Friday, December 7, 2012

Gifted Education vs. Talent Development

I was reading in the latest Gifted Education Quarterly Press the post

A Defining Moment

by James R. Delisle

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/defining_moment.htm

I have shared a link of this article above that I found online. This post discusses the change to gifted education and basically the new concept of talent development. I attended NAGC and found the phrase "talent development" everywhere. I felt like I was behind in my reading and research(which is what I do all the time so it felt weird to be on the outside). I will be honest and state that I did not really agree with the whole talent development. Mainly it was probably due to my lack on knowledge. I have read several ideas on talent development and gifted education and am not really sure I know where I stand.

Why?

I feel like everyone involved in gifted education wants the best for these students who are "gifted". We all work extremely hard to meet their needs and create classes, mentorships, guidance, etc. to get them on the path to success. However, I feel like everyone has a different idea or notion of what "gifted" really is and how to identify. I have talked with several people both online and at conferences this year and it amazes me how many schools use different protocols and guidelines to define giftedness. I feel like it is not a level playing field. I relate it to basketball, a sport that I coach. This uneven vision would be like playing at home on a 10 foot rim to go on the road for an away game and they play on a 8.5 foot rim. It just does not make sense to me.

Getting back to the article that I referenced in the beginning I understand much of where Delisle is coming from, but I don't know that I agree with it all. As I continue to study and research and help change our gifted program at my district I cannot help but returning to this idea of talent development. Find the kids that want to work. Find the kids with passion. I think of it like sports. At my middle school kids come out for a sport because they enjoy it and want to get better. I will have 40 boys on my basketball team this year with skills from amazing athletes to ones that can barely run straight. However, I will make them all work hard and make them all realize their potential. These kids will sprint, run, jump, dive, sweat, and push themselves to be better because they want to. Why can't schools be like this in terms of the gifted? Let anyone apply and then have a process to identify their talents to create individual plans.

I don't know. I see a lot of people opposed to this whole notion of talent development. My question is, "What am I missing?" What is so wrong with this idea? On the flipside, if you disagree with the talent development idea, then what can be done to come up with a concrete and specific system to identify "gifted"?  I am at a crossroads and not sure where education is headed in general and with that I know gifted education will be left under the bus until it is too late. Just looking for guidance.


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