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Gifted Rivers Run Deep

Posted by Categories: Education, Gifted Education, Gifted Students

GIFTED RIVERSA river is a very good analogy for the way gifted students learn, in my opinion, and a helpful way for us as educators to think of how we might facilitate that learning.

Just as a river is constantly flowing, our gifted students’ brains are constantly in motion, sometimes speeding up into rapids of excitement and ideas, and sometimes slowing down into pools of thoughtful incubation. When one observes the power of the river flow as it carves through land and smooths the surfaces of rocks, one must also acknowledge the power of focused thought and repeated practice at a skill or process over time. Sometimes a river will diverge off into smaller streams, much as our students will pursue a topic of interest off a beaten path and follow it until it becomes dry or finished.

Sometimes, unfortunately, we educators and parents may cause harmful flooding with too much unneeded or unwanted activity, or create
obstacles like dams, with our limiting rules or restrictions. In those cases, damage might impact the future fertility of the mind. Sometimes a dam will be broken in a desperate attempt to free the water, as perhaps a student may take an extreme measure to get away from repressive programming or to find greener pastures elsewhere.

The river may even become polluted through a damaging environment. We may damage the learning environment of students by giving them trivial work, or by limiting their pace, progress, and content, or by not allowing them to work with peers who should be in their same eco-system.

There are many ways we can help gifted students navigate the river of learning. We can allow them to go with the natural flow they possess while learning about topics that interest them, encourage them to pursue orbital topics of intrigue from the core curriculum, and give them time and space to engage in these pursuits apart from the core content.

We can also provide paddles and compasses to help them navigate. These tools may be in the forms of research aids, mentors, problem-solving strategies, questions, independent study contracts, or numerous other learning and organization tools. Remember it’s always better to plan a trip in advance to make sure you get where you want to go. And, it’s also great to enjoy the views getting there. Let’s help gifted students travel to places they never knew existed while enriching their vistas along the way through purposeful intention, direction, and the energy of potential.

Do feel free to share the ways you help students navigate effectively through their rivers of learning so that others may benefit from your personal journeys.

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

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