Things TED Taught Me … About Gifted Advocacy!

I’m a recent convert to TED talks. And a recent talk ‘caught my eye’. Chris Anderson, one of the suits at TED, presented a talk about global innovation and it exponential growth as the result of video becoming more widely viewed due to the expansion of bandwidth accessibility around the world.

I watched it once. Then I printed out (I know, old school) the transcript. Then I watched it again; and again; and again. My mind seemed to be racing! I felt like that old episode of Outer Limits where the scientists’ heads begin to look like cone-heads and they grow a sixth finger. The premise of ever-accelerating human innovation was certainly appealing, but that wasn’t what I was thinking about …

I was thinking about all the ramifications this talk had for gifted education and our gifted children. Certainly the world stands to benefit from this technology, but for the gifted … it’s like empowerment³!

Crowd-accelerated innovation” depends on a crowd, a light shown on that crowd to illuminate the most capable people in the crowd, and desire. In the past, it took years for innovators to be recognized and then to have their creations supported and distributed. Enter the Internet. Someone, perhaps your gifted child, has an idea and decides to make a video for You Tube. People view it … rate it, comment on it, link to it, tweet it, share it on Facebook. You get the idea. Chris Anderson called it ‘global recognition’. Suddenly, a crowd forms … on online community … and collaboration begins. As the crowd grows, the idea is shared, revised, and innovation occurs. The world is a better place.

The same could be said for gifted advocacy. One parent (@DeborahMersino) had an idea. She had seen the growth of a community of educators on Twitter. She decided to try moderating her own chat on Twitter for gifted education. Within weeks and then months, that one idea had grown into a global community! Parents, educators, advocates, consultants, and school psychologists were collaborating online around the world and around the clock on how to best advocate for our gifted children. And a funny thing happened on the way to the chat … they were discovering that what had once been thought of as isolated incidents surrounding various groups of gifted children were really a global phenomenon. Familiarity was breeding friendships and new approaches! Groups began to form on Facebook; encompassing the Global #gtchat group. And this was just the beginning, folks.

What about educating gifted kids? Story after story was related through various social media outlets by frustrated parents who seemed to be always headed to the next battle with school districts pleading for help for their gifted child. More often than not, the response was always the same … not enough resources, no interest in professional development for teachers, myth-filled excuses as to why gifted children could make it on their own. Yada, yada, yada.

Ah… but the newly developed video resources that were found on the Internet became game changers in the world of education. Forget lousy online classes that were simply a redo of correspondence courses from years past. Now, gifted students can sit in a classroom with a gifted facilitator or at home on their own computer and be taught by a world class educator face to face in real time. Location is no longer a concern. Ability grouping is automatic. Age is no longer a factor as students progress at their own pace. The cost of a college education can become affordable again (although someone will find a way to limit this, no doubt). Crowds begin to form. Light shines on the crowd. The desire to learn and innovate grows. The role of student and teacher blend into the beginning of a new type of learning from each other. History is changed forever.

This may sound like a pipe dream to some or the beginning of just another utopian novel, but the fact of the matter is that this is already happening and gifted children are standing on the precipice of a new day in their own education.

I will include a link to the TED talk for your viewing pleasure. I hope that it excites you as much as it did me. Perhaps you will gain insights that I have missed. I look forward to your comments!

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  1. Thanks for the message of hope, Lisa! We need to hear the good things happening for the gifted--Lord knows we need it, and we're waaaayyyyy overdue!

  2. Wow! Thank you Lisa! I've been blown away by the collaboration taking place and do believe we're just at the beginning...It's the passion that unites us. Our collective commitment to life-long learning and advocating from a positive framework will no doubt further ignite action. I consider myself blessed for being connected to you and for sharing a passion for high-ability students. You are a force to be reckoned with and you have once again, made my day! Sincerest gratitude, Deborah

  3. Excellent post! I always enjoy watching TED talks. I definitely need to link both my personal and professional blogs to their site. This area could use a "shot" of out of the box thinking. The other day, I suggested that an informational meeting for parents be made into an audio file and placed on the district's website....didn't get an interest or anything. Betcha in about two years that will be all the rage here! Let's keep the momentum going!


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