It was only a couple of years ago that I (to my big surprise) discovered that gifted children may encounter problems due to their giftedness. Or rather: often due to the lack of both educational provisions and knowledge amongst teachers and others, e.g. within the pedagogical services who should be there to support the teachers.
Norwegian classrooms are by law mixed ability. A teacher may administer pupils in smaller groups, e.g. for special education, but only for a shorter period of time, and groups should not be fixed.
Are Norwegian gifted children entitled to special ed. lessons, then? This is not a straight forward issue, since the law is quite clear (saying «yes») but other regulations have been added (saying «no»). I know of some schools where they are given such lessons, but in most cases the answer is no.
However, all Norwegian children are – by law – entitled to what is known as «adapted education». The section 1-3 of our Education Act states:
«Education shall be adapted to the abilities and aptitudes of the individual pupil, apprentice and training candidate.»
Well, all is good, then?
I guess it could be.. There’s a «BUT» in here, though..
In order for our teachers to be able to fulfil these requirements for gifted children, our educators need to know what giftedness is, how they can recognize giftedness in the classroom and how our curriculum can be adapted to gifted children. As of today, there is little or no training available for existing teachers as well as for teachers in training. There is also little research investigating these issues in Norway.
So, what do we do? – We work!
Five years ago, a few families of gifted children met and founded a group. A group where one can discuss the subject of giftedness without being looked strangely upon. A group where parents sigh in relief – «Oh, it’s not just MY kid who does that». A group where gifted kids also meet intellectual peers and build friendships. – The group is called «Lykkelige barn» which translates into «Happy children», because the group has a vision saying that it works towards the aim that ALL children should be able to lead a happy life and develop according to their abilities and interests. – Since then, the group has been growing steadily, both in terms of member families (now around 250 families), as well as in terms of where and how it advocates for gifted children.
The blog you are now reading, Krumelurebloggen, is my way to try to increase awareness about gifted children in Norway. I blog, read, chat, tweet, as well as following other international blogs to see what happens in other parts of the world. When it comes to the issue of giftedness, there is so much to learn, so many great people to follow and so much to follow up on, but I get energized by the fact that we move forward!
During the next couple of months, we are going to plan activities for The Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013. This is a great opportunity to continue our advocacy for gifted children. We are reminded – so often – that they really need it!
In September, I will attend the ECHA-conference in Münster. This will be a great opportunity to learn more, and also to meet many of my «gifted contacts» who at the moment «live in my computer».
I am really, really looking forward to it!