Sunday, January 1, 2017

Gifted advocacy: A call to action

Gifted advocacy is often under the same scrutiny that gifted children and gifted education endure - sometimes viewed as a non-essential and frivolous venture for hot-housed rich kids.

Those who understand and know giftedness recognize the fallacy (and absurdity) of these claims. Nevertheless, gifted advocacy can be perceived as a lightweight endeavor - championing rights for those who are innately more privileged. As a result, gifted advocates are required to repeatedly inform the public about the needs of gifted children, and also educate them about the legitimacy of their advocacy work. In fact, gifted advocates face the same roadblocks that other activists endure: misunderstanding, trivialization, lack of funding, taunts of elitism, isolation, and sometimes outright hostility.

And who among us hasn't sometimes questioned whether our energies should be directed instead toward something more important (world peace, hunger, the environment, politics, even other aspects of education). Not that we can't focus on more than one cause... But even gifted advocates can become lulled into believing that giftedness is not a particularly worthwhile endeavor.

Just like it is possible to overlook the well-fed child whose depression remains hidden, the verbally abused child without physical signs of bruising, the child whose dyslexia goes unrecognized because of passing grades, the athlete who "shakes off" a nagging injury until it becomes permanent, it is easy to ignore gifted children, who coast through school and don't seem to need as much as at-risk, struggling students. Balancing limited time and energy, even the most well-meaning teachers direct their attention toward those who struggle the most. And gifted children's "hidden" needs are overlooked.

So, as parents, teachers, counselors and researchers, let's put aside any ambivalence, guilt, distractions, and internal conflicts that might interfere, and continue advocating for gifted children this year. There are lots of important issues facing the world in 2017, and we can devote our energies to those causes that mean the most to us. But gifted children deserve our energy as much as anything else.

For advice on advocacy, start with NAGC's advocacy toolkit, view articles on Hoagiesgifted, and check with your state gifted education organization.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!

Gail

6 comments:

  1. So well said and so important. Thank you for all you do.

    Parent of my gifted DS7

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  2. Thank you for candidly bringing this issue to the forefront. As a teacher and researcher of the gifted population, advocacy is essential to maintaining and building exceptional programming for our children.

    Kristy Dunn
    Alberta, Canada
    BEd., MEd.

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  3. Thank you for candidly bringing this issue to the forefront. As a teacher and researcher of the gifted population, advocacy is essential to maintaining and building exceptional programming for our children.

    Kristy Dunn
    Alberta, Canada
    BEd., MEd.

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    Replies
    1. Kristy, Thanks for your feedback, and for the work you do!

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  4. I have been a gifted educator for 25 years and am so glad someone else senses the dangerous consequences of inaction.
    Sharon Morrison, Ed.S.
    Atlanta, GA
    E

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    Replies
    1. Sharon, Thanks so much for your comments. I think a lot of us are concerned - we just have to keep on advocating for these children!

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