Gifted and Talented

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” – 1 Cor 12:4-6

I am in awe of so many people in this world…those who write beautifully, speak lovingly, and encourage quietly.  As parents, I think it is only natural that we are mostly in awe of our children.  It is incredible, when you think about it, how much they learn in the first few years of life and the dual joy and determination they take in doing so.  But as I am exploring preschools and reflecting on my experiences as a teacher, I must admit that I am discouraged by the language and attitudes around gifts and challenges in the world of education.

I have never liked the language used in schools (and in our community in general) in regards to children’s abilities.  There are programs labeled under “disability” and others under “gifted and talented,” when in my experience, all people are really both.  We all have things we may not be able to do…for some, it may be walking, hearing, or speaking, but as Mister Rogers famously said, it also may may be difficulty with managing feelings in constructive ways or finding fulfillment in relationships and life in general.  It is a lesson that extends beyond our school years, but that formative time spent within the confines of a classroom with one’s peers and teachers has a way of defining us at times.  Likewise, to say that only a select few are gifted and talented seems to imply that the others are not.  In truth, I believe wholeheartedly that we all possess gifts and talents, and thank goodness they vary because without a rich tapestry of them, we would fail as surely as a whole body without its parts.

As we move towards school selection and navigate through the choices, I am holding a place in my heart for one that truly celebrates the abilities, the gifts, and the talents of its students.  For one that remembers that the spirit of learning comes from the freedom to try and fail and try again without fear or labels.  I want my girls to be encouraged to become their truest selves and to grow in their strengths with a foundation of compassion and grace.

Eliza may not be able to traverse the couch yet or take steps even while holding my hands, but she is so gifted, so talented.  She has a way of engaging people, of searching deep into the eyes of those around her and connecting with the dearest affection.  Even with a vocabulary of only three words, she has a sense of humor that is contagious and a determination that is fierce.  I have no doubt that she will change the lives of those around her…she has already changed mine in ways I never could have imagined.  And can there be a better gift?  That we may be encouraged by one another and made better because of their place in our hearts.

What a wonderment that God planned his gifts for each of us with such wisdom and love that we may all share in His world with each other and enjoy the variety of His spirit in so many ways and through so many people.  Yes, there may be different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone is the same God at work.

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4 thoughts on “Gifted and Talented

  1. Thanks Julie for this thoughtful reflection on schooling, and labeling, and what it means for children who bring different gifts and abilities. It’s a question that we as teachers must ask ourselves often. To truly meet every child or young adult student, to connect, and to value each other.

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  2. I have three girls. The oldest is gifted, the middle has complicated learning issues, and the youngest is (so far) middle of the road. The thing people don’t understand about the use of the word “gifted” is that giftedness is often NOT a gift. People equate it with “easy,” and it is anything but. My friend and I describe our children in a tongue in cheek way as “severely gifted.” Our gifted kids contend with anxiety, depression, frequent failures and being neglected in school. They’re at higher risk for drug use, dropping out of high school, suicide, failing in college, and social problems. For my daughter who has learning disabilities (yeah, that isn’t such a good description either) I can get support. For my gifted daughter it was much, much harder, because she was perceived as having ADVANTAGES. I say every child is different and learns differently and has different needs, but if you have one who is outside of norms in either direction, you’re going to have challenges. The meetings are similar, the planning is similar, staffing is similar, it’s all about getting them the help they each need to learn and thrive.

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  3. Beautifully written Julie, as always! Eliza is no doubt gifted and has been a gift to all of us who have the pleasure of knowing her and sharing in her life! Love and hugs to you all!

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  4. I LOVE THIS. I think about this every day in the classroom… the labels seem so nonsensical sometimes, and the methods we are required to us to deal with perceived “giftedness”/”disability” even more so. This idea is really on my heart lately, as I struggle to meet the needs of all of my students. Thanks for writing. xo

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