Have you ever wondered how much talent is out there in our world, talent that is both discovered and undiscovered, or hidden? Have you ever wondered how much innate talent grows because the seed for this talent was sown on fertile ground, received adequate nutrients, was cultivated and trained and weeded and harvested at the perfect moments? And have you ever wondered how much talent might be just waiting...waiting for discoverage and nurturing? Conversely, have you pondered how much talent may never be discovered? These are things that I often wonder about, and I believe many of you do, too.
Lately, during this era of COVID-19 I have been thinking a lot about this, and have been praying for talent to emerge and coalesce to help solve the myriad of problems associated with the pandemic. So it was with great interest that I read this article,
Want More Dr. Fauci's? Ensure That Smart Kids Get Educated, Too by Chester E. Finn, Junior, at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The article begins like this, “Amid the plague that surrounds us, essential attention is properly getting paid to the education challenges of out-of-school kids: What can their parents, their schools, and their districts do to compensate for missed classroom time and the learning loss that’s bound to occur between now and the resumption of something resembling normalcy.
Within that universal concern, there’s been special focus on the educational needs of children with disabilities and those who were already lagging before their schools closed. All necessary, all important, all good.
Yet the plague also highlights—albeit indirectly—another set of students that’s so far receiving no special attention that I can spot: gifted and talented youngsters and their need for acceleration, enrichment and advancement designed to make the most of their abilities.”
Finn goes on to describe all of the gifted individuals that will need to be at the table to help us through this crisis, and others to come. He stresses the importance of finding this talent everywhere -- “it’s today’s smart kids from every sort of background who are by far the strongest candidates to play those roles tomorrow. But will they—enough of them, from across enough of the demographic and socioeconomic boards—be well-prepared to succeed in those roles with the levels of expertise, knowledge, and skills to generate the breakthroughs that we’ll need?”
And then Finn suggests something that really made me think. He suggests that this pandemic has highlighted the immense need to grow talent in kids from all walks of life, and this made me think about this moment in time as it relates to talent development.
Here are some of my thoughts: What if this pandemic is actually a gift to gifted learners? What if today’s complete disruption of education as we know it provides exactly the kind of fertile ground that we need to cultivate the tinkerers, the thinkers, and the leaders that we will need tomorrow? What if time spent during this “safer at home” period allows students time to find or follow a passion? What if this gift of time unites some students who are pursuing the same dreams? What if today’s leaders inspire a young dreamer? What if some adult mentors find these students and begin a life-long collaboration? What if a creative, out-of-the-box thinker begins a life-long passion project? What if our newfound ways to collaborate virtually build a network of young thinkers and dreamers and creators -- kids who can create anytime, anywhere, locally and globally? What if taking the structure out of schooling actually encourages students everywhere to experience the joys (and challenges) of unschooling? What if??? What if??? What if??? The possibilities are endless.
Although it is very difficult for me to think of this global crisis as having positive fallout, I believe eventually we will all find some silver linings, and perhaps new and mind-blowing opportunities for gifted learners will be one of them. My hope is that we are planting the seeds and providing the conditions for them to grow. I look forward to watching them grow and bear fruit, or flowers, or vegetables -- or amazing discoveries.
Jackie Drummer, Past President
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.