As my post of a few days ago announced, the Gifted Children’s Association of BC and the Lower Mainland Gifted Contacts hosted a conference on Feb. 17th in Coquitlam. I attended, along with more than 100 parents and teachers, and co-ordinators from a number of lower mainland school districts, including Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge.
In two hours I learned a great deal, so thanks to the organizers. A series of PowerPoint presentations supported the explanation of programs for gifted children across the lower mainland. Many of the presenters introduced parents of children in the programs, and they spoke eloquently about their children’s experiences. The evening was a very positive experience for many. Would I change anything? Yes, I would.
In the first place, I would want to see attendees from across the province. Although this was promoted as a provincial event, it was far from it. Most of the attendees were from Coquitlam, and apart from one brave soul who had driven down from the Sunshine Coast, there was no-one from central or northern BC, or from Vancouver Island (apart from me). It would take more money and more work to make this provincial event truly representative. But it must be done if we are to find out what’s happening across BC and effect change.
Secondly, I would have liked to hear more from the co-organizer, the Gifted Children’s Association of BC (GCABC), so that the audience could understand why it’s important to have a strong provincial voice. GCABC needs to find the funds and membership to broaden its support base and sphere of influence. For various reasons, the GCABC fell apart a few years ago and a few intrepid and committed people are trying to revive it. Look at their website and see what you can do to help.
Thirdly, I wanted answers to hard questions, and there needs to be more opportunity to ask. There were some small group discussions at the end of the evening, with the audience divided into school districts, but we need to ask about provincial issues. For example:
- What insights do LMGC an GCABC have into the New Curriculum which does not appear to mention any Special Needs, including gifted?
- Why does the provincial government champion an educational policy based on a differentiated curriculum in heterogeneous classrooms, which research shows is not the best for children described as gifted?
- Why have the numbers of identified gifted in BC dropped from about 23,000 in 1996 to approximately 5000 n 2015?
I enjoyed the conference, but I look forward to something bigger and wider in scope. I’m going to offer to help and I hope you’ll step up too.