National Gifted Education Awareness Day & EU Talent Day

More stream of consciousness stuff but it does go somewhere….

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In Ireland, we have a saying – ‘you’re thick’ meaning ‘you’re stupid’. It’s not very pleasant at all, despite often being said with jocularity. Of course a teacher would stomp on any reference to this is a class (and most certainly would not use it themselves despite the endemic nature of ‘slagging’ in Irish society). If you’re not familiar with ‘slagging’ as a concept, it comes in two forms – ‘slagging’ with your friends (possibly acceptable up to a point) and ‘slagging’ of other people – certainly not acceptable. It is hard to do anything about the latter without getting rid of the former. Getting rid of the former would require a shift in Irish culture, SO endemic is slagging.

Anyway, I digress. The point is the ‘you’re stupid’ phrase will raise it’s head when a student gets an answer wrong. Of what students and indeed most adults seem unaware, is that there is a difference between knowledge and intelligence. One could be the most intelligent person on the planet and still be the most ignorant. Equally, one could have fairly limited intelligence and still have plenty of knowledge. I find awareness of the difference highlights exactly who is stupid!

Going further……

How are your feet?  You read it right…and probably after you did, you wriggled your toes or actually paused to consider your feet.  A strange question you might think, until you realise that for most of the day we wander through life without thinking about how we are feeling.  Imagine how easier it would be to manage stress if we were more aware of how it affected our bodies.  The only way to do this is to pause and bring into your awareness how you are feeling.  Are your feet tired? Is that tension in your neck?  Are you still typing despite that niggly pain in your lower arm?

Of course you knew you had feet. But being aware is different.  Being aware is knowing that you know at that point in time. It is having something present in your mind.

The point about this is that you can wander through the day without paying any attention to pain in your feet(in this example).  But once you are aware of the pain, once it is present in your mind, you are forced to do something about it.  That’s how awareness works.  If we have any kind of feeling for ourselves or others, we are compelled to address our awareness.

‘Nuf said.

Actually…just one last point…in every class of 30 students, there is most likely to be 2National GIfted Education Awareness Day and EU Talent Day 2011 that are more intelligent than the teacher.  They may even be more knowledgeable in some subjects (incredible as that may seem). BUT they still need the teacher – they need the teacher’s experience, the teacher’s wisdom, the teacher’s awareness of life, the teacher’s ability to balance grown-ups knowledge of the world against the more sensitive emotions of a child, and most often, they need simply someone to whom they can talk on their level.

Is that you?

3 Comments

  1. I love the end of this article. As a teacher, sometimes there will be students in your classes that are smarter than you are. When this happens what will you do about it?

    In far too many cases teachers find this situation threatening and work to put the students ‘back in their places’. They are the teachers and they know best.

    But opening your eyes to the possibility of learning and exploring with your students, and recognizing that having gone further through life than the young people in front of you doesn’t mean that you’ve gained everything there is to know about the world, permits you to delve into some part of existence that for all of you has yet to be explored. Wow! Just the thought is truly exciting.

    And isn’t that what education is all about?

  2. Another interesting article, thanks Peter. This brings to mind (no pun intended!) ‘mindfulness’ which is a key principle of Buddhism. It’s amazing how often we can go through life being only physically, though not mentally, present! Though I can ‘multitask’, I prefer not to as it tends to get in the way of me being in the present moment.

  3. From a parents perspective of having a gifted child, I have to say that whilst my child is very intelligent and very knowledgeable about certain subjects that he has little or no ‘common sense’ most of the time. The small things seem to have no meaning for him and so many teachers would dismiss him on that alone. He therefore, needs guidance on some of the simpler issues whilst being allow to ‘run ahead’ in the areas he if gifted in. When the teacher uses the standard tests on him he is always off the scale and they quite often find it hard to reconcile these two very different aspects.
    I have found that his ability to do well in school, socially and emotionally (not academically as that is a given for him) is dependent upon the relationship he has with his teacher; whether they have taken their time to get to know him and understand that whilst he is academically one of their outstanding students that he still needs channelling, guidance and benefit of their experiences. When a teacher talks to him at his own level they begin to understand why some of the small things seem so insignificant to him. Give him a challenge and he will rise to it. Give him something well below his level and he makes no attempt and often falls at that hurdle.
    I wish many teachers would just realise that the gifted child is not out to ridicule the teacher by expressing their own knowledge, they are just asking for help to explore something more, something higher.
    Teaching a gifted child is very much a collaboration between parent, teacher and the child themselves. I think it is up to the parent to ensure that the teacher-student relationship works and if not then to tackle situation. Every teacher should have the benefit of parental support when dealing with a gifted child. I feel as a parent that it is my job to discuss the best ways for them to relate to my child and that their input, experiences and wisdom are indeed very necessary for my child to succeed in the school system. Where would we be without a teacher providing a different perspective for consideration. Parents and children can be very blinkered and an aware teacher can help widen those horizons. Expansion is not necessarily upwards but can be sideways.
    Teachers on the whole do an amazing job but they need support from the system and from parents.
    Sorry waffled off the point a little.

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