Sparky: When ‘Gifted’ Isn’t a Gift – GeekDad

Sparky: When ‘Gifted’ Isn’t a Gift – GeekDad.

I really appreciate this post. For some time now, I’ve been preaching the message that we need to stop using the term “gifted” when referring to people with unusually high ability and/or potential.

Why?

  1. Thinking differently doesn’t make anyone superior to anyone else.
  2. Kids are not meant to be status symbols for their parents or for their teachers.
  3. What about the 90-something percent of people that we don’t christen “gifted”? What should we call them? The Not-Gifted? Not OK.
  4. High ability people have their own set of problems. It’s not all breezing through school and finding everything “easy.”
  5. We have enough problems appreciating individual differences in this country. Do we really want to build yet another fence?

Rant over (for now).

Enter semi facetious solution. 

We change the term “gifted and talented” to “cognitively deviant.” It’s descriptive, has a nice acronym (CD), and does not sound like a status symbol. So far, I’m having trouble getting people to join my cause, but I’m not giving up hope! Will you join my cause? #CDforthewin #stopwordabuse

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Disagreeing with Shakespeare

Gift, Box - Free images on Pixabay

What’s the alternative to gift?

Rose Red | Free Stock Photo | A red rose | # 17731

Rotten Banana

 

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet….” Maybe, but none would smell it if you called it a rotten banana instead of a rose. I’m just suggesting that the Bard may not have hit the nail on the head on this one.

Let me explain. We persistently use the term “gifted” to mean, as our State Plan for the Education of Gifted and Talented says it:

 a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment

What’s the alternative to that? Here are some possibilities: not gifted; ungifted; without gifts; giftless; impoverished; anti-gifted; ordinary; unremarkable? Are any of those words you would like used to describe your child? No! We think of them as insults. But when we talk about giftedness, we talk as though being gifted is being superior, elite, privileged, and above.

Why are we doing this?

If we don’t change our language, we won’t change our mindset. Gifted education exactly parallels special education. When kids have a learning difference that is such that their needs will not be met without intervention, we identify and place them in a service to help meet those needs. We would never–and should never!–refer to children receiving special education services as inferior, unimportant, or dregs. WHY are we doing the reverse to “gifted” children?

Now, I realize that’s a lot of whining without a solution. Oh, I have solutions! What if we changed the term gifted to “cognitive difference.” (I actually like “cognitive deviant,” but my colleagues shot that one down.) Would people brag about it then? “Guess what, Mrs. Jones. MY child is in the Cognitively Different Program at his school. Aren’t you jealous?” It would be a lot harder sell.

So, Shakespeare, I respectfully disagree. There’s a lot in a name. Portraits of Shakespeare - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Coloring Books? Really?

There’s no denying it: adult coloring books are a thing. I may be the only person I know who doesn’t have one. At first I thought it was just another crazy gimmick, and I just waited for them to go away. Then I started seeing legit articles like this one published.  Then my friends started coloring. These are educated people with real life goals and everything, and there they were, just…..well….coloring.

What’s happening?

I can’t decide what I think about this phenomenon.

1,  On the one hand, it seems harmless and even maybe relaxing. On the other hand, don’t we spend a lot of time thinking and talking about teaching kids NOT to color inside the lines? Why are we doing the opposite for ourselves?

2. There is growing research on the importance of play for everyone–not just kids. Does coloring a pre-drawn picture count? Should play be something more generative and less prescriptive? I mean, I know you get to pick the color scheme and all, but it’s not like we’re creating anything new here.

3. Some people say it frees up the mind from the fatigue of decision making all day. Now that’s an interesting thought. Is that also what we do when we watch TV mindlessly or scroll through Facebook? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is there something inherently freeing about coloring that does not occur with those other activities?

4. Should you color outside the lines in an adult coloring  book? Does that negate the positive benefits or show that you have authority issues? I don’t know! And what does it say about me that I have such coloring angst?!

Simply put, I’m confused and conflicted over this whole coloring book issue. Maybe I’ll spend some time coloring and then get back to you. In the meantime, tell me what you think!

What does it say about me that I have such coloring book angst?

What does it say about me that I have such coloring book angst?

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Workplace Bullying and the Gifted Adult | Crushing Tall Poppies

by Kay Shurtleff/R10 GT & Advanced Academics

Workplace Bullying and the Gifted Adult | Crushing Tall Poppies.

While I appreciate the sentiment of this article, I’m not sure I completely agree.

It’s just my opinion, but it seems that Americans in general tend to feel misunderstood and maybe a little entitled. We think we’re busier, smarter, and more overworked than anyone else and that no one recognizes us for it. I wonder if this perceived gifted adult bullying isn’t just a part of a larger problem: everybody bullies everybody!

Do not misunderstand. I don’t think anyone should be singled out for any reason and bullied. What I mean to say is this: we have a problem recognizing value in other people, and sometimes that manifests itself, as the article says, as “withholding information, marginalizing them at meetings, stealing ideas from them, and spreading rumors….” 

My point? Let’s not crush any poppies–tall or short. Let’s value people for what they bring to the table and for who they are. It’s time for all of us to stop and value the poppies.

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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My Annual Pity Party

It doesn’t get any easier. Today marks the 10th first day of school that I don’t have butterflies in my stomach. I’m not full of nervous energy; I’m not second guessing my first day plans; I’m not worrying about spilling coffee on my carefully planned outfiIMG_2016t; I’m not frantically learning names; I’m not wondering if the online attendance program will work; I’m not wishing I’d paid a little closer attention to the SOP meeting; I’m not doing the most important job there is. I miss it desperately.

What am I doing? Moping. It’s an annual event.

Don’t misunderstand: I love my job. I believe it’s the 2nd most important job there is because I support teachers—the people with the most important job.

This year, I celebrate the first day of school vicariously through two special teachers, each beginning their careers teaching junior high. Meet Mr. Matt Smith and Ms. Sarah Stanley.

I grabbed the chance to be with them the Friday before school started. (You know, the day when you think 10,000 times, “I can’t get all of this done,” but somehow it gets done because the kids are coming on Monday either way.) They worked on walls, arranged and rearranged desks, laughed, worried, tried not to panic, gave each other moral support, welcomed nervous students who were picking up their schedules, and drank a lot of coffee.  It was beautiful.

File Aug 24, 7 55 46 AM File Aug 24, 8 13 17 AM

It’s the story of every teacher. In the weeks just before school starts, they participate in meetings and professional development, politely (OK, mostly politely) complying (OK mostly complying) and trying to be attentive, all the while thinking of the thousands of things they’ll do after hours in order to be ready. They work until they’re too tired to move, and then they spend two more hours doing “one more thing” before leaving the building at 8:15 p.m. Their spouses, kids, families, and friends know to either get busy helping or get out of the way because these teachers will not stop until they are ready to welcome kids.

Finally, the kids walk through the doors, and the teachers come alive with energy, pretending they aren’t bone tired, and push everything out of their minds to focus on kids. Lots and lots of kids, each with a different story, a different challenge, a different strength, and a different need.

Teachers, whether it’s your first year or 40th, thank you. You accomplish remarkable, heroic, unfathomable deeds.

Maybe someday I’ll find myself back in the classroom. Until then, I’ll play second fiddle to you any day.

IMG_2515IMG_2513

Kay Shurtleff, GT/Advanced Academics @R10

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Status Update

Is it possible we have the wrong perception of what it means to “identify” a child as “gifted”? If we’re using terms like “got in the gifted program” or “did not get in,” we probably need to hit the pause button and think about our purpose for assessment and identification.

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Creativity and being weird | Business, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

Creativity and being weird | Business, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com.

I appreciate this story for so many reasons.

1.  He points out that just being strange isn’t necessarily creative. Creativity gets a bad reputation from all the bizarro things done in the name of “I’m creative, and you just don’t understand me.”

2.  He points out that creativity and laziness are enemies! Creativity is hard work! It just doesn’t fly into your head effortlessly, leaving everyone around you dumbfounded. You have to spend some time thinking!

Creativity is substance, and grit, and not always fun. It’s a habit of mind, and we have to practice it. I think it’s time it took its place alongside intelligence and scholarly accomplishments as something truly worth pursuing.

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Misconceptions

Did you catch this news article?

G/T Test Abnormalities

I don’t know the particulars of the situation, but I do know this. Too often when gifted education gets media attention, it adds to the misconceptions that already exist about the work we do to support gifted learners. Just the title and the mention of putting “hundreds of parents on hold” implies something other than what we know to be true. Educators of gifted children–just like all other educators–work long hours and study data and information in order to make the best possible choices for educational placement for children. I’m not intimately acquainted with the situation, but I’m willing to bet that neither the children nor their parents are “on hold.” Thinking and learning is still happening all around them–regardless of a glitch in the system of a publisher of a standardized test.

Please know my intent is not to criticize this district but only to get us to pause and think. What are we doing to promote misconceptions and stereotypes? What can we do to help stop it?

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Reflections on the “Controversy” of Multiple Intelligences

Recently, I’ve heard  raging arguments between those in the Multiple Intelligences (MI) camp and those who don’t think MI is a viable theory. I want to weigh in. And if nobody reads this post, I’ll still have had the cathartic experience of writing it!

To my way of thinking, MI is an interesting idea that at first glance aligns with our American “we’re number one” and “everybody gets a trophy” perspective. It seems to advance the notion that everyone is “gifted,” and that schools are not always equipped to recognize that “gift.” On the other hand,  Visser, Ashton, and Vernon (2006)  and, to some extent, Fasko (2001) argue that Gardner’s theory is not verifiable and that there are holes in it. I wonder if the debate isn’t more a disagreement over semantics (and possibly miscommunication) than it is over science. I would advocate for using the term that Tirri (2013) introduces: sensitivities (rather than intelligences). In Gardner’s (2006) response to the Vissir article, he makes the point that she and her colleagues attempted to measure MI in a manner that runs counter to its very premise. On his web site multipleintelligencesoasis.org, he points out that he never believed in the validity of assessing or measuring MI, and that it is compatible with the concept of g.

Where does that leave me? Basically, pondering a practical example. I read Frames of Mind and introduced the concept to my class of gifted 7th graders many years ago. I was in a school setting where there was a lot of resentment from both students and teachers regarding the idea of separate classes for gifted students. One of my students, Pam, was so drawn to the idea that she chose MI as her independent study project that year. She read the book, developed a way to teach other 7th graders about the theory, devised a way to help students explore their “interests and intelligences,” and presented her research to all of the other 7th grade advisory classes. Did she have a psychometrically sound instrument for surveying the other students? Absolutely not. Did she completely grasp all the concepts in the book? Probably not. But she did have a profound effect on the entire 7th grade. The 7th graders did not walk away from Pam’s presentation believing they were gifted, but they did walk away believing they had strengths and weren’t the “GT rejects.” Pam—who just started her 6th year of teaching school—tells me it helped shape who she is as a teacher too.

Gardner himself stated that the term “intelligence” isn’t as important to him as long as all eight identified qualities are called the same term, so as not to raise the level of importance of one above the others. Maybe it’s time to bury the word along with the hatchet and find the common talking points.

 

References

Fasko, D. (2001). An analysis of multiple intelligences theory and its use with the gifted and talented. Roeper       Review, 23(3), 126-130.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. (2006). On failing to grasp the core of MI theory: A response to Visser et al. Intelligence, 34(5), 503-505. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2006.04.002

Tirri, K. (2013). Multiple intelligences: Can they be measured? Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling,, 55(4), 438-461.
Visser, B. A., Ashton, M. C., & Vernon, P. A. (2006). Beyond g: Putting multiple intelligences theory to the test. Intelligence, 34(5), 487-502. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2006.02.004
Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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Psychomotor Overexcitability or Something Else?

Here is one of my favorite people in a “performance” of his own choosing. He is gifted, funny, energetic, and often on the verge of being in trouble. Fortunately, his parents and teachers recognize that his need for movement is his psychomotor overexcitability–not a disorder that causes him to “misbehave.”  He has parents who make sure he is well-nourished and gets plenty of sleep and exercise. (He plays soccer and basketball.) But how many kids do we miss? How many are “shushed” or mislabeled? How many never get to experience the sheer joy of being in motion, as this child does?

PsychomotorOE

Kay Shurtleff

Kay Shurtleff

Although my day job is educational consultant for GT/Advanced Academics and ELAR, I also spend ridiculous amounts of down time drinking tea and reading, blogging, tweeting, and playing with language. Writing is a natural outlet, mode of thinking, form of entertainment, and illuminator for me. I'm working on a PhD in gifted education right now, and I appreciate having this forum in which to kick around ideas. Thanks for stopping by G/T-time!

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