Lee never feels like she has any good ideas. She wishes she only had to take math and science classes. It's not that she hates English and history, but too often she needs to come up with ideas for projects. She would much rather have her teachers lecture and tell her what she needs to know for the test.
Lee has a great memory for facts. She is in eleventh grade and while she scored well on her SAT's, she is struggling with what to write for her college application essay. She is supposed to write about a personal experience and Lee has no idea what to write about.
Lee has always had a hard time coming up with topics for papers. She hated class projects where she needed to come up with the most creative new uses for junk or brainstorming ideas for how to design the new school courtyard. She was relieved when she started taking higher level math and science classes where the emphasis was more on problem solving and using what she had learned, and less on novel problems.
Lee is beginning to panic about her English project due at the end of the semester. The class had to choose a book from the teacher's list, describe the character's development through the book, and compare the characters choices in life to their own lives. Lee chose the book "Siddhartha" and submitted a timeline of his life for the first draft. While the timeline was accurate, her teacher told Lee the assignment was about description and comparing the character's life to her own. Lee started to write down some quotes from the book, but she is struggling to put them in her own words. Lee asked her teacher for help and her teacher said, "Just be creative." Lee tried, but she couldn't think of anything.
Lee doesn't like questions that start, "What do you think...." She would much rather tell the teacher what she knows. On a recent open book essay test, Lee became more and more frustrated because the teacher asked open-ended questions with more than one possible answer. Rather than try to think about the critical ideas to compare, she kept trying to find the answer in her textbook.
Lee wants to go to medical school right after college and wants to only apply to pre-med programs. Lee's mother wants her to go to a Liberal Arts College to get a broader education than just science and math classes. Lee doesn't want to take any other classes. She tried to explain that she doesn't get as anxious when she's in a class where she just needs to learn the information and not explain it.
Lee would benefit greatly from gaining a better understanding of her own profile of strengths and weaknesses. By becoming more metacognitive, or thinking about her own thinking, Lee will increase her understanding of why she prefers and does better with certain subjects and assignments over others, and she will be better able to consider her future academic and career options, for example, to find a medical program that is the best match for her.
Within the classroom, Lee's teachers should make an effort to create an environment in which she feels safe and supported in taking risks, using her imagination and thinking in innovative ways. This may require providing Lee with more structure at first, as she becomes more accomplished at generating ideas independently.