celebrating giftednessWhāngai ka tupu ka puawai – That which is nurtured blossoms, then grows.

Any good gardener will tell you that you can’t just stick plants in the ground and expect them to produce beautiful flowers. They need to be nurtured. If they aren’t, they can wither and die. The same is true for gifted children. If their giftedness isn’t understood and their needs aren’t met, they can wither and their spirits can die.

Gifted children are often left to wither because too many people, teachers included, accept the myth that gifted children will “do just fine on their own.” Would we say that about flowers? Of course not. Even easy to grow flowers like marigolds, zinnias, and pansies will wither and die if conditions aren’t right for them.

When my son was little, I supported him and his interests. He was a self-taught early reader and loved to read about dinosaurs and space. He knew more about both subjects than most adults I knew. He was happy and thriving. I could see him blossoming and knew he would grow into a happy and successful young man.

When he turned 3, I took my little seedling to Mrs. Marovich‘s class, where he was appreciated and nurtured. Mrs. Marovich was a master gardener. She had a garden full of many different varieties of flowers, all at different stages of growth. But she carefully nurtured each and every one of them. It didn’t matter how old the flower was or what kind of environment the flower needed – Mrs. Marovich provided what each flower needed.  She had a beautiful garden full of happy little flowers. She understood all her flowers – including the gifted ones.

Then I enrolled my blossoming flower in kindergarten.

The kindergarten was in a private school whose motto claimed that they would meet each child’s individual needs. That was only partially true. The principal had no understanding of giftedness, nor did the teachers. At one point, the principal even told me that while some children can be developmentally behind, no child could be developmentally ahead. If a child was “on target,” all was well. For 2 years, I watched my little seedling, who had been growing, start to wither. It was time to transplant the seedling to a different garden, one with gardeners who understood the environment gifted children need.

Our local school district had a reputation for excellence and had a well-respected program for gifted children. Perhaps that environment would revive my little seedling. I had moderate hopes. Second grade was tolerable. At least my seedling had stopped withering. But he wasn’t growing either. Maybe third grade would provide the right environment.

I was wrong. Third grade was a nightmare. My little seedling who had been dormant for a year was now withering so much, it has nearly disappeared, shriveling and curling in on itself. By the end of that year, the seedling that I had carefully and lovingly nurtured, that had begun to blossom in preschool, had all but died.

It’s not impossible to bring a withered flower back to life, but it’s not easy. It’s much easier to provide the environment a flower needs from the start and ensure that it always gets what it needs.

We celebrate success. We celebrate achievement. But we don’t always celebrate the gardeners who help our gifted flowers achieve that success and achievement, nor do we celebrate the special gardeners who can coax a withered gifted flower to bloom once again. And too few people celebrate giftedness itself. It is long past time we celebrate giftedness and everything that comes with it.

 

This blog is part of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education 2018 Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour

Carol BainbridgeAbout GiftednessEducationFor ParentsNurturing Gifts and Talentsgiftedness,Nurturing Giftedness
Whāngai ka tupu ka puawai - That which is nurtured blossoms, then grows. Any good gardener will tell you that you can’t just stick plants in the ground and expect them to produce beautiful flowers. They need to be nurtured. If they aren't, they can wither and die. The same...