We know that many of our advanced learners breeze through school with no struggle. They get straight A’s (or an occasional A-) and enjoy their success. They may actually be driven by their success. They receive accolades for their good grades. They thrive on this positive attention and verbal praise. They may even get paid for getting good grades. This creates a situation where students feel they need to get good grades in order to feel valued and respected--even loved. The result is the possibility that they only accept tasks that are easy; of only doing things that they already know how to do. Therefore, success is guaranteed even though it takes little effort. If a student is praised only for the product--not the process, their self worth becomes dependent on this approval from others and not from within.
True happiness comes from a feeling of pride. Pride is earned through hard work. Hard work means accepting a difficult task, persevering through the task to a result that accomplishes a goal. Sometimes this requires a bit of sideline coaching or facilitation but the work needs to be accomplished by the student alone in order to reach the level of self-satisfaction for a job done well. Teach them task analysis; failure analysis; to discover multiple pathways to reach the same goal. Teach them acceptance of failure as a means to accomplishment.
The gift we can give our children and our students that will last through every difficult situation that life throws at them is the gift of perseverance. We all need to develop our own a bag of tools to tackle challenges. We also need the work ethic to take the time necessary to solve these problems. These key components to success are realized only by being presented with appropriate challenges throughout our lives. Do you know anyone who is addicted to a game? Whatever the game is, it presents an appropriate challenge--that is one that can be accomplished through a reasonable amount of time and effort. The result? Pride of accomplishment and better yet, the desire to continue to accept more challenges.
Weinbrenner1, a guru in the field of gifted education, suggests that parents and teachers should consider the following:
Our future needs our gifted youth. They are the ones who will solve future problems. Our goal should be to help them advance with the skill set necessary to grow, learn, communicate and contribute with confidence.