Houston, We Have A Problem
Exploring the connections between
Giftedness, Creativity and Leadership
Do you remember Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger?
He’s the pilot who famously landed his US Airways flight in the Hudson River when birds flew into one of the engines shortly after takeoff.
Captain Sullenberger proved that even the best training can’t prepare us for every scenario in life, but truly effective leaders can identify and execute creative solutions to big problems under pressure.
Given the challenges facing society today, we need our G/T students stepping into leadership roles and offering creative solutions more than ever before.
In “Giftedness, Creativity and Leadership,” Benny Hickerson, Ph.D. discusses creativity and leadership in gifted students and explores problem finding and problem solving strategies that can be used in the classroom.
Dr. Hickerson is a retired school teacher and administrator, a part-time instructor at SMU, and a G/T consultant to many schools in her area.
The Problem: There are many misconceptions
about what leadership is, even among our gifted students
Many students believe that being a leader consist of taking charge, directing activities, telling others what to do, and/or making decisions in a group. While these are occasionally the tasks of a leader, these aren’t the core characteristics of effective leaders.
Leadership is not the same as telling someone what to do.
The Challenge: Not knowing
what tomorrow’s world will look like
“Our job as teachers is to prepare today’s learners for tomorrow’s world, but none of us knows what that is,” says Dr. Hickerson.
That’s a huge challenge!
Our gifted students will be leaders in a twenty-first century world, where basically everything is subject to change at a moments notice. Just like Captain Sullenberger tomorrow’s leaders must be trained to engage with future problems we can’t even fathom.
The goal of G/T programs should be that students become producers, not just consumers, of knowledge, ideas, innovative products, and leadership. So how do we teach that?
The Solution: Offer students more than just raw knowledge
We must offer our students more than just raw knowledge about leadership.
Robert Sternberg, an American psychologist and professor who is best known for his theory on intelligence and creativity, says effective leaders demonstrate three qualities in their leadership:
- Creativity – Used to generate novel, new ideas
- Intelligence – To analyze the quality of the ideas and persuade others of the worth and value of the ideas
- Wisdom – The ability to bounce the effects of those ideas off of all of the possible stakeholders
Gifted learners need more opportunities to engage with real-world problems that deal with authentic issues, problem finding and problem solving, and authentic purposes for real audiences, so that they can apply creativity, intelligence, and wisdom in leadership.