An Off-Ramp for the Gifted & Talented?
By Dr. Ryan Donlan
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University
Susan Rakow discussed gifted learners in her February 2012 Educational Leadership article, Helping Gifted Learners SOAR. She inspired my thoughts this week.
I posit that if we have a certain percentage of truly gifted students in our schools, then we probably have a certain percentage of truly gifted leaders leading?
Let’s call them gifted and talented (G&T) leaders, those who are at or above the 95th percentile in their Leadership Quotient (LQ©), competencies illustrated by Service & Arnott (2006).
I am not simply referring to leaders who are “above average,” or even “great” by measurable standards. Gifted and talented (G&T) leaders have profound leadership efficacy; they intuitively know, live, and apply leadership excellence – theory to practice – in schools. They know how to keep the complex, simple. They are way ahead!
G&T leaders may not always have the best standardized test scores (those vary contextually), yet they are those whom we watch and say, “Oh Yeah.”
They are not necessarily charismatic.
I have known a handful.
Just as Rakow (2012) referred to students who “languish in classrooms, held down by the low ceiling” (p. 35) in a system that fails to challenge them to their fullest, I’m wondering if G&T leaders are stymied similarly by the direction education has taken, and where it will go.
Can we offer them an off-ramp to standardization?
Research on gifted and talented instruction discusses how we can stoke the intellectual fires of our best and brightest. The goal is to ensure that those operating at the highest levels are not mired in one-size-fits-all – i.e. what they perceive as minutia (that which may be important, academically or practically, to the rest of us).
As we prepare for sweeping changes to education, are we identifying what could be perceived as “minutia” by our most talented?
Further, are we measuring twice and cutting once? Rakow (2012) noted that without effective pre-assessment, significant programming for the gifted and talented will not exist. Have we pre-assessed G&T Leadership to see if our anticipated changes are right for them?
Might leaders be allowed to test-out of “mandate” on behalf of their schools if they are efficacious in offering creative solutions we so desperately need?
It would be interesting, indeed, to untether exceptionality in leadership, research the results, and allow talent to operate unencumbered by broad prescriptions fostered through good intentions.
Rakow, S. (2012, February). Helping gifted learners soar. Educational Leadership, 69(5). 34-40.
Service, B. & Arnott, D. (2006). The leadership quotient: 12 dimensions for measuring and improving leadership. New York, NY: iUniverse, Inc.
Dr. Ryan Donlan is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership in the Bayh College of Education at Indiana State University. He invites your comments in the Ed. Leadershop and encourages you to write with your thoughts, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or … just give him a call: (812) 237-8624.