The social justice goal of The Quad Manhattan is to ensure that every child is able to get the best possible education. The public school system in Manhattan is not equipped to give twice exceptional students an education that both enriches their giftedness while giving necessary support for their learning and social difficulties. In non-specialized environments, twice exceptional students are recognized as being gifted but are called “lazy” since they lack executive functioning or other skills that allow them to take their talents and apply them to their school work. Or, their learning defects or disorders are all that is recognized and they are put in special education classes where their giftedness is left untapped and is not allowed to grow.
In the context of The Quad Manhattan, positive change in education looks like targeted personalized lessons instead of common core curriculum. Every child learns and experiences the world in different ways. It makes no sense to assume that one method is going to work for everyone. The Quad Manhattan only targets twice exceptional children, but this small step is making way for larger educational change. The Quad Manhattan demonstrates that personalized education is possible, and through its psychosocial intern training is teaching the new generation of psychology professionals the theories and methods that will allow for change in both private and public education.
As I discussed in my last post, The Quad Manhattan creates the change they want to see in education through personalization. As much information as possible is gathered from each child’s medical professionals and parents to allow us to create targeted programming for them. One part of this targeted programming that I did not mention in my last post is how The Quad Manhattan focuses more on social and life skills than school subjects, since it is a summer camp and not a summer school. Since I am working with the oldest kids in the camp, we are focusing more on life skills than the other groups. One way we are doing this is by planning field trips. We had our campers suggest locations that they want to visit and we will go on multiple field trips throughout the summer. During these outings, the campers will have to navigate the subway, deal with crowded spaces, and learn to interact with each other and the public in a new environment (with constant staff support of course).
Since it was the first week of camp instead of “Field Trip Friday,” we had “Funky Friday,” which was an all camp carnival. I got to be the fortune teller, which allowed me to interact with all of the kids in the camp instead of just my group, which I loved. Before the carnival, I went to each of the group’s interns and teachers and gathered information on all of the kids, which I turned into cheat sheets that allowed me to have the younger kids believe I was actually psychic.
I got to use my theatre background while interacting with the campers, but the best part of the experience was seeing how truly different every child was. Between hearing all about each camper from their teachers and getting to spend two minutes talking to each child, I got to see firsthand how unique every child was, even within this twice exceptional “niche.” I was very privileged that the way my public school decided was the “correct” way to teach was a way that I was able to pretty easily follow. Being at The Quad Manhattan has opened my eyes to the insane number of different types of learners there are, and I am excited to keep learning and adding tools to my professional toolbox.