Saturday, April 23, 2016

An analogy

Last week I facilitated a parent group session for parents of gifted children. It was a really nice experience, both for me and for them, and as a thanks the organization that sponsored the event gave each of the facilitators a  $50 gift card.

I would have done it for free, but I'm a poor educator, and if someone wants to give me fifty bucks I'm not going to turn that down.

I spent my gift card on Amazon today, and one of the things I bought was a backpack. I had been meaning to pick one up because I wanted something that would hold my wallet and phone, but also some sunscreen, water, granola bars, and maybe the kids' sketchbooks. It won't be big enough for a day-trip to Chicago - something I'd like to do more of - but it will be perfect for running around the city this summer.

Here's a segue that's related in my mind, and you'll see the relationship in a minute. I read an article recently about a researcher's theory that no child is born gifted, they're only born with the potential to be gifted, and if the environment is favorable to allow the child to maximize their cognitive potential, the child will become intelligent. There was an outcry in the comments section that the article was promoting "hot-housing" - a term that describes how come people keep plants in artificially summer-like buildings to force them to bloom when they usually wouldn't, or how parents keep kids under intense pressure to reach the same goal. Sometimes my friends tease me about how much time I spend in museums with my kids, and I wonder if they think I'm hot-housing too.

I've decided to approach the kids' desire to learn the way other families approach sports. As long as the kids demonstrate interest we'll keep going as intensely as the kids desire. People think it's cute, or even admirable for a child to spend weekends at games, a couple of weeknights at practice, and to spend the time in between watching games on TV or learning about their favorite players. If you nurture an athletic gift that way, why wouldn't you nurture a cognitive gift that way? We aren't even putting that much of a financial investment into it - we spend about $300 a year on passes to the museum, the children's technology museum, and the zoo. We mostly spend time - and we do it together. Summer and weekend outings to these places are family time.

Actually...screw it. I'm not going to rationalize it. I'm going to follow my judgment about what my kids need and we're going to spend the summer feeding their minds as much as they want.

And I'm going to do it wearing an awesome backpack.