As the snow piles up outside, we are already thinking of sunshine: namely, the annual SENG Conference, this year being held in San Jose, CA, July 18-20. If you’re not familiar with them, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to building understanding, resources, and community around the commonly-overlooked social and emotional needs of gifted children and adults. They offer training to lead parent support groups as well as regular SENGinars, webinars on a variety of topics, including continuing education, gifted adults, and diversity in giftedness, with experts in the field. SENG is an amazing clearinghouse for the struggles of gifted students that aren’t often acknowledged — poor grades, acting out, boredom, perfectionism being only a few examples. We are honored to have been selected to present at the 2014 Conference in San Jose, and will be discussing the disengagement gifted learners may face in an inappropriate learning environment — disengagement that is dangerous not only because it damages children as lifelong learners, but because it also may disguise their gifts, making identifying and meeting their abilities even more difficult. (If you’ve ever had someone tell you your child can’t be gifted because they’re not getting straight As, you’ll know what we’re talking about!)
So when we came across Celi Trépanier‘s recent post on her blog, Crushing Tall Poppies, it sounded very familiar. She poignantly captures a side to gifted education that doesn’t get as much attention as PhDs at 19 or robotics competitions: the struggle to support gifted children who don’t look perfect, who may be “overly” sensitive, who may chafe under already-learned material, who aren’t given the support they need at school because they don’t meet the GPA requirement–or because their school doesn’t offer gifted services. These students deserve the chance to learn and enjoy school just as much as everyone else, but too often their needs are unrecognized because they don’t fit in to the box of What Gifted Students Look Like. Which, of course, spurs us to revisit NAGC’s Common Gifted Education Myths, a reminder of the many ways gifted students frequently break the mold.
We have been hearing more about the need to not let gifted student slip through the cracks, and the attention to this problem is very encouraging. However, when we talk about gifted students, it’s critical to be clear about the fact that gifted students have needs, too, and not just academic ones.