen/directed.....very frustrating for his mother!