Teacher's Corner: A Gifted Carol

Not unlike Scrooge and his visit by four ghosts one Christmas Eve long ago, I too was in the company of spirits over my recent break from the classroom. Their visions of the past, present, and future of the field of gifted education came alive for me in one night.  

One evening I found myself reading many of the NAGC webpages. I was quite familiar with some of them, but there were others I had not visited in quite some time. As the metaphorical chains clanked in the background, I knew I was in for a long evening.  

First, I was propelled through history while reading the History of Gifted Education timeline  and I witnessed the beginning of the field itself.Jeff Quote 1-3-17_0.png

It was around the turn of the twentieth century and new educational thought had brought about questions of intelligence, ways to measure it, and once identified, how it could be nurtured. I walked past halls where hard-working Francis Galton pondered heredity and Lewis Terman sought to develop an intelligence test. I sat in the back of a wondrous classroom at Leta Hollingworth’s Speyer School. I was whisked away to a packed auditorium as J. P. Guilford addressed the APA convention, challenging an examination of intelligence as multidimensional. I even saw NAGC founder, Anne Isaacs, type the first issue of the association’s newsletter in 1950. I was startled by the explosive 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union that resulted in a reexamination of the United State’s investment in its human capital. I flew by as large amounts of money were invested into the identification of gifted and talented students. The National Defense Education Act passed, The Marland Report issued, and in 1974, the Office of the Gifted and Talented was conceived. The United States cared about gifted education and sought to do all it could. You can retrace my steps by visiting the History of Gifted Ed webpage. It is worth a read.  

As quickly as I had “left,” I was back at my desk and feeling as one often does on a long drive. Just then, my computer went dead and the power went out, as it often does during a Northeast winter. 

A light kindled in my mind though, and I found myself being led through more recent times in gifted education. I witnessed the evolution of an educational field where research, creativity, collaboration, and discussion confirmed the importance of recognizing talent in our nation’s children. I beheld the change in perspective of what it means to be gifted, the branching out of conceptions, definitions, and a change in identification methods to include a multi criteria and a non-verbal approach. I even observed the signing of the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act and the creation of the National Research Center!  

Something began to change, though, and even as considerable research was completed stressing the need for a differentiated curriculum, I saw the general educational community follow a more traditional testing approach. As a result, budget cuts, the re-emergence of myths, and the end of the Javits Act and the National Research Center prevailed.

I began to see more recent improvements for gifted students such as the re-instatement of the Javits Act and Research Center, and the inclusion of gifted education in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). You can read about NAGC’s present advocacy efforts here.   

Finally, I emerged once more from deep thought and expected to be visited once again. The power kicked on and I sat looking at an empty computer screen. I began to type the following that will serve as the “ghost” of gifted future. Instead of what WILL be, let us all look to what MAY be.  

The twenty-first century can be an era where educational possibilities are limitless and the future for gifted and talented children will once again become be a national priority. To educate and develop talent in all areas, the educational field will focus on enriching individuals with all that gifted and talented education pedagogy has to offer. In fact, the nation’s schools, that are currently mostly failing our gifted and talented children and struggling generally, will look to gifted education strategies to provide a new framework for education as a whole, for everyone!  

Become an active part of this future.  For information regarding Definitions of Giftedness, visit NAGC’s What is Giftedness? or access Redefining Giftedness for a New Century, a position paper from NAGC. Most importantly, get involved with NAGC’s newest campaign, Giftedness Knows No Boundaries.