Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Big Picture

True Confession.  I felt compelled to put my money where my mouth is this weekend. I joined the National Association for GIfted Children (NAGC).

I've been a member of the local and state gifted affiliates for years and years. Not just an active participant "member" (which I'm certainly not saying isn't a sort that counts) but a paying "member" too.

I used to have a NAGC membership many, many years ago after my oldest was first identified as gifted, but eventually let it lapse when I found that the resources I required went beyond those found in Parenting for High Potential. Our GT monies were being spent on books, conferences, homeschooling, early college....  I hope we've "payed it forward" for our community (and eventual grandkids) by staying involved with gifted education even while homeschooling. We had experience to spare, if not money!

But at a recent GT meeting I found myself realizing that if I keep looking at it as the "monetary return on investment" I'm just going to continue to be frustrated, that I need to think about the potential value in another way:
  • Do I want to put money into gifted advocacy at a federal level?
  • Do I want gifted education to have a louder "voice"?
  • Do I want parents to be better represented in gifted education?
Well, yes.

So, again, none of this is to say that I think that being physically and immediately involved in kids' lives and educations isn't the absolute priority (and, indeed, absolutely exhausting).  However, I believe that the Big Picture trickles down to that same exhausting microcosm.  As my daughter reminds me about, oh, everything, "It's a system, mom!"  While meeting individual needs is imperative, ultimately the situation will never improve if each parent and each educator continues to look ONLY at the nearest (and dearest) level.

Perspective: In our busy daily lives, we might notice the center point
--not the relation to the other factors or that they are actually moving.
 Stars around Polaris - Day 62 by Velo Steve

We ignore the Big Picture at our (exhausted) peril. Each GT parent and educator should not have to "re-invent the wheel", nor should they feel they are alone with their struggles, questions or celebrations. Therefore connecting to the larger gifted community is important, not just for ourselves but for others.

Where I've connected in time, effort, and participation, it has made a difference for our family and for me personally. While any kind of involvement may not mean an immediate return, I've found over the years that what I've put in does have a way of "paying off" in the end.

But I realized I might need to turn the perspective around and also consider the ways my individual choices impact the larger picture. And NAGC membership is a pretty straightforward way to connect, especially as they
  • take a stronger role in advocacy 
  • reach out more to parents, and 
  • have a strategic plan to encourage the public's value and support of gifted learners. 
No one can take on those Big Picture tasks individually, even though we all value them. But together we can contribute to their success.

Looking beyond the immediate
Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphère: météorologie populaire (Paris, 1888), page 163.


  1. I did the same thing for pretty much the same reasons a couple months ago. I think our motto needs to be, "once an advocate, always an advocate"! If we want the world to be a better place we must identify and support our most highly-abled. Yes, all children may have gifts, but if we fail to discover the academically gifted ... our future becomes a little less bright.

  2. And this is why, I keep supporting a global effort, regardless of it's ups and downs.. we must carry on.

  3. #gtchat and all those involved in gifted advocacy are what keeps me going, today. I love the global aspect. Fifteen years ago my focus was at my local school with my two children's needs only because there were few publications designed to support parents of gifted children.