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Giftedness-Creativity, Community and Collaboration- Requesting your help…

by Lisa Lauffer - Copyright held by Artist 'Please add your colours, images and thoughts, together we’ll create a richer pot… for all…'

by  Lisa Lauffer 

‘Giftedness- Creativity and Collaboration- Requesting your help…. ‘

‘Please add your colours, images and thoughts, together we’ll create a richer pot… for all…’

Some of you may or may not be aware of the Gifted Education Photo Quote project that was first started two years ago as a community effort, by a member of our Gifted on-line community (Mary St. George (NZ), and to which many in the Gifted community, have contributed. Please feel free to click on the image above to explore same.

This creative project was developed as a place where folks could go, when they needed ideas/images that could be useful for including in presentations or for getting across concepts and trying to promote understanding of issues around giftedness, talent, creativity, 2Eness and how these may affect the children and individuals we live and work with and advocate for.  It was developed in the spirit of sharing, community and collaboration with the only charge being that if a photoquote image was/is used, (as they are protected under creative commons licences)  that the user give credit to the author of that particular image/quote, and the hope that the user themselves might at some point feel inclined to perhaps add/contribute an image/quote of their own (CC licensed)  to the growing ‘bank’ of photoquotes.

Before you begin however be aware of the following very important information:

  • The starting point must be original art or an original photograph or a CC licensed item/image that allows modification.
  • It must also be clear that the uploaded item contains some of the contributors own work.
  • If there is a CC Licensed image with a suitable quotation on it and a person produced no part of it, but simply “found it online” then that person cannot upload it, according to Flickr’s rules.
  • Your  final product which you may wish to  upload must be CC licensed, in order for others to use them and be shared..
  • If they are not CC Licensed, we can only look at them, but not use them.
  • Please read the useful information and links that are found here on CC Licensing your product before sharing your contribution, and make sure to License your creation so that others may use it for advocacy, which is the purpose of this Flickr site.

There have been many wonderful, creative, colourful, thoughtful and meaningful contributions.

To date I have known of many many people who have found this collection useful and have used many of the images found there.  Personally I have used many of these wonderful images, and the photoquotes for a number of projects, including presentations.  I like to do this because  when I do this I get the feeling that a whole community of people are behind me and supporting the work I do/have done.

For example: one of the projects I worked with for the last two years, was putting together a slide shows. One was for the 2011 World Conference in Prague which contained details of Gifted Awareness Efforts taking place that year.  As there appeared to be some growth happening in the number of these types of events, I put together a second one, to showcase this growth  in 2012, and  which was offered to the general gifted community during the Blog tour that was run during the inaugural International Week of the Gifted in August 2012. I found the photoquote collection  invaluable for finding and adding images and the diversity of perspectives and issues dealt with in the quotes also lent a richness to  the information on the events I collected. I and many others could  feel the presence of community.

This year, during our International Year of Giftedness and Creativity, I am working on a number of similar projects, (or trying to anyways,  we will see how it goes!!  teehee)  as well as a few other things which could do with the use of some of these fantastic contributions.

However, this is where I would like to ask for some help from our International  Gifted Communities out there, and in particular those who may also be living in countries where you speak languages other than English too.  I am wondering if there are folk out there who would like to go to the Gifted Photoquote Project flickr account, and upload some images with some quotes, (either your own, or a favorite you have found), joyful, and celebratory quotes on giftedness, talent and or creativity —  2eness, inventiveness, homeschooling or any other issues you may have in mind, and think about.    I would love to include slides that might show a diversity of languages as well, however I am not to good at speaking, let alone writing to many of them myself, so,  I am just wondering if some of the rest of you out there, would like to help?

I am hoping that if  completed in time, this slide show project, with its diversity of languages and images may be shared at the 20th Anniversary WCGTC World Conference 2013.

Please, do not feel you have to hold back, however, if you, like many others, may only be able to contribute in English,  as all contributions are of value and valued.  I would encourage you to please go ahead, as all contributions will lend freshness and new perspectives to this very useful collection.

It is just that, quite apart from the project  that I am working on, it would be quite wonderful and very useful to have images with quotes in many different languages for other folk  in our gifted communities, whose language may not be English, or who may be intending to be presenting to others in another language.

Do please also remember to read the ” About Gifted Education Photoquotes”, on the flickr site, before you join or upload your images.  Also do not forget to read the information and links on How to add a  CC License as it will explain how to add a creative  commons license to your creation. I am sure that this collection will be accessed and used time and again and give thanks to it’s creator.

Your contributions will be much appreciated, as always!!…

IYGC 2013- On Celebrating International Year of Giftedness and Creativity (WCGTC)

January 2, 2013 1 comment

Photo by Magdzia s under Creative Commons Licence

On Giftedness and Celebrating Giftedness and Creativity in many places…  let us begin…

So…… While the New Year (2013) has already arrived in some places of our great spaceship earth, is about to arrive here, and may still be almost a day away in yet other countries… I think it safe to say that for most, it is an occasion which is eagerly awaited and welcomed… the letting go of what troubled us, and a new opportunity to embrace hope and wonder and possibilities….

It would be unrealistic of me to not to say or acknowledge that many of us are grateful to have made it through another year, through whatever extraordinary stories of strength, joy, pain and fortitude…However, it is also realistic of me to hope that we, individually and as a community, the gifted and talented community, will face this new, upcoming year with renewed hope and joyful enthusiasm, compassion and understanding,especially if things aren’t exactly as were hoped, and the strength to know when we need to let go and find new, unique ways of meeting challenges placed before us.

It kind of reminds me of when I was a child, trying to figure out why a certain kite I had made wouldn’t fly/get off the ground.. the consternation that came with what had to be done to it to make it work, adding a bit of weight here,  lengthening it’s tail, and  then, the joy of letting go, taking the materials and perhaps something more, and redesigning it all together…   I was constantly ‘accused’ of deviating from original instructions when working on a problem and trying to transform it into / allowing it to become something new..   The end products did not always look like conventional kites, however  I can say that surprisingly enough many of them did indeed take to the skys…

Creativity in this life is important, creativity is daring to be different, and in daring to be different we find ourselves capable of being/becoming/creating something unique in this world.  A something, which against all odds, may actually work… teehee…  Creativity can also be found in the most unlikely places, as seen below, and can bring a whole new meaning to recycling or even ‘junk art’… Creativity is.. well…it is “HOPE….”

This year, 2013, is our year of “hope”,   hope as an international community, to celebrate the International  Year of  Giftedness and Creativity. I am asking, in this brand new year we have, this 2013, that we all take a good  look at our individual (gifted awareness) kites.  I know each will be different from the next, child, parent, teacher, advocate, practitioner, researcher  or organisation, association, support group be it local, national or international.  One may be a box kite, or a chinese dragon, or a simple diamond, or a shape as yet unknown, and although they might not all agree with each other, I am positive that each has a very interesting story behind how it was constructed and or kept afloat.  You may have creative ideas and plans that will perfect your kite in the future, redesigns and reconstructions, or the way that you (will) reel in/out your spool as you manage the dips and dives your kite may take.

Very soon we will be asking for you to share some of these stories, as well as information on how you, your organisation or country plan on celebrating giftedness and creativity this year, so that we may help you share this with the rest of the world.  We also hope to have a number of activities during the year as well, which participants can join in. It is hoped that we can all be positive and enter into this with the spirit that within all our different experiences, efforts, samplers and examples – lie a greater good that will add to the richness of our diverse community, learning from each other and further and enhance our abilities to support and advocate, and strengthen the ties that bind us.

I also hope that there will be forgiveness and understanding if things do not go exactly as one planned as that is in essence part of the inherent chaos in creativity, and in knowing this, that we will embrace whatever new trijectories may need to be followed during this time, with joy and wonder.

A fair wind for our communal gifted awareness kite?  Let’s hope so… let’s give it the best chance we’ve got.. together…with all our other kites, of the many shapes and colours,  let us help it rise… with your/our many coloured celebrations of giftedness and creativity… Let us leave conflicts behind and work on becoming more visible in 2013- worldwide… again, for reflection: What will your kite look like this year? How will you shape it? What unique features do you hope it will contain? In what way would you have it add to our Communal Kite?… and when you get there, don’t be afraid to share it with us so we may share it with others too..

The celebration will culminate in the 20th anniversary World Council Conference in Kentucky, where we hope to highlight the shared efforts made by our worldwide community, and which in turn will keep our communal gifted awareness kite flying high, and we hope, that it will be experienced by many.. And, while your thinking on this, please do take a moment to visit the Conference website and have a look at  the wide range of strands on offer, and consider  either attending or contributing as  an individual as a way of  celebrating in 2013.

Let’s go fly a kite, up where the air is bright, let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring, up through the atmosphere up where the air is clear, Let’s all go… fly a kite……. “!  (from the soundtrack of Mary Poppins-Movie)

Giftedness- In memory of a dear colleague and friend

December 23, 2012 1 comment
Church concert in Prague-Aug. 2011 with Dr. Dorothy Sisk and Dr. Edna McMillan (1937-2012)

Church concert in Prague-Aug. 2011 with Dr. Dorothy Sisk and Dr. Edna McMillan (1937-2012)

On the 14th of December 2012, a dear colleague and friend in the field of gifted, suddenly passed away in Canada.

Edna and I worked together on the WCGTC Council for many years, I got to know her-a lively, mischievous, bright personality loving her extended family well. She loved her colours, art & pets  but mostly Edna always was ‘real’, and had great ability to see through things to what was really important, or what people where really trying to do or trying to be… As a friend and colleague I was many times thankful/grateful  to her for that.

Born in Ontario, Canada in 1937, Edna suffered an early and tragic loss of her husband.  However,  never  having had children of her own did not keep her  from enjoying them .  Never  far from young folk, Edna became an Aunt to 17 nieces and nephews, and throughout her life she was dedicated and devoted to education.

Edna received a Doctorate in Gifted Education in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977, with a dissertation entitled – ‘An Observational Study of Gifted and non-Gifted Pupil-Teacher Interaction’.  From there her career spanned many decades working, supporting and being active within the realm of Gifted Education both in her native Canada and Internationally, as a teacher, supporter as well a publishing numerous articles, including ‘Differentiation: Gifted Children in the Canadian Classroom with  Dr. Janice Leroux.  Edna was also a humble person, and I don’t recall ever, even once during our relationship, that she ever refered to herself as Dr. or placing letters after her name.  She didn’t feel the need to, preferring to refer to herself as simply ‘Edna McMillan, of Stoney Creek, Ontario.

Having spent such a long time working within various gifted support circles, meant that she came to work with and know many many people, including those in academic high places, and those of us who struggle in the trenches  of schooling systems and parenthood,  all of whom will remember her sparkling blue eyes and sharp wit.  At the risk of forgetting or leaving someone out, I will not name any names here, but those of you who read  this will surely know who you are,  and to what extent you were touched by her presence in your life.

First and foremost, Edna was a contributor,  and contributed hundreds of  hours across her professional career to the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children.  First a member,  than newsletter contributor, as one of  the Canadian Delegates until  her  election onto  the  WCGTC EC  (reverting to  delegate, when stepping down in 2011, after a long and distinguished service), and as WC EC she held several  positions including Treasurer  and  Vice President.  During  her last year on the EC, she worked  on  helping to update and modernise  the organisations by-laws, a big job which she took on with her characteristic let’s- do- this, attitude.

Edna was there, in 1993, in Toronto, and coordinated the tenth World Congress in Gifted and Talented Education, as conference chair.  During her educational career, she also lived abroad in Turkey, securing the World Conference for that country in 1999, again acting as conference co-ordinator  in Istanbul.   Her wisdom,  experience  and knowledge was of great assistance to the organisation over the ensuing years.  During the recent global economic downturn,  conferences in general worldwide began to experience difficulties.  Ednas level headed advise and past experience, her gift for seeing what was achievable, and when to let go, was priceless.  Edna contributed in a major way in making the 2009 World Conference in Vancouver a success,  she was instrumental in the WCGTC Headquarters move from Winnipeg, in Canada, to it’s new premises in Bowling Green, Kentucky (USA),  she also supported and aided the President and organisers of the 2011 World Conference in Prague, taking an active part in helping the fledgling International Day of the Gifted take flight.

It was at that Conference, in Prague, in 2011, that Dr. Edna McMillan stepped down from the council, receiving the highly acclaimed ‘Distinguished Service Award’, from the hand of the current World Council President, and a long time colleague and friend in gifted, Dr. Taisir Yamin, for her lifetime of Service to the organisation.  As a professional, she gave her life to Gifted Children and will be sorely missed in the field.

Canada 5

WCGTC- Distinguished Service Awardee- Dr. Edna M. McMillan (1937-2012)

From a personal point of view, I will hold my memories of Edna in my heart and mind, as a kind, sharp witty, intelligent and fun individual who coloured my world and made me think sometimes, laugh sometimes, and work hard when I needed to.  I met good people through Edna, and many became good friends too.  My last memories of spending time with Edna are such as this, my last goodbyes to her in person.

Spending the last afternoon and evening of the WC conference in Prague, quietly exploring the city with  Dr. Dorothy Sisk (another  esteemed friend and colleague in the field of gifted),  and Edna McMillan, listening to classical music  in the churches, taking  a slow boat along the river, quiet conversations and sparkling  wonder,  coffees enjoyed and glasses of wine shared..  listening to Edna and Dorothy tell tales of conferences and escapades past and the joy of old friends meeting in far off places.. magic moments of connectedness, a snapshot/window in time.   This will be forever etched in my mind when I think  of her.

Dorothy Sisk, Leslie Graves & Edna MacMillian- Prague 2011

A good and special friend, with a life well lived through her passion for gifted, and will be missed by many.  I am sure all those who knew Edna,  through the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, or in other places or walks of life,  will miss her presence in the world.

This blogpost, is my way of saying  I will miss her too, and not forget, and hope in my heart that she is  finding  peace in the other  far off place wherever that may be.  Safe  home for the holidays, dear Edna, safe home.

Strength

Les

Ps–  For any who wish to send their sentiments to her family, there is an online place to do so here: http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=665305   Also,  if any would like to send any memories or sentiments to the WCGTC we would happily recieve them, either in a comment here, or sent to the WCGTC care of Tracy Harkins -Executive Administrator at: headquarters@world-gifted.org

Also, Please also note that all thoughts and sentiments in this post are my own, and do not reflect on what may be others, or intended to be so.  Information I have touched on here and provided about Edna is what I have taken from conversations with same, and my own patchy memory of same. If there are discrepancies, please view these with compassion, and or understanding, if there is something that should be corrected, please accept any appologies in advance and let me know , Thankyou.

On Giftedness and ‘It’s alright to be Bright!’- The UK celebrates a 2012 Gifted Awareness Week!- October 20th to 27th

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Giftedness and  ‘It’s Alright to be Bright!!…’

It is wonderful and exciting to see another country in the world celebrating giftedness with a whole week dedicated and focus on this endevour.  I particularly like the title ‘It’s Alright to be Bright!’,  as this is at the very core of what we would like our children, and of course the rest of the gifted and talented population to feel.

From what I understand from the, The National Association for Gifted Children Britian,  this particular week has actually been around for quite a number of years.  Although  the most recent economic downturn, has meant that it’s celebration has been been on a slightly more modest scale,  this one will prove to extremely  exciting from what I hear.

There will be many many events for kids and their families and teachers, and to facilitate this the organisers, Rebeca Howell and her team, have produced a wonderful booklet with ideas to share:

It’s Alright to Be Bright Booklet 2012

The booklet is based on Science Fiction and Future Fantastic, and should prove to be very engaging for any number of age groups.

 

It is a National initiative, and the aims of the ‘It’s Alright to be Bright Week are:

  • Celebrate the diversity of children’s gifts and talents, whether football or frisbee, maths or mechanics, literacy or languages
  • Help children understand the value of their abilities
  • Raise children’s confidence in their gifts and talents
  • Raise awareness of the social and emotional needs of gifted children and the essential support required by their parents and carers

     

    We are hoping that all those who are participating have a wonderful week, and that many are encouraged to take part in this very important event.  A great way to advocate while raising awareness in a fun and focused way.

    The NAGC is a Non-Profit Organization in Britain and exists to give every child with high learning potential the opportunity to grow in confidence, thrive and achieve fulfilment.

    Rebeca Howell, of the NAGC Britain,  also took part in the International Blog tour organised for the WCGTC  International Week of the Gifted 2012, – celbrating gifted awareness events around the world- it is well worthwhile to read her wise and wonderful contribution entitled What is at the Heart of Giftedness?’

    Happy It’s Alright to Be Bright! Week!

 

#IWG12 Giftedness and: Krissy Venosdale and her Venspired Posters for Gifted Classrooms

August 12, 2012 6 comments

The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and the International Week of the Gifted 2012/ International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013-

July 29, 2012 Leave a comment

The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and the International Week of the Gifted 2012/ International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013-

It has been a while since this blog touched on these happy events. Rest assured it is not because they have been far out of mind. On the contrary, there have been a lot of back channel thoughts and creative ideas bubbling away in various directions as the dates have been approaching.

The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and the New Zealand World Conference 2013 sub-committees have been hard at work organising for these events. In the spirit of community,  and to allow as many distinct contributions as possible, we are inviting both members and non  members of the organisation to take part.

It is a joyous thing to realise that we as a global gifted community will soon be celebrating our Year of Giftedness and Creativity during 2013. A year in which to explore ways of expressing what makes us who we are. This is an opportunity for our children, and the people who care and work with them, to share and celebrate through their creativity and innovation, experiences, activities and products related to, and born out of the essence of giftedness and talent.  An opportunity to share how life might look, if  giftedness was  to make life whole and happy for them.  The  20th World Conference 2013 in Auckland is also taking place   (Don’t forget to visit the Conference Blogsite), during the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity. We are hoping  to see many of you there,  perhaps sharing your stories, or experiencing that of many others.

Last year, the first International Day of the Gifted was successfully celebrated in August 2011. On the run up to the day, many people participated and contributed, from all parts of the globe, in a number of initiatives that were being worked on.

Themes that were highlighted on that day, during the World Conference 2011, in Prague, consisted of:

1) Honouring all gifted & talented awareness-raising efforts being made worldwide within our communities.

2) The celebration of gifted children.

The energy and good will that was generated from this event, and the material produced to celebrate it, spread out and remained tangible a long time after the event. This was apparent in the blogs and posts that were being written and shared along many of the digital and social networks, worldwide. It gave off a spark, lighted a flame, a flame that once fanned, blew a great gust of wind. This wind picked up a kite, an idea, which would be called The International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013, and culminate in the World Conference 2013.

Enter the International Week of the Gifted 2012- (Second week August)

Building on the wonderful sense of camaraderie and community that was felt during the IDG2011, and, in view of the many time differences and suggestions from folk around the world, it has been determined  that  the IDG should evolve into an IWG or International Week of the Gifted. Allowing for greater participation, or time for folk to think of ways to participate, mark or celebrate the week.

It also feels like a good week for reflecting on how gifted awareness movements have grown since last year.  In celebration of this growth, this years’ 2012 collection of awareness events is somewhat larger than last years, and can be accessed below, or at the link above.  Please note that only those events that I was made aware of have been included. If there are others that should be added, I invite all to please let me know through a comment on this blog.  This year a number of conferences were also included, also as gifted awareness events.  There are so many more than last year.  Will your country’s story include starting a national awareness event? If so.. let us know!!

Secondly,   the International Week of Giftedness 2012 is an ideal  awareness week to be thinking and planning ahead for the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013,   based around a theme (admitting to have been partially inspired by Stephanie Tolan, one of my favourite ‘Elders’ in our circles) of  ‘Stories and story sharing’.

This #IWG12 will be celebrated with  a blog tour, inviting members of the gifted community across the globe to think about, and contribute their ‘stories’ of what they coul/might do, or what they might make happen next year…#IYGC,  after all, creativity does begin with ideas..  and with a little luck, giftedness can help make it happen.

  • ¨Remember:  Stories can take many shapes and forms.  Hold an event or an activity and tell the story  of how it unfolded, share stories of good practice, Art- a painting that tells it’s own story, or through music,  the story of how an invention got built, a cultural story of giftedness,  the stories of our children, our parents, ourselves;  developing stories/literature for gifted students, stories about creativity, creations and their creators, stories about gifted experiences…  your story of what an ideal environment for gifted education would look like… Stories of  gifted awareness events and how they came to be..
  • Stories:  Can be expressed/delivered though  a range of many mediums such a  video,  audio,  writing, photography or Art the choice is yours.

Moving forward, what will the ‘story of you’ or  the story of your celebration of giftedness and or creativity look like over this next year?

  • Do you have ideas you could suggest for others to do?
  • Perhaps your story will be culturally distinct and unique and would interest others how you might celebrate in your own country/land/tribe?
  • Do you have ideas that may be good for a class/school to do which would be effective and stand out?
  • Maybe an inventors’ fair, and the story of a young inventor who went far?
  • Are you a young scientist, math whizz, environmentalist or social entrepreneur with a story waiting to happen?
  • An Artist, a young writer, would like to celebrate by painting a picture, writing a story, writing a book.
  • Are you, or your students involved in poetry, drama or musically inclined, could you include this as you develop your gifted story for next year?
  • Perhaps your story includes writing a book, a chapter on giftedness yourself?
  • Are you about to embark on an important piece of research over the next year, and able to tell us how you hope your story will go?
  • What activities and approaches might we use to help foster motivation/self esteem/fruition of potential/self worth in our young folk (and adults) over the next year?
  • Are you presenting at the conference in NZ and willing tell us something about your topic?
  •  Might your story include starting a parenting group, or perhaps a kids’ club of a unique type?
  • Do you have a story sharing good practice?
  • Or will you share a story or stories of an individual or individuals emerging excellence/greatness in their area of passion, documenting this through a painting, photos or video?
  • A story of incredible wonderfulness in regards to 2Eness.
  • Will you tell a story of starting a new school/educational environment unique and welcoming for unique and interesting minds?
  • Will your story be one of unwavering advocacy in the face of a difficult situation, and survive?
  • Are you/will you be homeschooling this next year, might you keep a journal of how this story develops, helping others who may come after you?
  • Will your story simply be starting an annual gifted awareness event, or a conference?
  • What will you and/or those around you create, so that we may all share  in celebrating the soul and heart of giftedness?

#IWG12Second week, August 2012– We will celebrate with a  blog tour over the week, in honour of the upcoming International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013. This tour invites any who wish to blow a breath of air at our communal kite of giftedness, attach a bow of an idea onto it’s tail,— help it start to get it off the ground, simply by taking part, to contribute a blog post with your stories/ideas, and help others to see what can be…

We are hoping that the #IWG12 will give our gifted global community’s beautiful kite a good head start with your ideas. We are looking forward to letting the celebration start in earnest from January 2013th with your stories and their progression, throughout  the #IYGC year and during the World Conference 2013 in New Zealandwhere we hope to see that many of your stories have become reality, and even better, hoping that many of you may come and celebrate, tell/show us how your stories developed in person.

This event has been initiated by the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children through the sub- committee on the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity. It is being run in joint collaboration between the World Council for Gifted and Talented Childrens subcommittee and the New Zealand World Conference 2013’s International Year of  Giftedness and Creativity, and Social Media subcommittees.

We would like to invite the gifted community to take part in this initiative.  If you feel you would like to contribute to this blog tour, please contact Mary St. George at  <mail4mary@xtra.co.nz>, and send in your contribution, and/ or  a link to your blogpost for   review and scheduling.

You can pick up an image or a bannner to use on your site from the International Year of Giftedness Blogsite , to promote  this event. Be mindful, once you use the image or banner on your site,  to link it back to the IYGC Blogsite to show your support.

Those who wish to contribute, but do not have a blog are welcome  to do so too.  Just send in your contribution to Mary, at the email above, and it will be scheduled to be guest hosted either on the IYGC blogsite, or if traffic is heavy, on either this one or Mary’s or rescheduled for a following day.   We very much appreciate your contributions.

Please note;  This initiative is meant to be joyful and celebrative in nature, meaning positive and inclusive. We will welcome all contributions of this nature, and all contributions will be monitored for this.  Any contributions which are felt to be at risk of intentionally upsetting or damaging individuals personally or the organisations they are supporting, will be vetted, and may,  regretfully,  not be posted.

On Giftedness and a close encounter with (mis) fortune….

June 23, 2012 5 comments

On Giftedness and a chance encounter with (mis) fortune….

Very recently, I have been struggling with some news, the which may be about to seriously change the reality which is my life as I know it… thoughts on same come in shivering shaking waves, engulfing the very nucleous of my soul… and leaving me often, gasping for breath, as I endlessly search the caverns of my mind for direction…

In this state of mind, this morning, I had to take a train ride into town, to deliver an item for a friend, and the walk to the station, in the rain, under the dark, grey brooding skys only served to deepen the sense of dispare and hopelessness I had going…

A platform, glistening, reflecting the mirror of my soul, the green overhanging bushes weeping as droplets hurried, sliding zigzagedly down a multitude of leaves…  The rumble of the carriages as they entered the station, brought me back to my task, and I stepped on board…. and moved up the carriage looking for a place to sit..

Just at the end there was a seat, facing another in which a young man was sitting and holding his head in his hands.. I sat down, but watching this fellow, took me away from my own minds interdialogue, and into anothers reality… He was young, true,.. but thin, and rather shabily dressed.. pale, with haunting brown eyes.. and he was shivering/shaking in pain.  Feeling his discomfort (I’m a bit of an emphatic.. ) I could not help but reach out and ask him… ‘excuse me are you ok?….’   He explained that he had a tooth ache, and was on his way to the dental hospital,…  where sometimes it is possible to get work done if your wallet is a little bare…

As his pain receded, explaining that it came and went,  he thanked me for asking in a quiet way… I asked him what he was to have done, and a chance conversation ensued…

He recounted that he had a tooth that needed a root canal, that the dentist he had gone to in a town south of where I live, had suggested he have it pulled (as he could have this done for free), there and then, but  he had not wanted to loose his tooth.  The alternative treatment, a root canal would have cost him 500 to have done, an amount that was well beyond him.   He told me that he was homeless, and working off a ‘medical card’.. something that gave him a right to have his teeth pulled for free, but no help or discount for any other treatment.  That is niether here nor there, but the interesting story he told was the reason he had wanted to go to the Dental Hospital (students studying dentistry work here, hence the lower cost of treatment)…

He told me he had been taken there often as a child as there had been something unusual about his teeth that was of great interest to the college and this had been his favorite thing to do, visit with the students and dentists working there… He then proceeded to tell me… all about unusual teeth and bites, solutions and proceedures for same.. and how dental care is viewed differently in this country than in other countries (people often wait until things are very far along before they visit a dentist),  that folk from the USA (where folk take a great deal of careful care of their teeth) are sometimes taken aback by the lower importance of this in Europe and the resultant aspects thereoff…  He then mov,ed on to doctors, and what he felt was a clinical attitude towards their regard for life that was not human.  He felt that they did not see other species, such as dogs, as life that was as important as people and that this bothered him alot…  I focused…  here was a spark…

As he got off at the station before my own, put out a hand… asked me for my name…… gave me his own… and  thanked me for listening to him…   I could not think but… this young fellow, who had such alot to say… wanted to be heard.. but was so economically challenged, might have made a good dentist, a good listener..

I wished with all my heart that life would take a turn in an upward direction for this young man, as without a doubt, I would know he had ‘the look’  was one of those gifted kids that had had the potential and passion but not the opportunity to make it happen..Had he had the ‘chance’ opportunities, or mentors to help him be who he had wanted to ‘be’…. fallen through the cracks…

A snapshot… Of a life ……..and  putting  my own challenges in perspective…  wishing this young man a bit of  luck in this  zigzaggy world we live in… I do….  hope life does open a window….  for both of us… someday… ;-D…

As I think about contributing to the NZ blogtour… I ask we do not forget about those that may be left in the cracks.. they may yet have something to teach us …

On Gifted nests and Birds of a Feather

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

‘On Giftedness and Birds of a feather…’

Firstly, I want to say that I very honoured to have the opportunity to take part in the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week 2012 Blog tour. As last year it does appear to be quite international again… and I may yet be inspired to write a second contribution before this tour is over, however for this contribution I have decided to focus on a past memory that might be helpful in  terms of sparking off some advocacy ideas… Do please feel free to click on the link below to follow more blogs along the tour….

Recently, I have noticed that there have been a few discussions from folk in different parts of the world tossing around the idea that if the gifted community wishes to educate, reach and or foster a greater understanding of our populations, we should not only be reaching out/speaking/working/presenting within our own groups, rather than just flying together,

we should also be seeking out opportunities to give of ourselves in other circles.  I believe this is a good thing, and brought back some old memories which did affirm this.

Many years ago, once upon a time and long ago, I happened to be the chairperson of a gifted organisation which no longer exists.  I had started to organise a conference for the fall of that year  (sometime around the turn of the century…  I like saying that.. makes it sound kind of ‘historical’.. teehee)…  using the ancient computer in my kitchen and a dial up connection… as one does.  I remember thinking that it would be good to try and see if we could increase our footfall and came up with the idea of reaching out to groups that might have a lateral component to our own.  I was also involved with a group called Spectrum, which kind of saw itself as an umbrella group for other groups supporting children with what we called at the time ‘hidden special needs’.  Things like ADHD, Aspergers, Dyslexia and the like.

And so.. a conference called ‘Coping with Complexities’ was born.

Careful thought went into the choice of a broad spectrum of speakers, all who were gifted advocates but also a good number  of whom  might have had an additional passion/interest/expertise in a secondary area.  These included folk like Dr. Shirley Kokot from SA who was also doing work in the neurodevelopmental area,  Dr. Sheilagh Gallager from USA, who at the time was also researching the incidence of Aspergers in gifted populations and Dr. Ellen Feidler (USA), who’s presentations on Intensities in gifted left not one person in the audience with a dry eye…  Dr. David Carey, who specialised in ADHD,   to name a few.

As there are a fair bit of crossover issues within some of the spectrum groups and our own, it turned out to be a good idea, as these groups became very supportive, and helped to promote and advertise the conference quite a lot.  It also led to peripheral interest groups making contact and wanting to advertise or attend the conference.  Folk that as a gifted community would want to reach, such as members of the National Educational Psychologists group,  Occupational Therapists,  Resource and learning support teachers groups, and a number of University researchers .  This in turn led to a wider interest from the main teaching and school community, which might normally not have attended a conference aimed at  strictly gifted and or gifted ed.  It also reached out to a wider parent community.

Along with those previously mentioned, we had several other local folks in gifted sharing their wisdom.  Among these were  Dr Sheilagh Gilhenny and Colm O’Rielly from CTYI here in Ireland and Julianne Stevens, MA,  who was working and teaching here in Ire, at the time, but was from Aussie and had trained in gifted and who was also   a committee member of our organisation.

Through the sterling efforts of the committee members that fall, and the generosity of the speakers, peripheral groups interest and a lot of interesting conversations we managed to pull off a very well attended conference, that had an incredibly diverse mix of attendees, including a large number of mainstream teachers ,  of which many that I spoke to where very glad to have attended and felt they had learned a whole lot.   At the time I recall that it felt very good to know that we had reached so many, many people who would otherwise not have been exposed to the information we wanted to get out there.

I spoke to many new, stealth-  ‘gifted’ folk who felt that attending the conference had made them comfortable enough to ‘come out of the wood work’ and interact in that community on that day..

come out of their shells…  perhaps even grow some wings and fly with it for a while…  A good day..

I mention all this, because sometimes it is good to hear about other s experiences, but also because sometimes the things we do can come back and show us an impact that we made which we might never have known about.

Yesterday, I spent time at another conference.  At this conference I was the ‘crossover’ speaker/presenter, as the conference was on for Teachers in Special Education.  Most of the issues that would have been dealt with were for children on spectrums somewhat different than our own. I was pleasantly surprised with the turn out for the session,  however the most  heartening and eye opening bit  for me was when two teachers came up to me after my presentation, and introduced themselves as two mainstream teachers that had attended the other conference so many years ago and had spoken to me at the time.  They said they had learned so much at that conference long ago, and that when they saw I would be at yesterdays IATSE, they had decided to attend  for the gifted session.  Life can be funny that way…

I guess the lesson here is that it is important for us to not be afraid, and try and reach out to many other communities if we can, especially those that might be carrying a feather or two of a similar colour, or who might, with a little nurturing grow some wings and fly with us for a while, maybe helping to contribute to the richness of the support we are looking for.

So next time you plan a conference, maybe, think about how you can attract others who might come into contact with our kids… or .. perhaps have a look at conferences in your area and think, could you perhaps be able to contribute a presentation that might just reach some important folk which could further  the cause?  You might be one of those that helps to add a few new members to our flock..  and grow a number of nice new feathers too… ;-D

On the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013

June 13, 2012 7 comments

‘Our world is woven from many textures, colours, sizes and threads, and so are we, may we care for our fabric, keep it bright and light, and everchanging…we must be careful not to tear it apart, giving it a chance, inspiring our hearts….. ‘ L. Graves 2012

On the International Year of Giftedness and  Creativity 2013

As we are moving on into this year and the next, I thought this might be a good opportunity to touch on this subject again.  The International Year of Giftedness and Creativity, 2013. It is an exciting idea. A year to celebrate, create and validate gifted, talented and creative souls, and broadly based on the theme of ‘Stories’.

An opportunity for young, old and in-betweenies to think of how we can express ourselves through our stories, experiences and expressions of  our inner self.  Stories can be told//take form in an amazing number of ways.. Through a written word, painting, video/film, song, poetry, dance routine, construction, invention.   They can be altruistic, historical, A how-I(we)-did-something (achievement)- got somewhere.  The best Stories in our lives, the snapshot of what makes us who we are, and can help others understand the essence within that we all work with on different levels, are those that usually come from the heart, where ever we are, and whatever culture we are from/living in.  Stories in any form are wonderful teaching aids and theses stories can add richness to others lives and experiences. This richness may in turn become the thing that saves the soul of  yet  another gifted child. They are important to share.  Researchers, Parents, Children, Teachers, Psychologists, Educators, Family members, Activity leaders, Schools and Homeschools all have important voices and experiences that may add to a communal celebration of our community, and possibly help others in the world move that one step closer to understanding.

Now would be a good time to start think towards next year and how you or those around you, or that you work with  might  take part in this celebration. There will be more on this later on in the year, however before I go I felt I would like  to share a story of my own with you, an important experience in my life.

This is a Poem I wrote some time ago.  It  came back to me last night as I was falling asleep, and the thought  that it carried an important story, and was an important message to get out there and that it was quite possibly  clamouring for a spot on the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog tour... It is a voice that wants to be heard.. We must always be conscious of what kind of an impact our actions may have on the children we come in contact with, especially those who may not be so black or white,   in the gifted or non-gifted sense… but perhaps many hued….So for all the creative/visual types, and also in view of the fact that next year will be the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity, and some very Creative people in New Zealand will be hosting the WCGTC 2013 Conference, ‘The Soul of Giftedness’, – and creativity would be an inherent part of any gifted soul… I offer again, a personal experience in a poem….   Also, Please do not forget to also Click on the Blog image below to follow the tour to find the most wonderful collection of writings on gifted and be amazed as it unfolds!!!!…… )

 

Sometimes, as teachers and/or parents, in our busy worlds we can forget how much of an influence we may have on those precious souls in our care..  the emergence of a rare talent/creativity in any form, can often be tentative, and fragile and unsure.. often a product of  incredible sensitivity. It can be  most painfully squashed, and take years if  ever, to  have the confidence to appear again… often only if  met by another who understands..

“Unforgotten”

(by me!!- Leslie S. Graves)

You asked us

to draw a beautiful memory

We each had

Lovely coloured crayons

supplied

a blank paper and eyes

opened wide

We were only four, some of us

were even five

with tumbling fingers

scribbling hard, each

Hoping our picture

would please teacher

Ah..but I was one who considered

before I scribbled

and instead of dreamy shapes

I drew a train

complete with whistles, coal and flame

on tracks,

It’s engineer waved a cane

and shouted

‘ALL ABOARD’

You were working at

your desk

Did not notice, pick mine

out from  the rest

At the end of the day

during circle time

you asked us to identify

and take home our

drawing

Mine came up, next  to last

two hands came up

You who failed to see

my hand that worked so

diligently

Gave it not to me

but to another child

And then you wondered

why I cried and

would not love the

Circle left on that

last sheet as if it were my own

I would never draw again

Until many years had flown

Until a kind man

In another school saw a

doodle in a book

With passion

His eyes wide open

His heart sincere and true

Placed a pencil back into

my hand

and said.. welcome home

‘Hello World’- Drawing by Leslie S. Graves- 2011

Giftedness and sharing a global interest in Awareness… Holland

May 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Gifted and ….   the Dutch Day of the Gifted..

The 26th of May will be the Dutch Day of the Gifted,  or   the  Dag van  de  Hoogbegaafdheid,      and a lovely season to be celebrating this topic.

 

It is wonderful to see yet another day celebrating giftedness in yet another country in the world.  Like the lovely tulips that Holland is so famous for we hope that the notion of having annual events within countries will continue to grow and spread.  I recently wrote a poem on gifted comparing them to Orchids.. one flower, with so many different faces.  Well it has struck me that the humble tulip, which  has been carefully nurtured and developed by the Dutch people into a bloom  can also have an incredible variety of colours and shapes too… each unique and wonderful in itself.  This to then could also apply to the uniqueness of our gifted, and knowing many of the committed folk in the Netherlands personally, who are doing such good work, and tirelessly researching, supporting and providing for these children and the adults they will become, I am sure they are in safe hands.  Hopefully, as we look into the future of Dutch gifted education, and the unique people it will produce, we will see a field of many colours, the unique, strong and delicate shapes all standing tall and beautiful as they sway in the breezes of all that they will become.

The Dutch day of the Gifted has been now been added to the International Awareness Days collection, which I am putting together for the WCGTC for this year 2012, and will join many others as part of  a growing number already there.  Hopefully this list will grow and grow and will be showcased at the WCGTC2013 in New Zealand.

If your country has not yet planned an annual celebration for your gifted, perhaps you might take heart and consider planning for one in your neck of the world.  If you do please let me know, so I can add it to the growing number of those that are doing so.

I would like to add my support for this, the Netherlands and their Gifted, and encourage others to show their support perhaps by also writing a small blog, or spreading the news of their awareness raising efforts, through their own social or professional  networks.

An example of this comes from Mary St. George in New Zeleand who writes:

In the Netherlands, the 26th of May will be Dag van de Hoogbegaafdheid – the Day of Giftedness. As we anticipate this event, it seems like a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge our shared challenges, our togetherness, as we advocate for gifted people, and especially our gifted children, around the planet.

Our education systems differ from country to country, but we seem to find ourselves wrestling with many of the same dilemmas.

In her blog she attempts to answer  three questions which she feels  seem to reach across the oceans and borders that divide us, and you can read about them here.

May you have a most wonderful celebration!!!! ;-D