Restoration and Prophecy

HydrangeasProphet Kris Valloton prophesied the restoration of marriages over those who had a broken heart. He followed with a message about what happens when God has given you a prophetic word and the brook dries up!

1 Kings 17: 1 – 7

You may be doing exactly what God has called you to do, but for some reason time has passed and what you expected to happen just doesn’t and you feel like God has left you hanging with regards to His prophecy. Kris explained that some prophecies have an expiration date. It can be our own fault they ran out. You may have been disobedient to God’s intention! You might say you’ll keep standing on your prophetic claim until hell freezes over. Well, Hell has frozen over, so you might as well do something about it.

In Exodus 32 Moses hears from God that He is so angry with his people that He is ready to destroy them. Moses reminds God of the promise He had made to Israel and God relents. He tells us that sometimes we receive words from God like an obedient slave rather than a close friend. Often times He is testing our heart rather than determining our destiny. A friend of God is someone who interacts with Him, not just one who obeys. Moses tells God that unless He goes with them into the promised land, they did not want to go. They felt compelled to be in relationship with Him which also showed their influence with Him. What is the purpose of all this, God?

In 1 Kings 17: 8, God tells Elijah to go down to Zarephath in Sidon, to a widow who was to provide for him. When Elijah arrives, the widow is about to eat her last meal with her son and prepare to die, because they have so little. Elijah says to her in faith, just bake me a loaf of bread first. He told her God promises that her jar will not run out, and it doesn’t. Kris reminds us that when all around looks hopeless, and yet you have had multiple confirmations for what you are doing, stop feeling sorry for yourself and start prophesying into your own situation.

Kris also warns however, that there is a spirit of entitlement brooding over the body of Christ. We are sons and daughters of the king – the Bible tells us so! He makes it clear that we don’t become a king until we have been a good slave. He put it this way – some people are so busy working all their way down from the top! Sometimes our head gets too big to wear the crown designed for us.

In 2 Kings 4: 1 – 7, when there was a famine in the land, Elisha helped a poor widow. She thought all she had was a small jar of oil, but Elisha used this and her faith to multiply what she had and she was able to earn enough to repay her husband’s creditors.* So many times we compare what we have or don’t have to meet our needs with the size of the need. This shouldn’t be the case in God’s kingdom. With Him, all things are possible. Jesus fed 5000 with just a small lunchbox.

In 2 Corinthians 12: 9 we are reminded that God’s grace is all we need, and that our weakness can combine with God’s strength to accomplish all. We are not just our strengths – we are also our weaknesses. But, God has divinely designed us to be flawed in areas so we have to depend on Him or others around us to function properly. If we have weaknesses, when we divinely accomplish something, we certainly know God has had to be there for it to happen. We are to give to others, and our standard of measure will return to us in the same standard. Give abundantly and reap abundantly. The measure itself is not of amount, but of sacrifice. God expects equal sacrifice, not equal giving.

Hebrews 11 reminds us that it is faith that pleases God. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. If we stop hoping, our heart can get sick. In verse 13, the heroes of faith all died before their promises had been received. Hope feels; Faith sees; Lover never fails. There is no such thing as blind faith! To do the impossible you have to see the invisible.


Who decides what giftedness is?

WCGTC logoNew Zealand may have lost a World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children, but Kentucky and technology has kept those of us unable to attend this one very well connected. It was just like being there ‘in person’ (ahem, she coughs), as I listened with passion to Roland Perrson’s Keynote address –

“Who decides what giftedness is? On the dilemma of researching and educating the gifted mind.”

So much better to hear his words, than to have to wait for the printed versions later.

To me, the biggest take-home (even though I am already at home!) had to be –

  1. We in leadership need to adapt more to the traits of our gifted scholars, those of risk-taking, setting things straight, not being afraid to challenge the status quo, question established traditions (some ideas from Winner, 1996) and challenge current knowledge monopolies, if we are to make a difference.

Are we ready to become more like those we advocate for? Or are we there already, and people find it hard to work with and accept our passionate personality type?

This last question also relates to the second ‘take-home’ from his address.

  1. To be in a place of influence, people must first adopt, conform and prove loyal to the dominant knowledge monopolies and their influential leaders; their allegiance must be proven before they are rewarded. Many of our gifted would find the sort of compromise needed an almost insurmountable challenge, given their traits identified in number 1 above!

This gets to the very heart of the acceptance of giftedness and following on from this, the funding of education provisions that will promote it. I agree with Roland, that their potential contribution to the global economy, to solving global problems, and meeting their own specific needs are important.  I love his comment, with regard to new threats in synthetic biology, nanotechnology, machine intelligence, and manipulation of genetic structure (Bostrum, in press):

“Will this human error become human terror?”

Roland (from Sweden) identified two problems that cause gifted education to suffer with problems of theory, implementation, and worldwide recognition, namely:

  1. Dogmatism ( a closed mind, characterised by stubborn refusal to acknowledge truth; a wilful irrationality leading to unsound thinking; something that can contribute tremendously to survival), and
  2. Frequent failure to recognise human nature (and take it into account in research and application).

Roland makes a great case for why this is so (you will have to listen to his speech here) but I want to look at the ability of creative gifted people to compromise, or work within the status quo.

I believe policy makers may want the ‘intellectual profit’ from our gifted population, but only if they can fit into their predetermined goals. Roland reminded us that Galileo was imprisoned for his scholarly opposition, and today the same sorts of ‘opposing scholars’ (read here, our creative gifted individuals) might also be viewed with antagonism if they are not conforming to societal expectations. As Roland reminds us, gifted often refuse to accept that which does not conform to their own logic, conviction, or insight. Their conclusions often don’t coincide with the dominant knowledge economies and therefore they may experience challenges with cooperation or eventually, continued employment. If this is the case, I wonder if there is a ceiling placed on funding ‘general education’ for the gifted and talented, but avenues outside this that government can selectively fund to promote their own ideologies.

This shouldn’t be, and probably hints at scepticism. But, Roland’s address also hinted at scepticism and Big Brother tactics, and I think realistically, we need to consider everything that might be causing a disjunction for our gifted and talented. We need to BE the change our gifted population needs; we need to encourage them to know this themselves and be their own best advocates. But, we will make more inroads if we can work with the system than fight against it. Roland spoke of Clickenbeard (2007) encouraging educators to increasingly emphasise the economic benefits of their work when interacting with policy makers to be listened to.

Funding in industry follows economic benefits – in the absence of any other form of economic benefit analysis in education, we now have National Standards! As educators, we need to be accountable for our work with the children – scary as it might sound to some. Others who have worked outside of education know only too well what accountability looks like. It is a reasonable expectation that we will be measured against some sort of goal. We would be listened to better if we were offering targets for our gifted education goals to be measured against, not just rebelling against the pre-set standards. Pro-activeness, like shown in our recent Gifted Awareness campaign is a great step forward. Encouraging our gifted students to advocate for themselves is huge!

Roland Persson started with the question, “Who decides what giftedness is?” The New Zealand Education Ministry has left that to us, to every community, to decide it for themselves. Let’s keep the momentum rolling and support those members of our gifted education organisations, advisory services, special interest groups, public and private organisations, and anyone like me, who just simply believes in gifted education and wants to see the best for our gifted kids, so they cope well into their gifted adulthood.

Roll on Odense in 2015! Saving my pennies already.


Bostrom,  N.  (2013).  Existential  risk  prevention  as  global  priority.  Global  Policy,  in  press.

Perrson, R.S. (2013). Who decides what giftedness is? On the dilemma of researching and educating the gifted mind. Keynote address at the 20th World Conference of Gifted and Talented Children, 10-14 August, 2013, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Winner,  E.  (1996).  Gifted  children.  Myths  and  realities.  New  York:  Basic  Books.

Dangers and Responsibilities of the Internet

note_from_the_teacherHere is a timely reminder to keep an eye on what our gifted students need to be careful of as they participate in open online courses and MOOCs for meeting their needs. So much is available free, outside of the “walled” offerings that are paid for. Watch out that “free” sign doesn’t become more costly than you’d ever imagined.

Thanks to Brett for his words of wisdom.

What all teachers in regular classrooms can do for the gifted … # 1

gifted education blog
Making learning different and meaningful for all.

Teachers often think they just haven’t got time to differentiate the curriculum for gifted students. They may not use these exact words, but they look at all the other things they have to report on each week, and doing something extra on top of that for a small minority is beyond them. Besides, if they don’t really have training in teaching gifted students, what should they do?

Here are a few things that could be done in the regular classroom that would help gifted students and not hinder the rest of the class along the way. And it won’t take too much extra time, but will probably save you much stress and time in the long term. It is the start of an ongoing set of ideas especially helpful when getting started with meeting the needs of gifted children in the regular classroom.

  1. Accept there are gifted students, even if you don’t know what they should look like. If a parent tells you their child is gifted, it is usually not out of pride or bragging. It is because they have lived 24/7 with this child for their entire life, and they know there is something different about the way they think and do life. Being accepted as they are is one of the best things you can do for a gifted student, and it doesn’t take you any time at all, short of a thank you or a smile when parents offer you advice that might help you with their child.
  2. Think about what sort of investigations could be done at a deeper level right at the planning stage. This is the time you should be thinking about your gifted students, not just when they finish early or start to cause you challenges in the classroom lessons. Just as you have to think about ESOL or physical disabilities when you are planning, so you should consider how what you are planning will affect the child who might already know what you are planning to introduce to everyone in your classroom.
  3. Use labels  and practices that will not alienate your gifted child from their peers. If you say “Extra for experts” you imply that only those who complete the task at hand are experts, and worthy of a greater challenge. Gifted students are worthy of a challenge all the time, as is every student in the classroom. If they already know what is being taught, they should not have to repeat it just to earn an extra challenge. Try finding out what level each child is at before you start a topic; pretest, or maybe challenge them with the “Five most difficult first” strategy. If anyone is already familiar with the difficult level, then they should have an advanced level made available to them, or something that will challenge them to apply this knowledge in a new way.
  4. Choice is paramount for gifted students. This involves being flexible in what you will accept as an outcome that displays what the student has learned. It might be negotiated individually with the gifted student, or be part of a whole class choice system. Having a variety of products based on learning preferences, or Bloom’s taxonomy, or The Six Thinking Hats, or allowing a different context for a standard problem will accommodate the needs of gifted students to work on meaningful tasks that they are passionate about.
  5. Have a variety of question starters at all levels of thinking displayed prominently in the classroom to provide the opportunity to “differentiate on the spot” when challenged by a student needing something extra “now”. Ask the student to reword a topic with a particular question starter, or decide it yourself.   Useful starters are … In what ways could you…? Thinking about this from the …’s point of view, how else could you …? Show how many different ways it might be possible to …? From your experience, how has this helped you …? If you are not very creative, ask someone else in the school who is, or brainstorm some good question starters at your next syndicate or staff meeting.
  6. Ask your gifted students what they are interested in – it could be Antarctica, Roald Dahl books, Science Fiction, trains, aliens, or anything that they can sit and learn about for hours. Try to incorporate these passions into the curriculum they do at least once a term. Ask them a question about it at least once a week. Give them a smile at least once a day, especially when you see them reading or hear them talking about their favourite topic.

Try these six ideas out over the next few weeks, or whenever the time is appropriate, and let me know how you get on.