Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thanks for your continuing interest in the self-advocacy of gifted children.

We're currently in the process of converting the blog into a website.

Will post the link here when it's available. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thank You for the Cages

Katie from Tomahawk and 25 of her gifted peers spent a day in January with me focusing on self-advocacy - creating their learner profiles and plotting their unique paths to graduation.  We also took time to vent some frustrations.
Thank you, Katie, for sharing your heartfelt and provocative insights.

Thank You for the Cages.

There was once a time
When there were no cages.

Society said I was too smart,
And led me down a sticky-sweet road
Into gleefully agreeing to be chained
To kids I didn’t know,
Who had already sewn together
Friendships and cliques
And I was an awkward, missing button.
Thank you for the cage.

It was once wonderful
To be strong and unique,
To live in my own way.

Society injected the wicked serum
Of sameness
Into the students pulsing toward middle school
I was quarantined, and stayed different.
I didn’t want the sameness
Until it was too late.
Once again alone.
Thank you for the cage.

I was once free to frolic
To play, and enjoy all things movement.

Society snapped up the kids,
All but me, the odd one out,
And sorted them like packages
Into endless rounds of sports,
Demanding and competitive.
I was thrown into the group
Of the few kids who hadn’t chosen sports
At age seven
Because I simply hadn’t wanted to.
And now it was too late.
Thank you for the cage.

I once felt the joy of difference,
Tasted the nectar of being admired and different.

My un-sameness attracted attention,
Earning me friends and enjoyment.
But my weirdness became repetitive and annoying,
An old sideshow everyone’s already seen
And moved on to the next novelty,
Leaving me alone with my new identity
And no friends.
Small ways to vent my wayward thoughts
Could not replace the companions I thought were mine.
Thank you for the cage.

I had no choice but to be alone.
But I learned to enjoy it.
I soon learned that this was acceptable.

Isolation, any weak ties to others severed,
A lone, roaming island.
I relished my freedom, my flexibility
Which so many others seemed to crave.
I accepted my lone wolf status.
Others did not.
“People are talking behind your back”.

I scraped some adequate social behavior from the bottom
Of a box of nuts and bolts,
People who had been rejected like me,
But not for my reasons,
For I was still a misfit among the forgotten.
I was restricted, and still no happier.

Because there is no one.
Because I was the one who stepped into
The cages I was given

Society, thank you for the cages.
Now I just need the keys
Probably twirling lazily on the finger
Of someone who doesn’t exist,
And not a person in the world
Will help me find it
Because I am
My own person
And all that gets me is a lot of cages.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Butterfly Effect

2013: A Year of Celebration

This year marks two milestones in Wisconsin’s gifted history:
·      40 years ago the Wisconsin Council for Gifted and Talented was formed, our first state advocacy organization.
·      20 years ago Wisconsin parents and educators joined their separate advocacy groups to form the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted.

We are thrilled to be working with archivists at the Wisconsin Historical Society to preserve our history.  Our “History Hunters,” a group of Wisconsin gifted education pioneers, are collecting and recollecting the stories of our work.

As I listen to their tales of struggle from 40 years ago I’m saddened that the same struggles exist today.  Yet I’m also encouraged.  For I remember that it was they and their efforts that made all the difference for my own kids over 25 years ago. And it was their voices I heard and responded to, their research I relied on and their organization that supported me when I began my own professional journey into gifted education.

I’m reminded of the butterfly effect: What may have begun with just one small flutter of wings in 1973 changed the history of gifted education in Wisconsin.   It also changed my life and my children’s lives . . . and no doubt the lives of thousands of others throughout the years and throughout the world.

And what about the future?  Rather than feeling disheartened by the struggles that lie ahead, I’m energized.   For today we parents and educators continue to work together for the sake of our gifted children.  We have successes; we have failures.  But I believe those seemingly small steps we take each day for the sake of one child . . . those little wing flutters in the Wisconsin wilderness . . . will also impact lives around the world.

We stand on the shoulders (or maybe we fly on the wings?) of some very wise and wonderful people.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Introvert or Highly Sensitive?

Here's an interesting article by Leslie Sword, Gifted and Creative Services Australia.

The Gifted Introvert

And it's found on a fascinating website, part of a large group of websites focusing on giftedness, created and edited by Douglas Eby.  
Check out Talent Development Resources.  

So much to read, 
so much to see, 
so much to learn . . . so little time!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Talent Factories

Check out this YouTube video.

Dylan William on Remodeling Schools into Talent Factories


Comparing academics to sports isn't new to advocates for gifted kids, but William's comments are a good indication that those outside the field also recognize the inequity.    


I'm not sure where it came from, but the decades old story told by educators of the gifted goes something like this:


So I walked into my high school principal's office and asked for a few minutes of his time.  "I'd like you to consider this proposal," I said.  


"I'd like to select a handful of our best students and allow them to work together with specialists in their talent area for 3 or 4 hours each day. Then they could interact with other students with similar interests and abilities. The adults would be good role models, experts who could work individually with the students, perfecting their skills, making sure each is appropriately challenged."


"We'll need a big part of the school building for our program.  And lots of specialized equipment.  Probably a budget of $500,000 a year or more."


"I'd also like the kids to go to other schools several times a week to interact with and learn from kids just like them.  We'd need busing and chaperones, of course.  And also school logo clothing for each of them would be nice, just to show that we're proud of them and want others to know they're from our school."


"As a matter of fact, I think this selection process should begin in elementary school where we'll identify the most promising students and provide year-round programming for them, including summer camps and after school lessons.  That way, by the time they reach high school they will truly be our best and our brightest."


"Are you crazy?" he said.  "That would be elitist."


"No," I said.  "That would be our athletic program."


Go! Fight! Win!