Tag Archives: Mark Erlandson

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!

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Becoming Anything You Want to Be: Career Exploration for Gifted Students

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.

Career exploration for gifted students

An IEA Apprentice does lab work during her experience learning about a career in cancer research.

“You can be anything you want to be” is a cliche we all will probably tell, or have already told, our children at some time in their lives. For the gifted child, this statement may be closer to the truth. But having too many skills and abilities and multiple interests can be overwhelming, and what exactly does “anything” mean? How do we help the gifted student to understand what the “anything” is and to find the right career match?

To begin, two caveats: technological innovation and economic globalization have brought about swift change to the practice and outlook of many occupations and will continue to do so. Therefore, the goal of much early career planning should be to explore and understand the nature and variety of work available, not to choose a specific career. At most, paint in broad strokes and identify career areas that a child may want to enter.

Second, children’s interests often change as they mature. What once lit that flame of enthusiasm in 8th grade may have diminished by junior year of high school. That is natural. Expect your child’s passions to ebb and flow as he or she ages, becoming exposed to and participating in life’s experiences and learning more about themselves.

Read Mark’s advice for helping gifted students explore career options!

The Impact of the Common Core State Standards on Gifted Education

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.

commoncorelogoFor a variety of reasons, considerable angst has been created among educators, academicians, politicians, and parents by the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by 46 states. (Some states are even in the formal process of revisiting that decision.) For now, the standards only apply to English/Language Arts and Mathematics. The impact the adoption of the CCSS will have on the education of gifted students is open to debate.

The CCSS were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers to provide a clear standard of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards are aligned with college and career expectations and attempt to establish uniform goals across the US based on best practices.

Learn about the Common Core State Standards’ impact on gifted education!

Gifted and Nongifted Siblings: How Conventional Wisdom is Wrong

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.

Gifted and nongifted siblingsOne of the problems with “conventional wisdom” is that it is often wrong. Remember the one about how the earth is flat? No? How about how you shouldn’t swim for an hour after eating because you would get cramps? Which brings us to the topic of today’s blog: the conventional wisdom that the nongifted sibling(s) of a gifted brother or sister suffers because of the relationship: the gifted child gets more attention from parents, teachers and relatives or gets more resources, or just the inevitable rivalry and competition that occurs between siblings in a situation where the nongifted sibling(s) will feel inferior and thus less happy.

The problem with this conventional wisdom about gifted and nongifted siblings is the research says it is just not true. Perhaps the largest study was conducted back in the 1990’s by Diana L. Chamrad and Nancy M. Robinson, PhD, and reported in the Gifted Child Quarterly. They studied 378 sibling pairs, ages eight to 13, where one sibling was gifted and the other was not. The authors expected to find that “the nongifted siblings were more anxious and depressed, that they were poorer students (relative to their ability), and that they thought less well of themselves and were negatively disposed toward their brother or sister.” Instead, the study concluded that “it is actually, if anything, an advantage to be the brother or sister of a gifted child!” [Emphasis in original.] Some of these benefits were decreased anxiety in younger children with an older gifted sibling, gifted children viewing their siblings in a more positive light than nongifted children do, and more positive sibling relationships for both when one was gifted and one was not than if neither sibling were. A study conducted in Israel and reported in the December 2009 issue of Gifted and Talented International found a similar lack of negative consequences.

Read more about gifted and nongifted siblings.