Saturday, October 20, 2012

Giving with One Hand, Taking with the Other

The November/December 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind is a special issue focusing on the topic of Genius. In the article “Nurturing the Young Genius”, Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius and Worrell state that the chief goal of identification and programming for gifted youth is “preparing young people for outstanding achievement”(Mind, p.52) and that “the aim of our proposed framework is to increase the number of individuals who can develop the innovative products and services and to deliver the creative performances that can improve and enhance our lives (p.57).

There is something chilling about the stated motivation behind the delivery of these boons. Should not the students should be the primary beneficiaries? And should we not seek to educate and support children, without reservation, because it is the right thing to do

Gifted children must have opportunities and encouragement for learning, health and personal growth, not be penalized because of some false idea of equality. But if they are not motivated to perform eminently according to someone else’s standardized scale of ability, performance, conformity, and the future, is that their failing or ours? Children should be supported as individual learners simply because they are children and, as such, we have a responsibility to nurture them--not because they had better deliver the goods.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you, 
and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.  
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts. 
For they have their own thoughts. 
You may house their bodies but not their souls, 
for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, 
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.  
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday. 
-Kahlil Gibran

Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting the Most out of the Opportunity

The opportunities to learn and speak with others who “get it” about gifted children can be both rare and enlightening.  Therefore, I believe we (families, educators, community members and other GT advocates) must fortify ourselves when we can.  The NAGC Convention/“Parent Day at the National” in November 2012 brings such an opportunity for learning and support (and to Colorado -- where I happen to live!).  I'd especially like to encourage folks to attend and share some thoughts about how to get the most out of it!

Attendance is an investment of resources already, of course.  However, putting a little further attention into some details has added to what I have personally brought away from conventions and conferences. These are some of the individual investments I would suggest for you to get the most from the NAGC Convention and “Parent Day at the National” experience:
  • Consider your goals:  Determine ahead of time what you hope to get out of the event. Spend some time thinking or writing/drawing/talking out some priorities. How would your attendance most benefit you and the gifted children in your life?  In what areas do you most want to strengthen your knowledge?  What question(s) do you most want to ask?
  • Do your research:  It doesn’t have to be a lot; focus on what is most important to you. The NAGC convention schedule is online for those registered to attending from the 15th-18th. The Parent Day schedule is also available for those attending on the 17th. Take the time to read an article if it will help you better understand a session or ask a question. Look up the layout of the convention center and surrounding area. Know ahead of time where you want to be so you use your time and energy well.
  • Equip yourself for success:  Plan you time. Take breaks if you need them.  Attend with a supportive friend or colleague (you can reflect on ideas throughout the event and afterwards). Carry small snacks and water (in Colorado you can’t have enough water!!) Wear something comfortable and carry your belongings comfortably. At the site, ask NAGC volunteers for directions.
  • Be flexible and prepared to challenge yourself a little:  Ask that key question. Introduce yourself. Meet people from other disciplines and places. (There are people attending from everywhere, all interested in GT -- business cards can be so useful for keeping track of the folks you meet!) Seize an opportunity to learn or do something new and perhaps even unexpected.
  • Note applications:  As you go along, create some form of notes about how you (or others you know) might apply what you are learning. It’s easy to think you will remember but there can be so many good ideas that, by the time you get home, it may be hard to recall specifics.
These suggestions should be thoughtfully adjusted to suit your needs. The most important thing, for the sake of your child, student, and community, is to proactively attend so that you can make a difference for gifted children.