Inspiring Giftedness in Every Student

By Claudia Felske — I was a reluctant blogger this time around.

When asked to write a blogpost for Wisconsin Gifted Education Week 2012I was intrigued but hesitant.

The notion of “gifted” has never fully sat well with me.

In 1972, The National Association for Gifted Children defined “gifted” as students having “high capabilities in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership…and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school to fully develop those capabilities.”

Hey, wait a minute: is it not my obligation (and pleasure btw) as an educator to work under the presumption that all students have “high capabilities”?

Clearly, there must be something wrong with an educational system that finds itself labeling students with “high capabilities” as “gifted” and finds it necessary to provide “special” programs for them to reach their potential.

Shouldn’t this be a mandate for all students: a covenant that we, as educators, make with every student, every year, so that each student has the chance to realize his/her “high(est) capabilities”?

Perhaps the term “giftedness” itself an indicator of a failed system. Do decreasing budgets and increasing class sizes, state mandates and national directives, curriculum realignment and data-driven decisions (all on top of the social and economic challenges faced by our students outside of school) make it impossible for students to realize their “high capabilities”? Is it this failure which necessitates gifted labels and gifted programs in order that schools can do for some students what it’s failing to do for all students?

So how do I write a blogpost for “giftedness” when I think I’m against it? When I believe that each student has gifts that we must both unwrap and foster. Like the story of Michaelangelo with a slab of marble. He reflected:

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

Like Michaelangelo seeing the beautiful statue within the block of marble, we must envision each student’s “high capabilities” within, waiting to reveal themselves.

Enter reality: With 45 minute class periods and 150+ students on our roles, how can we offer all of our students challenging, authentic classroom experiences worthy of their high capabilities?

I say by being lazy, annoying, weird, hip and rebellious. It’s what I aim to be.   How?  Read more on Claudia’s blog >>>

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