Back in December 2010 when I first proposed on #gtchat an international pro-active effort to promote the needs of gifted children I had a very specific purpose in mind. Advocacy has a very particular meaning to me. Not one to holler and do nothing, two colleagues and I set about establishing a Gifted Education Awareness Day in Ireland.
It was pleasing to see the World Council respond to requests with a day at the end of their conference last year, even if the day had different names and seemed more like an addendum rather than a purposefuly planned event. Progress is progress.
This year in Ireland, we extended our National Awareness Day to an Awareness Week with the help and support of many including CTYI and ICEPE. It is nice to see the World Council following on this year with a week of their own.
Sadly, I fear that yet again, one of the most significant bodies in the strongest position to advance the needs of gifted children has missed the point again.
Certainly, as a community, advocates for gifted children must be mutually supportive; not for their own ends but for the needs of gifted children. Advocates can be a vital safety net when our own individual kites go haywire and fall from the sky. Fellow advocates can help us unwind our twisted lines and get us flying again. The more advocates we have, the better. So any effort that seeks to bolster mutual support is welcome.
However, we should be careful not to use our own hot air to fly our own kites aimlessly. Unless gifted advocates are working outside the community of advocates, unless we move beyond preaching to the converted, we cannot advance the mission of ensuring the needs of gifted children are met – locally, nationally and globally.
Firstly, ‘International Days of’ should be reserved for spreading the word beyond the existing community, for promoting awareness and insisting on policy responses to the needs of gifted children. If such days are seen as an ‘in-house’ day, how can we and our cause be taken seriously. Certainly, I can’t see gifted children thanking us for it; “well done, you’ve had a great week but I still have to go back to my crumby classroom”.
Secondly, many advocates have moved beyond the confines of the gifted community – true outreachers such as Mary St. George and Roya Klingner and have achieved huge amounts. But we need more internationally. Our efforts should not be limited to an occasional event but rather a movement with a goal and a plan. As in 2010, if you’re interested, you know where I am.