Today, Barry Gelston shares his vision of giftedness through the Gifted Interview. Thank you, Barry! He is the board president of GHF, whose mission is to empower every gifted family to make strategic, proactive, and intentional educational choices. Barry Gelston currently is a doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education. Professionally, he is a private math teacher who works with Gifted & 2e (Twice-exceptional) homeschool students who struggle with learning math in traditional settings. He currently lives in Massachusetts, USA.
.IF I COULD CHOOSE, WOULD I STILL BE GIFTED?
.WHAT (MY OWN) GIFTEDNESS MEANS TO ME
Enjoying my particular skills that are unique to me.
.IF I HAD TO CHOOSE AN IMAGE OR A KEYWORD THAT SUMS UP WHAT GIFTEDNESS MEANS
.HOW LONG HAVE I KNOWN ABOUT IT?
12 years old.
.WHAT PHASES HAVE I GONE THROUGH SINCE MY DISCOVERY?
There was an internalized understanding that didn’t mean that much to me. It didn’t really connect with me until I started working in gifted education. When I started learning more about my students and their families, I started to learn about myself.
.HOW DO I EXPLAIN IT TO SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER HEARD OF IT?
It depends. The conversation comes up about my work, studies, and volunteering. Within that context, I get to discuss the broader context of cognitive diversity and neurodiversity.
.HOW IT CHANGED MY LIFE (TO KNOW IT)
At first, there was a combination of imposter syndrome and connection. Going to my first conference for the gifted, I felt that I finally found people that I could flow with. We enjoyed each other’s smarts. I made a new set of friends. I started to realize that I was allowed to be my smart identity. I was able to let go of fitting in where I didn’t belong.
.WHAT I HAVE ALLOWED MYSELF TO DO EVER SINCE
Allow myself to be smart.
.WHAT IRRITATES ME WITH GIFTEDNESS
The assumption that gifted people are super people. The broader population looks to gifted people to fix their world by building new business or weapon systems. Then there is another part of the culture that is anti-intellectual.
.WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE ABOUT GIFTEDNESS
There are multiple types of intelligences and each has its own giftedness.
.WHAT I PERSONALLY LOVE
I enjoy my thoughts. They are mine. How I create is up to me.
.MY WELLBEING TOOL OR PRACTICE THAT HELPS ME MOST
Continual mindfulness and metacognition. It is important to stay in touch with ourselves, be aware of what we are doing and our responses, and understand how we think.
.WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO GIFTED PEOPLE
Enjoy life. Keep yourself healthy.
.WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS WONDERING
I’m not sure. I would ask why and try to support them.
.THE MISTAKE NOT TO MAKE FOR A GIFTED PERSON
To think that they are stupid because you don’t get them.
.MY PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED
As an educator, my professional advice is allowing yourself to make mistakes and to embrace the activity of creating. Create a personal identity of giftedness that is kind and generous to yourself and to embrace the creative process of painting and painting over what you didn’t like.
.MY PERSONAL ADVICE FOR GIFTED
Same as my professional advice.
.A BOOK TO READ ON THE SUBJECT
“Perspectives on Giftedness: Sound Advice from Parents and Professionals” by GHF Writers.
.MY OPINION ABOUT THE IQ WAIS TEST
If you need it use.
.IS IT A WASTE NOT TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE GIFTED?
I don’t know. I think that it depends if you are already actualizing your life.
.WHEN I MEET ANOTHER GIFTED PERSON, DO I RECOGNIZE HIM.HER? BY WHAT?
Depth of discussion, understand, and sometimes humor.
.WHAT DO GIFTED PEOPLE HAVE IN COMMON?
.THE QUESTION THAT I WAS MISSING BUT THAT I WOULD LIKE TO ANSWER?
I would like to discuss what it means to teach young gifted homeschoolers:
The biggest challenge that I find working with gifted children is that many don’t give themselves room to make a mistake. It seems to me that so much of the feedback from their world is that they are wonderful because they have immediate information. In everyone’s life, there comes a time where learning a topic does not come easily. It is at this point where many gifted children find themselves in conflict with their gifted identity of being the really smart kids who can figure things out immediately. Being in the position of not having the information immediately creates some type of cognitive dissonance and avoidance behaviors.
The important work is in sharing what it is like to work through a struggle and create a new gifted identity as someone who can patiently work through developing a new skill. I find that it takes a relaxed environment where I model making actual mistakes where I have my whoops moment, smile, maybe make a joke about it, backtrack and follow my process, and then try something new. If the teacher makes mistakes, then they can too. The cool thing is that as the learners develop these skills, then they can go from unrealized potential to building quality problem-solving skills that will be lifelong friends.