Twice Exceptional or Just Exceptional?

Today’s guest blogger, Lisa Barlow, asks whether we have a limiting view of some of our gifted learners.

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When thinking about Gifted Awareness Week, what came to my mind was the perceptions of what is considered to be cleverness and academic ability. I am a mother, a teacher, and an educational consultant, and I am constantly amazed at how people view their individual children’s cleverness and academic ability. After 20 years of teaching, and parenting my own two children for the last 11 years, I have experienced a perception of cleverness as being bound up in performance at school or in other educational arenas. I have seen a myriad of thinking and learning styles, and I have a family with the same myriad of styles. Why is it that people have come to see positive results only in terms of excellence in class or exams??

In my experience most children and adults express their true potential and cleverness outside of academic boundaries. One of the meanings of the word academic is being based on theory alone with little practical use. So is academic performance what parents, schools and our society really desire?? At this time we actually need our children to be able to apply knowledge to real life problems. Haven’t some our greatest heroes been those visionaries who have changed our daily lives through their inventions and explorations?

When we apply this to our twice exceptional children are they really twice exceptional or just exceptional? I would argue they are just exceptional. If you could place them in an environment where their style of thinking and learning was totally encouraged, accepted and provided for, then there would be no need for specialist support or a change in curriculum. Take for example our so called dyslexic gifted children. I see many of these in my practice and I no longer call them that, as it creates a perception they can’t learn normally and don’t fit in, where it’s the system which doesn’t fit them. To my way of thinking they are strong visual spatial learners and placed in the right environment they flourish and reach their full potential. There are schools and classrooms in our country providing for these children so they can flourish. However let’s move away from the labels that diminish children’s self esteem.

I realise it’s not always possible to cater for every individual need. However isn’t it time to change our perceptions of what cleverness is? Isn’t it time to move away from the outdated paradigm that measures cleverness in the academic setting and only in limited forms?

I have found that only about a third of every class I have taught actually naturally learn in a classroom setting – those strong auditory types. To keep measuring exceptionality this way is nonsensical to me. Exceptionality comes in all backgrounds, ethnicities, thinking and learning styles. Let’s change our perceptions of what cleverness is and be aware of what labels we use. Our children are EXCEPTIONAL.

Find Lisa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Switch-Learning-Solutions/136679896401032.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Image credit: Warning image CC-BY Mary St George.

Posted in education, gifted | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

I Felt Like an Outsider

Rewi, our guest blogger, read an open letter to Parliament by Hamish, and was inspired to write an open letter of his own, describing some of his difficulties in a previous school. He addresses his letter to two of the Members of Parliament representing the region served by the One Day School he attended, Nanaia Mahuta and Lindsay Tisch

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Tēnā Kōrua Ms Mahuta rāua ko Mr Tisch,

I have written this open letter as a past student of One Day School, I would like to give you an understanding of its importance to someone like me.

At my (old) everyday kura no one got me, I felt like an outsider. Everyone else seemed happy but I was bored. Teachers didn’t understand why I was bored and asked lots of questions (which annoyed them) and just thought I was difficult. Teachers and students thought I was weird as I liked maths and reading. I hated school so much so I often thought it would be easier to be dead. I resisted getting ready for school every day and did quite a few unacceptable things as I felt school was a waste of time and there was no hope (but that didn’t make me feel good either). I was able to deal with feeling so sad about school though as I knew I was loved at home. My mum and dad did an awful lot to support me through this time.

Mum and Dad arranged for me to be academically tested and my result secured my One Day School (O.D.S) place. Although finding out my score did allow me to understand lots of things about why I felt different at school I didn’t know at that stage why they were sending me to O.D.S as I couldn’t believe any school would be different – but it was such a relief:

The days were interesting because of the subjects and the depth we looked at them in and I didn’t always have to stop when the bell went. The teacher understood me and saw me just the same as the others. We were encouraged to be questioning. At O.D.S I didn’t feel like an outsider in a school environment for the first time ever. I found belief in myself that I was normal because the other children there were just the same, for the first time I was able to connect with someone and call him and some others a friend. (It was also good for mum and dad to see there were other kids like me out there too!!)

I was still frustrated at my everyday kura but I understood why and knew there was hope. If it wasn’t for O.D.S I probably would have been excluded from my then everyday kura and been written off, just because they didn’t understand me, my traits and my needs. Because of my time at O.D.S I had the confidence to interview and test for a new school and I now have focus.

These and many more reasons is why not only O.D.S Hamilton but all the others should be kept going. They are a lifeline to kids like me.

Ngā mihi

Rewi (age 10)

I salute Rewi’s courage in making his difficulties in school public in this way, in order to help bring about positive change. This is true advocacy.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

 Image credit: Outsider image (with fiddleheads/pitau) CC-BY Mary St George.

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An Investigation into the Identification of Māori Gifted and Talented Students in Mainstream Schools in Aotearoa New Zealand

Guest blogger Emma Scobie-Jennings writes about her research.

DunedinPublicLibraries

Gifted and talented education has always been a passion of mine, but as my career has progressed I have become more and more interested in how students from minority cultures are identified and catered for in mainstream schools. In 2012 I completed a Master’s thesis on this topic and, in recognition of Gifted Awareness Week, would like to briefly share the outcomes and recommendations that arose from my research.

Giftedness and talent is a cultural construct and what it means to be gifted and talented varies from culture to culture. When schools operate on the norms of the majority culture, what it means to be gifted and talented for minority cultures is often overlooked or not understood. My research set out to establish what is happening in mainstream schools for Māori students who are gifted and talented. I decided to focus on identification as I saw this as the first step towards appropriate provision for Māori students who are gifted and talented. However, as the research progressed I discovered that actually having a culturally appropriate definition was the first step, and intertwined with this was the need for a culturally responsive environment in order for Māori students to be able to display their cultural gifts and talents.

The study used survey methodology and content analysis to establish the definitions and identification procedures used in mainstream schools in one region of Aotearoa New Zealand. The barriers and challenges these schools faced when identifying Māori students who are gifted and talented were also examined. The findings indicated that although some schools had definitions and identification practices which were culturally responsive, their practices were not leading to the formal identification of the numbers of gifted and talented Māori students that are suggested by the literature.

Eleven schools took part in the study and six of these provided the definitions they are currently using. Of these six schools, three specifically mentioned culture-specific abilities and/or qualities as an area of giftedness and talent in their definition and one further school included a document which explicitly described what these might be for Māori using Mahaki and Mahaki’s (2007) descriptors. Five out of the eleven schools had consulted with their Māori community when developing their definition but none of those schools had identified any students as demonstrating giftedness and talent in culture-specific abilities and/or qualities in the last 12 months. These results are similar to the Education Review Office’s (2008) finding where the majority of schools they studied had not adequately taken into account Māori concepts of giftedness and talent in their definition. They also found that of these schools, most had not consulted with their community to help them understand and incorporate these concepts.

Within the eleven schools only nine Māori students had been identified as being gifted and talented in the last twelve months. Six of these nine students were identified as gifted and talented in the area of academic ability, one in leadership and two in sport/physical ability. The respondents noted many reasons for this; however the main reason cited was that teachers were not confident in identifying aspects of giftedness and talent beyond academic ability.

Although the schools’ definitions of giftedness and talent and identification checklists made reference to culture-specific abilities and qualities, the identification processes and numbers of Māori students being identified as gifted and talented did not match up in most cases. This means that Māori students that are or have the potential to be gifted and talented may not be experiencing the opportunities to allow their gifts and talents to be recognised and developed. The main reason cited for this was teacher knowledge, expertise and confidence in this area. However, only one school had taken part in professional learning and development which involved the identification of Māori students who are gifted and talented. The literature reviewed strongly promoted the importance of a culturally responsive environment to the identification and development of Māori students who are or have the potential to be gifted and talented, but again this relies on teachers having the knowledge, support and confidence to create and maintain such environments.

Gifted and talented education is a vitally important aspect of education and meeting the needs of all gifted and talented students remains a major issue in Aotearoa New Zealand education, but is particularly an issue for students from minority cultures. Culturally responsive gifted and talented education has the capacity to improve learning outcomes for all students from minority cultures as it requires teachers to concentrate on students’ strengths rather than focusing on deficits. On the basis of the findings of this research, the recommendation is made to school leaders that they enable their teachers to undertake professional learning and development about how to create and maintain culturally responsive environments for Māori students. This step would benefit not only the Māori students who may be gifted and talented but all Māori students in their classrooms. There are many providers offering professional learning and development in this area, however teachers need to have time and money to take part in these initiatives. With the current demands on primary teachers to implement National Standards and the focus on raising literacy and numeracy levels, unfortunately gifted and talented education seems to not be a priority. This is a short sighted view, and one that does not take into account the benefit improving gifted and talented education provides for all students, encapsulated by the notion that “a rising tide lifts all ships” (Renzulli, 1998, p. 1). The Ministry of Education needs to reassess the current disproportionate weight given to the improvement of literacy and numeracy levels. Teachers need to be provided with the means to seek ways of improving these levels that will also benefit gifted and talented students, such as developing culturally responsive environments that cater to all student’s needs.

If you would like to read my full research report, please email me at emmascobie@hotmail.com and I will happily email you a copy.

References:

Education Review Office. (2008). Schools’ provisions for gifted and talented students. Wellington, New Zealand: Education Review Office.

Mahaki, P., & Mahaki, C. (2007). Mana tu, mana ora – Identifying characteristics of Māori giftedness. Proceedings of the National Gifted Education Advisor Hui. Auckland, New Zealand.

Renzulli, J. S. (1998). A rising tide lifts all ships: Developing the gifts and talents of all students. Retrieved 12 October, 2012 from Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/sem/semart03.html

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament. 

Image credit: The image of children and their artwork by Dunedin Public Libraries has a CC-BY-NC-ND Creative Commons license.

Posted in education, Educational Research, New Zealand, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Gifted Deserve More

HeyNothing

Every weekday, kids go to school to learn. To learn vital skills for when they grow up, to learn fun facts to teach others. But for the gifted, this is another story. Some of us go to normal public schools, like any other child would. And when we are at school, we practically learn nothing! A lot of gifted children have a love to learn, and that is what school is for. But at school, their wish to be educated is not fully fulfilled! There are many people from around the world like this, and they are the only ones who will ever know what it feels like to be a gifted child.

We need schools that have extension work for the gifted, we need teachers who can look at every child as an individual and extend them so that they are working to their full potential. What we really need is a whole entire school for the gifted, with teachers who understand the gifted and can provide work at their levels individually.

By Lily, aged 9.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Photo credit: The image at the top uses this photo CC-BY-NC cobalt123.

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Young Members of Mensa New Zealand

Please welcome today’s guest blogger, Annika Voulgaris, writing about her role with Young Members of Mensa New Zealand.

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My name is Annika Voulgaris, I’m 25 and I am the Young Members co-ordinator and Gifted Children’s liaison for Mensa New Zealand. Young Members is a social and professional network and community for members of Mensa New Zealand under the age of 30. This group is designed to complement work being done by parents, teachers and gifted education providers around New Zealand. We want young, intelligent people to meet each other and form the connections and community that many Mensa members miss in the early years of their lives.

Our group started out of a little bit of necessity and a lot of initiative. When I joined Mensa in 2008, I was concerned there was not much available for Young Members like me and I did not really know anyone else my age. I saw the Young Members Co-ordinator position was vacant and asked our National Board if they were ok with me playing around with this. They were, and have been very supportive of the work we’ve done.

One major initial hurdle was that were only a few Young Members and we were spread all over New Zealand. To help break down this barrier, I set up a Facebook group called Young Members of Mensa New Zealand where young members could sign up, meet each other and post discussions and articles they find interesting. Because some people have concerns about publicly being a part of Mensa on Facebook, this group is secret and invite only, to protect members’ privacy. We arrange Young Members and Mensa “get togethers” on the page and use the invite system to let Young Members know what is going on around the country.

Parents of younger Young Members who are unable to have their own Facebook pages are very welcome in this group to enable their children to have access to what is happening online. We also have a public page so people can search for us on Facebook and get in touch with Young Members directly.

We started with members aged between 15 and 25, but requests from members to stay, and then requests from parents of younger members for them to join our group led us to expand it to all Mensa members under 30. Young Members of Mensa New Zealand currently has 111 total members with 91 members in the Facebook group, and plans on expanding. Many of our new Mensa members are coming from those under the age of 20 and we hope to continue this trend.

We actively promote Mensa in universities throughout New Zealand and we are working at getting more interaction with New Zealand schools. We have a good relationship with the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, and hope to continue and strengthen this relationship.

One of the main reasons our group works so well is the age range of our members. Young Members provides a stable community supporting young people from primary to intermediate schools, through to college and university. The years between 18 and 30 are particularly important, when students leave home, school and take on the world alone. While maintaining their independence, Young Members provides a welcoming community of like-minds for members to discuss ideas, articles and reach out to other members when needed.

We have an amazing group of gifted young people here in New Zealand, and our group is now receiving attention from all around the world. Next month I will be doing a presentation on Young Members of Mensa New Zealand at the United States Mensa Annual Gathering in Fort Worth, Texas and at the European Mensa Annual Gathering in Bratislava, Slovakia as part of the Leadership Exchange Ambassador Programme. I will be talking about how Young Members groups are important to bridge the gap between gifted children’s groups and older Mensa groups, and helping young gifted people to meet each other and form lifelong friendships. I am blogging about my experiences at these events and my blog can be found at http://annikasleap2013.blogspot.co.nz/

Our next initiatives for young people in New Zealand are the Mensa Tertiary Scholarship and the Mensa Young Members further education program. We hope these initiatives will encourage gifted young people to reach out to Mensa, and will help our Young Members reach their potential.

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If you would like to get in touch with Annika and Young Members of Mensa New Zealand, please email young.members@mensa.org.nz or visit us at Young Members of Mensa New Zealand on Facebook.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Photo credit: Photo kindly supplied by Annika.

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Here’s to Gifted Awareness Week!

PuffDaddy

Here’s to Gifted Awareness Week, and here’s to Leigh! Please welcome Leigh, our guest blogger for today. Leigh was on Facebook, and did some thinking. I hope you’ll like what she came up with, and share that on Facebook, too.

I couldn’t find a link or meme that portrayed Gifted Awareness Week that resonated for me and my perspective as the parent of a gifted child. It is a struggle to find the right words, that don’t sound like I am boasting about our child, or come across as very defensive. While it’s ok to post memes about breast cancer, autism, etc etc, it feels very uncomfortable to do so for gifted kids and education. (They are achieving, what’s to worry about right?! ;-) ) And while I don’t talk often about our amazing son and his abilities (unless to close family/friends who ‘get it’), I wanted to celebrate who he is and the challenges that he and all gifted kids and their parents and educators face. I came up with something in the end, and posted to my wall. I do wonder what response I will get if any from my FB friends.

“Here’s to our funny, intense, quirky, sensitive kids. Here’s to our thinkers, creators, artists and musicians. Here’s to our speech makers, future leaders, curers of disease, Olympians, the scientists and the computer programmers. Here’s to the question askers, and problem solvers, the worriers and those that carry to weight of the world on their small shoulders. Here’s to the twice exceptional people, who despite extra challenges shine through. Here’s to all their story writing, equation solving, picture and diagram drawing, complicated questions, sleeplessness, voracious reading, lego creations and minecraft worlds (!)

Here’s to the parents who raise them. Spend many hours worrying over them, and their needs. Who’s heads explode with the questions, mind bending logic and the sheer full-on-ness of it all. Who try to keep their kids feet on the ground, give them life skills to survive this world, and also be ‘that’ parent to make sure their needs are met educationally.

Here’s to the amazing teachers who ‘get’ our kids, and love them for who they are and attempt to meet their unique educational needs, within the ordinary classroom, and in specialized pull out programmes.

Here’s to politicians and the Ministry of Education supplying our children with what they need. Education isn’t about National Standards folks, it’s about ALL children having their educational needs met, at their own unique level, and pace.”

So yes, I did post that as my Facebook status, and just to show that Gifted Awareness Week really is working, I had a Member of Parliament reply. So here’s to Catherine Delahunty, and other Members of Parliament who are taking part in the Gifted Awareness Week conversations.

Thank you, Leigh, for permission to post this.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Image credit: The photo used in this post is by Joshua Raymond of Rochester SAGE, and has attribution and no derivatives licenses.

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It’s All About Awareness

Gifted Awareness Week starts tomorrow, and awareness is exactly what it is all about. There are shared messages we want to send, and there are personal messages we want to send. Here are some of the things I want to say:

  • I want to say that gifted kids are real.
  • I want to say that while every child is precious, gifted education is not about that. It is about a small group of children who have special educational needs for greater pace and complexity of learning. These needs are difficult for regular teachers to meet in the mixed ability classroom.
  • I want to say that high teacher workloads and teacher burnout are real, and that simply making gifted education every teacher’s problem without additional support is both unrealistic and unkind.
  • I want to say that gifted children come from all walks of life, and that valuing diversity and valuing giftedness must always go hand in hand.
  • I want to say that meeting gifted children’s educational needs matters for the wellbeing of gifted children and for the wellbeing of  the communities who will ultimately be supported by the gifts of the gifted.

However, there is no point in me saying any of these things if I am talking to myself. I do talk to myself, I admit it. It’s just that doing so does not create awareness.

selftalk

Talking to oneself can be fun… but does not create awareness!

So we need to think about who we would like to send our messages to, and how we would like to send them.

Writing to Parliament is essential. While good teaching in the classroom makes all the difference, it mostly depends on dedicated teachers getting their own professional development about giftedness and then going the extra mile in curriculum delivery. Classroom delivery of gifted education will remain a generous act of good will by individual teachers unless there is supportive change from government. You can write a paper letter, an email, or an open letter like this one by a 9 year old child. You can also view a shared letter from gifted advocacy groups and a letter template to help you.

Don’t have time? Send shorter messages, or send someone else’s message to Parliament.

You can tweet one of the letters linked above, or your own comments, to a political party. You can even tweet them my gifted MP post. Tweet to @NZGreens, @nzlabour, @NZNationalParty, @nz_first, @Maori_Party, @ManaParty and @actparty. Visit their Twitter profiles and see who they are tweeting to. You may like to message some of them as well. Please use #nzgaw somewhere in each tweet. It will link to other Gifted Awareness Week tweets, so that readers can click on the hashtag to get a broader understanding of what is going on. You can also click on #nzgaw and retweet other tweets. It shows support and spreads the message wider.

Other people to tweet to are real politicians like @hekiaparata, spoof politicians like @Not_JohnKeyPM (because if they reply, lots of people read what they say) and the media.

You can also communicate with Parliament on Facebook. It is easy for the public to post to ManaNational, Labour, NZ First and ACT. The Greens and the Maori Party allow comments but not new posts by Facebook page visitors. Sometimes you can find a relevant post to reply to. Otherwise you can message the page privately at the top right.

Add the #nzgaw hashtag to Facebook posts and comments. They may not work for you yet, as they are still being rolled out. However, if you type them, they will work for others. Clicking on a hashtag in Facebook links to public posts and your own friends’ private posts containing the hashtag. It does not link to comments or linked materials containing the hashtag at present, but a hashtag in a comment is still useful – it is just a one-way link. Continue to like and share #nzgaw posts, as you would do for posts without hashtags. No change there!

After you have contacted Parliament, you’ll probably find talking to teachers and friends relatively easy. Mention “the G word”. Lots of times. All week long. And if you’re doing it online, don’t forget to #hashtag it!

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Photo credit: The photo used in this post is by Alex Guerrero, and has attribution and share alike licenses.

Posted in advocacy, education, facebook, gifted, New Zealand, twitter, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Give Us a Challenge

MoreChallengePleaseMaths

Sometimes at school I feel like saying out loud: “Maths just has to change. RIGHT NOW. What I really mean by that is, “Give us a challenge”.

Well, you can’t really blame me. I’m a year 4, in the highest maths group. We are getting things like 45 – 6 = ___. AT LEAST we could get 6 times table. I think that people with such talent should be getting better things. It isn’t fair for people who know this stuff. I mean, I have a really nice teacher and I want to LEARN. School is for LEARNING. Not remembering.

I feel good that some people are learning, but I only learn more maths at home with my dad. I like multiplication and division and hard subtraction. Some people might whine and complain about something harder, but they probably only do it because they always get easy things and are not used to harder things. And if you actually try, you might just be able to do it.

Maths should be a fun and challenging topic, not an easy and boring topic. Accept a maths challenge. You might be able to do it!

Written by Lara, a Year 4 student.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Photo credit: The image at the top uses this photo CC-BY misskprimary.

Posted in education, gifted, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

An Open Letter to Parliament from a Gifted Child

A nine year old boy writes to his Member of Parliament, asking for government funding for a charitable trust which is one of New Zealand’s largest providers of gifted education. 

LettersHamish

13 June 2013

Dear Mr McIndoe

THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOLS FOR GIFTED KIDS

One Day School is very important to me. It is special for gifted children and there are plenty of them. Sadly, the Gifted Education Centre office is losing money quickly and is low on resources! If we don’t act quickly, One Day School will fall into debt, and normal schools aren’t always enough for gifted children. I have experienced this myself before I went to One Day School. So I suggest that you please give some funding to One Day School.

One Day School is different from normal school because:

  • It is a small class size (less than 15 children)
  • It is much more creative
  • It has a selection of activities available which we can choose according to our learning styles
  • It gives each child a good amount of time to talk with the teacher
  • The teachers are trained to work with gifted children and help develop their gifts
  • Time is allowed for discussing ideas with the class
  • The subjects studied in class are different and mind stretching compared to normal schools

Before I started One Day School (aged 8 years) I found normal school boring and I hated going to school. Sometimes people did not accept that I was different and because of that I often felt lonely and sad too. So I am glad that One Day School is here in Hamilton so I can have a better education and work with children similar to me.

So I do not want One Day School to end. Please help!

From
Hamish.

I hope Hamish’s letter will encourage older readers to write to Parliament, too. Model letters are available on the giftEDnz site.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Photo credit: The image at the top by Jason Dean has an attribution license.

Posted in education, gifted, New Zealand, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Your MP is Probably Gifted

BeehiveLaureate

Your Member of Parliament is probably gifted. Yes, you read that correctly. Think about it:

  • Members of Parliament are popular… as the butt of jokes.
  • People’s eyes light up when they realise an MP is actually listening to them, but only a special kind of person takes a sincere interest in the words of an MP.
  • When an MP comes up with a solution to a problem, the result is often so far removed from the everyday, common sense solution that Joe Average is thoroughly mystified as to how it could possibly work.
  • People assume that becoming a Member of Parliament can only happen after an over-privileged background with insanely pushy parents. Genuine leadership ability, they say, is very rare, possibly non-existent, and definitely somebody else’s problem.
  • People don’t believe that Members of Parliament require any support, assistance or encouragement. Providing these things would only make matters worse.

Pretty much the same as your typical gifted child in a New Zealand school, actually. But unlike a kid at school, Members of Parliament have many years of life experience to help them deal with the seamier side of being gifted. And wine. We don’t give gifted kids wine.

However, unless your elected representative’s gifts extend into the field of narcissism (and we won’t name any names) it is highly unlikely that he or she thinks of him/herself as gifted. Gifted means like Einstein, right? Well, not quite. While Einstein was definitely gifted, many theorists today would regard the most able 5-10% in any field as gifted. Most people in that top 5-10% are more aware of what they’d still like to learn than what they already know. This helps gifted people to avoid complacency, but it also gives giftedness a kind of invisibility – an awareness barrier. Most gifted people do not feel gifted.

Next week is Gifted Awareness Week. Please ask your MP to consider the possibility that he or she may be gifted. Then suggest a school visit, along the following lines:

  • Go into classrooms and look for the children who seem like possible future Members of Parliament.
  • Ask those children what they are learning at school and what they’d really like to learn.
  • Ask them whether school ever lets them down.

If every Member of Parliament does that much and no more this Gifted Awareness Week, we will achieve greater awareness. Awareness is surely the root of all policy… or let’s hope so.

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Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/874/.

You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.

Photo credit: The image at the top was modified from a photo CC-BY-NC-SA Justin Wyne.

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