Monday, August 19, 2013

Top Ten Take Aways from the 20th Biennial Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children

Photo courtesy of Ingrid Dallal Fratz

Attending this year’s Conference for the World Council was one of the highlights of my career in gifted advocacy! It was a week filled with incredible memories of friendships made, heroes met and a wealth of information that will enhance my work in the gifted advocacy.

Where else could I have invited a few friends over for the evening … from across the U.S., Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and Vietnam? Where else could I meet leaders and icons from around the world? Where else could I have conversations … deep, significant conversations … with people whose work I’d followed for over a decade?

Attending conferences isn't something parents often do in the gifted community. In fact, many gifted organizations believe that their conferences are predominately for educators and academics. However, I cannot stress enough the value you will find in going to a conference. It doesn't have to be a national or international conference; consider a state or regional conference whenever available.

And now for my Top 10 Take Aways:

#10 Gluten-free diets are ‘catching on’.

# 9  Dabrowski was spot on!

#8   Networking is an excellent benefit of attending any conference.

#7   The World Conference with FREE wi-fi showcased how to use social media to 
an extent never before seen at a gifted conference. (This one’s for you, TylerClark!)

      #6   Friendships made online are even better in real life.

Mary St. George, Leslie Graves, Lisa Conrad and Jen Merrill

#5   Parents are welcome at the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children … 
now they need to get involved.

#4   An older generation is poised to pass on the baton, but who is prepared to accept?

#3   Twitter can be used effectively to enhance the experience of both attendees and 
non-attendees to any conference without detriment to the organizer or presenter.

#2   Fate brought a lot of great people together!

#1   The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children is in good hands!

Missed the 20th Biennial Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children? Check out these online resources and start making plans to attend the 21st Biennial Conference in Odense, Denmark, August 10 – 15, 2015!

Program for the 20th Biennial Conference 
Listen to the Keynotes online 
About the Keynote Speakers 
20th Biennial Conference on Flickr 
20th Biennial Conference on Facebook 
Virtually visiting the WCGTC Conference in Kentucky from Jo Freitag
International Year of Giftedness and Creativity (My Kite)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Help Wanted: Critical Thinkers

Is it just me, or is there a deficit of critical thinkers in the world today?

I’m pretty sure it’s not me. While many world leaders seemed fixated on budget deficits, I am much more worried about the lack of critical thinkers being produced these days. Perhaps it’s because I work in social media or maybe because it really irks me when people say and do stupid things, that I've become so sensitive to this issue.

And honestly … does anyone really care? Well, I do. I look around me and see a new generation, in all walks of life, who simply ‘can’t reason their way out of a paper bag’ much less solve problems that take skills beyond the fifth grade. I observe comments on Facebook between ‘20-somethings’ and say to myself, “We’re screwed!”

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may assume that you are immune to this scenario; but you’re not. This may be one of the most important reasons why parents need to advocate for gifted education in their child’s school. Gifted children need to be taught these thinking skills as much as the next kid; just at a higher level. Trust me.

Think I’m off-base? Take a look around you. Listen in on a conversation of young adults at a coffee shop discussing politics. When you hear the words “they’re all crooks” or “what difference can I make?” … worry. Walk into most college classrooms and ask the students about their expectations for dealing with the Earth’s water crisis or the effect of long-term degradation of a country’s infrastructure. You’ll probably be met with blank stares.

There are a lot of problems in the world today that need new ideas. And the problems are not getting any easier. We need a new generation of critical thinkers and your children are among those best equipped to solve these problems.

Is it every gifted child’s obligation to “save the world”? No, it is not. Each one has the right to determine their own future. However, one also needs to ask, “What kind of world do I want to live in; do I want my children to grow up in?”

At a more personal level, our children need to be able to decipher information which affects their own well-being. They need to know right from wrong; moral from immoral; the difference between absolute and degrees. They need to be able to recognize deceit.

There needs to be a new mindset, folks. All minds deserve the chance to grow; to stretch. That doesn't mean they need to reach a certain fixed point such as proficiency. They need to go as far as they can … to reach beyond that which they think they are capable. 

As parents, it is your job to do everything you can to ensure that possibilities exist for your child. Is that a fair statement? Probably not; but if not you … then who? No one, not even the best- intentioned person, will ever care more about your children than you. When they are young, you must advocate for them. As they grow, you become their guidance counselor. And finally when they reach adulthood, you should be their biggest supporter.

Parenting is an awesome responsibility. Take it seriously. Teach your children life skills that will enable them to be critical thinkers and problem-solvers. It takes time and commitment. 18 years seems like an eternity when you’re watching them take their first steps … but it is over in the twinkle of an eye! Remember, you are building a bridge to the future … both theirs and yours.