As professional development I’m participating in a book club and we are reading a book about motivating students to learn. We are about halfway through the book and I have enjoyed the author’s take on the subject of motivation. That is until now. One chapter talks about a person’s willingness to be open to learning new things and viewing the world in different ways than one’s own beliefs or experiences vs. having a narrow and strict view that is unbending and unchanging. There is great value in being willing to look at things from a new perspective or because of new research that debunks former theories. For example, just think of all the medical research that has changed our view of disease and health. Without changing our perspective or being willing to use new knowledge we would still think that bloodletting is a cure-all for many ailments.
My problem came when the author made statements from the perspective that every person is able to become just as gifted as anyone else if they only work hard and use specific methods to learn more. In the field of education there is somewhat of a movement that perpetuates the notion that all children are just as gifted as all the others if given the same opportunities. While there is much to do to identify and reach under-represented children/youth for gifted programming, that is not what I am discussing here.
Anyone who is a gifted person or anyone who has raised or is raising a gifted child knows that there are certain very unique aspects of the gifted individual that others will never have. Whether we discuss developmental, cognitive, creative, physical or other areas, truly gifted individuals are unique and have many characteristics and traits that cannot be learned. These characteristics and traits are part of who gifted individuals are and how they live in the world. Their learning and abilities go far deeper than the average person and are noticeably different at home and in school. Things such as overexcitabilities, sensitivities, intensities, great curiosity among others are common among gifted individuals and greatly influence their method of interacting with and ability to maneuver in the world in order to follow their natural way of being.
Natural characteristics and traits are different than learned knowledge. For those of you who are raising or teaching gifted children and/or youth be confident in your work supporting and nurturing them. Even gifted individuals need encouragement and motivation to learn once in awhile. As Dr. Jim Delisle said: “Remember: giftedness is someone you are, not just something you do” (http://sengifted.org/100-words-of-wisdom-jim-delisle/).
Ask the Doctor