In this blog I have written about many topics but I have not spent much time talking about math. There may be many reasons for this, but one I’m sure is because math is not my favorite subject and I certainly do not want to think about it anymore than I have to, even though when doing research I use math a lot. You see, I once had a math teacher who instilled the fear of the universe in me. This teacher taught high school geometry. I still remember her name and can clearly see her and the classroom in my mind. On the other hand, I’ve been a musician since I was a child and I’ve been told that music and math go hand-in-hand because music is mathematical. Thank goodness no one told me that until I was in college, otherwise I probably would have quit music. I live with family members who are gifted in math. At least I have people to go to when I need to do math that is beyond my recollection, and I am very thankful for that. Because my family members are gifted in math, it has never been a difficult subject in my house, nor one that we have had to discuss much, other than the higher-level math topics they discuss…far beyond my understanding. I suppose that is why I do not write much about math. I lose them when I talk about the details of music composition and interpretation, so it evens out.
My point is that a teacher’s approach and words can change a child’s life forever. Teachers need to remember that every word they say means something to students whether students show it or not. Do I know, as an adult, that math isn’t a subject to fear, and that if I spent the time I might even come to enjoy the many practical uses for math? Yes, I know that in my practical brain; however, in my heart and emotional brain I know how painful it is to think about high school geometry and how my teacher made me feel so totally ignorant at the board in front of the whole class.
The parent of a gifted child has an enormous task raising their child. We often have to try to influence our children so they grow strong and can withstand teachers like my geometry teacher. Supporting each other and advocating for our child is one important way to impact our children.
Lest you think I am math-phobic, here are some great math websites your children may wish to explore. Enjoy!
Steve Miller’s Math Riddles
Nick’s Math Puzzles
I recently gave a workshop about twice-exceptional students to a varied audience including teachers, counselors, and parents. Twice-exceptional students are those who are gifted and also have a disability. They may also be known as 2e students. People at the workshop were greatly interested in the concept of twice-exceptional because they are seeing more and more students who have simultaneous talents and needs.
Students who are gifted and have a disability are frequently not identified as being twice-exceptional. Generally, if the student is identified as gifted most school people do not consider a disability. If a student is identified as having a disability school people do not often think they can also be gifted. Through study we know giftedness many times masks a disability, or the disability masks the giftedness; therefore, the student is not identified as twice-exceptional. They are either gifted or disabled, or neither, and their needs go unmet.
It takes an astute professional to identify both giftedness and a disability because there are so many differing characteristics that a student could show, and no two are alike. Generally speaking a twice-exceptional student has vast skills in a giftedness area (intellectual ability, specific academics, creativity, leadership, visual and performing arts, etc.), along with a disability of some sort which could be intellectual, physical, learning, or others.
Like other gifted students, twice-exceptional students may exhibit asynchronous development that somewhat masks their true abilities. The myths about gifted students also apply to twice-exceptional students. People often assume that if a student is gifted, they are gifted in all areas and can’t possibly have weaknesses in other areas. We know that is not true, and that gifted students, including twice-exceptional students, often have asynchronous development which presents as advance skills in some areas and delayed or weak skills in other areas. I teach the exceptionality continuum which spans the full range of exceptionality from profoundly disabled to profoundly gifted because students at either side of the continuum need as much intervention as the opposite side.
Parents and teachers are often the ones who suspect a student is twice-exceptional. A student with an intellectual disability who excels in art or music or leadership; a student who is gifted who has a great deal of difficulty with math and has a learning disability; or a student with autism who has deep insight into interpreting literature and beautifully writes about it. These are but a few examples of twice-exceptional students and their asynchronous development. If you suspect a student is twice-exceptional pursue that hunch. Know you may be the only one who notices, but you can provide support that can be life changing for that student. Below are a few resources for further information.
Davidson Institute: 2e Students: Who They Are and What They Need
Twice Exceptional Guides (scroll to the bottom for links), Montgomery County, MD
Supporting the Identification and Achievement of the Twice-Exceptional Student, Virginia Dept. of Education, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/gifted_ed/twice_exceptional.pdf
Twice-Exceptional Children’s Advocacy-TECA
Ask the Doctor