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What is Success? The Power of Bringing Gifted Learners Together

Gifted Learners thrive on complexity. As teachers, we strive to meet the needs of our most highly able learners. What we fail to realize is how powerful the meeting of the minds can be. These learners need to be brought together. When trust is built within the group, adults can step aside and let the synergy spiral into conversations that the teacher could never plan for. The results create differing thought patterns for each individual.

On a snowy day in January, three schools merged their gifted learners together for an afternoon of critical thinking in a Philosophy Circle approach. The quotes below were taken from the learners during a Philosophical Discussion held with Middle Years Students (Grade 6-9) in Kelowna, BC:

  • The philosopher, Zeno, believed that every decision is an illusion.

  • Conversing about the Butterfly Effect has given me a different opinion.

  • What is meaningful to me is when people put themselves in a different perspective.

  • What stood out to me was a quote given by a student: If we change one thing now, it will have a ripple effect.

  • When one of the students drew a Voldemort parallel to our discussion, I thought differently about success.

  • It doesn’t matter what your goal is, it’s how you get there.

  • Choice in the past is what has affected our present.

  • The idea that everyone’s idea of success can have such a profound effect on their personality, how people think of them, and even how their life will unfold. This thought has never occurred to me before.

  • One of the students brought up a scenario based on train tracks. If there were two sets of tracks and five strangers were tied up to one set and one friend were tied up to the area. Who would you save? That got me thinking.

  • If everyone jumped and stomped in a wave-length fashion, would the shock wave put the end person into orbit?

During this particular afternoon of in-depth discussion of ‘WHAT IS SUCCESS?”, students had developed trust and transparency with each other. What was most remarkable was that social/emotional challenges and obstacles were clearly articulated and shared. Remember, this is a group that had only met and conversed with each other for two hours.

Creating grouped opportunities for gifted students has many benefits. The intellectual connections, and individual social emotional intensities are accepted and understood. In a world that can be challenging for a gifted individual, purposely placing these learners together is essential. Following the event, cell numbers were exchanged and hopes for the next event were asked for.

True success can happen when Gifted learners are brought together. Zeno of Citium and Epicurus would agree with that philosophy!

A great resource to start with, especially for Middle-Secondary school learners is: Philosophy for Teens: Questioning Life's Big Ideas, Paul Thomson and Sharon Kaye

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