Second Life Workshop: ‘A Global Perspective on Gifted Education’

On Saturday 26 March at 8.00PM UK time, I will be leading a workshop in Second Life taking ‘A Global Perspective on Gifted Education).

The Workshop is my personal contribution to the inaugural celebration of the European Day of Talent, celebrated on 9 April 2011, which has been organised by the Hungarians as part of their drive to support European gifted education while they hold the EU Presidency.

The corresponding times for other parts of the world are:

  • 9.00 PM CEST
  • 4.00 PM US Eastern
  • 1.00 PM US Pacific
  • 7.00 AM Aus (Victoria) (Sun 27 March)
  • 9.00 AM NZ (Sun 27 March)

You can find further details about me and about how to join the event on the website of the Bavarian Centre for Gifted and Talented Children which has been organising a series of Global Gifted Education meetings in Second Life, this being the sixth in the series.

Roya Klingner, the Head of the Bavarian Centre, has designed specially for the event a Gifted Phoenix avatar, which is literally the embodiment of the ‘headshot’ avatar I use for this Blog, Twitter and Facebook. Doesn’t he look a fine figure!

So you will be interacting with a hybrid personality, combining the body of Gifted Phoenix and the voice of his alter ego Tim Dracup. (My normal gender-shifting SL avatar Tiresius Draconia is resting on this occasion.)

I want to take a slightly different direction to my predecessors in the series by making a serious effort to maximise interaction with you, the participants.

While it’s fine to come along, take a back seat and watch the proceedings, I’m really keen to get some proper discussion going amongst those willing to take part.

To that end, I’ve decided to share my presentation a week in advance, so participants can see broadly what I plan to cover and so prepare their own contributions. You can find it at:

Second Life Presentation March 2011

As a lead-in to the discussion I shall be relying on a graphical version of my very first post on this Blog, which I have also reproduced below.

Nurture <————————————————————————————————————–> Nature
A tendency towards understanding giftedness as predominantly achievable through effort or, conversely, as predominantly inherited.
All learners are potentially gifted; giftedness is fluid and has multiple domains; improvements in gifted education have universal benefit Support for a small fixed group of academically gifted learners who, once identified, remain so.
Equity <————————————————————————————————————–> Excellence
A tendency to see the purpose of G&T education as predominantly to narrow achievement gaps and improve social mobility or, conversely, as predominantly about raising academic standards
Combating social disadvantage through holistic support, to uncover and sustain submerged potential. Support for existing high achievers to secure the best possible educational outcomes regardless of background
Personalisation <————————————————————————————————————-> Special needs
A tendency to see gifted education as part of personalised education for all or, conversely, as responding to these learners’ special educational needs
Inclined towards provision in a standard school/classroom setting where enrichment is the guiding principle and gifted learners are seen as entirely normal. Inclined towards withdrawal and separate teaching where acceleration is the guiding principle. Gifted learners are different and may have social/emotional problems.

In that early post, I proposed that system-wide approaches to gifted education, whether at state or national level, could be defined by the position they take on each of these three polarities.

In the year that has passed, I’ve found nothing to suggest that my hypothesis is incorrect. Indeed, I’ve come to realise that this diagram also serves to define the different personal positions taken by stakeholders in gifted education, whether parents, educators or researchers.

So I want to test the hypothesis in our Second Life discussion. I’m interested in whether there are other features of equal significance that should be included in this basic model, or whether the omissions are essentially second-order.

I’m also keen to learn where potential discussants position themselves on the three polarities. Are they ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ and if so, to what extent – or do they have a ‘spiky profile’?

How do these polarities play out in the national and international debate about the nature and purpose of gifted education? Which positions are in the ascendant? What chance is there of a working consensus to secure progress when gifted education is vulnerable to budget cuts?

Give it some thought and come along next Saturday/Sunday for what I’m sure will be a fascinating discussion of where your countries are positioned and to what extent your personal positions are in sympathy or out of kilter!


March 2011

Postcript : Here is a You Tube Video of the first part of the Second Life event.


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