Wellbeing - A no limits Approach

 

Stephanie Tolan

Author, member of the Columbus Group
United States of America

 

Girl holding world heart

 

What does wellbeing mean to children with non-ordinary minds and non-ordinary needs, and more than that—children living, suddenly, like the rest of us, in utterly non-ordinary times? The way our educational systems were, often too rigid to meet the unusual needs of the brightest students, they now face the even greater challenge of adapting to a world whose future seems utterly unpredictable. It may be true that we’ve never really known what lies ahead, but now we know that we don’t know. One thing that seems certain is that we won’t be able just to return to the way things were before. That’s both a bad thing and a good thing. Bad in that the disruption has forced us to design new ways to cope, good in that we now know that new designs are possible.


Emergencies force us to rethink, fast! This pandemic, the greatest emergency our current world has ever faced, has created limits we have never had to deal with before. As I write this my county in the state of New York is still on lockdown, and schools are closed at least until next fall. Parents have been forced quite suddenly to address the issues of homeschooling (ironically, a method that was once illegal in all 50 states) and teachers are having to rethink methods they may not even have questioned before.


In addition to the obvious stresses and changes to normal ways of doing things, we need to recognize that gifted kids have some kinds of stresses that are particular to this population. Their natural zest for information makes them unusually aware of the news, and with minds especially good at following logical connections, they may be looking well beyond the new stresses and limits in their own lives and worrying about how each one spawns limits and dire problems in the rest of the world. Many also have unusual empathy, so can’t help but feel for the populations most at risk.

 

Wellbeing for our kids and ourselves will depend on how we choose to focus our attention. All day every day we are “telling ourselves a story” about what’s going on in our lives and the world around us. Now is exactly the time in our world that we most need the advice Mr. Rogers says his mother gave him, to “look for the helpers.” Rather than focusing on the stresses, losses and limits, we can notice what others are doing to work around and through them, and we can focus our capable minds on ways to create new possibilities for ourselves and others. While as individuals we can’t “save the world,” everything we do changes it in some way. A small bit of help, a new creation, a thoughtful act, a moment of kindness or good cheer, making someone laugh, all make a difference and every difference radiates out in ways we can’t predict. There are no limits to the impact of each positive story.

 

“How wonderful it is to think that we can broadcast ‘mental germs’ of confidence, of love, of peace, of joy, of goodwill. How wonderful to know that each one of us can so influence [their] environment that everyone who steps into it will be benefited.” –Ernest Holmes, 1971.

 

About Stephanie Tolan

 

Stephanie S. Tolan's earliest memories involve books -- those that were read to her and those she read to herself, often late at night with a flashlight under the covers. She always thought there was a special magic in the little black marks on paper that could turn into whole worlds and real people. Born in Ohio and raised in Wisconsin, she wrote her first story in the fourth grade. It was thrilling to discover she could make the magic herself, and she decided then and there to be a writer.

Stephanie Tolan is well known as an advocate for extremely bright children. (For information about gifted and talented children visit Hoagies' Gifted Education Page.) She co-authored the award-winning nonfiction book, Guiding the Gifted Child, and has written many articles about the challenges gifted "asynchronous" children and adults face as they find a way to fit into their world. She lectures throughout the country to audiences of parents, educators and counselors attempting to find ways to meet the children's needs. Her experiences with these "amazing, off-the-charts" young people inspired the themes of Welcome to the Ark, a powerful novel about four brilliant young misfits in a world teetering on destruction. The first volume of a projected trilogy, Ark is followed by Flight of the Raven, a 2001 story that takes place in a terrorist compound, where unusual mental capacities help the young hero, one of the Ark kids, to survive.

Stephanie Tolan is a senior fellow at the Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA).

 

 

 

Posted as part of the 2020 New Zealand Gifted Awareness Blog Tour, run by the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education.

The views and opinions expressed in the Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of NZCGE, their staff, and/or any/all contributors to Gifted Awareness Week.

 

Wellbeing - A no limits approach

 
 
 
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