As I read last Saturday’s article on gifted education, I found myself getting increasingly anxious while I was reading. I realized I was looking for something in the article. I read the entire piece and reflected on what was bugging me. At first I was focused on my kids and the impact this has on their education. Is their school doing everything to treat them special, as if they were gifted? What could I take away from the article that would make me a better parent?
But what was really getting me was what was missing: our 95 SEAL Canada schools.
I realized that I was waiting to find mention of one of our schools in the article. Over two full pages on gifted education – surely our schools are chalk full of gifted kids and surely our schools provide excellent learning environments for them – and yet not a word about any of them. How could we miss such an opportunity to feature our schools?
But is it? Here are some of my take-aways from this week’s ongoing discussion on gifted education:
Carol Dweck, a psychology professor and researcher at Stanford University, advises that parents and educators should think carefully before using the gifted label with children. (Note to my kids: you are not gifted. And even if you were, I wouldn’t tell you.)
Joan Freeman, British psychologist who spent 36 years studying 210 children – 20 of whom were gifted and author of Gifted Lives, advises that parents and educators should “encourage interests and provide opportunities for learning”. She found the potential of many of the gifted children was not realized because they experienced too much pressure, mental or physical illness, lack of drive or lack of opportunity. She says, “success in school did not predict success outside of it”. It takes drive, application, perseverance and insight to turn potential into adult success.
Joanne Foster, who teaches educational psychology as well as gifted education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, co-wrote (with Dona Matthews) the award-winning Being Smart about Gifted Education: A Guidebook for Educators and Parents, wrote: All children benefit when gifted education is done well. There is a growing body of research that attests to this, and, as noted in the Globe series, there are many ways to address gifted-learning needs effectively.
Our schools do this every day. As I visit schools across the country each week, I see it.
Much as I would like to market our schools and figure out how to get us in theGlobe and Mail, I am happy to salute our schools for working quietly every day to really understand children as individuals, to encourage interests and provide opportunities for learning.