Tag Archives: gifted

The Gift of Giving

By Louise Hindle, IEA Program Manager

Supporting Gifted ChildrenIt’s that time of year when we rack our minds to recall, imagine, or anticipate the ‘perfect’ gift. Whether that perfect gift is for a holiday party, for Christmas, for Hanukkah – it just is, unrelentingly, ‘that’ time of year.

Trying to answer why we give is perhaps more complicated. We may give because there is an expectation, arguably enforced upon us by the commercial world in which we live and struggle to escape or hide from; we may give because we feel obliged to do so; but most of all, I’d like to think most of us give because we want to demonstrate our love and appreciation towards our family and our community.

Gift giving does not, of course, have to be a physical or monetary gesture. A gift can be an act of altruism and at IEA, there are many acts of altruism performed daily. My fabulous co-workers help each other with everything and anything daily; Academy teachers give their time and energy in so many ways beyond anything written in an IEA Letter of Agreement; our volunteers turn in to the office regularly and assist us with all manner of tasks; and our parents act with enormous help and initiative during class and in between sessions by recommending us and keeping us growing. These manifold acts are both similar to and different from what we might understand as philanthropy but they are, nonetheless, real gifts upon which a small not-for-profit organization depends.

Read more about gift giving and gifted youth.

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College Expectations and Aspirations: From the Mouths of Gifted Students

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is a Program Coordinator at IEA and works most closely with our high school Apprenticeship Program, through which she meets and interacts with many gifted high school students. Before coming to IEA, she was a high school mathematics teacher.

ElonGoing off to college is probably one of my best and most anxious memories. At that point in time, it seemed that all of my prior education was in preparation for this milestone. As a first-generation college student, the plethora of tasks to complete for college applications was overwhelming. I recall that my mom, who completed 6th grade in China before immediately beginning to work, advised me that I had completed all the hard work and all that was left was to communicate my story to people whose actions and opinions we had no control over. My dad, who graduated with a Master’s Degree from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, simply gave me a stern look, smile and nod of encouragement when the subject of college was spoken of. Needless to note, “vini, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), and tada!

That was 10 years ago, and I was curious about how students in our IEA community view higher education now. I have the privilege of working with highly gifted and mature youngsters, and with their help I compiled some of their thoughts, expectations, anxieties, and aspirations about higher education. By sharing this data, I hope to provide information and comfort, tell their stories and compel higher education and the world to prepare for this creative, curious and free-natured group of young adults. I asked students ages 13 through 18 amongst our community of Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, Apprentices and Yunasa Emerging Leaders and Counselors in Training about their outlook on higher education. The data from the 40 respondents is featured below. Thank you to all those who contributed!

Expectations

When asked, “In what ways do you hope learning as a young adult will be different from high school?”, 80% of students used the words “free,” “freedom” and “autonomy”:

  • “I hope that there will be more freedom involved. I like to believe that I am a very independent and intellectually bold thinker, and I know that I apply myself better to long-term projects than busy work. So, I hope that there will be less busy work and more projects/papers to engage with.”
  • 82% of students responded similarly to this student, yearning for greater depth and relation to solving problems that affect the world: “I hope that as a young adult I will be able to learn more about the things that matter to me. In high school we often talk about topics that do not interest me, or we talk about topics too shallowly. I hope to be able to learn with greater understanding and purpose.”
  • Students also expressed a need to learn based on their pace: “I hope to have more freedom to choose what I learn and to be able to make my own choices regarding the course material and pace as opposed to having to follow strict guidelines.”

See more of the results from Min-Ling’s survey!

Turning to Pen and Paper

By Zadra Rose Ibañez

Journaling for stress reliefOne of the questions we routinely ask applicants during an interview for a position with IEA is: “How do you deal with stress?”

If one were to ask me that, I would have several answers—take deep breaths, go for a walk, or listen to music, for example—but the answer that would describe the tactic that is first and most effective for me would be, “Journal about the situation.”

My good friend’s father is a very wise, very prominent businessman. One piece of advice I will always remember from him is, “If you are mad, write a letter. Don’t mail it. Put it in your desk drawer and sleep on it. If you are still mad the next day, then you can mail it, but usually by then, you won’t want to.”

Writing things down is a way to get situations and feelings out and to express them, to see them in a new light. The very act of writing is cathartic. In an article in the New York Times, Mary Gordon says:

Writing by hand is laborious, and that is why typewriters were invented. But I believe that the labor has virtue, because of its very physicality. For one thing it involves flesh, blood and the thingness of pen and paper, those anchors that remind us that, however thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.

There are many ways to journal; travel-writing, write on a topic, describe yesterday, scribble thoughts of your future goals, aspirations, hopes and fears. One of the most effective ways for me to journal is free-writing. One example of this is the Morning Pages, made popular by Julia Cameron in her seminal book, The Artist’s Way (1992). In it, she says, “Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly steam-of-consciousness: ‘Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah-blah-blah…’”

Cameron assures us, “There is no wrong way to do morning pages. These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing. I stress that point to reassure the nonwriters…Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”

One key to getting the most out of Morning Pages is that they do not need to “sound smart”, and they are not meant to be read. By anyone. Including you. You shouldn’t read them yourself for at least two months, if ever. The point is to get the thoughts out, not to analyze them.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a writer or a carpenter, there is something useful in journaling. As Brenda Ueland said, “writing is talking, thinking, on paper. And the more impulsive and immediate the writing the closer it is to the thinking, which it should be….It has shown me more and more what I am – what to discard in myself and what to respect and love” (If You Want to Write, 1938).

So, as a method of meditation or stress-management or introspection, I invite you to write. As Julia says, “Just write three pages, and stick them into an envelope. Or write three pages in a spiral notebook and don’t leaf back through. Just write three pages…and write three more pages the next day.” And please, let me know as it helps you create peace in your day.

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blog_hop_nov14_gifted_self_careThis post is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page November Blog Hop on Gifted Self-Care. Check out all of the other great blogs participating in Hoagies’ November Blog Hop!

Is Grit More Important Than Intelligence?: How to Make Sure Our Children Have Both

By Mark Erlandson

Mark Erlandson, the parent of a gifted student who presently attends a boarding school out East, is a former lawyer and public high school English teacher from Wisconsin starting a new business as a legal writing consultant.

Grit versus intelligenceGrit. I’ll admit I didn’t have it. Twice now I have put this blog down and stopped writing because I felt uninspired and bored. Weeks have gone by, and too many times to count I have ignored that voice telling me the deadline was approaching and I needed to get finished. So how essential is grit to success, and more importantly, how do we teach our children to get it?

“Grit,” otherwise known as persistence or determination, is currently a passion (some would call it a fad) in certain educational circles today. Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, is a leading advocate of the importance of tenacity in life. Watch her TED Talk here for a fascinating explanation of the results of her research in the area. Basically, she concludes, based, among other things, on her research of West Point graduates and National Spelling Bee contestants, that what correlates with success most is grit, not intelligence. Similarly, in the area of gifted students, the most famous study, conducted by University of Connecticut psychologist Joseph Renzuli, director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, concluded that “task commitment,” together with ability and creativity, was, indeed, one of the three essential components of giftedness.

Read more about grit and intelligence!

Teaching the Gifted

By Louise Hindle

Louise is IEA’s Academy Coordinator. A British import, Louise graduated from the University of Manchester with a B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature and Language, completed her post-graduate teacher training at The University of Cambridge, and recently completed her dissertation in Educational Leadership and Innovation with the University of Warwick. Louise has 20 years of experience in education as a high school literature teacher, lead teacher, administrator, adviser, and consultant. She is also the parent of three fun and active school-aged children.

teaching-gifted-students

Louise teaches a group of gifted students at an IEA Academy Genius Day

Somewhere in the middle of England, somewhere in the mid-nineties, my former self – three years into my teaching profession as an English Literature teacher, new in my role as second-in-faculty – landed the golden opportunity to teach the brightest 10th graders in the school, the ‘top-set’. This 10th grade top set, as we called it, comprised of thirty-two specially selected boys and girls all destined, according to their assessment data, to achieve the highest grades possible in English Literature state examinations. My former self assumed this would be the ‘dream ticket’, that I would be confronted with eager minds, self-motivated, confident young people with similar abilities. After all, if they’d been identified as the ‘top set’, teaching would be straightforward, without barriers, without learning challenges. These kids were high potential, they were gifted, therefore teaching them would be easy – right? How wrong I was, and how quickly I learned to address these misconceptions.

Read the lessons Louise learned about teaching gifted children!

Advocacy and the Gifted Teenager

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is IEA’s Apprenticeship Program Coordinator. She joined IEA after teaching high school mathematics in Los Angeles. Her dedication to supporting high-potential students is rooted in her own experiences as a student who struggled to find outlets that nurtured her intellectual and social dispositions.

Meeting the academic needs of gifted teenagers requires a

Meeting the academic needs of gifted teenagers requires discussion, planning, and cooperation.

Amelia is a 10th grader who attends a small private school in Northern California. She enjoys singing and dancing, as well as reading about the universe and diving into the intricacies of supernovae. Amelia is self-motivated but often finds that her school and the courses offered do not satisfy her curiosity in the arts, math, and sciences. The content to learn within her school is often shallow, and completing assignments of knowledge-gathering is baffling to her, as she can find the answer with taps on a keyboard and Wikipedia. She despises memorization. Amelia is respectful. With that said, she follows her enthusiastic and inspiring teachers as they “cover material” which she masters quickly. Amelia is an example of a gifted child within “American schools [that] pledge to educate everyone and expose students to a wide variety of topics” (Davidson, 2004). Amelia’s needs are oftentimes overlooked.

Providing safe and nurturing learning environments for gifted students is often difficult when the student seeks services within educational spaces that are not aware of the needs of gifted youngsters. As the coordinator for a gifted program and a teacher of general education students, I have gained knowledge and experience from my interactions with teenagers. Being an advocate is pivotal in my responsibility to offer the best learning environment for gifted students.

Read about advocating for gifted teens!

Leaving Behind Normalcy: Asynchrony and the Gifted Child

By Brianna Safe

Brianna has worked at IEA since 2011 and with gifted students since 2009. She graduated from Biola University with her BA in Humanities and English and is particularly interested in how literary art can inform issues in human psychology about how individuals conceive of themselves and make decisions. 

Asynchrony and the gifted childThe word “normal” is often casually batted across the field of developmental psychology, and I shudder at the implicit limitations of such a word. Sure, “normal” is a practical point of reference for understanding how children grow, in what ways and at what ages. When used descriptively, it can be a useful tool for seeing general patterns of physical, cognitive, and emotional development. The harm seems to come when we choose, often without realizing, to see normative development through a prescriptive lens. To prescribe “normal” as the measure of a healthy, happy child may confine us to a definition too narrow to allow the perspective that each child is a unique instantiation of life, and therefore will develop in his or her own unique way.

bell-curve

For those parenting a child at either end of the bell curve, the normalcy lens can cause more trouble than not. Any parent of a gifted or special needs child (or in some cases, the twice-exceptional child) can attest to the fact that, if normal is the rule, their child is indeed the exception. For these parents, it can be a challenge to let go of normative expectations and accept their child’s distinctive development.

Read more about asynchronous development and the gifted child.