The term “gifted unlimited” is intriguing! That two-word combination generates contemplation and inquiry. (Which I’ll wager is what Molly Isaacs-McLeod intended when she selected that particular word pairing for the name of her newly established gifted-related publishing enterprise.)
What comes to mind when you hear “gifted unlimited?”
Here’s what rattles around in my head: Is giftedness really unlimited?
And perhaps more importantly: How can parents and teachers nurture gifted/high-level development?
Parents, teachers, children, and teens can think about these questions—possibly in relation to their own lived experience, or the experience of others such as family members or close friends. In the meantime, here are some jumping off points…
Is giftedness really unlimited?
We can’t foretell who will accomplish great things, or become a world leader, or have innovative ideas that will change the face of our planet or solve society’s ills. And, although a good education and a supportive home are critically important, they alone do not enable us to determine a person’s potential.”
Human development is complex and variable. People cannot predict the depth, extent, or impact of their capacities. The upper limits of anyone’s leaning potential cannot be predetermined or precisely charted. Potential—like the future—is unknown. Moreover, life is full of myriad factors and influences, and any and all of these can affect outcomes, including a person’s experiences, well-being, and levels of success.
Abilities, including talents or “gifts,” have to be nurtured. The old maxim, “Use it or lose it!” has merit. Those who have acquired mastery in a domain (for example, music, architecture, athleticism, astrophysics, jurisprudence, health sciences, etc.), lose their edge if they do not continue to build upon their proficiencies. It’s important to exercise the body and the brain. Neural plasticity refers to the individual variability and dynamic flexibility of brain development—in other words, the brain is always changing—and thus under the right circumstances exceptional abilities can develop.
I’ve written elsewhere that giftedness can be defined as “exceptionally advanced subject-specific ability at a particular point in time, such that a student’s learning needs cannot be well met without significant adaptations to the curriculum or without other learning experiences.” (Being Smart about Gifted Education, p. 28). That said, there are many definitions, and also conflicting understandings, about what giftedness is and isn’t. (Note the reference below to material by Scott Barry Kaufman.)
Nevertheless, and regardless of whether a person has been formally identified as “gifted” or not, it makes good sense—at any age—to take steps forward in order to continue to advance, push limits, and go to the next level. And beyond…
How can parents and teachers nurture gifted/high-level development?
That’s a loaded question—and the answer is inextricably tied to the answer to this one: What can individuals do to support and become actively engaged in their own optimal development? Learning is a personally-charged, multifaceted, ongoing process, and there are boundless opportunities for it to occur from infancy ever-onward.
As children grow, they are actively involved in creating their own intelligence, responding to and engaging in autonomous, shared, and multi-sensory learning experiences, and thereby becoming stronger, wiser, and more self-reliant through to adulthood.”
So, what can people do to help to ensure that their abilities are maximized—starting from youth, and continuing throughout the life span? Here are 5 tips, applicable for gifted/high-ability learners, for the adults who support them, and for anyone who believes in striving toward limitless possibilities.
Readers will find information and hundreds of strategies relating to intelligence-building and well-being throughout the pages of ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids. However, the material is not only applicable to young people—lots of take-aways will benefit learners of any age. By way of example, here are 5 short excerpts from just one page! (p. 160)
Indeed, “gifted unlimited” is a great name for a publishing company dedicated to stoking the fire of readers who seek to learn, but it is also a mighty and aspirational benchmark for anyone who intends to live life to the fullest!
Additional Reading and Resources
For additional information about how to support gifted/high-level development, see ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids by Joanne Foster, and also the multiple award-winning book Being Smart about Gifted Education by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster. Readers can also find out more about optimal child development by checking out the authors’ book Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids.
For tips on maximizing children’s efforts and industriousness, see Joanne Foster’s most recent book Bust Your BUTS: Tips for Teens Who Procrastinate (recipient of the Independent Book Publishers’ Association’s 2018 Silver Benjamin Franklin Award), and its predecessor, Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination (both published by Great Potential Press). To learn more about these books, and to acquire accessibility to a wide range of articles and links (including the author’s column at The Creativity Post), go to www.joannefoster.ca. Information about professional development workshops and speaker sessions with Dr. Foster can also be found at this website.
Be sure to check out the assortment of material published by Gifted Unlimited, LLC for excellent resources on gifted and high-level development.
Two organizations that have plentiful resources and information on giftedness are the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG). There are links, articles, conferences, webinars, and more.
Scott Barry Kaufman writes about different types of giftedness in this article in Scientific American, and in much greater detail in his book “Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.”
In the new parenting book ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, Dr. Joanne Foster reveals how to encourage and support children’s abilities. She provides expertise, practical strategies, and LOTS of relevant resources.
Each letter of the alphabet has a thematic focus (such as Independence, Learning, Motivation, and Productivity). The ABC design differentiates this book from other parenting, gifted-related, and educational publications; the alliterative style makes the book unique; and the illustrations by Christine Thammavongsa are creative and thought-provoking. ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids is distinctive, engaging, and comprehensive. The early reviews are stellar.
For more information about ABCs, Dr. Foster’s work, and her award- winning books and other publications, please visit her website at www.joannefoster.ca.