Humans are creatures of habit. We need and feel comfortable within a certain amount of order, structure and routine. This regularity provides the security and safety of knowing what will happen.
Paradoxically, high ability individuals also crave novelty, optimum stimulation and challenge. In fact, this aspect is required if high-ability individuals are to thrive.
Both are required for high-ability individuals; we need to find a way to establish
and maintain a balance between these two different elements. Too much of one – especially if combined with not enough of the other – is (like a scale that is out of balance) unsettling. This lack of balance provokes anxiety and is discombobulating – destabilizing individuals at a base level and preventing them from thriving.
There has been much reference to the psychological toll of recent events due to the uncertainty and disruption of routines. Yet we know that certain individuals thrive when they have exposure to different experiences. How do we reconcile these apparently disparate requirements? It is not an either/or situation. We require both – especially over a prolonged period of time. For a short while, one can substitute for the other but over an extended period, one without the other is not sufficient.
Think of a cracker exploding in a box. Noise is amplified and the impact is optimum. The sides of the box contain, whereas the explosion within is initially unexpected, stimulating our senses. Without the box containing and amplifying the effect, the impact of the explosion would dissipate, reducing the impact of the experience. For high ability individuals to thrive both the regularity of routines and the novelty of experiences need to occur.
From the earliest age, children need the security of routine, to know what is likely to occur next; to understand what is expected of them. As adults, we intuitively provide structure and routine because this provides children with security. To educate, we adults are required to simultaneously provide novelty, with experiences that excite and stimulate. This is a difficult balance to establish and maintain. Events outside of our control (as have occurred recently) sometimes tip the balance, reducing the routine and increasing the variance.
It is important for balance to be restored as soon as possible but sometimes we humans (like swinging pendulums) go too far. We try to increase the deficit area too much - risking further disablement and disengagement of the individual. Providing an external structure and routine provides security within which an internal excitement should optimally occur. One without the other is not sufficient; balance and harmony between these two apparently different experiences must occur if students are to thrive.