Monday, September 24, 2012

Taking our Place at the Table

This past weekend, I attended my first board retreat as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children. The meeting was filled with planning, proposed initiatives and future directions of the NAGC. I listened, observed and contributed.
 
As I was engaging with the group, I thought about the phrase ‘A PLACE AT THE TABLE’. This phrase was popularized by the publication of a book of the same name, published in 2000 by Teaching Tolerance, which tells the story of unsung heroes, men and women who crossed who crossed ethnic, racial, religious, and other divides to help further the cause of justice.  

At the NAGC convention in 2011, our President, Dr. Paula Olszweski-Kubilius used the phrase as she was discussing a new vision for the NAGC. This new vision has been a source of controversy, but, it has at least ‘stirred’ much-needed discussions about the purpose of NAGC and ‘what we do’ and ‘who we serve’. Not everyone has agreed with the new ‘vision’, but as with any change…we don’t expect everyone to agree! But ‘stirring’ the conversation is necessary if we are going to move in a broader, more inclusive direction. (See this quarter’s special issue of Gifted Child Quarterly for responsive articles- pay special attention to Dr. T.C. Grantham’s article).

So, back to my experience this weekend and how I felt about it- I’ve recently begun using the term ‘take-away’ with my undergrad students as I present research and materials on some of the complex and provocative topics in Diversity Education. I ask them: what do you ‘take-away’ from this information that will help you in the classroom in the future? Applying this to my experience, I’d have to say that my ‘take-aways’ from this weekend can be captured under the header - TAKING OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE’.  As such, I share these six compelling recommendations:

1-      As a group of diversity advocates, whether educators, parents, or community leaders, we must TAKE OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE OF ALL CONVERSATIONS REGARDING HIGH ABILITY, GIFTED LEARNERS from this point forward and be aware of all resources being made available to help teachers and parents.

2-    To TAKE OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE, means we will need to be assertive and seek out information from all sources that will help us gain entry into a field that has been largely the venue of a small, select group of scholars, affluent parents, and practitioners concerned about investing in research and developing programs for gifted students. [Paying attention to gifted education websites, articles, newsletters, conferences are highly recommended, see a few recommendations below].


3-     To TAKE OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE, we must be diligent about seeking out gifted students and advocating for them, not just our own children but anyone’s child who has exceptional abilities and is in need of an alternative education with appropriate supports to enable them to reach their potential. To do this we have to be unselfish and as outspoken for others as we would be for our own.

4-     To TAKE OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE, we must be well informed, and not ‘shy away’ from materials, web postings, educational conferences, articles, organizations which cater to the needs of the ‘gifted population’ just because we don’t necessarily believe in the use of the term ‘gifted’ or the interchangeable use of ‘talent’. [The jury is still out on which term will serve us all best in the future].


5-     To TAKE OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE, we will have to sit side-by-side with some individuals who heretofore may have been ‘the others’, and in some views ‘the enemy’ . Why? Because they have access to services that our children need. In the public school setting, these services are paid for by public funding (as limited as it may be in some settings). So, the phrase ‘strange bedfellows’ comes to mind. We must get over who’s sitting beside us at the dinner table and learn that to be heard and considered we’ve got to BE AT THE TABLE, too. [For more information about state services and funding, see the link below].

6-     To TAKE OUR PLACE AT THE TABLE, we must Advocate, Agitate, and Acknowledge that there are are still many at the table who don’t believe in our children like we do. Some of these folks will always be among us. Our job is to speak louder, more frequently, and with a unified voice so that we will be heard and draw empathizers to us until we eradicate underrepresentation and under-service to diverse gifted learners! Eventually, our EMPATHIZERS will OUTNUMBER THE NAYSAYERS. I believe that! I hope you do, as well.

I INVITE YOU TO JOIN ME AT THE TABLE! LISTED BELOW ARE A FEW SPECIFIC RESOURCES THAT I BELIEVE ARE IMPORTANT TO YOUR TAKING YOUR RIGHTFUL SEAT. PLEASE REVIEW THE SITES, ‘TAKE-AWAY’ WHAT IS IMPORTANT AND MOST URGENT TO YOU RIGHT NOW,  AND SHARE THIS PAGE WITH SOMEONE ELSE. OTHER RESOURCES WILL FOLLOW IN THE COMING WEEKS. 

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-RESOURCES FOR ‘TAKING YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE’




And related website www.brighttalentedblack.com

  
Excellent website for parents by the mother of a young, African American male prodigy who attended Morehouse College at 13 www.spirit-gifted.com

Gifted in the States Report , includes a national interactive map, click on your state for more details http://www.nagc.org/index2.aspx?id=976 .

Hoagies Gifted Page: site with up-to-date resources, articles, books, programs, ‘everything gifted’ www.hoagiesgifted.org

Multicultural Gifted Education, 2nd Edition: Dr. Donna Ford http://www.amazon.com/Multicultural-Gifted-Education-2nd-ed/dp/1593636997

National Association for Gifted Children www.nagc.org

Parenting for High Potential NAGC publication for families http://www.nagc.org/php.aspx

Special Populations in Gifted Education: Drs. Jaime Castellano and Andrea Dawn Frazier  http://www.amazon.com/Special-Populations-Gifted-Education-Castellano/dp/159363417X/ref=pd_sim_b_2

Teaching for High Potential NAGC publication for educators http://www.nagc.org/thp.aspx



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