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.
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.
You can also communicate with Parliament on Facebook. It is easy for the public to post to Mana, National, 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!
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.