Awakening the Genius in Every Child: discovering and reviving the natural motivation that exists in all children at birth. – Thomas Armstrong (2013)

Awakening the Genius in Every Child: discovering and reviving the natural motivation that exists in all children at birth. Thomas Armstrong (2013).


Thomas Armstrong (2013) talked about his definition that all children are “Genius” in the youtube embedded in this post. What does he mean? He meant “genius” in the sense that we are all genesis (born) to geniality (joy) of learning.

When Dr. Armstrong gave an expanded talk to students at the Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education, there were differing opinions amongst our graduate students. The civility of our differing opinions and willingness to engage in the dialog was a great tie-in with Nel Nodding’s (2018) education for caring. Everyone benefits from being open to listening to differing opinions.

Regarding labels, I found it helpful when we did not have language or schema to describe our 2e child. The labels helped me narrow down which areas to focus on, in terms of a more targeted framework, to begin researching information to then use that information to reflect and evaluate applicability for my child and our family experience in particular. As I learned more, these labels freed our family, at the same time these labels became “LABELS” where they started to become limiting to how others saw our family and son, instead of seeing HIM. Labels are double-edged swords. We have to be careful as we develop over time, and our identities do not become defined by labels.

Additionally, due to our own personal experiences along our path of discovery and exploration, I see the need for constant balancing between the duality of labels whereby it can be freeing yet limiting or even harmful, depending on the person and environmental interactions including physical, and social-cultural and interpersonal.

If I had not had some basic knowledge on giftedness and ADHD, my son would have likely been diagnosed with ADHD and with a strong push for medicating our son from the school. It was through our own observations and basic psycho-educational report that led us to investigate developmental vision, sensory processing, and other possibilities before even considering ADHD. During Dr. Armstrong’s talk, I shared that my son used to be always constantly moving and touching everything, the true underlying causes of his behaviors were because he had vision issues, couldn’t cross mid-lines and had poor visual-motor coordination. These caused him to present as someone that likely would be labeled medically/clinically or educationally as ADHD. After his vision therapy, he has now swung to the other end of ADD (now called ADHD with attention deficit) into the deficient end according to the clinician and some of his teachers, instead of the hyperactivity end. They had not considered once his gifted dimensions as a cause for ADD-like behaviors. How can anyone pay attention all the time when the tasks are boring day in and out, while his brain is contemplating ideas such as the meaning of life, death, and the universe?

The other thing I found interesting from Dr. Armstrong’s talk is the “identity first” and “person-first” use of language. I have struggled with this thus far. Dunn and Andrews (2015), wrote that the American Psychological Association advocates for the person-first language, just like Thomas Armstrong in our talk today, while most individuals with disabilities prefer the use of identify-first language, which was also echoed by some of our colleagues. The authors suggested five ways that using BOTH languages would increase psychologists’ disability cultural competence. Choices made by different groups on their preference on using identity-first or person-first language can help psychologists to honor the particular group’s preference when writing about them. the authors state that knowing when to use identity-first or person-first language with a particular group is a signal of the psychologist’s professional awareness and a way to offer respect and social support to the group’s choice.


Dunn, D. S., & Andrews, E. E. (2015). Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists’ cultural competence using disability language. The American Psychologist, 70(3), 255-264. doi:10.1037/a0038636

Thepublicvoicesalon. (2018, February 17). Nel Noddings on Education for Caring [Video]. Youtube.

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