Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gifted Parenting Support!




Gifted Parenting Support celebrated 2 years of blogging this past week! It has been an adventure beyond our wildest dreams and has opened up a multitude of doors within the gifted community.

We are fast approaching 35,000 page views and we’re read in over 80 countries! Who would have guessed we would be here just 2 short years ago. It is a testament to the fact that parents of gifted children have a deep concern about parenting and educating their children. We are also pleased at the number of teachers who visit and comment on our blog. This is proof positive that parents and teachers can work together!

Since our first post, Gifted Parenting Support has expanded to Twitter ( @ljconrad ) and we now have our own page on Facebook. This has afforded us the opportunity to have an even greater influence with gifted parents, teachers, and advocates around the world. Social Media has added new meaning to the term ‘24/7’.

In the coming year, we hope to add new links and features to the blog. As with any new venture, it is a work in progress. The topics of interest within the gifted community seem endless. We’d be remiss if we did not draw your attention to our blog roll. There are many excellent blogs on the Internet dealing with the subject of giftedness. Please take time to visit them.

Another excellent resource for parents and educators is the weekly #gtchat on Twitter moderated by yours truly. Global #gtchat was offline for a couple months after founder Deborah Mersino moved on to a new position. She is deeply missed, but she will always be remembered for her innovative and collaborative work on Twitter in raising awareness of the needs of gifted children.



Fortunately, through the generosity of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, #gtchat is once again tweeting each week at 7PM EDT/6PM CDT on Fridays. TAGT has provided a page for gtchat on their website as well as a weekly poll of potential topics for the chats and a transcript of each chat. You can follow the latest news on Twitter ‘ @gtchatmod ‘.

There are also two other excellent chats concerning gifted and talented on Twitter that you will want to check out if #gtchat’s time is not conducive to your schedule. The NAGC (US) @NAGCGIFTED has a chat on Wednesday evenings at 8:30 PM EDT and #gtie, a chat from Ireland, begins at 9PM on Sunday evenings (local time)/4PM EDT (US).

Our inspiration … the reason we blog … will always be the gifted children of the world. It is not about careers, our own prestige, or bragging rights ~ it is about our children! Special thanks to all those who join in the adventure!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gifted Education Awareness Week – Namibia


I would like to thank Roya Klingner from the Global Center for Gifted Education for inviting me to blog as a part of Gifted Education Awareness Week in Namibia.

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Namibia is a young nation which only gained its independence 30 years ago. It is a large but sparsely populated country located on the southwest coast of Africa. Namibia’s many natural resources include diamonds, uranium, and zinc (see reference) and recently discovered off-shore oil reserves. “Unfortunately, the country’s high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides one of the world’s most unequal income distributions.” (reference) Fewer than 33% of its students complete grade 10. The USAID reports unemployment rates as high as 40% to 50%. Yet even in this less than perfect environment, there exist teachers who are motivated to identify and instruct gifted learners.

One organization, Namibian Dreams (website) founded by two aid workers in the country aptly describes the situation, “[There are a] saddening number of cases where children who had obvious potential found themselves demoralized by circumstances -- disease, poverty, or familial strife, to name just a few examples -- and resigned to a life without any hope for future educational or professional advancement. Far too many children in Namibia are prohibited from realizing all the possibilities available to similarly gifted children in more developed parts of the world. That does not mean they have any less potential than these more privileged children, only that some work is required to make the most of this potential.”

In a report from CfBT Education Trust on Early Childhood Care (found here), obstacles to providing quality education in southern Africa – including Namibia – were delineated. Many aid organizations seek to help the region, but “joint approaches are often cumbersome affairs, and organized largely by donors with little local ownership.” Furthermore, cultural differences affect how outside contributions are viewed by the indigenous population. “Although culture is always hard to define and locate, from a number of perspectives the North American/European emphasis on individuality, competition and consumerism is deeply antithetical to more communal ways of living and to respectful treatment of the environment. …African states…have produced their own African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which stresses the responsibilities children owe to their families and society and the obligation of the child ‘to respect his parents, superiors and elders at all times and to assist them in case of need’.” In short, cultural attitudes too often hinder awareness and consideration for the needs of gifted education in the region.

Gifted children exist in all regions and countries of the world. In virtually every setting, raising awareness of their existence is the first step in providing for their education and well-being. The next step is to ensure that teachers are provided with knowledge of how to meet the needs of these extraordinary children and then to implement appropriate educational programs. Thanks to the Global Center for Gifted Education (website) for taking the important first step! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Irish Gifted Education Awareness Week … May the Road Rise to Meet You!


It is an honor to be invited to guest blog for Irish Gifted Awareness Week 2012. This year’s theme is “Gifted Children Inside and Outside the Classroom”. As a frequent contributor to a gifted chat on Twitter, I have been privileged to get to know many people in the gifted community in Ireland. My own interest in global gifted education initiatives further prompted me to learn more about Ireland’s current state of affairs with regard to this community.

Ireland can be proud of the many initiatives that are underway there. In addition to Irish Gifted Awareness Week, Ireland is also represented on the Executive Council of the World Council for Giftedand Talented Children by Mrs. Leslie Graves of Dublin. An immensely informative website and source of excellent webinars, Giftedkids.ie, can be found here.  An exciting program supported by this site, Mission V, is yet another initiative based in Ireland that supports a virtual reality for gifted children. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the blog by Dazzled and Frazzled that developed from the friendship of two women who recognized the power of parents to make a difference in the lives of gifted children.

The current economic climate has been difficult for Ireland as well as many other countries. It is during times like these that a nation’s thoughts turn to the next generation and to a brighter future. Oftentimes, a country will experience a ‘brain drain’ in response to this situation. Fortunately, forward thinking educators and parents in the gifted community have been working hard to raise awareness of the need to provide an appropriate education in the classroom and activities outside the classroom to meet the social and emotional needs of the exceptionally-able student. The Centre for Talented Youth, Ireland at Dublin City University, is a good example of this.

Every society needs to understand that nurturing these young minds is essential to growing a robust economy by putting university graduates into the workforce who exhibit leadership and critical thinking skills. It is a vital first step in competing on the world stage. Innovation and creative thinking have long been known as the path to a sound economic future.

As parents and educators continue to work together to support academically gifted and talented children in Ireland, I believe that the road will surely rise to meet you!