Friday, March 9, 2012

What are the Odds?

Last week my BFF Susanne and I took a gamble on winter roads and drove to Washington DC to see her daughter (the very talented Emily Trask) in The Gaming Table, a play about a game of chance.  

As fate would have it, we ran into friend and mentor, Jim Delisle, who luckily was able to join us for the play and a few pre-show minutes with Emily.  When Jim asked about her route to success in theater, Emily replied that so much of it was a matter of luck, being in the right place at the right time.  Yes, she’s worked hard and studied hard and put herself out there, but sometimes the stars just seem to align.

I imagine at this point you’re thinking, “Enough already with all this talk of luck and odds and chance!”  But according to Françoys Gagné, chance plays a huge role in whether or not a person’s gifts develop into talents.  Here’s his Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT):

You’ll notice that natural abilities must go through a developmental process in order to become competencies.  Many environmental and intrapersonal catalysts affect the process, but it is the shaded area called “chance” that has a major impact.

For example, as Emily related it to Jim, she wasn’t really interested in theater as a child.  In junior high she loved learning French but hated completing the workbook activities.  (Imagine, a gifted child not doing her homework!)  Her teacher suggested she earn extra credit through participating in the French drama competition.  And, voila, a star was born! 

I can’t help but think that without her teacher’s fortuitous intervention, it’s quite possible Emily would never have discovered her gift, her passion.

As advocates, how can we improve the odds for our gifted kids?
How can we be the catalysts that help them grow their gifts into fully realized talents?

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.  Emile Zola.

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