As many of you will be aware, I’m in harrassment mode. Right now I can be relied upon to find a connection between just about anyone I know and giftedness, and to ask whether they have opinions on giftedness which they might be persuaded to express in a blog. I’m leaving no stone unturned. The reasons are Gifted Awareness Week and the blog tour, but you probably knew that already. The process of encouraging people to write whatever they really think is refreshingly different from being the person whose opinion is called for, which is often my role. Most responses have been fascinating, as many people have simultaneously realised that they want to know more, and also that they already have something to say.
I’ve sought out people I admire for one reason or another, including a couple of teachers I’ve admired who once taught me. Teachers who showed particular aptitude in challenging me and fascinating me, back when I was a gifted kid myself. Artist teachers who knew their material and knew their craft. And one of them said no! What’s more I’m highly suspicious that the other one is going to. What’s that about?
It seems to be about another way of doing gifted education well. What’s coming through is a “leave no stone unturned” attitude to potential. These guys lived their teaching lives to see the lights come on, in any learner’s eyes, whether a student who struggled finally joyfully comprehending the basics a few years later than others (yes, joyfully in these guys classes, I saw it happen!), or a student who soared academically seeing fresh possibilities and exploring questions a few years ahead of his or her time. These teachers differentiated before it was a buzz-word, and they made it look as natural as breathing. We don’t often notice ourselves breathing, and they didn’t explicitly notice that they “got” gifted education. One of these men even considers that it would be a whole new field for him!
If all teachers were like this, we would have little or no need for gifted education – the need of gifted children to spend time with like-minded individuals would be the main impetus. They are gifted teachers, and like gifted kids, you’ll find some in every community. As with gifted kids, an awful lot of people know who the gifted teachers are without applying any kind of assessment. As with gifted kids, it simply doesn’t work if you expect all the other teachers to be like the gifted ones. They’re not. But as with gifted kids, let’s celebrate the ones we find. No system identifies every gifted child, but teachers like these men have what it takes to challenge every gifted child, because they leave no stone unturned. They challenge them all. I’m thankful that they taught me.
Photo by Flickr member “Tingy“.