Skip to main content

Like-mindedness...inclusion...and us.


Associate Professor Tracy Riley’s recent research, shared in a SENG article, Thinking Along the Same Lines, and to be further explored at the upcoming NZAGC conference, puts like-mindedness in the spotlight.

Like-mindedness is an important part of gifted education. The benefits of grouping gifted children together, creating like-minded environments, are both intellectual and social. Intellectually, like-minded students can work together at a faster pace, in greater depth, can challenge and question each other in order to bolster their individual and collective learning. Research by Adams-Byers, Whitsell and Moon (2004) found that gifted students saw the academic advantages in learning with like-minded peers as being challenge, fast pace, quality and depth of discussion, and lack of repetition of content.  Sandra Kaplan highlights that in like-minded groups, students can share perspectives and ideas that can be more readily understood, without the need for protracted explanation. This sentiment was strongly expressed by the students who shared their ideas about like-mindedness here.

Socially, like-minded students can feel a sense of connectedness to others who share similar experiences. A sense of ‘getting’ each other is experienced, and students experience a noticeable lack of teasing in like-minded groups (Adams-Byers, et al., 2004). Sandra Kaplan (2014) reminds us that social connectedness within like-minded groups stems from a deep well of self-understanding.

The intersection between intellectual and social benefits is also noted by Kaplan, who reminds us that students in like-minded groups feel as though their contributions are both understood and valued.

Talking of connectedness, appropriately paced and challenging material, valuing and understanding reminds me of the idea of inclusion.  Inclusive Education on TKI, whilst sadly not acknowledging gifted students under the remit of special education, note that “At fully inclusive schools, all students are welcome and are able to take part in all aspects of school life. Diversity is respected and upheld. Inclusive schools believe all students are confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners and work towards this within the New Zealand Curriculum.  Students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and their learning needs are addressed.” 

For gifted students, spending time working exclusively in like-minded groups might be one way to ensure inclusion… ensuring they become confident, connected, involved life-long learners.

All this talk of like-mindedness started a slightly different train of thought for me – what about like-mindedness and adults? Should teachers operate in a like-minded fashion? What would that like look? Imagine this… specialist teachers plus regular teachers plus parents working together as like-minds, with the child at the centre of our thinking. Working together in ways that are fast-paced and challenging. Understanding and valuing each other’s experiences and ideas. Connecting, ‘getting’ each other. Imagine the benefits for that child, those children. Here, I believe, is the real power of like-mindedness in gifted education – like-minded adults working for the benefit of each gifted child in their care.  I now ask you, how can you create your own like-minded environment?




Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at http://giftededucation.ultranet.school.nz/WebSpace/1286/.

Comments

  1. Thanks for participating in the NZGAW Blog Tour. I love finding a new blog to read and appreciate your views on gifted and like mindedness. It's important for gifted students to find intellectual peers who support their passions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lisa - couldn't agree more, both as a teacher and as a parent :)

      Delete
  2. Thanks for participating in the NZGAW Blog Tour. I love finding a new blog to read and appreciate your views on gifted and like mindedness. It's important for gifted students to find intellectual peers who support their passions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for a great post, Madelaine. It is so important for gifted students to spend as much time as possible in the company of their true peers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Jo. Completely agree :) I used your e-book Dabrowski's dogs with two of my MindPlus classes last week and they appreciated the analogies. In fact, one boy was positively jumping for joy upon learning about psychomotor OE, particularly applicable for him!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Celebrating Success - From the Horses' Mouths

Celebrate Gifted Aotearoa NZ: Catalysts of Success is a great theme for Gifted Awareness Week 2018. It's positive, hopeful, reflective and fun! This theme combines some interesting ideas, and I asked myMindPlus classes (one-day-a-week specialist programme for gifted learners, part of the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education) what they thought about this theme for Gifted Awareness Week.  So here come some ideas from the horses' mouths... 
Firstly, celebrating. Gifted Awareness Week is indeed a week of celebration for those of us who are connected to gifted education, as learners, parents, teachers, or as interested parties. It gives us all of a specific time and reason to recognise and feel proud of our gifted learners. Having this specific time helps us to get past some of the reasons why gifted learners (and perhaps also their parents) can be reluctant to celebrate their success.  Here are some of the things my students said: 
⁃ “Sometimes my success isn't recognised as …

The Diverse Doctor

In the weeks and months leading up to Gifted Awareness Week this year, I've been immersing myself in a new fandom, that of Doctor Who. I've enjoyed (thanks to Netflix) the different regenerations of the Doctor, his various companions, his adventures and travels and troubles, and mostly I've enjoyed his musings about life and humanity. So merging my new interest (obsession?) with Gifted Awareness Week I thought it apt to look at lessons about diversity from Doctor Who and think about how these might apply to the very real context of gifted education in New Zealand.


Lessons in diversity from Doctor Who:




Image credit: Flickr user: Doctor Who Spoilers, licensed for use CC BY 2.0


- an awareness that life exists in many variations
The Doctor takes many forms. He understands, at the most fundamental level, that he himself is the very embodiment of diversity. From this understanding, he is then aware, from his travels in time and space, that life takes many forms. Some life forms…

A Message on a Post-It

Not long ago in my MindPlus class, we were talking about being gifted and what that means for us. Instead of talking, one student quietly wrote on a post-it ‘I don’t really feel like I fit in at school’ and stuck it on the wall. This innocuous little post-it kick-started a torrent of ‘me too’ comments and we talked at length about this meant. Whilst fitting in is not the same as a sense of belonging, the two can go hand-in-hand. Children talked about not feeling 'right', not fitting with others, being misunderstood, being different, not being able to be themselves, and not meeting others like them as factors that contributed towards their sense of not belonging. 
As a teacher, a parent, and a human, I felt devastated for these young people carrying the burden of not fitting in, not feeling part of things, not belonging.  I wondered what it was that made them feel so ill at ease?  I wondered what steps we could take to enhance belonging in our classrooms?
Some of my ponderings br…