NAGC Position Statements & White Papers
Position Statements and White Papers help clarify issues in gifted and talented education and set NAGC's position on these issues.
I can still remember my first day of teaching at the middle school level. The students seemed very excited about the class. After the bell rang all but one student, who was dealing with a personal problem, walked out of class. My conversation and subsequent meeting with this student set me on a journey to discover all that I could about the social and emotional characteristics of students. It led to a Master of Arts in counseling and a doctoral degree in psychology with a concentration in counseling guidance. Soon after that, I developed the Autonomous Learner Model, a learning model that focuses on the “whole gifted child.”
As I complete my 50th year as an educator, and reflect on the concepts and ideas that seek to strengthen the social and emotional development of our children, I believe there are six essential qualities that gifted educators can instill in their students to benefit “whole gifted child.”
Clearly, research on and interest in the affective needs of students has increased in recent years, and while there are many organizations and educators who see the “whole” child, no one has attended to gifted children specifically. As president of NAGC, I've worked hard to address this. I have developed “Whole Gifted Child Task Force” under the leader- ship of Dr. Angela Housand and 17 other practitioners, university professors, and researchers.
Our goal is to discover, synthesize, and disseminate the knowledge and research on the whole gifted child. We evaluate his or her needs, development, and the importance of providing alternatives for his or her ongoing growth in the school, home, and community. To that end the following questions will be addressed by the task force: Who is the gifted child? What are the comprehensive needs (Cognitive, Social, Emotional, and Physical) of the gifted child? What must parents, educators, and communities do to support the gifted child? What are the outcomes for the gifted child who receives this set of comprehensive supports?
The fields of counseling and psychology have taught the basics that are fundamental for the growth of the whole child. In gifted education we are experts on gifted students’ cognitive needs. We have conducted research and developed applications using that research that are extremely valuable. However, a more concrete understanding of what practices are needed is at the forefront of our task force. The task force shared initial work at the NAGC 63rd Annual Convention in Florida, and it will release more results in the months to follow.
George Betts is the president of the NAGC Board of Directors.
Editor’s Note: This article appeared in Teaching for High Potential (November 2016).