New Zealand’s knowledge economy, it seems, has a fragile and disorganised succession plan for its greatest assets.
Today we begin the third #NZGAW Blog Tour, in the lead up to New Zealand’s annual Gifted Awareness Week. This is a time when many organisations concerned with gifted education in New Zealand collaborate to share the work of creating awareness that gifted children have special educational needs.
There are two very important goals in creating this awareness which are dear to my heart:
One goal is to get the word out to parents that there really is some support available for them and for their gifted children. Gifted is not a label that wins popularity contests. I am privileged to count many parents of the children I teach among my personal friends. To me, such friendships usually begin because these parents are delightful people. But many of the parents tell me that for their part, the friendship really began because I was one of so few people who they could talk frankly to about parenting their child – both the rough and the smooth. Parents of gifted children often feel quite alone, so if you realise that you know a gifted child, please reach out to the parents. Offer your own support, and pass on information about activities which may be of interest to them or their children.
The second goal is to enter into some two-way conversations with Members of Parliament about gifted education. On average, our schools punch above their weight, as shown clearly by international comparisons. However, our teachers usually have little or no specific training in identifying and providing for gifted students. We have gifted children marking time at the tax payers’ expense, becoming disenchanted with school and unaccustomed to making an intellectual effort in the classroom. Our special schools are growing, while state-funded gifted schools are non-existent, and services for gifted children in regular state schools range from invisible to ad hoc.
New Zealand’s knowledge economy, it seems, has a fragile and disorganised succession plan for its greatest assets. We need to do better, and we need government to play their part in making that happen.
However, we have yet to have anyone in Parliament confirm that they are blogging for Gifted Awareness Week this year, despite having posts from Labour, the Greens, ACT and the Māori Party in 2012. This suggests to me that gifted education may be falling in the priorities of government. It is more important than ever, therefore, that you write to your Member of Parliament about the needs of gifted learners. Your experiences as a parent, as a teacher, or as a gifted child are all the qualifications you need to do this. Share these real experiences, and ask for the changes which you believe are needed the most.
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.