The fourth Gifted Awareness Week officially begins today. Kathy Williams, Director of The Gifted Education Centre, sends a message of welcome and encouragement:
Welcome to Gifted Awareness Week!
In 2008, the idea of a ‘national event’ was born within the Gifted Education Centre, and it has been both inspiring and humbling to see the exponential growth over the past three years.
The beliefs that embody the very existence of the Centre, as expressed by Prof George Parkyn, remain every bit as true today as they did 50 years ago, and we thank everyone that has been part of the journey towards true awareness of the particular needs of gifted children in the NZ education system since that time.
As many have toiled within the existing school structures as those thinking outside of them. And on behalf of every child who has been helped by your endeavours, thank you.
But what of an educational world without the structures? What might happen with no barriers? No ceilings?
What might a ‘dream school’ look like for a gifted child?
They would be met with acceptance and empathy. Any apparent difference between them and their age-peers would be minimised through informed differentiation and/or grouping as appropriate.
2. Their teachers would be informed, open and trained to offer any of a range of options to meet both their intellectual and social needs.
3. Their school would be flexible in delivery; allow a range of options for meeting the needs of all learners. Children would go as ‘guilt free’ to One Day School™ as others may go to ‘Reading Recovery’™
4. Their parents would be heard – truly listened to – when they approach their teacher, their syndicate leader or their Principal. They may even be openly directed towards established support networks for the families of gifted children.
5. Support options for gifted children nationwide would include funding to an equitable level to that given for any other child operating outside the ‘norm’.
6. Specialist teachers, programmes, advisors and further in-school/out of school support would be funded – again in a manner equitable with all other children with particular learning needs.
7. No one would find the term ‘ gifted’ any more uncomfortable than the term ‘myopic’. “My child needs glasses” at this stage is a much easier statement than “My child is gifted”…and yet both describe the way things ‘are’ for the child concerned.
8. The needs of the child are therefore placed first. Not the reputation of the school, the judgement on the parenting skills of the parents nor the ‘cost’ of providing what the parents and school agree would be in the child’s best interest!
I am sure the list could be longer! However, these thoughts have been prompted by my reflections on the phone calls I have fielded at the Centre in the past week alone.
The week ahead is a shared time of collegial vision and support, with the children always the focus of our endeavours.
Thank you all, again, for your support and advocacy. Please continue to share the message where and when you can, for there are always opportunity to break down a myth or two – and please, remember that this is an election year. It’ll be 3 years until the chance comes again to ask the questions you can ask now, about how these children are going to have their own educational, intellectual, emotional and social needs met. These needs are so real – and three years can easily see the difference between remaining engaged in learning or switching off; developing a healthy self-concept or not; getting ‘through’ life or not.
Photo (and handmade wand) by Flickr member Solo. Photo has attribution, non-commercial and share alike licenses.