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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some Feedback from a Highly/Profoundly Gifted Student on Installment #1

This feedback is from a highly/profoundly gifted kid and their program administrator. My impression of gifted verses highly gifted kids is that highly gifted kids tend to have an emphasis on cognitive thinking and less emphasis than gifted kids on the emotional perception of things. This is just my impression based on very limited experience.
I base this on the fact that the emotion impact of the storyline seems to have no impact here but in other gifted kids seemed to have a much stronger impact.

Feedback #1:
Kid1 overall impression is that the premise of the story was interesting but he felt like it was written for a little kid because of the "Mommy" and "Daddy" stuff, simple sentence structure and lack of depth in the discussion of topics like DNA, atomic structure, war and death. He felt like it sounded like someone trying to explain these topics to a preschooler. Kid1 asked if he was going to be required to read more of it. This is from a kid with about 50 linear feet of double stacked sci-fi fantasy in his room and who finished your book in under one hour.

Wow, this paragraph packs a lot of information, even more than meets the eye. Mommy and Daddy is used by a first grade character. Almost all the characters are seventh grade and younger. If they are older than first grade when they use those terms, it is to represent extreme endearment to their parents or adoptive parents.
One characteristic of gifted students that this targeted toward is that they feel emotion strongly.

Simple sentence structure: There are two different reasons for that. Stretches of simple sentence structure is meant to convey extreme emotion or rapid action. This akin to a person pumped up on adrenaline and not being able to string long sentences together. In the remainder of the text, I by choice did not use complicated sentence structure. I wanted the Lexile for the text to place it at mid-fifth grade level to mid-sixth grade level. Most middle school books target that level. There is no drawback to using that level. Philosophical, emotional, and social ideas can be conveyed very well at that level. Gifted students are all over the map in terms of reading ability. Having a reading disability myself, I feel that the simplest language that fully conveys those ideas is the best. My focus is on conveyance of the ideas.

Though for some other people, the book is science heavy, this is not meant to be in the slightest breaking ground on basic DNA or atomic structure. There is a section in there where I talk about simple chemical repair of DNA. There are some references on emerging techniques for that. But those are very scientific papers and what I considered beyond the range of gifted middle school students unless that is their particular area of talent. The story mentions that the repair compound is a methylated compound. You might want to research the references and see if a methylated compound could be used for this purpose and if not, what are the classes of compounds that perform this function. Since this is a fantasy book, I am not sure much of what is discussed there is even possible according to physics. So I'm not sure what the point of going into nonexistent science would be.

As far as life and death, I offer no opinions whatsoever. What you have there is a bunch a questions. For example, if you disintegrate a person resulting in a complete mathematical description of them, and then used that description to bring them back exactly as they were, would they be the same person or one that thinks they are. Is it okay to kill a person if you can bring them back to exactly the same state as before with no memory of them being killed (even though they suffered in the process of dying)? Is it possible to produce a deterministic result when all brains evolved in a randomness driven process? You see, this is really a book of philosophy with a nice little story wrapped around it. It presses the emotional limits of the reader. It's designed to make the reader to want to consider the nature of life and their purpose for living. Do the character's emotional needs resemble yours in any way? The book is a gateway to interesting ideas and topics, not a treatise on them.

I guess one of the most disturbing things about the feedback is that I wrote the book to take the reader down a particular path and instead the reader chose to go down a different path. I will have to think about how to put in a bigger hint about what the true argument of the book really is. I'm also sad that it may not be realistic for me to reach this demographic, given what this highly gifted kid thinks is important.

There is more feedback but this was getting long so I am cutting it off for now.

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