Way back in the later 1970’s, I was teaching in public schools in N. America and feeling the heat of the Does-Giftedness-Matter-Debate.
You know what I’m talkin’ about.
I remember the superintendent at the time saying: “There are no gifted children in our district.” Really? None? Oh boy. But schools in Pennsylvania were mandated to identify their gifted children and meet their needs. In spite of the superintendent, gifted children were, in fact, found. I had the fabulous job of teaching them.
But there was controversy. Discomfort. Misunderstanding. Defensiveness. Anger. Hurt. Bullying. Sadness. Frustration.
And, after about 35 years, there still is. Controversy. Discomfort. Misunderstanding. Defensiveness. Anger. Hurt. Bullying, Sadness. Frustration.
A big concern is this: If some kids are gifted, then others are not. If some children are included in a gifted program in school, others are left out. And being excluded hurts. We want all of our kids to feel special and cherished.
This has been a conundrum for all of the years that I’ve been in the field.
But why label people at all? Why determine that some are gifted? Why not say that we’re all the same? All equal?
Here’s the thing.
We’re not all the same. And isn’t that grand? We have different strengths and weaknesses. Different skills and abilities. Different sizes, shapes and colors. Different beliefs and values. Different languages and religions.
But we’re all equally human. We all deserve respect, compassion, love and opportunity. To be special and cherished.
And: We all know children who are faster and deeper learners, thinkers and feelers. Kids who learn to read when we’re not looking. Who know things we’ve never taught them. Who correct our errors. Who feel our pain. Who perceive sounds or sights or textures or emotions or tastes or intuitions or patterns that the rest of us miss. Who ask questions we can’t answer. Who are wiser than we are.
What do we do with those kids?
Because their particular differences mean that regular schooling may not work very well. That the usual parenting and teaching methods may fail. That some normal life experiences may be overwhelming or disturbing or confusing or devastating.
What do we do with those kids?
First: We all need to calm down. Second: We agree on what’s obvious. That we love all of our children and want the best for them. Third: We use my people-as-ecosystems model to explain their differences and similarities. Then we celebrate all of our kids and determine what they need to thrive. Maybe they have meadow minds, desert minds, river minds or rainforest minds. All of these minds are valuable and beautiful. One mind isn’t better than another. We determine what each of them need to thrive and we give it to them.
And last: We appreciate those intense, complex, super-sensitive rainforest (also known as gifted) minds. We stop cutting them down. We let them do what they’re here to do. Be who they’re here to be.
We will all breathe easier.
To my bloggEEs: Thank you so much for your support! Let us know what you think of the label “gifted” and how you think we can resolve the controversy.