It may seem odd to write about the ONE THING I wish politicians, teachers, parents and gifted kids knew about gifted kids when there are so many possible things to know.
I will try anyway.
Here goes… My one piece of advice for each of the three groups.
I would like to apologize for all the bad things I’ve thought about you in the past.
I probably should apologize for all the bad things I will think about you in the future (the very near future), but that might require not thinking them, so I’ll have to pass on that.
What I would like you to know, most of all, is that it would be most beneficial if you would stop blaming teachers for all the ills in the educational world.
There are students and parents involved in this dynamic as well, but we never hear about that.
How about paying parents depending on how their kids are doing in school, as you often suggest for teachers?
Consider a pro-rated sliding scale on the dependent tax deduction. You only get the full deduction if your child is passing all of his/her classes and does not engage in egregious behavior that disrupts the learning environment.
I know this isn’t a specifically gifted child-focused comment, but the teachers can’t focus on the GT kids if they are worried that they will be fired if their low-performing kids don’t come to school and learn enough to pass the tests at the end of the year.
Please stop being scared about differentiation.
It does not mean planning 30 different lessons for your students.
If you have three sick children and they have to take different doses of their medicine, do you give them all the same anyway because it’s a hassle to figure out who gets what?
Of course not!
Differentiation is essentially the same thing.
I know you’re busy.
I know you’re overworked.
I know you’re (bone) tired.
I know things get thrown in your lap every day that really are beyond the scope of what you thought your job was and should be.
But while you’re thinking about how this whole teaching thing is just slightly overrated, remember that there are GT kids in your class who will never have another shot at this grade/class, and they need you to help them learn as much as they can as much as they need medicine when they’re sick.
Please remember that not every behavior problem is because your child is gifted.
Please bear in mind that your child, no matter how gifted, must still behave in a way that enables him/her to function in a society that values manners and social niceties.
I am not asking that you raise your child to be a conformist or wannabe Stepford Wife, but rather that you consider that to achieve to their full potential, our kids have to know and practice the social norms.
This is true at least until such time as they have such astonishing skills that the rules don’t apply to them.
This may never happen.
Remember: Steve Jobs was fired from the company he created. Steve Jobs.
I saved the best for last.
Well aren’t you the cat’s pajamas? (That’s an idiom. I used it here because GT kids usually like word play.)
You are smart.
That’s very nice.
It’s nice to be smart.
It makes life a lot easier in a lot of ways.
You can, for instance, come up with wonderful ways to spend your time that other people would never think of (making chess sets out of dried toothpaste and old cereal boxes, for example).
You can, when prodded, perform amazing feats of cerebral gymnastics that amaze and astound your family and friends.
Please keep in mind this one thing: shun pride.
Cultivate humility and you will be far more effective in your personal and professional life.
As smart as you are, there is a strong likelihood that there is someone smarter.
The best way to stay humble?
You will then see how richly blessed you are, and you will come to realize that the only truly noble use of your gift is to try to make your world a better place.
I believe it is a better place because you are in it.
Prove me right.
While those of you who know me know that I rarely shun the opportunity to give advice, it’s suprisingly difficult to narrow it down to one thing.
I picked these things because they are what I think will make the most difference in the lives of all us.
My goal is to make the world safe for gifted kids.
Small changes lead to great results, and I’m certain that if we act on this advice, we’ll all be better for it.