We will not be able to be there: our family’s disabilities mean hanging out in crowds at the best of times is a bad idea. But even if (like us) you can’t be there in person, there are things you can do to help with the climate strike.
What do we mean when we say gifted? It seems a simple question.
See, the first thing anyone notices about giftedness is the wildly different definitions. Is it medical? Psychological? Educational? Gifted changes from country to country, district to district and even school to school. It’s head-scratchingly confusing. It doesn’t make sense…and it’s easy to ask, “Is gifted even real? Is it all made up?” Continue reading “Gifted vs Gifted”
In the last few weeks there have been ‘shocking’ headline articles in my state of Victoria about a gifted education provider used by at least 30 schools. The ‘shock’ is due to the founder’s unusual non-mainstream, non-scientific (and pretty out-there) ideas which were taught without either their parents or the school’s knowledge. There were a lot of very upset people – both in the medical establishment, in the schools and in the general public – pulling their hair and wailing about standards, speculating about the ‘reasons’ and generally lamenting about ‘woo’ being taught without reflecting on how this incident revealed and illustrated some of the deeper issues that currently plague gifted education in most Victorian schools.
“I’ve done lots of reading, I’ve looked at the standard definitions, I listened to the niggles and ‘problems’ that different people – my GP, a friend, my child’s teacher etc. have mentioned. I know my child’s quirky . . . But, is my gifted child autistic?”
It’s a question almost every parent of gifted kids I have ever talked to has brought up at one time or another (particularly the parents of highly to profoundly gifted children). And though it seems there should be an easy answer to this question – a quick test, a definitive way of putting a yes or no to this question, the answer is actually much, much more complicated.
Having travelled down this rabbit-hole for a long while now, I’d like take you on a trip into the world of giftedness and autism.
Every now and then, usually when news is a little slow, prominent papers like to do little fluff pieces on the edges of the educational world. One week might be about lambasting ‘pushy parents,’ another week an angry remonstrance on the horrors of alternative education. Personally, I find it deeply amusing that, depending on the flavour of the month, our little family can be both academically pushing and overly restrictive tiger-parents, and laissez-faire, academically neglectful parents at the same time.
Every now and again, more often than I am comfortable with, various memes pop up in my news feed. They’re usually positive, with a cute picture – a happy child, a beautiful baby, a rainbow over a lovely green field. Rinse and repeat.
There is a wonderful, probably reasonably obscure book by Rafael Sabatini called “Bellarion the Fortunate” where the intellectually gifted Bellarion is sent out into the world by his abbot because his reading and reason have lead him to believe – with the certainty of an intellectual who has read all the literature and thought hard about it in his convent – that evil and sin are a construct and do not exist. “But to all the weapons of his saintly rhetoric Bellarion continued to oppose the impenetrable shield of that syllogism of his which the abbot knew at heart to be fallacious, yet whose fallacy he laboured in vain to expose. ”  The book is not a treatise on the reality of good or evil, but an adventure book which ends with a very worldly Bellarion who is very much more aware of his fellow humans after leaving his ivory tower of thought. But I am not writing today to talk about Bellarion and the nature of his discussions on good and evil. I am instead going to write about the work, so far, of Dr Clementine Beauvais, and her blog entries on ‘The Giftedness Project’ .
Much like Bellarion’s abbot, I do not expect to be able to make much of an impression on Dr Beauvais as she has her armour of academic credentials, and the raft of knowledge collected from many thousands of academics discussing ideas among themselves with little reference to the outside world, and that armour is very strong. She has also made clear that she is not interested in the reality of giftedness, which she believes to be largely a construct of society.