I had such a thought-provoking experience the other day. Friends had asked me to talk to their young teen about some trouble he’d gotten into at school over, of all things, his refusal to finish a science project. His teacher had given him an extension and, when he missed this, gave him a ‘0’ and refused to look at what he’d done. The boy was in obvious distress when we met; his face was drawn and pasty, his voice strained, he was drumming his fingers and shuffling his feet. Ever so gently I asked if I might see the project and what I saw absolutely blew me away; it was, quite simply, brilliant, and what’s more, very nearly finished.
This was starting to become puzzling. When I asked him what else he needed to do in order to hand it in he started shouting that it would be impossible, even though all it would have taken was maybe fifteen more minutes. Yet in his mind the task was overwhelming. Then he started complaining that what he’d done was awful, too idiotic for anyone to see; yet I quite honestly thought that it was extraordinary, both in conception and design. So the mystery deepened. [Read more…]