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.
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