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How to Create a Diversified Gifted Program

Posted by Categories: Gifted Education

summer institute for the gifted diversity in gifted education and gifted programIn a recent blog post, I spoke to the benefits and importance of diversity in creating rich curriculum for gifted students. Diversity that we create through wide-ranging and open-ended content in our courses and in our teaching strategies is paramount to facilitate creative thinking, self-awareness and mental awakening.  Such variables are consciously managed decisions that we can plan, enact and manipulate as needed to stimulate thinking.

It strikes me as particularly wonderful that there are so many other aspects of diversity in programs such as ours (SIG) that just happen because of the types of programs they are. Programs that are not bound by geography, timed learning, grade and age categorization, core content restrictions, and socio-economic status are freed to open up channels of communication, increase avenues of thinking, entertain global concerns and interests, and provide cultural enlightenment. All these aspects of a diverse program are natural and powerful sources of personal growth.

Diversity begins in such programs with a loosening of age requirements. Students who develop in an asynchronistic manner can engage with students of multiple age levels and can share in the similar abilities and interests of people not exactly their age. While interacting among various age level colleagues, students often gain new and additional perspectives.

Diversity gains additional momentum by removing geographical barriers. Students who can learn side by side with intellectual peers they would never encounter in their own schools or community are often pleasantly surprised to find similarities, as well as intriguing differences, among students from other parts of the country and the world. They hear opinions they previously had no reason to consider. They see a broader snapshot of an issue or concern as it affects other people than they would by remaining in their mainstream connections.

Another common area of diversity that is necessary regards people, not just where they live, but experiencing the differences in their socio-economic statuses, cultures and contexts, ethnicities and genders. These differences and likenesses provide the fuel needed for creative problem solving, innovation, and emerging fields of study. Without exposure to as much diversity in as many areas as possible, students’ minds are limited in experience and reality, though certainly not limited by their imaginations. If we are to open up possibilities, open minds, and create high levels of awareness, both personal and global, we need to do our part in diversifying educational environments for young gifted minds. These goals are the goals of SIG, and of many other programs, where we expand our horizons through world-wide participation, broad conceptual courses, expanded conceptions of giftedness, and financial support for those who need it to pursue their dreams.

These are some of the things we do to increase diversity. How might you increase diversity in your areas of responsibility to enrich the thinking abilities of gifted students you encounter?

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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