Monday, June 27, 2016

How to Talk About Giftedness Part 4 of 5 - The Gifted Child's Bill of Rights

Recap of the January 2016 Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted Guest Lecture 
How to Talk About Giftedness - PART 4
The Gifted Child’s Bill of Rights

In parts 3 and 4 of this series, we have given you tips on debunking common myths that surround giftedness.  When you turn the myths around, you have the Gifted Child’s Bill of Rights -

Gifted children, you have a right to -
  • know about your giftedness.
  • learn something new every day.
  • be passionate about your talent area without apologies.
  • have an identity beyond your talent area.
  • feel good about your accomplishments.
  • make mistakes.
  • seek guidance in the development of your talent.
  • have multiple peer groups and a variety of friends.
  • choose which of your talent areas you wish to pursue.
  • not to be gifted at everything.

The Gifted Child’s Bill of Rights was created by Del Siegle, NAGC president (2007-2009).

Stay tuned for part 5, the final segment in this series – Bill of Rights for Parents of Gifted Children

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Greetings!

Summer Greetings!

Please read the letter below and respond immediately to the request to contact the Governor's office.  We want to keep the momentum going with our work to restore funding for gifted education!

It is easy to do your part!

Thank you so much,
Donna J. Campbell, President,


What did I do on my summer vacation? I made a difference in the lives of gifted children. 

Through the heat of summer, it may be hard to imagine that fall will ever be here. Yet as you read these words, decision makers at the capitol are making funding plans for the 2017-2018 school year. We need your help to make sure that gifted education is part of these discussions.  

As you know, Arizona schools are mandated to provide gifted education, yet the state has not funded this mandate since 2009. Our schools need this money to identify gifted students, train teachers, and provide the education our students need. With your help last legislative session, AAGT gained serious ground in the fight for funding. We need your help again to keep the heat on our leaders to fund these important programs. 

Would you please spend two minutes of your summer vacation improving the lives of gifted children? Governor Ducey's office needs to hear from you TODAY that gifted education should be a priority. The process is easy. Simply go to his office webpage, and you can cut and paste our message or feel free to write your own. 

We don't want to see the support for gifted education melt away! Let's keep the heat on our leaders to fund these essential programs! 


Governor Ducey, 

I am a (Parent of a gifted child; gifted educator; gifted student) and a member of Arizona Association for Gifted & Talented. Gifted Education is a state mandate, yet it has not been funded in Arizona since FY2009.

There is a common myth that gifted students will do fine on their own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many gifted students are so far ahead of their same-age peers that they know more than half of the grade-level curriculum before the school year begins. Their resulting boredom and frustration can lead to low achievement, despondency, or unhealthy work habits. The role of the teacher is crucial for spotting and nurturing talents in school. It is often difficult for parents of gifted children to find academic programs and teachers who understand the strengths and struggles of gifted kids. For this reason, funding gifted education is essential not only to gifted students, parents, and educators, but also to the future Arizona economy that will need this bright young minds in the coming years.  

As you plan for the 2017-2018 school year, funding for gifted education should be part of the discussion. These essential programs have gone unfunded for too long. Please, as you plan for the future school years, include funding for gifted education. 

Our students are counting on you. 


(Your name here) 

Monday, June 20, 2016

How to Talk About Giftedness Part 3 of 5 - What do giftedness and men's height have in common?

Recap of the January 2016 Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted Guest Lecture 
How to Talk About Giftedness - PART 3
What do giftedness and men’s height have in common?

Giftedness is usually defined as those members of the population whose intelligence is found in the 97th percentile or above, or in about 3% of the population.  What if men’s height were to be plotted on the same bell curve?  Below you can see that a man’s height of 6’4” is at the 97th percentile ranking, indicating that any man who is 6’4” or taller is found in less than 3% of the population.

Now, does intelligence in the 97th percentile or above mean that gifted child is destined to being a successful rocket scientist?   Let’s ask a different question.  Does a man’s height in the 97th percentile or above mean that he will be a successful pro basketball player?  Are they both guaranteed a yellow brick road in life?  The answers to these questions is an emphatic NO.

I have a friend who is 6’10” and he shared with me some opportunities and challenges that have come with his height.

        Reach high places without step stool
        Can see in a crowd and be found in a crowd
        HS Basketball team
        College basketball scholarship
        Traveled Europe as a professional basketball player
        Has a commanding presence at work

Challenges:  The world is not made for those in the 97th percentile …
        Was bullied in elementary and junior high
        Must buy clothes and shoes at a specialty shop.  He is very appreciative of the Internet shopping!
        Low doorways
        Car shopping (Are adjustable seats adequate?  Does head hit the roof? Etc.)
        Airplane seating.  For comfort he must sit in the exit isles, which ALWAYS costs extra!

Our Call to Action

Gifted Children, like children who are atypical in height, have unique needs and are often treated unfairly.  Share the example of height as you provide a comparison when discussing giftedness.  It will lower the listeners defenses and help them look at the issue in another light.

When the statement is made “It’s not fair,” ask the follow-up question, “To whom?”  If accommodations are being sought for a gifted child, how is this not fair to the typical child?  If the purpose of school is to learn and grow, then how is providing a learning opportunity for one child, but not another, considered fair?

In the Marland Report to Congress it was stated, “Gifted and Talented children are, in fact, deprived and can suffer psychological damage and permanent impairment of their abilities to function well which is equal to or greater than the similar deprivation suffered by any other population with special needs.”

As a nation we have a problem:
    • Fastest growing homeschooling population is gifted children (often because children are misunderstood in the classroom, and not just for academic reasons)
    • There is the persistent belief that giftedness is only an academic or education issue
    • We cannot expect professionals to be able to meet the needs of these children when burdened by society’s misunderstandings

Tips to Have Good Conversations
“We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them” – Livy


Help people be more comfortable with the conversation about giftedness  -
·         Make eye contact (sincere not aggressive)
·         Believe in the conversation (know you are helping kids who can’t help themselves)
·         Use humor
·         Use analogies
·         Find common ground (want to help all children)
·         Concentrate on gaining understanding through empathy
·         Be alert to opportunities and be brave in speaking up
·         Rely heavily on science and reason – better received “research is beginning to show…”
·         Use the word GIFTED without embarrassment/accept it when someone calls your kid smart
·         Separate yourself and/or your child from the conversation when appropriate
·         Use your own passion and affiliations to:
o   Share with professionals  (pediatricians, family therapists, etc.)
o   Comment on social media
o   Be public: Respond to blogs, write articles, have conversations, conduct meetings, teach, present…

With positive persistence, using analogies that are easy to relate to, we CAN talk about giftedness, dispelling myths and advocating well for our own children.

Stay tuned for part 4 in this series – The Gifted Child’s Bill of Rights

Monday, June 13, 2016

How to Talk About Giftedness Part 2 of 5 - Myths of Giftedness: Equality vs. Fairness

Recap of the January 2016 Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted Guest Lecture 
How to Talk About Giftedness - PART 2
Myths of Giftedness:  Equality vs. Fairness

In order to effectively talk about giftedness we need to understand myths vs. truth. 
So, let’s bust some myths about giftedness!

Myths, their background and impact
Myths are the result of:
  The unclear understanding of giftedness affecting the development of the whole child.
  A culture that does not understand or know how to deal with the traits and behavior of gifted individuals

A belief in these myths:
  Perpetuates incorrect stereotypes and prevents empathy
  Results in emotionally harmful reactions from society
“Good intentions do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding”
– Albert Camus


The grandest myth is that All children are gifted. 
  MYTH:  Giftedness is equated with the potential for eminence, achievement and success. 
  TRUTH:  All children have gifts they can develop.  However, gifted individuals have brains, psyches and nervous systems that are hard-wired in such a way that their traits are only found in a small percentage of the population.

Want to become educated about how to debunk the 10 most common myths of giftedness?  Click here to take this link to our website.

Discussing Intelligence Creates Discomfort
Why is it uncomfortable to discuss intelligence?  Because -
  Equality is at the heart of the American value system
¡  Our feelings about human value clashes with our ability to accept that some people are born with higher levels of potential than others
  If we correct the misperception that giftedness is required for eminence, achievement and success, then there is NO CLASH .
  All children are equal, but they are not all the same
  Gifted children are special needs children
Fair isn’t everyone having the same, fair is everyone having what they need.


Now that we understand the importance of each of us debunking the myths of giftedness, and the difference between fair and equal, stay tuned for part 3 of this series, How to Talk About Giftedness:  What do giftedness and men’s height have in common?

Monday, June 6, 2016

How to Talk About Giftedness Part 1 of 5 - The Gifted Label and Changing Mindsets

Recap of the January 2016 Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted Guest Lecture
How to Talk About Giftedness -  PART 1 (of a 5 part series)
The Gifted Label and Changing Mindsets

Bringing Giftedness Out into the Daylight!  A.K.A. Talking to others about giftedness, the Elephant in the Room!

It’s difficult to discuss giftedness with others.  Will I, as a parent of a gifted child, be perceived as elitist?  Will their eyes roll and they not believe me when I say my kid has struggles too?  If I don’t talk about it, how will I find others who understand what I deal with every day?  How will I find what is needed to help my child grow? 

As parents of gifted kids, what can we do?
We can learn to comfortably talk about giftedness in order to help create change.  We can start right where we are by refusing to agonizing over a better word.  As we fight the battle of semantics we are losing the war.  We can help desensitize people to the word “gifted” by educating them on its FULL meaning.  We can stop concentrating solely on what gifted is and give equal due to what it is NOT.  We all know it is NOT a guarantee of success.  It is NOT a life on the yellow brick road.

We can form alliances and look for common ground because it builds empathy and support.  We can go beyond “preaching to the choir.”  We can recognize and use common vocabulary, such as “work ethic,” “emotional development,” “learning to deal with frustration and competition,” etc.

The Gifted Label 
The gifted label does have its benefits.  It is helpful when requesting services.  It is helpful in the legislative venue, whether it’s a local, state or national level.  If we can’t name this condition then we are stuck!  So, we must change the understanding of the label.  Labels have changed throughout history and we can do our part to change the understanding of the gifted label.   

(For an example from history on how some labels have changed from the 1960’s to now, see the personal boyhood incident of Dr. Ben Carson in the book Gifted Hands, p. 38-39)

When talking about the gifted label, don’t get bogged down in the detailed definitions like percentile rankings, IQ scores, etc.  In this war these are less important than describing characteristics.  Use your own passion and affiliations to:
·         Share with professionals  (pediatricians, family therapists, etc.)
·         Comment on social media
·         Be public: Respond to blogs, write articles, have conversations, conduct meetings, teach, present, etc.

The Problem and Its Roots
The problem exists because there is a reluctance in our society to discuss giftedness, and because of this the needs of gifted children are not addressed.
The Roots of this problem are due to the fact that -
1.       Society limits giftedness to education
2.       Myths about giftedness are entrenched
3.       The concept of intelligence creates discomfort

Giftedness is broadly misunderstood and is often discussed only in the context of eminence, achievement and success.  This fosters the perception of elitism and perpetuates the myth that only the gifted can be successful in life.  Also, across all disciplines giftedness is misunderstood to be a topic only about education.  However, giftedness affects the development of the whole gifted child – intellectually, socially, emotionally, etc.

Solving these problems requires changing deep rooted mindsets …

Commit to being part of the solution.  Commit to speaking up.  Commit to educate without being aggressive.

Now that we’ve laid some groundwork regarding our mindsets, part two of this series will provide tips on how to bust some common myths about giftedness.  STAY TUNED!