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Exploring Existential Depression

 “Existential depression may be characterized by a unique sense of hopelessness in feeling that our lives may actually be meaningless.”

~ John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

It has been a solemn week in the gifted community after learning the news of Robin Williams’ passing. Without a definitive reason for this tragic loss, it was still a stark reminder of an issue – depression – on which many in the community have sought to shed light; but were often ignored. In an effort to raise awareness, gtchat followers chose to explore the reasons for existential depression, its effect on the gifted community and ways to deal with it.

Existential depression occurs when a person ends up questioning life, death or the meaning of life; and by doing so, lapses into depression. Characteristics of giftedness such as – idealism, intensity, sensitivity – predispose bright individuals to existential depression. Intensity paired with multipotentiality can equal frustration with existential limitations of time and  space. (Webb)

What are some sources of existential depression? Idealism that often leads to disillusionment can be one source. Bright children may develop metacognition before developing experiential tools to deal with emotional issues. As children with existential concerns grow up, they may find it hard to find others who share their concerns; they lack  interconnectedness. Perfectionism and one’s inability to live up to ideals can lead to existential depression. A full transcript may be found here.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S. and Saturdays 11 AM NZ/9 AM AEST  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field.

Links:

Existential Depression in Gifted Children

An Examination of the Literature Base on the Suicidal Behaviors of Gifted Students (pdf)

Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals from SENG_Gifted

If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Need Psychotherapy?

Can You Hear the Flowers Sing? Issues for Gifted Adults

Coping through Awareness: A Transformational Tool for Coping with Being Highly Gifted

Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem & the Gifted Adult by Stephanie Tolan

Through a Stronger Lens: The Days of Discontent

What is Existential Depression?

Change Your Story, Change Your Life by Stephanie Tolan

Robin Williams: Depression Alone Rarely Causes Suicide

Robin Williams’s Comedic Genius Was Not a Result of Mental Illness, but His Suicide Was by Scott Barry Kaufman

Robin Williams & Existential Depression by Dr. James T. Webb

 

Bibliography:

Searching for Meaning Idealism, Bright Minds, Disillusionment & Hope

Searching for Meaning cover

Living with Intensity

Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy & Successful Children

Man’s Search for Meaning

The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want

Plato, Not Prozac! Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems

The Discovery of Being: Writings in Existential Psychology

Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration

“Mellow Out”, They Say. If I Only Could

Mellow Out Book Cover

The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength & Overcoming Life’s Hurdles

Exploring Existential Meaning: Optimizing Human Development Across the Life Span

Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness & Well-Being

Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

Counseling the Gifted and Talented

Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential

Existential Counselling & Psychotherapy in Practice

Original photo courtesy of Pixabay

ModelsGiftedEducationWordle2

Due to the sheer number of models in gifted education, it was decided that five models would be discussed during the course of our hour-long chat. Additional models will be briefly covered in this blog post. A full transcript of the chat may be found at Storify.

Models considered:

  • Renzulli’s School Wide Enrichment Model (SEM) ~ a widely used model which appeals to a broader definition of giftedness.
  • Betts’ Autonomous Learners Model (ALM) ~ a self-directed learning approach.
  • VanTassel-Baska’s Integrated Curriculum Model (ICM) ~ specifically high ability learners.
  • Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent ( DMGT) ~ distinguishes between natural ability & talent development.
  • Gentry’s Total School Cluster Grouping (TSCG) ~ employs differentiation within the framework of inclusion.

 

The first question was to ask, “Why there are so many different models in gifted education?” The consensus was that a wide variety of models allowed for greater choice to meet the needs of gifted students. It was also pointed out by several people that because there is no one definition of ‘giftedness’ that different models responded to particular definitions. Different models appeal to different school settings – rural, urban, suburban, region of the country. Each model’s perspective may be from different vantage points – intellectual, social-emotional, neurological (Gifted Challenges).

“Just like every gifted kid is different, every community, district, and school has its own needs and demands.” ~ Jeffrey Farley, Middle School Teacher in Beaumont, Texas

Certain models seemed better suited to either the elementary or secondary level. In fact, the moderator pointed out that several of the models had modules specific to each level. Some models of gifted education are geared toward self-contained classrooms more common in the lower grades K-3. Other models are been adapted for content specific areas of instruction.

Factors that might be considered to ensure the success of any chosen model included flexibility; availability of professional development so that all stakeholders fully understand the program is critical; sufficient budget to implement a new program; a mind-set that is supportive of gifted education in general; as well as parent and community support.

“We need more support and training for teachers in their higher education teacher prep programs!” ~ Toby Brown, PhD candidate teaching at Oklahoma State 

Would it be better to simply consider acceleration or multi-age classrooms as opposed to implementing a specific model? Academically, acceleration is an excellent option; other considerations–maturity, siblings, sports–still play a role. In the final analysis, the most important factor voiced by most of our chat participants was CHOICE! Every child is different and every child should have options to choose from that best meet their individual needs.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S. and Saturdays 11 AM NZ/9 AM AEST  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field.

 

Individual Models and Links

 

School Wide Enrichment Model: “In the SEM, a talent pool of 15-20% of above average ability/high potential students is identified through a variety of measures including: achievement tests, teacher nominations, assessment of potential for creativity and task commitment, as well as alternative pathways of entrance (self-nomination, parent nomination, etc.). High achievement test and IQ test scores .automatically include a. student in the talent pool, enabling those students who are underachieving in their academic school work to be included.” ~  from the Executive Summary, Renzulli and Reis

Schoolwide Enrichment Model Book Cover

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model Executive Summary Renzulli/Reis

Research Supporting SEM & Extensions of Gifted Ed Pedagogy to Meet Needs of All Students

Preparing Students for Success by Helping Them Discover & Develop Their Passions

 

Autonomous Learners Model: ““The Autonomous Learner Model (ALM) was initially created to provide students with alternative learning environments. The main goal of the ALM is to create independent, self-directed learners. Ideally, students will become lifelong learners through the ALM. The philosophy of the ALM is “to do it with the gifted, and not to them.” This philosophy embodies the belief that teachers should become facilitators and students should become learners. Students will go through each of the five dimensions of the ALM and they will gradually gain more control over their own learning.” Models for the Gifted (website)

Autonomous Learners Model Book Cover

Independent Study in the Betts’ Autonomous Learner Model

Teach with Class ~ Using the Autonomous Learners Model

Autonomous Learners Model in the Shawnee Mission School District, KS

 

Integrated Curriculum Model: “ICM was specifically developed for high-ability learners based on current research evidence at the time of what worked with gifted learners. It has three dimensions: (a) advanced content, (b) high-level process and product work, and (c) intra-and interdisciplinary concept development and understanding.” Gifted Child Quarterly 2007 51: 342

Serving Our Gifted Children in a Normal Classroom (pdf) Margaret Hodgson

What Works in Curriculum for the Gifted (pdf) Joyce VanTassel-Baska

 

Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent: “Francois Gagné’s differentiated model of giftedness and talent considers behaviors that appear spontaneously easy different from those that require mastery through extensive training. According to Gagné, giftedness is a superior natural ability whereas a talent is an ability/skill that has been developed exceptionally well. From this perspective, a talent implies a gift, but a gift does not automatically imply a talent.” Duke TIP

A Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (pdf) Gagné

Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness & Talent from DukeTIP

 

Total School Cluster Grouping: “Cluster grouping model that takes into account the achievement levels of all students and places students in classrooms yearly in order to reduce the number of achievement levels in each classroom and facilitate teachers’ differentiation of curriculum and instruction for all students and thus increase student achievement.” ~ From Total School Cluster Grouping & Differentiation, by Marcia Gentry and Rebecca L. Mann, p. 9

Total School Clustering and Differentiation Book

Total School Cluster Grouping & Differentiation (Amazon) Marcia Gentry

Total School Cluster Grouping (pdf) via Iowa TAG Presentation Slides by Marcia Gentry

NRC G/T: Promoting Student Achievement & Exemplary Classroom Practices Through Cluster Grouping (pdf) Gentry

All Together Now?” in Education Next Winter 2011 by Mike Petrilli

 

 Additional Models

 

Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) ~ Tomlinson: “The Parallel Curriculum Model is a set of four interrelated designs that can be used singly, or in combination, to create or revise existing curriculum units, lessons, or tasks. Each of the four parallels offers a unique approach for organizing content, teaching, and learning that is closely aligned to the special purpose of each parallel.” ~ Parallel Curriculum Model Powerpoint Presentation, New Zealand Ministry of Education

Parallel Curriculum Model Book Cover

Presently Gifted (website): Parallel Curriculum Model

Introduction to the Parallel Curriculum Model (pdf)

Introducing the Parallel Curriculum Model (pdf)

The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop Learner Potential and Challenge Advanced Learners (Amazon) Tomlinson and Kaplan et al

 

Talents Unlimited (TU) ~ Schlichter: “Talents Unlimited (TU) is an empirically based staff development model structured to help educators develop the creative and critical thinking skills, or talents, of their students.  This model embraces the philosophy that traditional academic success is not the only indicator of somebody’s ability to think and solve problems, and that a person can express his or her intellectual potential in a variety of forms.  The model categorizes six talent areas– Productive Thinking, Decision Making, Planning, Forecasting, Communication, and Academic– and outlines a staff development program to help teachers nurture each of these talents in the classroom.” ~ from Models for the Gifted (website)

Talents Unlimited. A Critical and Creative Thinking Skills Model. Awareness Packet (pdf)

Talents Unlimited, Inc. Prezi by Jennefer Lowke 9/30/2013

Talents Unlimited (website)

 

Purdue Three-Stage Enrichment Model for Elementary Gifted Learners (PACE) ~ Feldhusen: “Regardless of age or content area, the core goal of this model is to move the student from novice toward practitioner. This model can be implemented as a wide-reaching program, or as a smaller curriculum. Through three distinct stages, this model begins with covering basic levels of knowledge, continues with the application of that knowledge and skills, and finishes with students solving real-life problems. Because of its simple steps, this model is not difficult to implement, needing only a variety of resources for students to interact with at the second and third stages. This model is both flexible and adaptable to many different settings and is low cost.” ~ from Models for the Gifted

International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent P. 352

Encyclopedia of Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent P. 323

 

Multiple Intelligences (MI) ~ Howard Gardner: “According to this theory, “we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.” ~ from “The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane at Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (pdf)

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences – Emory (pdf)

Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences at Edutopia (video)

 

 

More Models (All links from Models for the Gifted (Google Site):

Multiple Menu Model

Levels of Service Approach

Catalyst Model

 

General Links on Models in Gifted Education:

Models for the Gifted (Google Site)

Systems & Models for Developing Programs for Gifted & Talented, 2E (Amazon) Renzulli & Gubbins

Tough Choices: Ten Curriculum Models (Prezi)

Introduction to Definitions and Conceptions of Giftedness (pdf) Robert J. Sternberg

Curriculum for Highly Able Learners That Conforms to General Education and Gifted Education Quality Indicators http://goo.gl/r12q9

 

Links from chat participants:

Cybraryman’s Design Thinking Page

Cybraryman’s Understanding by Design Page

Cybraryman’s IEP Individualized Education Programs

Young, Gifted, and Black: What I’ve Learned While Raising a Gifted Child

Ten Commandments for Academic Talent Development by Françoys Gagné

This week’s chat was based on a blog post by Dr. Jim Delisle at the Free Spirit Publishing Blog, “Snappy Answers to Stupid Excuses“.  Although Dr. Delisle could not be with us at the chat, he sent this reminder for parents and advocates. “When it comes to their g/t kids, just exhale now and again.”

delisle_jim_fsp-author

                                                      Dr. Jim Delisle

 

In his post, Dr. Delisle listed The Top 5 Offending Statements:

 

  • “You know, every child is gifted in some way …”
  • “We don’t need a separate gifted program, because all of our teachers differentiate.”
  • “It’s not fair to the less capable children to remove gifted children from their classrooms. Who will be their role models?”
  • “It’s not possible to be both gifted and have a disability. It’s either one or the other.”
  • “Your child can’t possibly be gifted – have you looked at her grades?”

 

Interestingly, the chat was populated mostly by educators as well as several homeschoolers. Most all had encountered some of the offending statements in their lives while advocating for gifted students. The discussion turned to personal experiences that they had in their own childhoods and remembrances of how their parents responded to situations involving these types of comments.

What advice did folks have for parents preparing to meet with teachers and school officials to discuss their child?

  • “Learn the language of gifted education. Any conversation will go better if you’re speaking the same language.” ~ Moderator
  • “With school leaders, it is not always what you say but how you phrase it that will either get them to dig in or listen.” ~ Diane Heacox, Ed.D., author (with Richard Cash) of Differentiation for Gifted Learner: Going Beyond the Basics
  • “Even teachers are willing to be taught if it’s done with tact. Bring resources you’ve found helpful to your kid’s teacher’s attention.” ~ Jeffrey Farley, middle school teacher in Beaumont, Texas
  • “Gather all your information, have references ready to quote, don’t allow conversation to get sidetracked and make appointment for next meeting.” ~ Jo Freitag, Coordinator of Gifted Resources and author of Sprite’s Site Blog, Australia
  • “Share anecdotes about child’s interests, behaviour, etc. Not all [teachers] know it affects sleep, self esteem.” ~ Barbara Larochelle, GT teacher for 15 years, Edmonton, Canada

What do you say when a school administrator tells you there is no need for a gifted and talented program because all students needs are being met in the regular classroom through differentiation of the curriculum?  Dr. Delisle suggests that you ask for specific examples of how differentiation is being done in your child’s classroom. Be prepared to show examples of your child’s work at levels well beyond current grade-level placement. Amy Harrington, Esq. and Board Director at SENG, told us “Many gifted kids don’t need teaching, but rather mentoring. Curriculum is also a waste of time. Modifying it is like a band aid.” Dr. Diane Heacox reminded us that, “Differentiated instruction for ALL is not the same as differentiated instruction for GT.” Drew Frank, principal of Davis Academy in Atlanta, made the astute observation that, “Asynchronous development, divergent thinking, hypermotor overexcitability…etc – In class DIn (differentiated instruction) is not enough to meet all needs of [GT]!”

“You don’t have the moral right to hold one child back to make another child feel better.” ~ Stephanie Tolan

Question #5 dealt with – What would you say to: “It’s not fair to the other students to remove gifted children from classes as they are role models.”? This elicited many divergent responses!

  • “Removing gifted and talented students can be the best thing for a class. When bored we’re…disruptive, rebellious, and BAD role models.” ~ Susanne Thomas, Director of Online Education at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum
  • “You don’t have the moral right to hold one child back to make another child feel better.” ~ Stephanie Tolan (quoted by the moderator)
  • “Teachers who say that are usually defining “gifted” as “sweet little high achiever who does what I say.” ~ Justin Schwamm, Latin instructor at Tres Columnae
  • “There is research around students modeling after those who they perceive to be more similar to them; not the superstar.” ~ Dr. Diane Heacox
  • In his blog post, Dr. Delisle suggested, “Ask for research-based evidence supporting statement that gifted students serve as role models in general education classes.”

The question as to whether or not a student can be gifted with an accompanying disability, twice exceptional, was discussed at length. It seemed to be a prevalent attitude among administrators who did not have experience with gifted education. However, the existence of twice-exceptional students is well documented. In fact, Dr. Delisle advises parents to say to administrators, “Suggest the possibility of other 2e [twice-exceptional] students and ask what steps the school has taken to identify them.” A full transcript of the chat may be found here.

Thank you to Dr. Jim Delisle and Free Spirit Publishing for permission to reference their topic on this week’s #gtchat.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S. and Saturdays 11 AM NZ/9 AM AEST  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field.

Links:

Snappy Answers to Stupid Excuses

10 Lessons from Benjamin Franklin That Might Help Advocates of Gifted Learners via TAGT

Differentiation at Evernote

Using Design Process for Problem Solving and Education

Gifted Unschooling

Cybraryman’s Differentiation Page

Susan Brookhart ASCD Author

Dr. Diane Heacox (website)

Free Spirit Publishing

 

SENG Conference 2014

This week’s chat was scheduled to coincide with the SENG (Social Emotional Needs of the Gifted) Annual Conference in San Jose, CA.  One announcement of interest made during our chat was that SENG will now be a membership organization; details to be forthcoming. Due to technical difficulties, no transcript of the chat could be provided.

Below, please find links to SENG resources.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S. and Saturdays 11 AM NZ/9 AM AEST  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field.

Links:

Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted

National Parenting Gifted Children Week July 20-26, 2014

NPGC2014

 

 

 

 

 

SENG Strategic Plan 2012 – 2017

SENG Model Parent Groups

Parents Guide to Gifted Children

 

 

 

 

 

A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children 

SENG Online Parent Support Groups

SENG Article Library

SENG Find a Mental Health Professional

SENG Honor Roll of Outstanding Educators

SENG Honor Roll of Outstanding Educators Nomination Form

Continuing Education SENGinars (CE Units available)

 

Dumbing Down America Delisle

Dumbing Down America the War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds is the newest book from Dr. James R. Delisle. Dr. Delisle, thank you for agreeing to our interview. We at Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented are looking forward to reading your book.


Moderator
: For our readers who are not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about your background in gifted education?

Dr. Delisle: I began my career in New Hampshire, as a teacher of children with intellectual and emotional disabilities way back in 1975.  Special Ed. was just emerging as the force that it is today, so it was exciting to be in on what was then a new trend in education.  My introduction to gifted children came in the form of one of my 5th graders who had been identified as “emotionally disturbed.”  Try as I might to get Matt interested in schoolwork, nothing much seemed to work.  He was a bright kid–he could read, write, do math, etc.–but I was focused so much on his misbehaviors and apparent lack of interest that I never considered using his talents as a way to reach his mind and heart.  Finally, in total desperation and with my bag of educational tricks empty, I decided to stop fighting Matt and to toss the instructional ball into his court.  This kid loved the outdoors and was interested in maple sugar farming–a project that involved much of his free time outside of school–so that became the vehicle I used to reach this unreachable kid.

maple-70407_640Maple Sugar Farming*

Within days of aligning Matt’s out-of-school interests with my goals as his teacher, he began to progress, perform and take pride in his work. After two years of teaching Matt, and seeing his success when schoolwork aligned with his interests and intellect, I decided I needed to know more about teaching kids like him. So, I began a Ph.D. program in gifted child education, focusing on kids like Matt–gifted boys and girls who didn’t do well in school because school didn’t do well by them.  I’ve been in this field of study ever since, as a teacher, professor, counselor, author and dad.

Delisle with studentsDr. Delisle with students

Moderator: The use of a ‘war’ metaphor in the title of your new book seems to indicate you have very strong feelings on the subject. What inspired you to write this book at this time?

Dr. Delisle: The subtitle of my book is “The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds (and What We Can Do to Fight Back)”.  To be sure, those are strong words–intentionally strong, on my part.  Having worked in this field of study for 37 years, I’ve grown tired of the small steps and meager progress that we have made as a nation to serve our gifted children.  Gifted children have educational, intellectual and emotional needs that differ from other kids their age who are developing in more typical ways–but we ignore these needs.  If, as a nation, we really thought that gifted kids had special needs, then why haven’t we included them in federal funding formulae as we do for kids with disabilities?  In 2013, the federal budget for children with disabilities was $12.9 billion.  For gifted kids?: a whopping $5 million.  If you assume that 3% of our nation’s K-12 children are gifted, that comes to about 2.5 million gifted kids in America–which means they get $2 of federal money each to address their needs.  A Happy Meal costs more than that!  The use of the term “War” in my book’s title is neither hyperbole or exaggeration; it’s just an honest admission that, as a nation, we choose to disregard the needs of gifted kids who need more than $2 of support each year. Indeed, it is a battle in local, state and federal educational venues to even get people to admit that gifted kids need opportunities to pursue learning at their own pace.  The budget cuts nationwide to gifted programs have been so dramatic in the past decade that it constitutes educational neglect.

“The use of the term “War” in my book’s title is neither hyperbole or exaggeration; it’s just an honest admission that, as a nation, we choose to disregard the needs of gifted kids who need more than $2 of support each year.”

Moderator: The idea of ‘dumbing down’ has serious implications for society as a whole. What do you see as the consequences for America if this trend is not reversed?

Dr. Delisle: What happens if we don’t stop dumbing down our educational options for gifted kids? We’re seeing the results already: our nation’s stature as an educational powerhouse is in shambles when compared to many of our international neighbors.  But more important than international test score comparisons is the personal cost paid by gifted kids who are told, in effect, that they don’t need anything special to excel; that their enhanced abilities and insights are not worth our attention; that sitting in a class with kids of lesser abilities will tamp down the egos of gifted kids and make them more sympathetic to students who struggle to learn; that giftedness is a myth because “everyone is gifted in some way.”  The ridiculous bias against gifted kids in our nation’s schools emanates from so-called educational visionaries whose sight is hampered by the gauzy lens of professional ignorance. By paying scant attention to the needs of gifted kids, we are squandering a resource that will make our nation less competitive, less meaningful, less respectful.

“By paying scant attention to the needs of gifted kids, we are squandering a resource that will make our nation less competitive, less meaningful, less respectful.”

Moderator: What responsibility does the gifted community (parents, educators, organizations) bear with regard to the state of gifted education today?

Dr. Delisle: What responsibility does the gifted community have in regard to the state of gifted child education today?  Part of the reason the field of gifted child education has not progressed much in 30 years is due to the infighting that occurs in this field of study.  While some people contend that gifted children should be identified and served in gifted programs, others find the “gifted” label off-putting and want to eliminate it completely.  Silly as it sounds, we can’t even agree on a common definition of giftedness or how to identify it. Some want to equate giftedness with eminence and developed talents, while others desire a more holistic approach to giftedness that encompasses social and emotional elements, not just intellectual factors. And even if, by some miracle, we could arrive at a consensus of what giftedness is, we’d still argue as to how educational services should be delivered.  The state and national organizations that promote the needs of gifted children, and the professionals who write the books and espouse their theories, would do gifted kids a big favor if they could fight less and cooperate more.

Delisle speakingDr. Delisle

Moderator: What do you propose to change course in this war on our nation’s brightest youth?

Dr. Delisle: So what do I advocate that we do to stop the dumbing down?  Here are some ideas worth considering:

  • First, we need to provide the same legislative protection for gifted kids that we give to students with disabilities.  It should make common sense that if you are in either the top or bottom 3% of intellectual abilities compared to others your age, you will have some unique needs that demand more than the standard curriculum.
  • Second, we need to make a national financial commitment to gifted children that explores everything from effective measures of student identification to best practices in instruction, to longitudinal studies that show us what works and what doesn’t. In my book, I elaborate extensively on how an outlay of $400 million over a five-year period could change the landscape for gifted children in America. This plan, developed by one of my personal heroes and one of our field’s finest contributors, James J. Gallagher, would be a game changer for anyone concerned about addressing the needs of gifted kids.
  • A third suggestion I discuss is to take some of the absurd amount of money that we spend annually of high-stakes testing and use those funds for something that actually helps kids and teachers.  The billions of dollars and countless classroom hours spent on assessment are robbing all children, gifted or not, of precious resources that are more vital to learning.

In my book, I review other areas we need to address–for example, defining giftedness once and for all; re-establishing elementary-grade “pull-out” programs; and admitting that the promise of differentiated instruction as the primary plan for serving gifted children is an ineffective, cheap way out for schools to pay lip service to meeting gifted children’s needs. Addressing these steps will not ensure a perfect world for America’s gifted kids, but it’d be a fine start.  As I conclude in Dumbing Down Americasaving gifted kids isn’t our choice–it’s our obligation.


Thank you, Dr. Delisle, for taking the time to do this interview. Dumbing Down America is available now from Amazon.
(Note: This post was cross-posted on the Gifted Parenting Blog.)

AccelerationRadical Acceleration*

Talk about a hot topic! This week’s chat was already in full swing before the moderator even arrived! Radical Acceleration and Early College Entrance elicited strong emotions from both teachers and parents. This week’s guest, Madeline Goodwin (see blog post below) was quite articulate in her portrayal of experiences she had in college … beginning at the age of 13. Now a recent grad, Madeline has her sights set on graduate school in the fall.

Madeline was joined at the chat by her mother, Corin Barsily Goodwin, Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, to share the experience from a parent’s point of view. Many of her comments help put concerns of other parents in perspective and were well received by those at the chat. A full transcript may be found here.

GHF logoGifted Homeschoolers Forum

We learned that Madeline was entirely homeschooled prior to entering college. This allowed her to progress at her own speed without concern from schools about her social development. It also made it easier to access and connect with experts in areas of study in which she was interested. It afforded her the opportunity to associate with people on her intellectual level who had shared interests.

What curriculum did the Goodwin’s use to homeschool? Corin summed it up with this comment,

“We were pretty eclectic. I brought out the workbooks and I faced a mutiny, so we did other stuff. Like visiting 56 National Parks!”

lake-340375_640Yosemite National Park*

It was interesting to note that college wasn’t smooth sailing all the time; but not for the reasons one might expect. Even at the collegiate level, Madeline did not always feel challenged. At times, her young age made it difficult to socialize with older students and of course … she couldn’t even drive yet!

Regrets? None so far according to Madeline. “Academically, college was exactly what I needed, no regrets. Learned a lot, including about work ethic & study habits. College had clubs that I joined and I went to an alternative prom earlier this year!” She credited her family for helping to make the experience a positive one, ” Definitely had lots of support,guidance, and scaffolding from my mother, and patience from my brother who got dragged along!

In the final analysis, it was agreed that the decision to accelerate is a very personal one that needs to be made by the student in consultation with their parents.  It certainly is not for everyone; but it was the right one for Madeline!

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S. and Saturdays 11 AM NZ/9 AM AEST  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field.

Links:

Livebinder from Leslie Graves

Academic Acceleration at Hoagies Gifted Education Page

Madeline Goodwin’s Bio

Madeline Goodwin: A Homeschooling Success Story

Large-scale Action Needed to Fight Climate Change

Climate Change Linked to Lifestyle Choices, Faith

Radical Acceleration and Early Entry to College: A Review of the Research

Radical Acceleration of Highly Gifted Children (pdf)

A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students Vol. 2 (pdf)

Nation Deceived

Lived Experience of Highly Gifted Adolescent Girls in a Radically Accelerated High School Program (pdf)

All Rivers Lead to the Sea: A Follow-up Study of Gifted Young Adults (pdf)

College @ 13 Young, Gifted, and Purposeful” from Great Potential Press

I Need a Place Where I Belong: The Highly Gifted Child (pdf)

Out-of-level Achievement: Case for Acceleration in New Zealand Secondary Schools (pdf)

Academic Acceleration: A Policy Advocacy Document

Cal State Early Entrance Program

Even Gifted Students Can’t Keep Up in Math & Science, The Best Fend for Themselves

AUS: Policy & Implementation Strategies for Education of GT Students Acceleration Support Package (pdf)

Radical Possibilities for the Profoundly Gifted

Early Entrance to College as an Option for Highly Gifted Adolescents (Amazon)

Acceleration and Early College Resources for Gifted Children

Cybraryman’s Genius Hour Page

* Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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