Gifted education has been around for over a century. Researchers have studied what it means to be gifted, and what are the best methods for educating the gifted. It has been an uphill journey for many reasons. A great number of people believe that there is no need to provide gifted education, that it is elitist and unfair, and that gifted kids will do fine anyway, so why waste energy and resources on special programs for them?

It is not my purpose today to engage in this debate. But I keep coming back to a comment that was made to me recently in connection with a project I’m doing at work. My district is in the midst of a comprehensive review and analysis of our gifted program. As part of that review, we have created a new vision and mission statement for the gifted program. (For the curious among you, it is posted here)

I shared the draft of that document with my administration, then unveiled it publicly for the first time at a school board meeting. In among the many positive and encouraging responses, a few people commented that, while the statements were nice, aren’t these things we should be doing with every student?

This echoes similar sentiments I’ve heard for as long as I’ve been teaching. Of course the answer is yes; though the emphasis for the general education curriculum and program will be on different kinds of things, the “stuff” that for so long was the core of gifted education has become part of the mainstream 21st century emphasis.

It got me thinking about what gifted education should look like in today’s schools. Is it still necessary in an age when high level thinking and problem solving, collaboration, technology, differentiation, and inclusion are growing in their importance and reach in our schools? I believe it is, but my thoughts are continuing to evolve about what it should do and how.

So what should gifted education be in the 21st century? I don’t know. Yet. But I’ve invited a collection of people who have had a tremendous influence on my learning and thinking to help me answer that question. Over the next several weeks, eleven people who I consider colleagues and friends will be guests on this blog, wrestling with that very question. I am looking forward to reading what they have to say. I hope you are too.

Posts in this series:

Empowering the Future, by Mary Beth Hertz
What Does It Mean to Be Gifted Now? by Tony Baldasero
The Future of Gifted Education, by Jerry Blumengarten
I Don’t Know, by Jeff Agamenoni
Gifted but Lacking?, by Kevin Washburn
What If Every Child Was Gifted?, by Brandi Jordan
Gifted Education in the 21st Century, by Damian Bariexca