I read an interesting NPR this week. I was titled Who Are The ‘Gifted and Talented’ and What do They Need? This article gave some interesting things to mull over such as: How do you define giftedness; How many students should be designated gifted?; How do you identify gifted students; and How do you best serve gifted students? It’s this last section that I wasnt to focus on.
I am still amazed that in the 21st century we have issues identifying our gifted students. To me it seems we have come to that place where we feel the need to make sure everyone is the same, and no one is left out. The problem with that is the same doesn’t equal adequate. Our gifted children are different from the average student, and therefore they need to be serviced in a different way than average students. Yet, our legislators are passing laws and operating standards that limit the funds designated for gifted children, and watering down how we are to service our gifted children.
Our culture is currently calling for more STEM, or STEAM schools and programs. Our Society also calling for more math and science teachers. Most of our gifted and talented students find math and science intriguing. They are fascinated by many science fields (some are still in their infancy) and finding the answers to problems are how their brains are wired. Yet, we treat our gifted students like their educational rights are an after thought.
We need to do the following for our gifted students:
- Treat their educational rights with respect
We as teachers, and advocates need to advocate for their educational rights. In a lot of States Gifted Education is the first aspect that gets cut. In many school districts they test students for gifted services and don’t serve them because there is no money to have a gifted intervention specialist. We allow these students to be neglected. We have to stand up for their educational rights. If we don’t who will?
- Provide them with a support team that allows them to learn and develop into a productive citizen
I believe as parents, teachers, gifted intervention specialists, and advocates we need to come together and form a support team that helps them in their social, emotional, and cognitive needs. We want these young, smart, gifted children to become productive citizens. In order for them to be successful, we need them to know they have a support team. These children have at times unique emotions and needs. They need to have people who know how to handle their needs and advise them in the correct way.
- Create a rigorous curriculum that is designed for them that takes into account the varied intelligence, creativity, and interests of gifted children
We need to make sure the curriculum they are partaking in is the right one for them. Gifted students need to have a curriculum that has rigor, depth, and room for creativity and self-expression. Not all gifted students can be placed in the same box. They have their own interests and passions. By giving a gifted student room to incorporate their interests and passions into their assignments you are allowing them freedom to express themselves.
- Provide real world activities and internships
One aspect of education that I feel is lacking is providing real world activities for gifted students to partake in. Many parents of gifted children expose their children to various activities and experiences throughout the year. But it just doesn’t happen enough through the school. Allowing a gifted student who has an interest to work at a zoo or museum is exposing them to real life situations, and experiences that can change their life. They should have the chance to get a high school credit for it. Some states are moving to Credit Plus Program. Which could help make this a reality.
Overall, we as parents, advocates, and teachers need to help move Gifted Education to the forefront. We need to fight for the rights of gifted children to have an appropriate education that will help them to develop into citizens who make huge contributions to make our society great. Before that can happen we have to properly serve gifted students.