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Tackle the Myths and Be a Legend

Gearing up for Gifted Awareness Week 2019



When I think “myths, my mind tends to err towards reminiscing about old episodes of Mythbusters.  Perhaps oddly, that in itself leads me to slot the term “Mythbustersinto the Ghostbusters theme song - and yes, a full parody ensues, but fear not, I will not torture your ears with the song! Instead, I will lead you on an excavation, digging out ideas on how to make the most of an impending opportunity - to tackle some of the myths prevalent in education as they pertain to our gifted learners.

This opportunity comes in the form of the upcoming New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour. If you haven’t been involved before, as a reader or contributor, you ought to check out the Blog Tours of 2018 and 2017. The blogs are just fabulous and do such a service in advocating for our gifted kids. Here’s a taste from a previous Blog Tour post by seasoned blogger Celi Trépanier, entitled 9 Things the World Must Understand about Gifted Children.

So, first things first, this year the theme is ... drum roll please ... “Mythbusters. Surprised? What?No? It was the preamble that gave it away wasn’t it? Back to the topic at hand ... If you are thinking of crafting a blog to add to the tour then here are some quick pointers to shine a light on how one might approach writing so as to provide safety for the reader (emotional reactions hit before any thinking has the chance to occur!), invite curiosity and wonderings, and open readers’mind to new ideas and beliefs. Of course, these are only ideas to get you thinking; you have the floor so to speak, so get as creative, personal, whimsical or serious as you like.


Your brain is a good lawyer. Your brain is saying, "Hey, let's just do our best at arguing against this because if we have to change our mind about this, it's going to be really, really uncomfortable." From Take Two 



NB: For those who are curious as to how accurately this reflects the true growth process of lobsters, here are a couple of interesting resources: an article exploring the science of lobster molting (read this first)  and a video of a lobster which has molted and grown as a result of this (watch this after reading the article to make sense of the way around that process occurred.


When being confronted with ideas that conflict with our own, we naturally tend towards defensiveness. Our brains do not like incongruence. As noted by Cook and Lewandowsky in The Debunking Handbook,  “debunking myths is problematic. Unless great care is taken, any effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myths one seeks to correct. This is called the backfire effect.



To avoid this and other cognitive biases, the authors outline the “anatomy of effective debunking,providing a step-by-step approach which includes focusing on core facts, explicit warnings of falsehoods prior to mentioning myths, and ensuring counter-narratives are provided as an alternative explanation. They reinforce the core facts and counter narrative they recommend (and role-model through their example) by embedding an eye-catching, clear and informative visual.



 If you are reading this blog, chances are that you know, as well as myself and all my colleagues here at the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, that advocacy for our gifted youngsters can be really difficult. Full kudos to all those teachers, principals, teacher aides, counsellors, psychologists and GPs who want to understand and know more. We love you for your open-mindedness!! We do, however, in reality need to be prepared, ready to be guides shining the light on new possibilities for those who are less than convinced that the “myths” are indeed just myths. This is where the pearls of wisdom from Judy Ringer might come in handy. She offers a stellar list of questions to ask of ourselves as we prepare to broach a difficult conversation. In my opinion, these are equally relevant to writing blogs when trying to persuade readers to reassess their beliefs and think differently. Further to this, she outlines four steps to successful outcomes.


When you debunk a myth, you create a gap in the person’s mind. To be effective, your debunking must fill that gap.” This is your chance to “replace [it] with an alternative narrative.- The Debunking Handbook


If there's uninformed talk

In your neighbourhood

Who you gonna call? (Mythbusters)

If there's misunderstanding

And it don't look good

Who you gonna call? (Mythbusters)


The New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education is calling all Mythbusters - that’s you, your friends, your family, your teacher, your colleagues ... to get involved in debunking the myths of gifted kids in this year’s New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog Tour. To get involved, email Alanagh at



'What's the Story?' is a blog section which is written for the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education, with posts being added regularly. The purpose of this space is to share musings and anecdotes relating to giftedness and gifted education to provide a form of information and support for those living with and/or teaching gifted learners. Please do share them along.


We would love to hear from you.  Grab a cuppa and share your story in the comments.

What's the Story? Making the world a better place for gifted kids, one yarn at a time.


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Please note that the views expressed in these blogs are those of the author and not necessarily representative of the views of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.


Tackle the Myths

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