Life is a work in progress, no matter how old one might be. Each person is “under construction” while reading, writing, observing, listening, playing, thinking, and questioning. When curiosity fuels one’s efforts, the tank never runs dry. And when people stretch their capacities, they become role models for others, and everyone becomes stronger.
I’ve always enjoyed learning. I accelerated (completing grades four, five, and six in two years), and middle school and high school were fun. I was motivated and happily participated in different kinds of academic, athletic, and social activities. University was even better because I could study whatever I wanted, such as how people think, feel, and learn. My interest in education, humanities, social science, and writing influenced my career choice.
I became a teacher at twenty-one. My professional life evolved as I acquired additional credentials—a master’s degree in Special Education and Adaptive Instruction, a doctoral degree in Human Development and Applied Psychology, and then decades of experience in the field of gifted education.
Over the years, I’ve taught elementary and secondary school, university-based teacher preparation courses, and in-service programs. I’ve conducted research, developed curricula for gifted/high-ability learners, consulted on gifted-related issues for public and independent schools and to districts of education, and volunteered on advisory committees. I’ve addressed parent groups, associations, administrators, and professional colleagues across North America, presenting on a wide range of gifted issues. I’m a parent and a grandparent who’s written five books and countless articles about how to encourage and support children’s and teens’ high-level development, creativity, productivity, and well-being.
Although I’ve covered a lot of ground, I still have a great deal of information to share in the years ahead. I’m not done yet! What I share (in books, articles, presentations, and other forms of communication), will be based upon what I’ve come to know and what I’ll continue to learn and do going forward.
Here’s a “snapshot” of what I know after four decades working with parents, teachers, students, administrators, counselors, and others in the gifted arena:
The world is always in flux. Children’s skillsets and learning must keep pace. Intelligence, resilience, and a strong work ethic are important. So, too, are strength of character, a moral compass, kindness toward others, and the ability to adapt to change.
It’s great to have knowledge. However, what really matters is to have the desire to extend that knowledge and to do something meaningful with it. I’ve set that goal for myself—but beyond that, I recognize that by teaching children to exercise those imperatives, they become empowered. When people stretch their capacities, they become role models for others, and everyone becomes stronger.
Life is a work in progress, no matter how old one might be. Each person is “under construction” while reading, writing, observing, listening, playing, thinking, and questioning. When curiosity fuels one’s efforts, the tank never runs dry.
However, regardless of age, I know it’s best to have manageable goals, to be accepting of setbacks, and to be willing to take a reasonable leap of faith from time to time. Independence is good, but so are opportunities to work with others and to grow collaboratively. It’s important to be tolerant and flexible, to take pride in progress, to be reflective, and to celebrate the small successes; they’re stepping-stones to larger ones.
Moreover, I know not to underestimate the power of creativity. It yields new ways to meet challenges, enabling people to adapt to and even transform their environment, habits, attitudes, desires, and circumstances. Creative thinking is a key component for problem-solving and decision-making, and creativity is also foundational for art, dance, music, drama, and other forms of expression, pleasure, and talent development—all of which are impactful and can have a direct bearing on an individual’s learning trajectory and way of life. Creativity is a choice, and it has been instrumental in my work, my personal and professional experiences, and my writing. (For example, see the many articles in my column at The Creativity Post.)
Alas, alongside these things that I know, I also have some pressing concerns.
I am concerned about:
- widespread misconceptions about giftedness, including biases and assumptions regarding who should (or should not) receive gifted education service provisions;
- flaws in testing and identification processes and how children’s abilities sometimes go unrecognized or are disregarded;
- inequity and the underrepresentation of many populations within gifted education programs;
- advocacy and how to fortify efforts to enhance program initiatives and high-level development among more learners;
- mental health issues as they might connect to the constellation of factors around giftedness;
- ever-increasing cutbacks in education funding allocations, which are jeopardizing gifted education (see my upcoming piece in the journal Gifted Education International);
- gaps in instructional practice and in how to align day-to-day approaches with individual student needs across domains;
- and paucity of meaningful teacher development offerings in matters pertaining to gifted learners.
How do we mitigate these concerns? By continuing to provide support to people who want to learn more about gifted/high-level development and to those who seek to nurture children’s exceptionally advanced ability—where it is already evident and where perhaps it is not—yet. Therefore, I will:
- focus on helping parents and teachers appreciate the dynamics and interactive nature of learning and teaching, on best practices in gifted education, and on means of encouraging high-level learning outcomes for all students
- write about ways to foster children’s learning, talents, creative expression, productivity, self-confidence, intelligence, and more
- convey helpful information about identification and assessment procedures
- offer suggestions for diverse kinds of liaisons and collegiality and for increasing people’s understanding about giftedness and related issues (social, emotional, motivational, physical, mental, twice-exceptional, etc.) across the lifespan
- contribute my expertise to help establish supportive networks, advocacy initiatives, advisory channels, and flexible and challenging learning environments in communities around the globe
- value, emphasize, and model professional growth by encouraging learning and facilitating inquiry
- provide easy access to many and varied resources on my website and elsewhere in order to help parents and teachers address needs and concerns relating to child development, schooling, and overall well-being in ways that are accepting, sensitive, positive, and nurturing
No one can do this work single-handedly. It’s incumbent upon all parents, educators, and caring individuals to work together to encourage children’s learning and to help them appreciate that the world is full of opportunities. It can and should be an exciting, engaging place to live, laugh, and learn—whether giftedness is part of the equation or not. Let’s do this!