Reading books on the topic of giftedness is difficult for me, something I’ve shamefully admitted to before. Once I’ve gotten through the day, homeschooling a twice-exceptional son with all the fun that often entails, the last thing I want to do in my last few moments of semi-consciousness is read about what I just survived that day. This has, very sadly, been true for going on eight years now. I have several shelves of books on this topic, and I think I’ve read maybe four of them, including my own.
That number is now a whopping five. The rest live on in the queue, mocking me.
I ordered Dr. Linda Silverman’s new book, Giftedness 101, the moment it was available for pre-order. This is not hyperbole by any stretch; I saw the announcement on Facebook and whipped that debit card right out of my wallet. Take my money, please. Then I had to wait for several weeks. Thankfully, I had the craziness of the holidays as a distraction. When I did get it, there was much oohing and ahhing and incoherent (yet delighted) shock when I discovered my book was cited several times.
I’m embarrassed that it took me as long as it did to read this. No one reason, really, just a whole bunch of little ones. Homeschooling, job hunting (a soul-sucking endeavor if anything), the psychological misery that is February in Chicago, obligations atop obligations. But read I did, and when I finished, the poor paperback looked like…well…
It might have been easier to just mark the pages where I didn’t underline text. I ran out of little sticky notes and had to resort to dog-earing pages. Yes, I loved it that much.
Some thoughts on the book. The focus here is on giftedness as a holistic psychological issue, not giftedness as talent development. It is written for psychologists and psychology students. I can see it easily being a text in a psychology course, and hopefully it will be used as such. School psychologists and gifted coordinators need to read this and keep it on their shelves
before frustrated parents smack them with it. The book gave me an in-depth history of gifted psychology and gifted education, and now I understand the struggles a lot more. In a way it’s discouraging, as the same arguments and counter-arguments have been going on for over a century. This is the most thorough history, explanation, and call to action for gifted advocates you will find.
The parts I found most helpful (for me) were towards the end. The chapter, Comprehensive Assessment of Giftedness, really got into the nitty-gritty of IQ and achievement tests. Though we got a very detailed report from the Gifted Development Center when A was tested there, I understood his results a lot better after reading parts of this chapter with his report in front of me. Doesn’t make homeschooling The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ any easier, but at least I’m comforted knowing that he’s in the best place for him right now. The chapter, Optimal Development of the Gifted, is for and about parents of the gifted. This is the chapter I plan to return to frequently as I work on my next book, on the needs of parents. This is also the chapter where I dog-eared every single page. I especially appreciated the section on siblings. My heart breaks every time J asks if he’s gifted. I honestly don’t know if he is, we can’t afford to have him assessed, and don’t exactly have a compelling reason to do so. Reading that siblings tend to be within 5-13 points of each other (p 208) and that the secondborns “usually demonstrate opposite personalities, tendencies, and interests” (p 209) eases my mind. A and J couldn’t be any more different in personality, tendency, and interests, that’s for sure.
This is not a quick and easy read, but it is a valuable and important one. It is the in-depth background that parents and advocates really do need to have, so they can advocate for their children with confident knowledge of the issues and facts. It is the introduction to giftedness as a psychological issue for the psychology student and a reminder for the professional psychologist. It is a thought-provoking read, one that educational psychologists, social workers, and gifted coordinators really need.
I really enjoyed the book, though it took me just short of forever to read it (dear children, quit trying to talk to me while I’m reading). This is one of very few that I know I will return to over and over as we raise our boys. It’s too bad there isn’t an official field of gifted psychology, for I’d consider returning to school for that. Instead I’ll design my own degree in the area of giftedness, starting with this book.
The book’s publisher, Springer Publishing Company, has offered to send a free copy of Giftedness 101 to one of my blog readers. If you’re interested, please leave a comment detailing what you think you’d learn from the book, and I’ll pull a random name on Saturday, March 9th. Thanks!