Really, when you stop to think about it, gifted education is a civil right for those who need it. Just as special education and bilingual/ESL education are a civil right for those learners. Unfortunately, gifted learners are often the last group of students to receive either positive attention or funding. And when there are cuts, often gifted education is a victim to the decreasing budget before the any other special population services. And right now we are in the perfect storm where the educational rights of gifted learners are at an even greater risk, thanks to NCLB ($1.1 billion indsutry since 2001), current economics, competing priorities, and thirty years of myths concerning gifted learners.
Thanks to Deborah Mersino who led this session and made the audience think about what our role as gifted educators really is. Our responsibility is far more than the students sitting in our classrooms right now. Our responsibility is to advocate for the the gifted so that our sparse funding is not cut anymore. While we might not be able to make the progress we want to during a lean times, we certainly don’t want to lose the ground we have already gained. Since competing priorities and NCLB will not be going away, as advocates, we have some pretty amazing tools at our disposal that we must embrace. Though the digital age can be overwhelming for those of us who are not digital natives, it also has the potential to be a great ally. With tools like Skype, Twitter, various blogs and wikis, Facebook, and YouTube, there isn’t a valid reason for us not to get our message out. All of these tools can be used to network with other advocates, as well as share resources and strategies. Even better, the internet can be used to educate those who don’t understand what gifted is all about and debunk all of those myths that have been out there for an entire generation.
A couple of YouTube videos that illustrate this point are Telenor The Essay Commercial and NB3 21C Education in New Brunswick. They are both so powerful that I don’t even need to comment on them. I’ll leave that to you, the reader.
Whether you are a parent or an educator, I encourage you to embrace the digital age and find a way that you can support gifted learners through online collaboration.