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That’s Not Fair! Addressing Fairness with Gifted Children

Posted by Categories: Gifted Education, Gifted Students

Do you struggle with fairness? I admit that fairness has always been important to me and I sometime still struggle with things that seem unfair. Fairness is often an issue with gifted children as well. Many gifted children can be described as being morally sensitive and therefore susceptible to the potential internal struggles of dealing effectively with fairness. These children care about people, are concerned about apparent suffering, and generally are capable of evaluating the intangible aspects of fairness.Fairness

Fairness is the quality of making judgments that are free from discrimination. We usually base our ideas of what’s fair on our personal perceptions. As we get older, our perceptions of fairness may change, but they continue to be based on personal perception. This orientation can create frustration and unhappiness for gifted children who are sensitive to fairness. On a school level, they may see as unfair that they have to do the same curriculum at the same pace as others, or that they are not allowed to do things differently from others. On a larger scale, they may be saddened by catastrophic events, or senseless crimes, or cultural and political differences in the treatment of certain groups around the world.

There are various strategies one can use to help alleviate the internal struggles of fairness in gifted young people. One way would be to engage them in the solution of challenges that face them personally or that face societal groups. By setting up a school task force, or getting involved in a community project, or contributing effort or resources toward a global concern, they are transforming the negative energy of frustration, anger, or dissatisfaction of unfairness into the positive energy of action.

Another strategy is to focus on ourselves rather than on what is happening in the unfair equation. By realizing that one has much to be grateful for, or that what is happening to someone else has no influence on your happiness, children can release that negative energy and focus on what’s great about being who they are.

Finally, morally sensitive students can be redirected to the other person’s viewpoint in instances where one feels that he or she has received the short end of the deal. What might seem unfair to us in a deficit sort of way may have made someone else feel extremely blessed, or happy, or delighted. Knowing that happiness resides on the other side of the equation can make everyone feel better about it.

How do you deal with the concept of fairness with your gifted children or students? Share your ideas so that all can benefit.

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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