For decades, most people did not know ‘who’ comprised the Columbus Group. Experts in the field of gifted education were known to question its very existence. This group represented the ‘kinder, gentler side of gifted parenting’. The definition of giftedness (Columbus Group, 1991, in Morelock, 1992) that was developed in the living room of one of its members decades ago is as follows,
“Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.”
A recent book, Off the Charts, details the history of the Columbus Group and contributing authors are a who’s who of the finest individuals in gifted education and advocacy in the past 40 years. This year, it was honored as a 2013 Legacy Book Award winner from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented*.
The term ‘asynchronous development’ as is relates to gifted children was coined by the Columbus Group. In fact, at the time it was initially discussed, a call to the local library was necessary to find the definition of ‘asynchronous’. How fortunate for thousands of gifted children and their parents that someone made that phone call!
Members of the Columbus Group believe in a child-centered approach to gifted children; one in which the whole child’s personal growth and development of ‘the self’ are most important. This is in contrast to those who promote achievement and recognition as the sole goal for which to strive. In a conversation with one of the members of the group, I was told that there was no disagreement with gifted children achieving goals; it just shouldn't be considered the prime focus of their education.
Recent emphasis on talent development did, however, prompt the release of Off the Charts. From Stephanie Tolan’s blog The Deep End:
“So it was that members of the Columbus Group, that has continued
to meet throughout these two decades, decided it was an important
time to put out a book to remind the field of the critical “other side”
(the inside) of giftedness, which is part of the gifted individual’s
experience whether in or out of school, whether achieving in the
eyes of the world at any given moment or not!”
Over the years, Columbus Group members have made incredible contributions to the gifted community from authoring numerous books and papers, presenting at conferences, and establishing schools for the gifted to providing psychological services for gifted children.
In February, 2014, parents as well as educators, program administrators, guidance counselors, psychologists and mentors will have the opportunity to attend a major conference from the authors of Off the Charts, “Asynchronous Development: Understanding the Implications for Gifted Children at School, in the Home and Across the Lifespan”.
Presenters at the conference will include: Shelagh Gallagher, Linda Silverman, Stephanie S. Tolan, Michael Piechowski, Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ellen D. Fiedler, Kathi Kearney, Michele Kane, Barbara Mitchell Hutton and Christine Neville.
Topics to be presented include: “Educating Asynchronous gifted Children in the Age of the Common Core”, “Dealing with Asynchronous Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom”, “The Social/Emotional Implications of Asynchrony for Highly Gifted Children”, “The Special Life of the Family with Asynchronous Children” and “Homeschooling Highly Gifted Asynchronous Children”.
This conference will be an extraordinary experience for parents of gifted children. Having had the opportunity to sit and talk with many of the presenters one-on-one, my life has been enriched beyond measure. It will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 21st and 22nd. Reduced registration will be available through January 15, 2014. You can register online here.
If you would like to read more about the Columbus Group, check out these resources:
Off the Charts Asynchrony and the Gifted Child edited by Christine S. Neville, Michael M. Piechowski and Stephanie S. Tolan
Ungifted by Scott Barry Kaufman, Chapter 5, “Gifted Souls”
“Giftedness: The View from Within” by Martha Morelock
* Disclaimer: I do contract work for TAGT, but have no involvement in the selection of Legacy Book Award winners.