Gifted Awareness Week- 2016

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Gifted Awareness Week Australia 2016 Media Release

Gifted Awareness Week 2016- 13th to the 19th of March

National Report

As Gifted Awareness Week Australia moved into its second year, momentum grew and incorporated many schools, businesses, organisations and individuals who sought involvement on a number of levels during the week. Focussing on advocacy, inclusion and knowledge-building, Gifted Awareness Week Australia brought the community together to celebrate giftedness and build awareness. A major source of encouragement was the shared stories of individuals who wrote articles, organised events and provided support to gifted children, their parents and their educators.

The newly-formed AAEGT Gifted Awareness Week Sub-Committee was instrumental in the success of this years’ event and are to be congratulated for their hard work and dedication. The AAEGT National Poetry Competition was well supported (see additional report) and the team generated networking and awareness at ground level throughout their states.

The team reports as follows:

Tasmania- Allison Cornish. Gifted Awareness Week was celebrated in Tasmania with great enthusiasm this year.  Two gifted get-together days were held in the state. In Launceston, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery worked together with the Tasmanian Association for the Gifted to host a range of 13 workshops. Topics included Archeology, Art, Sculpture, Dance, Drama, Video Production, Lego Robotics, Electronics and engineering, Scientific classification, Mathematics, and Astronomy. Almost 200 students from more than ten schools took part in the day. In Hobart, Mount Carmel College hosted a gifted – get together day for local Catholic schools. Throughout gifted awareness week a series of emails was distributed to teachers in all Catholic schools around the state. These covered topics such as identification of gifted students and ideas for catering for them in the classroom.

Australian Capital Territory- Elizabeth Singer Gifted Awareness Week in the ACT was celebrated for the first time this year. Our celebrations started with our playgroup on Tuesday morning. This was followed by the announcement of our poetry competition winners. The judges were impressed with the high quality of the poems, and were surprised by the teen angst that came across in the gifted teenagers section. On Thursday evening we celebrated with a seminar presented by Dr Catherine Wormald which discussed the topic of “Developing Skills in teachers of gifted children now and into the future”; followed by our professional appreciation awards. It was a great time of learning and starting new relationships.

Northern Territory- Lisa Doyle In the Northern Territory we opened GAW on Sunday 13th March with an event for young girls ages 6-13.  This event was called “Empowering young girls to become great leaders” and had activities that fostered team work, self-belief and leadership.  During the week we had a competition running and this was an open ended task that was based on critical and creative thinking where the kids had to design an artefact of the future.  On Saturday the 19th March we had an open day at the museum where we set up a science “Lab” and the participants could take part in science experiments, we also booked the Lego exhibition which is on display at the museum at the moment.  We finished off the day with corrugated Iron Youth Arts running a session for the kids followed by a presentation to announce the winner of the week’s competition.  We had media coverage for the week and had a page in the local paper.

New South Wales- Bec McKeon NSW ran a number of successful events during GAW2016.  The week began with a family excursion/picnic on the Sunday, with almost 50 children “escaping the museum” through problem solving, as well as engaging in a range of science based activities and experiments.  We ran a well-attended seminar and awards evening on the Monday night – it was exciting to facilitate networking between some eager yet inexperienced teachers and the experienced professionals in attendance.  The Tuesday saw us host a 2e Movie screening and discussion panel in Wollongong – the perfect opportunity to launch our second pilot sub-branch!  This was met with great enthusiasm, and even tears from one mum who had been feeling so alone and only saw the event advertised at the last minute and dashed to attend!  On the Wednesday our Little Gems playgroup ran with a number of new families in attendance.  Thursday was a brief day of rest before Friday when our Hawkesbury-Nepean Sub-branch hosted a coffee and chat morning. In the evening, we ran our GEM games night – where the challenge activity was run by one of our 10 year old members and was very well received.  To conclude the week, our men enjoyed a night at the movies and dinner. Throughout the week our president maintained a social media presence, and we encouraged our members to share information about giftedness with their social circles.  The media release was widely shared.  Overall an exhausting but very exciting week!

South Australia- Michael Southcott South Australia held 3 events during gifted awareness week. There was a gifted seminar for teachers and a professional development session on changing definitions of giftedness and strategies. GTCASA also held a gifted gathering in the botanic gardens. Mr Nick Coumbe quizzed the children on plants, followed by a special mission with random teams. The children were grouped randomly then worked through the strange plants discovery  trail while watching out for the patrolling ‘guards’. The children had a lot of fun and quickly formed strong mutual bonds with their team mates in this fun team activity.

Victoria- Susan Nikakis and Tamara Goodfellow The Murray and Goulburn Valley ABC radio gave airtime for the Gifted Awareness Week press release and a 5 minute interview with Tamara Goodfellow on gifted children.  This radio station covers from Aubrey NSW down through the entire region in north eastern Victoria.  Gaye Pattison was very supportive for gifted education and it was very encouraging to get the word out there. Catholic Education Melbourne and the Victorian Association for gifted and talented children VAGTC promoted the national Poetry competition to Celebrate Gifted Awareness week.  We made the focus of our Gifted Think Tank GAW which led to some fabulous new ideas about supporting teachers and advocating for our gifted students. We were thrilled that a year 11 boy from an all-boys Catholic secondary school won the 13 to 17 year age group with his soul searching self-reflection. I would like to personally thank Melinda Gindy for her support.

Queensland- Gail Young The QAGTC hosted their state conference, which was centred around the topic ‘In Focus: What really works for Gifted Children. Along with a variety of presentations, conference attendees enjoyed a full day workshop with Dr John Munro which incorporated a practical examination of assessment, as well as a keynote and workshop with Dr Cathie Harrison who focussed on young gifted children and their first year of school.

As this nation gears for a positive paradigm shift in gifted education, it was encouraging to view the statistics on the media release through the Gifted Awareness Week social media platform. With just over 20,000 views and 155 shares, the media release resonated with many individuals across the country.

Media Release Gifted children think differently; they process differently, their brains are wired differently. This does not make them more special than anyone else; giftedness is not elitist. It is not gender-specific, nor bound to one cultural group or socio-economic status. Giftedness is not free from a learning disability. It does not guarantee happiness nor success; it is not a golden lottery ticket. Gifted children are rarely prodigies or geniuses. All children are gifts, all children have gifts, but not all children are gifted. Children who are gifted need to have their needs met at school on a full-time basis – not just at chess club every second Wednesday or at weekend or holiday ‘gifted’ workshops. Gifted students are gifted all day, every day. Since gifted students are a heterogeneous group, each requires specifically targeted adjustments to their educational program. 

Children who are gifted face being misunderstood, loneliness, and disengagement when their learning needs are not met. In his keynote address at the 2015 National Gifted Conference, Geoff Masters, Chief Executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), presented extensive data looking at Australia’s growing bank of Naplan results. In each year of school in Australia, the most advanced 10 per cent of students are five to six years ahead of the least advanced 10 per cent of students. As a society, our vision should be to guide and educate all children by meeting each one at their own level. Masters determines that ‘The learning needs of the highest-performing students in our schools are often not well addressed due to the failure to recognise true variability in students’ levels of capability and achievement’. Our nation should endeavour to nurture giftedness in all domains, ensuring we celebrate intellectual giftedness in the same manner that we celebrate physical giftedness in the sporting field and the like. 

Of the 37 universities in Australia who offer education at a tertiary level, only 3 presently have a compulsory, stand-alone gifted education unit within their undergraduate programs. To support our educators and provide necessary professional development in gifted education, we need to collaborate as a nation, explicitly incorporating gifted in our curriculum, teaching standards, under-graduate studies and on-going post-graduate professional development.  

Gifted Awareness Week Australia was founded by the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented (AAEGT) to raise awareness of the identification, support and learning needs of gifted children and to celebrate the dedication of individuals and educational bodies who are making a difference in the lives of gifted children and their families.

Gifted Awareness Week 2017 will be held from the 12th to 18th of March.

Melinda Gindy

National Facilitator

Gifted Awareness Week Australia