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Report from NAGC - Day 1


My first full day of the NAGC convention has concluded and I already have enough ideas to take home to keep me hopping for a while! (Yet there are still three days to go!) I'm hoping to squeeze in enough time to share some of what I'm learning with you during the week while I'm here.

The view from my hotel window is gorgeous :o)


And the city of St. Louis has done a great job of welcoming us here. The restaurant I ate at tonight was a fair number of blocks from the Convention Center and even there (all over, really!) we found one of the little "Welcome NAGC" signs:

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And about every other street light has a little welcome sign on it too:

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Today (Thursday) were the Board Institutes, which are in-depth sessions presented by NAGC Board members. This morning, I attended the session by Julia Link Roberts on product assessment and this afternoon I attended the session about NAGC's new Mile Marker Series (which I plan to write about in more depth in a future post).

This morning's session began with an important and thought-provoking question: "If during the first five or six years of school, a child earns good grades and high praise without having to make much effort, what are all the things he doesn't learn that most children learn during those years?"

(Take a moment to ponder that for a bit...)

In our ensuing conversation, we shared multiple possibilities, such as:
* the child might not be learning persistence
* the child might not be developing a work ethic
* the child might not be encountering struggles that foster resilience
* the child might not be learning healthy strategies for dealing with frustration (which I've talked about here a bit before)
* the child might not be learning how to maintain a sense of curiosity
* the child might not be developing an accurate sense of his/her true abilities/potential
* the child might not experience a sense of satisfaction when actually achieving
* the child might lose pride in his/her work
* the child might not be developing time management skills or study skills
* the child might not be learning how to break an academic sweat (and therefore doesn't grow or improve in the ways we do when we "break a sweat")
* (click here and scroll to page 17 for a great article by Tracy Inman on this topic)

Now, granted, kids can learn these life skills via multiple avenues -- it doesn't just have to be in school that they learn them. However, school is certainly a BIG part of kids' lives and can have a significant impact on their opportunities to learn (or not learn) these important life skills. We hurt kids in the short term and in the long term if we cheat them out of opportunities to learn these life skills. Providing appropriate academic challenge for each learner is one ideal way to help kids develop and nurture these skills.

What is your answer to the question? What do you think our gifted kids don't learn if/when we allow them to skate through school?


Thanks so much for your posts - means a lot, especially for those of us who are wishing we were there and we're not!

I'm very interested to hear your take on Josh Waitzkin's keynote last nite. You'll be sharing?

This is a great list! Carol Dweck's philosophy in her book Mindset is similar.

I am sending this link to a friend with whom I only had this discussion with yesterday. As a former gifted underachiever in school and now the mother of 3 - 2 in primary (elementary) school who are cruising as I did, it is a real concern. I did learn many of those skills once I left school and joined the work force. But fear of failure from never really failing prevented me from attending University - until now and I'm 38!! Thank you for this information.

Yes, Yes, Yes. Although I conferenced with teachers, sat on school planning boards and met with principals all through my sons' elementary, junior high and high school years trying to relay this exact information, I might as well have not said it at all. The grades of my very creative now-nineteen-year-old took a dive starting his junior year. Fortunately we got him in a special high school to college program his senior year - probably saved his academic life. Now we're trying to triage the failing grades of my sixteen-year-old. Allowing smart, creative kids to waste their brains and get good grades for nothing should be considered a crime of the highest order.

They don't learn the study skills that will help them through college. Then when the workload becomes overwhelming in the midst of profound life changes (including a lot of emotional troubles that gifted kids may have in making friends or being a discouraged perfectionist). In short, we lose a generation of our brightest minds.

This post struck a cord with me. I was a gifted kid and my school had very few programs for me. It was easy to do well without doing much.

I developed a general lack of discipline that I didn't even notice (or label) until graduate school where I was in a much more competitive environment. One of the lessons that I learned as an adult is that giftedness only takes one so far and it is not a substitute for hard work and discipline.

Or perhaps it would be better to say everyone needs discipline and strong work habits to reach their full potential and gifted kids need the same? Regardless, it is a real disservice to the kids not to challenge them.

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