Guest Author - Lorel Shea
The Essential Guide to Talking with Gifted Teens, copyright 2008, is a carefully wrought work by Jean Sunde Peterson. This well organized book details how to initiate and run a discussion group for gifted teens. The author's intention is for the group to facilitate social and emotional development, and only tangentially to affect scholastic performance. A handy CD contains all of the printable worksheets included in the book.
In the introduction, Sunde Peterson states, “For many, adolescence is not an easy time. Even remarkable performers, who delight the adults around them, are growing and developing- with self doubts and uncertainties about the present and future. Gifted underachievers may not feel as self-assured as some of them seem...” It is clear that she understands that there is more to being gifted than just getting good grades or being a fast learner.
Important questions are asked of potential group leaders, such as, “Can you avoid feeling competitive with gifted teens?” Some gifted adults feel uncomfortable with kids who may be more highly gifted than they are themselves. If a leader cannot get over competitive feelings, she may be better off working with gifted teens in another format, and not in a group designed to encourage sharing inner thoughts.
Talking with Gifted Teens has six main areas of focus. These include: identity, stress, relationships, feelings, family, and the future. Within these areas are some serious subtopics such as bullying and cyber-aggression, sexuality, cutting, eating disorders, divorce, and loss. The author introduces Gardner's multiple intelligences theory as well as learning styles and useful self-inventories. An example worksheet requires the student to fill in the blanks:
The way I really am_______
The self I don't like_______
How I'd like to be________
This book is designed to meet standards of the American School Counselor Association. It is recommended that middle school groups be separated by gender if possible, and that high school groups be co-educational. The most effective groups have regular meetings and closed membership, to allow teens to build trust in one another.
I sincerely wish that there had been a group like this at my high school!