Monday, January 28, 2013

What is this blog for, anyway? Giftedness explored

Gifted children and adults are different. They know it. Friends and family know it. Society knows it. But differences can sometimes foster confusion, suspicion and uncertainty, resulting in misunderstanding and wasted opportunities. Their needs, questions, quirks, challenges, and longings are often minimized, sometimes envied, and not infrequently mocked and belittled. Gifted children are stereotyped as serious, driven, and isolated kids, who eschew anything fun, and are pushed by hovering tiger-moms. Regarded as neurotic and socially awkward, they are nevertheless expected to be ideal students, requiring little assistance from educators. Parents who advocate for an education commensurate with their child's abilities are treated as demanding and ungrateful, and chastised for requesting resources routinely allocated for average or lower ability students with "greater" needs.

Gifted individuals have IQs of 130 or above, which is two standard deviations above the norm. In other words, they are outliers. Their minds work differently. They think with greater complexity and depth, acquire knowledge at a faster pace, and grasp new concepts more quickly. Whether considered a blessing or a curse, their "gift" is something they are born with and they have to grapple with a learning style that does not easily conform to the world around them. Until gifted children reach adulthood, though, parents and educators have a responsibility to shape their educational experience. Unfortunately, most school systems are woefully inadequate.

This blog will attempt to share ideas, insights, information and updates about gifted children and adults. As a clinical psychologist, I have worked with many gifted individuals, and have witnessed how one's intellectual strengths and learning style influence initiative, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships. As a parent, whose youngest child is now a senior in high school, I have seen how at least one public school system has managed and mismanaged the needs of gifted children. As former co-chair of a parents advocacy group for gifted education in our school district, I have experienced the challenges, roadblocks, and occasional successes of advocacy. Although my personal involvement in the public school system is almost through, my work with gifted individuals is ongoing, and my learning and understanding of how giftedness impacts individuals and society is an engaging and evolving process.

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