Friday, September 2, 2016

The Nature of Giftedness, Neurodiversity, an ADHD Webinar, and More

GIFTEDNESS -- WHAT IS IT, and does it matter? This week, a cluster of opinion pieces and essays on the topic surfaced in the media. One of the pieces sparked outrage. (We've already mentioned Jen the Blogger's response.) All of them are worth thinking about. Here they are...

THE SPARK. On August 23, writer and mom Farrah Alexander wrote on the site of The Huffington Post that perhaps giftedness -- or, at least, the label -- doesn't matter. "Every child is gifted and talented. So let’s stop distinguishing which children are gifted and start celebrating our children’s unique gifts," writes Alexander. Beyond that, she wants what NAGC advocates for the gifted -- "learning opportunities appropriate for the child’s individual abilities and learning style" -- be made available for every child. Find the blog posting.

REACTION 1. In response to Alexander's post, Alessa Keener, apparently an educational consultant, took issue with some of Alexander's assertions, for example that all parents give their kids every opportunity to succeed in life. Keener sees Alexander's attitude as part of a "no-need-for-gifted-education-because-every-child-has-talents policy." She has other arguments as well. Find her piece, titled "Let Go of Your Bitterness." (Thanks for NAGC for pointing us to this reaction and the next one.)

REACTION 2. "MBA Mom," at ChicagoNow.com, also responded to Alexander's post, asking "Is this what people really think? That the term gifted solely exists as a bragging tool for educated, upper middle class parents?" She goes on: "Last and certainly not least I'm also so bloody tired of dealing with parents like Farrah Alexander. The fact her post was published on a mainstream site like HuffPost shows how prevalent her attitude is." Find this response.

REACTION 3. Scott Barry Kaufmann also got involved in a tangential kind of way. He picked up on yet another responder's assertion that giftedness "has to do with living and experiencing life more intensely. It has to do with being wired differently." Kaufman ruminated at the site of Scientific American about that view of giftedness. He wrote, "I think in order for this new conceptualization of giftedness to be tractable, it should have more clearly delineated properties, better measurement, and it should also be more clearly tied to particular educational interventions." Find his piece.

IF NOT GIFTED, THEN "UNGIFTED"? In an essay that actually predated the incendiary Huff Post piece, Sunidhi Ramesh wrote about her experiences in grade school, where she was denied entry into the gifted program. She worries that being "ungifted" has a negative effect on self-esteem. As it turns out, Ramesh is a high achiever. She wants this: "I am not asking for the elimination of gifted programs. I am asking for the elimination of the label, for a sort of upward mobility that allows for students who might be late bloomers to still have the time and motivation to continue thriving." Find the essay.

AND GEEK MOM SAYS: "INTERSECTIONALITY." Writing at GeekDad.com, Karen Walsh doesn't like the lack of protection for gifted kids; the conflation of IQ and giftedness (but see Kaufmann's piece above); the equation of giftedness to high performance; the language used to describe gifted kids (eg, "overexcitabilities"); and the belief that gifted kids can "do it themselves." She believes in "intersectionality between various types of special education issues," writing this: "Intersectionality can allow us to work together for the best outcome for all children regardless of needs and diagnoses. In the desperate grab for the limited resources available, parents are ultimately reinforcing the status quo which leads to infighting amongst all of us and the constant competition over whose kid is most deserving." Find Geek Mom.

OKAY -- ENOUGH WITH THAT. On to other stuff...

BRAIN AND BEHAVIOR RESEARCH FOUNDATION. This organization on September 13 offers one of its "Meet the Scientist" webinars, this one titled "Living Well with ADHD: Scientific Guideposts to Improved Outcomes." From the blurb: "ADHD outcomes run the gamut from splendid success stories to tragic ones. Brain imaging studies have confirmed that a fundamental aspect of ADHD is delayed maturation. When supported through the period of maximum vulnerability, adolescence, ADHD outcomes can be brilliant. To do so, we must differentiate the few truly irreversible mistakes, which must be avoided to the maximum extent possible, and all other difficulties, all of which represent learning opportunities." Find out more.

SILICON VALLEY NEURODIVERSITY. An article in the UK Daily Mail describes how one company's focus on hiring IT personnel with ASD has advantages. Besides the subject company, MindSpark, the article also mentions the hiring efforts of Microsoft and SAP. Find the article.

FLEXSCHOOL opens its New Haven location on September 7th and has publicized its final contact information for those interested in the 2e-friendly school: Heidi Molbak, Head of School, heidi@flexschool.net; (203) 628-4018; @The Grove, 760 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510; and http://flexschool.net.

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