The very essence of the word conjures a sense of need; an innate desire for connection. For some, it may bring about a positive feeling and yet for others, undesirable emotions surface.
Within our education systems and throughout our communities, the need for children to experience a positive sense of belonging is both acknowledged and recognised. In Australia, the Early Years Framework (the national framework for early education and care settings) is structured around Belonging, Being and Becoming. The Australian Curriculum for school-aged children contains 107 inclusions of the word ‘belonging’ within its framework. Indeed, belonging brings about a sense of identity- and identity brings about a sense of belonging.
Should our society fail to acknowledge and recognise gifted children, should we fail to understand the diversity involved in presentation and identification of these unique little beings, then we in fact fail to provide a community of belonging for gifted children.
In March 2016, Australia celebrated its second Gifted Awareness Week since the official launch in 2015. A quote from the 2016 Media Release reads:
‘Gifted children think differently; they process differently, their brain is wired differently. This does not make them more special than anyone else; giftedness is not elitist. It is not gender-specific, nor bound to one cultural group or socio-economic status. Giftedness is not free from a learning disability. It does not guarantee happiness nor success; it is not a golden lottery ticket. Gifted children are rarely prodigies or geniuses. All children are gifts, all children have gifts, but not all children are gifted. Children who are gifted need to have their needs met at school on a full-time basis – not just at chess club every second Wednesday or at the weekend or holiday ‘gifted’ workshops. Gifted students are gifted all day, every day. Since gifted students are a heterogeneous group, each requires specifically targeted adjustments to their educational program. Children who are gifted face being misunderstood, loneliness, and disengagement when their learning needs are not met’.
When the full Media Release hit social media, it was viewed by over 20,000 people and shared more than 160 times on Facebook alone- statistics far beyond any previous post. Why? What was it within these words that resonated so strongly with the community?
Breaking the boundaries.
When we acknowledge the diversity of gifted children, we break the boundaries restricting the community from being inclusive. We engage gifted children in our classrooms, we celebrate their achievements or support their underachievement, we seek to understand their co-existing learning disabilities, and we include them in our budgeting, our pre-service teaching courses and in our professional development courses. By becoming ‘Gifted Aware’ as a nation and following through with awareness as action, we then create an inclusive society for these children who often feel as though they are the ‘odd ones out’.
For it is when one is understood, acknowledged and included, one can truly begin to feel accepted with a positive sense of belonging.
Vice-President Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented (AAEGT)
National Facilitator Gifted Awareness Week- Australia
Return to New Zealand Blog Tour
Image credit: Please Keep to Boundary Wall by Bart Maguire is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0