The Double Challenge
by Tiombe-Bisa Kendrick
“Gifted and Talented (G/T) children are present in all cultures and races of people.” I have read this quote many times and have heard it said more times than I can count. There is a wealth of gifted literature that tells the unfortunate story and history of the under-identification and lack of quality programming for G/T children from culturally diverse backgrounds. Although knowledge pertaining to the often unequal conditions and practices among G/T children from culturally diverse backgrounds are widely known and accepted among educators, scholars, parents, and policy makers, many fail to have a real understanding of how this impacts the social and emotional development of these children.
In my own community, many G/T children from culturally diverse backgrounds lack the financial resources and appropriate guidance necessary for their gifts and talents to grow from potential to reality. In addition, those students in this population who have been fortunate enough to be identified are often served in lower quality programming compared with their peers from the majority culture. These areas of deficit in the lives of too many culturally diverse gifted children often contribute to an array of negative feelings about one’s self and culture of origin. As these children are quite intelligent, they are able to realize the difference in programming and the lack of opportunities to which they are exposed as they get older. As a result of the latter, many gifted children from culturally diverse backgrounds may feel that society views their lives and dreams as less important. These feelings can lead to sadness, anxiety, and, most sad of all, a lack of motivation to pursue their dreams and to reach their full potential.
It is necessary that parents and educators of gifted children from culturally diverse backgrounds pay close attention to their social and emotional development. When adults notice signs of sadness, anxiety, or a change in a child’s motivational levels, they must see that the child speaks with a school counselor, teacher, or trusted family member. We must remember that being gifted has its challenges, but being gifted and a member of a culture different from the majority includes additional challenges that may also need to be addressed.
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SENG Director Tiombe-Bisa Kendrick is a nationally certified school psychologist and is licensed to practice school psychology in the state of Florida. She has been employed with the Miami-Dade County Public School District as a school psychologist since 2005.