Tuesday, 22 March 2016

In a World...of Positive Roadblocks!

Not untypically for a Saturday night, my wife suggested we watch a film. She had heard good things about a 2013 dramedy called “In a World...” which features a cast of actors (many from the world of stand-up comedy) whom we have both enjoyed in the past.  

Near the end of the film, a character, Lewis (played charmingly by Dimitri Martin), is trying to explain something to the frantic and distracted protagonist, Carol (Lake Bell). Agitated, she cuts him off mid-sentence and begins to walk away. Suddenly, Lewis launches into a series of wild gesticulations that are punctuated by loud, nonsensical chanting.

A confused, but suddenly attentive Carol stops and asks,“What’s the matter with you?”

“I’m sorry. I was trying to get your attention,” responds Lewis. “My mom has ADHD and it’s like...it’s called positive roadblocking. It’s just a way to kind of jolt someone into focusing.”

See the scene here.

The exchange was wonderfully effective on two levels. Not only did it serve to centre the main character, it also riveted my attention on the film. “Positive Roadblocking” was positively curious and I began putting my Iphone to work - jotting the term into my Memo App. My wife, long accustomed to the peculiarities I exhibit when we watch a movie, said nothing. But, I knew she was well aware I was thinking about a possible application to my classroom.

Despite a variety of online searches, I drew a blank. Nothing related to “Positive Roadblocking” came up for inquiries about ADHD or multiple combinations of words such as “road” “block” “positive” “jolting” “focusing” & “strategies”.For the most part, I was directed to links related to the film. 

Although disappointed with my internet searches, I was not exactly surprised.  Having participated in many workshops and done significant research over the past 20 years, I had not heard the term.
Consequently, I am left to consider whether this “strategy” is a fictional creation of the writer (Bell) or a personal strategy employed by someone she knows. The following tweet to Bell has yet to elicit a response.

“@lakebell - Loved “In a World…” is positive roadblocking a fictional creation, a clinical strategy or something you heard about?”  @Mr_H_Teacher

Still, intrigued by the possible potential of “Positive Roadblocking”, I am reaching out to the education community to see if anyone is familiar with the term. I do know, from personal experience, that making a lesson surprising or mysterious engages students; it is a common enough practice used by teachers. So, if anyone out there can enlighten me, including Ms. Bell, I would appreciate any feedback.

I suppose I could just give it a whirl in my classroom? Perhaps, moments before my final review of the formula to find the area of a triangle, I could wildly dance and scream and then say...

“Okay, base multiplied by height and then you’ve gotta divide it by two!”

I’ll update this when I know more.

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