When my oldest son was in elementary school, he would quite innocently announce that he was in the “gifted and talented” program at his school. His mom and I would wince. Would others take his proclamation to be the self-deserving swagger of a 10-year-old white kid? He is now on the college admissions circuit. Have we parents, teachers, coaches, and pastors enabled him to see and resist wielding his white, male privilege? And, if so, could he nonetheless hold onto his 10-year-old self-understanding that he (and you and I) are, indeed, gifted and talented—quite literally the recipients of gifts and the stewards of talents that we did not earn but that we are called to develop and use for the flourishing of whole communities?
My recent posts have circled around this notion of giftedness and being gifted. I’ve suggested that the circulation of gifts is a more helpful way to describe being educated for vocation than what often passes for purpose and meaning within higher education. This is largely because education, in both private and public settings, has been made into an investment seeking return and a product to be purchased. To consider education as gift, above and beyond what one might pay for it, changes the way that we reflect on and carry out the work for which education prepares us. I want to bring some of these musing together here and consider how understanding students as gifted and education as a gift economy can lead to restorative and regenerative work.Continue reading