Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dazzled and Frazzled's End of Year Review

Although 2010 didn’t herald any great advancement of gifted education in Ireland, it was a watershed year for Dazzled and Frazzled! 2010 marked the year when we found our way to be a voice for gifted learners in Ireland. In January we took part in the inaugural #gtchat on Twitter. Guided by the wonderfully innovative and energetic Deborah Mersino, #gtchat has grown from enthusiastic beginnings into a strong global platform through which parents, teachers, psychologists and gifted education experts can share vision and strategy for gifted children. It was a privilege to have been there at the very first chat!

Through #gtchat, Frazzled and I realised that we have a wealth of knowledge between us about giftedness. There are many respected experts among #gtchatters, and many more passionate and well-informed amateurs like the pair of us. We all have a common goal though; to promote awareness of the educational needs of gifted learners everywhere.  On Friday nights we have felt welcomed and validated by the many professionals working across the globe. This has given us the courage to speak up through our blog about issues of particular relevance to Ireland.

It took us a while to get the blog up and running. In July, we hid ourselves away for a few days in “La France profonde” where we shared ideas about what shape our blog might take. We declared our “2nd Annual Conference” in south-west France a thorough success, in particular the entertainment and wine-tasting! One of the stand-out moments was sitting at the patio table, wine and cheese at the ready, laptops opposite each other all set to go for #gtchat...surreal but fun!

By the end of July and into August we had our first blogposts up and soon our opinions on a wide range of issues were getting an airing. Both opinionated and forceful at times, it was a nerve-wracking first few weeks as we nailed our gifted colours to the mast! We held our breath and hoped we wouldn’t be dismissed as being too radical, too clueless, or worst of all...just a couple of pushy parents! We needn’t have worried however, as our #gtchat friends supported and encouraged us as we posted each new piece. Thank you all for your support in 2010, it meant a great deal to us both.

In October another big opportunity came our way. We were invited to speak at the Irish Teaching and Learning Festival in Dublin. We gave a presentation entitled “Using Social Media to Support Gifted Learners in Ireland”. Bedecked in our regal purple #gtchat t-shirts kindly fast-tracked to us by Deborah Mersino, we completed our metamorphosis into conference speakers together. In equal parts thrilling and terrifying, by the end we were exhilarated and enjoying our new-found confidence! The realisation that we do have something to offer to those interested in giftedness was empowering and encouraging. We are not experts and do not pretend to be so, but are happy to share the knowledge we have gained through our own research. A big debt of thanks is due to Deborah who had faith in us to fly the #gtchat flag on her behalf. We were honoured to do so.

In November our Gifted Advocacy and Support (GAS) group made a detailed submission to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) during their consultation process for the new Junior Cycle. Although quite a radical departure from the traditional exam-based system, we felt that a fresh approach catering to as many different learning styles as possible would be a real benefit to our gifted learners in particular.

The end of 2010 has seen us making new connections from within and without our GAS group. There are some exciting new ideas ahead in 2011 and a team seems to be forming which will hopefully make some progress in raising awareness of the needs of gifted children in Ireland. Frazzled and I are looking forward to being a part of this new initiative. We would like to thank our families for their support, encouragement and patience as we got the blog off the blocks. We wish all our friends, #gtchatters, fellow bloggers, support group members and future readers a very Happy New Year in 2011!


  1. It has been quite a year, hasn't it! I am bubbling over with excitement and anticipation as we enter the new year! Having come late to the party, I felt so much a part of this group from the very first time I joined a chat in late spring. I feel like gtchatters are my dear friends and feel energized everytime we talk. Happy New Year! Let's make 2011 the best year of our lives.

  2. Happy New year to you too, Lisa. I hadn't noticed that you arrived late. Do you mean we had weeks of chats without you? How strange that would seem now!

  3. Let's make this year different in Ireland.