News & Updates

Time to invest in our gifted learners: Brendan O’Connor to launch Fidelma Healy Eames’ new book ‘The Gifted Learner: How to Help’

Time to invest in our gifted learners: Brendan O’Connor to launch Fidelma Healy Eames’ new book in Leinster House

Dec. 5th,  2022

Tomorrow, Tuesday Dec.6th, Brendan O’Connor will launch former senator, Fidelma Healy Eames’ new book ‘The Gifted Learner: How to Help’ in Leinster House.

Two and a half years in the making, she was commissioned to write this book in the Spring of 2020 by Pavilion Publishing (UK).

‘’I am delighted that Brendan O’Connor has agreed to launch my new book. His understanding of children and young people equips him with a special awareness of the challenges young people face in education and life, this is no less a reality for gifted children and young people’’.

”Gifted or high ability learners are often overlooked in education, partly because they are a diverse group and partly because they are seen as bright and thus able to cope without support. To assume this is a mistake. The reality is giftedness does not mean consistent high ability across all domains – gifted students may not excel in all subjects – and a considerable number of high ability learners can be emotionally and socially immature. Some under-achieve and some are ‘twice-exceptional’ possessing a gift and a learning difficulty. So they can be misunderstood and quite vulnerable. 

Giftedness results from advanced cognitive abilities coupled with heightened intensities that can transform insights into intellectual, creative and emotional experiences.

One mother described her daughter’s gift as ‘a blessing and a curse’, ‘Why, you may wonder when they have so much going for themselves?’. .The answer is it comes at a price. Many put themselves under enormous pressure from self-criticism and exacting standards where nothing is good enough. Gifted learners require challenge and understanding. Perfectionism, frustration and intensity are frequently experienced and they can be prone to worry and anxiety.

The nineteen case studies in this book taught me a lot – they reveal really important insights demonstrating the diversity of learners and issues involved. ‘The Gifted Learner: How to Help’ offers a straightforward guide to how high ability students can be identified and supported to achieve their potential and realise their considerable talents through understanding, and practical ways teachers and schools, parents and care-givers can help. 

A main strength of the book is the fifty seven first hand interviews I conducted with students, their parents and ‘nominated’ teachers who they felt understood them, along with experts in the field. The book explores issues relating to learning, curiosity, problem-solving, creativity, motivation, social and emotional development, under-achieving gifted learners, and those with a co-existing disability, curriculum provision, and more,

Only when gifted learners are recognised, understood and nurtured holistically, at cognitive and emotional levels, can they fulfil their promise and become the leaders of tomorrow. The payback for society is potentially huge, they form the top 10% of learners, they are essentially our ‘seed potatoes’ and should be invested in by our State. For this reason it is apt that this book is being launched where policy decisions are made. I am deeply grateful to An Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaill TD for facilitating this launch in Leinster House, said Dr. Healy Eames.

‘The Gifted Learner: How to Help’ is available at Charlie Byrne’s bookshop in Galway at https://charliebyrne.ie/product/the-gifted-learner-how-to-help/ and via Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gifted-Learner-How-Help/dp/1803880503 or directly from Pavilion Publishing, UK.

ENDS/ Fidelma Healy Eames 087-6776937


Fidelma is lead educator and director of Study and Careers, a Galway-based education, wellbeing and careers consultancy www.studyandcareers.ie

Picture attached taken in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, Galway.

Segregating children with special needs not good

Ministers Foley & Madigan risk health and education with their proposal to segregate children with special educational needs: Dr. Fidelma Healy Eames Jan 18th, 2021 ‘I am dismayed at the risks to which Ministers...

Big Fish Little Fish: Preparing your Child for Transition to Second-level school in September

Fidelma Healy Eames, PhD Change can be daunting at the best of times. Given the uncertainty about school plans for September, it will require an extra dose of flexibility on...

Leaving Cert 2020 – To Be Or Not to Be?

Published in Sunday Independent on May 29th, 2020 under the title‘Covid19 : Tales from the Virtual Classroom – teachers and students battle on. Fidelma Healy Eames ‘Change comes as a...

Riley’s struggle for a school place exposes how families face an unfair system

The anguish of Mark O’Keeffe over his autistic son Riley is shared by many other parents, writes Fidelma Healy Eames I was deeply moved by Mark O’Keeffe’s devastation at the...

Early School Leaving Report: Radical re-think needed to provide some equality

The main difference between young people who stay in school and complete their Leaving Cert (LC) versus those who leave early is parental motivation for education, and money. This is...

Rural schools are in jeopardy from staffing cuts

My Case for Small Rural Schools I am respectfully asking the Minister for Education to review his position on small rural schools. From a total of 1,000 small schools the...