Last Thursday I attended the first day of the PA Gifted conference (PAGE).
(My tweets on Thursday started with the hashtag #PAGE2012 and then shifted to #pagifted to match with another tweeter. I'll post specifics about some things I learned later. For today, just an overview on why this is so important.)
Many of you who read my words here aren't in the gifted field. Let me just take a moment and give you the main reason I am passionate about the field of gifted education. Every child... EVERY child deserves to learn every day. That isn't elitist. That isn't unfair. Gifted services aren't a special privilege. They aren't something a child should have to "earn" through good behavior or completion of an endless list of work that doesn't meet their needs. They are a simple right... a right that every child has to LEARN something every day.
The parents of gifted children aren't (for the most part) trying to gain any special edge for their child. The goal of education is to teach kids how to learn. If a child comes to school knowing what you'll teach this year, than they don't get the chance to struggle - to fail - to persevere and learn.
Maybe their is a child in your classroom (if you are a teacher) who is just skating by. Maybe you spot a child who sticks their nose in a book and never really pays attention, but still seems to know how to do what the class is doing (even if they do it their own way). Or maybe a child flat out refuses to do your work, but you get so frustrated because you can see their potential.
No one expects you to do it alone. If you don't know what to do reach out to a colleague, look for a resource, or just ask some questions. Dig deep to figure out where they are - even if that means acknowledging that they really do already know much of what you planned to teach this year. Even a little change can make a big difference for that child, the one who will now know that you want them to LEARN.
Curious? Check out the National Association for Gifted Children's page at www.nagc.org or star with their "Common Myths in Gifted Education" page.