Hello friends! This week, I would like to share with you an article that I was honored to have published this month in WorldTalentWeb Newsletter - a publication of World Giftedness Center in Regensburg, Germany. While the focal point of my blog/vlog is to provide parenting support to parents of gifted children, as of late, my heart and mind have been on global issues. It is in the spirit of hope for a brighter tomorrow for our children that I share "The Rise of Gifted" below.
The full February edition of WorldTalentWeb may be downloaded here.
In peace and love,
P.S. EARLYBIRD DISCOUNT ENDS 3/15! Please join me, along with a host of beloved experts in the field of giftedness, for the Child-Centered World Symposium which will be held in on April 24th in Westminster, Colorado. This gathering is for like-hearted parents, educators, school leaders, GT coordinators, mental health professionals and gifted adults. For more info and to register, please click here.
The Rise of Gifted
It is 2020. In this moment in history, we are the inaugural members of “Team Human” who are ushering in a new age. It takes only one short review of the news headlines from around the world last year to see that we are right smack dab in the middle of a pivotal transition. Climate change and social tensions are pushing themselves to the top of the priority list whether we like it or not.
What does this mean for the gifted community? Everything.
I am a Child and Family Therapist specializing in giftedness in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I work with children in their homes to help them gain a better understanding of their experience in the world and guide them in mitigating presenting challenges
In recent years, like many other therapists and educators around the world, I have seen an uptick in anxiety levels in gifted children and adults. Children are having trouble focusing on academics and finding meaning in their studies. Many of them are preoccupied with the state of our world and find it difficult to imagine a future for themselves. Children’s greatest challenge does not lie in the presence of problems, but their feeling of impotence in being able to actively contribute to solutions. They feel impotent because we feel impotent.
Somewhere along the way, we stressed-out gifted people lost sight of the fact that we have been guiding society since the dawn of humanity. It is our area of excellence and this is our era to shine.
Endless work abounds to fulfill a sense of purpose that has been neglected for far too long. The luxurious days of philosophical banter over minutiae are done. It is time to act.
These times require a new kind of excellence. The kind of excellence that pushes us all to the very edge of our own capability.
It has been disillusioning for our children to watch the daily parade of society’s ills unfold before their eyes. However, this exposure is evidence of an evolved humanity that is no longer willing to tolerate the mistreatment of other human beings as well as our planet. This evolution is leaving our antiquated institutions behind; providing an opportunity for much-needed positive change. But before looking at what needs to change, we must first celebrate what is going well.
What is working?
There are more gifted programs, curriculum and schools than ever before. The general public may have misconceptions about giftedness, but at least there is awareness that it exists.
Our rigid systems have had to adapt to a changing population and, therefore, have become more flexible in offerings to gifted youth. In the past, our attempts to teach flexibility from within the confines of rigid structures have only served to illuminate hypocrisy and contribute to disillusionment.
Recent decades have provided numerous studies on all aspects of giftedness. This field is a hotbed for continued research and development.
Specialized programs have emerged that actively engage children’s natural interests and learning styles and help them fine-tune their abilities.
Social and Emotional Aspects
Sensitivity, emotional intensity, and anxiety are discussed openly at conferences, in literature and even online forums. This is normalizing the gifted experience for our youth.
We have finally come to realize that creativity and intelligence often go hand-in-hand. We have also learned that active stimulation of this aspect of ourselves provides numerous positive benefits. Creativity is now being considered by many schools as an essential core component of educational curriculum.
We have made significant gains over the years, but we still have a long way to go. I humbly offer a few suggestions to enable the gifted to rise:
Areas for Continued Growth
“Giftedland” is confusing and this should be no surprise. It is a gifted trait to take simple concepts and over-complicate them. We have divided and sub-divided ourselves into a variety of schools of thought and it does not seem to be doing anyone, especially our youth, any favors.
A culture of competition has permeated society for many years; pitting child against child and country against country. Competition has its place, but in my experience, a culture of collaboration provides the greatest avenues for reducing anxiety, honoring difference, and fostering interdependence.
Imagine the learning opportunities for our youth if we were to put aside our own egos and agendas to develop collaborative programming that best serves the common good.
When faced with daunting societal issues, many gifted children, like many gifted adults, feel compelled to act. The educational systems which have the best chance of engaging gifted youth are those which empower them to take part in creating solutions to world problems and bringing them to fruition. Some schools allow children to take a day off of school to engage in activism. It is important that we stand alongside children.
Our competitive world prioritizes rapid implementation of innovation often with little regard for the potential negative impacts to our world. We simply cannot continue producing in this haphazard way. It is imperative that we incorporate ethical thought and practices into all aspects of society starting with our educational systems.
Acknowledge the Good
When parents describe their children in primarily negative terms, my first priority is helping them to seek out and acknowledge the good in their child. This simple, well-known technique often makes a significant difference in shifting perception. When we praise the behavior we want to see, it begins to take precedence over negative ones.
When advocating for change, we must take care to speak out against the behavior instead of the person. Digital attacks are destructive and only serve to widen the gap within our own tribe. This emotional brutality and public shaming is also keeping many of our gifted youth from venturing into leadership roles.
The gifted population is made up of creative, strategic, innovative and resilient people with a knack for solving complex puzzles. The combination of climate change and societal conflict offers, what may be, our greatest human challenge to date
Let us rise together. It is time.