{Guest Post} Author Rose Hayden-Smith on American Victory Gardens

Author Rose Hayden-Smith on the topic of America's Victory Garden rootsImage source

There’s a new book on the topic of Victory Gardens written by my good friend, scholar Rose Hayden-Smith (aka @victorygrower). Her first book, Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Garden Programs of World War I, was released this summer. [If you're interested in purchasing it, you may find Sowing the Seeds via my Amazon Affiliate link here.*] I’ve read it via a review copy and found it to be just as comprehensive and engaging as I thought it would be, given Rose’s encyclopedic knowledge on the topic. If you’re curious about cultural history or gardening (or both), you’ll want to buy it. Now, I’ll turn this post over to Rose.

Like a lot of you, I collect gardening catalogs. To me, they represent life and productivity and the promise of family, good food and good health.

Yet I also study and write about Victory Gardens. Because Victory Gardens, like gardening catalogs, also provide a link to a simpler, agrarian past that I find comforting and restorative in these unsettling times.  In a world where food prices are skyrocketing, violence seems unchecked, compassion towards the less fortunate seems to have evaporated and economic misery abounds, I find gardens of all sorts a refuge of optimism.  We need fewer bad things in this world and more good gardens.

In hard times, Americans have always turned to gardening.  The Victory Gardens of World War I and World War II – and the garden efforts of the Great Depression – helped Americans weather hard times. These school, home and community gardens helped the family budget; improved dietary practices; reduced the food mile and saved fuel. They also enabled America to export more food to our allies; beautified communities; empowered every citizen to contribute to a national effort; and bridged social, ethnic, class and cultural differences during times when cooperation was vital. Gardens were an expression of solidarity, patriotism, and shared sacrifice. They were everywhere…schools, homes, workplaces, and throughout public spaces all over the nation. No effort was too small. Americans did their bit. And it mattered.

We were a nation of Victory Growers, and it had far-ranging implications in many aspects of American social, cultural and political life. And all of these things could be true again today. In many places, Victory Growers are at work, making these things come true. Continue reading

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Why the Word “Gifted” Still Matters

Why the Word Gifted Still Matters by Pamela Price for Gifted Homeschoolers ForumPhoto and styling credit to my son.

This post is part of the September 2014 Gifted Homeschoolers Forum blog hop. Details are at the end of the post.

Gifted.

One word.*

Many nuances.

Depending upon with whom you are speaking, “gifted” can be about intellectual ability. Or a collection of talents or traits. Or both.

The slippage around the word in educational circles is maddening.

Yet we need the word. We need the word,and we need to explore all of its connotations and denotations.

We need the word until we, as a culture, can see the distinct and varied permutations of human intellectual difference without feeling fear, threat, or envy for those whom the word “gifted” fits.

Gifted advocates need the word in order to articulate the real and profound challenges faced by kids in classrooms driven by standardized testing, places where these children struggle to maintain their intellectual curiosity.

Therapists, doctors and parents need the word in order to find common ground so that they can address the unique socio-emotional concerns that affect kids with high IQs who are as different from “normal” as those children deemed “mentally retarded.” (Both are identified as having IQs at least two standard deviations from the mean.)

Gifted kids themselves—and adults, too—need the word to understand that their sense of being “different” is, while legitimate, not a matter of superiority but rather indicative of a precious complexity waiting to be nurtured carefully into something rich and meaningful and satisfying. We need the word as long as there are kids who taunt 2E kids struggling with socio-emotional challenges, calling out “If you’re such a smarty, then why can’t you [fill-in-the-blank]?!?!”  We need the word to help members of the gifted community who, due to their hypersensitivities and asynchronous development, may be at greater risk for suicide or, at a minimum, suicidal ideation. We need it for kids like Cassie and others who seek comfort through harmful addictions.

Gifted matters because giftedness matters.

No one would dare deny a “special word” to designate children at the opposite end of the spectrum of human intelligence. Why, oh, why is it still socially acceptable for prominent public intellectuals to question publicly the use of a distinctive word for kids with high IQs? Such behavior is just one more manifestation of our cultural inclination to “cut down the tall poppies” or reach for a convenient cliche to dismiss differences. More than that, our refusal to push back collectively on such ignorance validates the intolerance.

Gifted. One word. So many connotations. It’s as diverse and interesting as the people for whom it represents.

Long may it stand.

***

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum board member Pamela Price is a Texas-based writer and author. Currently she’s researching a book forthcoming from GHF Press on the impact of bullying and relational aggression upon gifted children and their families.

"Why the Word 'Gifted' Still Matters"  by Pamela Price of RedWhiteandGrew.com for the September 2014 Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog HopFor more posts in this month’s Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop, please click here.

*Originally I had written “noun” because I was thinking “the gifted” as a population (like “the French”) but later I swapped it out for “word” for greater clarity.

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