Pay Attention to the People on the Edge

Kathryn HaydonBusiness, Deep Souls, Outlier Thinkers

Pay Attention to the People on the Edge

By Kathryn P. Haydon

Business, Deep Souls, Outlier Thinkers

Grasses, herbs, and shrubs predominate in prairie ecosystems. If you ever look out on a prairie and see a tree, chances you are looking at the prairie’s edge.

On the edges, predicability ends and interesting things emerge. The conditions are no longer monolithic. Surprising species mingle. Interesting adaptations form.

Depending on your perspective, edges present either problems or opportunities. My prairie expert colleague, Mike Fox, says the edges are where the action is. The edges of the prairie fascinate him.

I am fascinated by edges, too: the edges of the learning spectrum.

The edges of the being spectrum.

My background working with profoundly gifted and creative individuals has taught me that it is those who don’t quite fit in that can teach us the most about good leadership, good teaching, and deeper understanding.

Yet, most people see problems when they see what grows on the edges. They want to fix the landscape–cut down the trees and plant flowers so it all looks pretty.

E. Paul Torrance knew this, which is why he tested and grew his theories and models on the edges, in the field of gifted. When trying to explain why he believed that the movement for creativity in education would survive the 1990s and beyond, he said this:

“. . .The one thing that I think has made the difference has been the gifted education movement. The minority of people in the movement recognized that the one characteristic common to those who have made breakthroughs in all fields is their creativity; these people have made the difference. In my opinion, this minority has gradually become the majority. Gifted education has nurtured the creativity movement until it is now shared by all areas of education.”

Torrance dedicated his career to the edges, for the direct benefit of every student. How did he do it? By figuring out how to engage the outliers!

He knew that if he could engage those students who fell in the extremes of the bell curve, he could certainly engage the majority.

The Torrance Incubation Model  (T.I.M.) is an incredibly versatile and simple approach to engage outliers and everyone in between.

It can be applied to students in a classroom, employees in a meeting, or kids in a family.

I have been working on an article series to help teachers and leaders use this easy model, including some guests posts from teachers who I have been training in T.I.M. Enjoy the articles, and let me know how you are using T.I.M. at work or at home!

For leaders/managers:
Making boring meetings better with T.I.M. 
How to get creatives to do their best work
Unleash your creativity in four steps

For teachers:
New! T.I.M. Helps Teachers Plan Engaging Lessons Quickly
Teaching history with T.I.M. 
Experiential learning with T.I.M. 
Quick engagement with T.I.M. 

If you want more, let us know. We will train your entire team in the Torrance Incubation Model, and we’ll have fun doing it!


Torrance, E. P. & Safter, T. (1990). The incubation model of teaching. Buffalo, NY: Bearly Limited.

Featured photo courtesy of Prairie Moon Nursery


Kathryn Haydon helps you maximize your creative strengths so you can do your best work. Through keynotes, workshops, and consulting, she trains individuals, leaders, and teams to find the unique spark that leads to deep engagement and productivity.

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