VSL Teen

Dear Power Tools,
I am 15 years old, and as far as I can tell I am an extremely Visual Spatial person. I know that I need help with school, but I don't have the money to get diagnosed. And if I do, there don't seem to be any high schools for VSLs. To me it seems that I would need a whole school, but there aren't enough high schoolers for that. Do you know how to help?
VSL Teen
Dear VSL teen,
I definitely remember that feeling--knowing you have more to offer, but being surrounded by a sea of peers who don't appreciate your gifts, and seem to understand everything differently and seemingly effortlessly. For VSL's who excel in the arts, many cities have high schools (and colleges) that specialize in this area. Other schools may have certain classes that will appeal to you, and there are always going to be a few teachers (usually a VSL too) who will appreciate, understand, and encourage you. But, we do have to remember that strong VSLs are a minority of the population, and a part of our experience seems to involve educating others about who we are and what we need.
So, even if you find an educational environment that is VSL-friendly, you will probably have to do some experimenting to find your particular best learning practices, and you'll need to self-advocate to get the differentiated assignments that will keep you enthusiastic. For instance, when a teacher assigns a research project you can: 1) define the topic in a way that highlights your particular interests and skills (i.e. describe the historical event from the viewpoint of the art produced during that time, or explain a scientific concept using the graphic novel format); or 2) ask to present the research in a way that inspires you (i.e. prepare a power point presentation, or an oral report with posters, costumes and props); or 3) ask if you can address the topic from a global perspective (i.e. create time-lines, charts, posters, illustrations that show how the topic relates to the "big picture" or other important concepts); or 4) ask if you can present the information in a creative context (i.e. write a play about it or create a debate or compose an "autobiography" that allows you to discuss the critical points circumstantially as in Diary of Ann Frank).
Remember, your VSL gifts are ones that make you unique. At 15 you probably just want to "fit in" and have your life be a little easier; in the outside world of career and purpose, that creative spark is what will help you achieve innovation and excellence. It's true that most of us have to jump through many ASL hoops to fulfill our life purpose and passion, but looking at the big picture (which VSLs tend to do well), it is worth the hassle.
Linda Powers Leviton M.A.
aka Power Tools