The Gifted Phoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education

.

197090_10150107967032027_677107026_6775153_1559390_nI woke last night with the conviction that I should draw up a basic credo, setting out some core principles derived from the experience of writing this blog.

I have set aside all questions of terminology, definition and identification because they are inherently divisive and attract disproportionate attention. Let us suspend disbelief for a moment and assume that we can work together through broad consensus on such matters.

There is a strong economic focus because that is a current predilection – and because the economic arguments are too rarely advanced and often underplayed. They deserve to be paramount in our current financial predicament. I plan to revisit soon the economic case for gifted education. [NB: That post appears here.]

So…What do you support? Where do you disagree? What have I missed?

 .

.

Why Invest in Gifted Education?

Gifted education is about balancing excellence and equity. That means raising standards for all while also raising standards faster for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Through combined support for excellence and equity we can significantly increase our national stock of high level human capital and so improve economic growth.

High achievers are needed to feed the STEM pipeline and contribute to other areas of the ‘knowledge economy’ which is becoming increasingly important as a consequence of globalisation.

While STEM and IT have an obvious value, it is a mistake to assume that some fields do not contribute to human capital. There are important spillover benefits to society from many fields where the contribution to economic growth is less pronounced. We should avoid the temptation to prioritise STEM above all else.

Excellence in gifted education is about maximising the proportion of high achievers reaching advanced international benchmarks (eg PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS) so increasing the ‘smart fraction’ which contributes to economic growth

Equity in gifted education is about narrowing (and ideally eliminating) the excellence gap between high achievers from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds (which may be attributable in part to causes other than poverty). This also increases the proportion of high achievers, so building the ‘smart fraction’ and contributing to economic growth.

Countries that invest systematically in developing high level human capital recognise that this process begins in compulsory education or even in pre-school education. It cannot be delayed until higher education and employment. They have well-developed national gifted education programmes to secure system-wide engagement in maximising high achievement.

We can estimate:

  • The financial benefits of narrowing the excellence gap and
  • The impact on economic growth (GDP) of increasing the smart fraction

The cost of gifted education can be offset against these significant benefit streams to justify the investment and quantify the net value.

There are also microeconomic benefits to gifted education – the personal rate of return on high achievement – as well as a potentially significant contribution to social mobility on the equity side. There are many other strong arguments in favour of investment in (potential) high achievers built on educational, ethical and personal development grounds.

.

What Needs Doing? How?

What form should a national investment in gifted education take?

There should be integrated support for learners, educators and parents/carers, to maximise the benefits from synergy between these streams.

Five areas of engagement should also be synergised: learning, professional development, advocacy, research and policy-making.

System-wide solutions should not be exclusively ‘top down’ because they tend to be overly prescriptive, demotivating and inhibit innovation.

But neither should solutions be exclusively ‘bottom up’ because they tend towards competition (rather than collaboration), fragmentation, patchiness of provision and the recycling of mediocrity.

Solutions must draw on the best of both top-down and bottom-up strategies through a middle way that:

  • Provides a universal, unifying ‘flexible framework’ that sets common standards and applies to every setting;
  • Nevertheless gives settings sufficient autonomy within a common framework to innovate, develop and implement diverse approaches;
  • Effectively promotes and supports system-wide collaboration, within and across the three populations and five areas of engagement mentioned above.

A Twenty-First Century learning environment is multi-faceted and multimedia. Whether we are learning in school or as adult lifelong learners, we no longer rely exclusively on didactic teaching in a classroom environment.

School teachers are facilitators, helping gifted learners to synthesise different strands into a coherent learning package. Out-of-school learning must be fully integrated with the school experience; bolt-on enrichment has limited value.

Enrichment, extension and acceleration are overlapping concepts. All three can be combined effectively in different proportions according to learners’ needs. Gifted learners have relatively little in common and widely different needs. It follows that personalised provision is essential.

Social networking and social media can play a very important part in efficiently supporting system-wide collaboration by linking together the wider gifted education community – not just educators but parents/carers, learners, governors, researchers and so on.

Open access to research helps ensure that our collective stock of knowledge about effective gifted education can be shared freely, rather than being rationed or confined to subsets of the community. The existing stock of research must be made more accessible.

Freely available learning opportunities and professional development resources should also be systematically curated and disseminated. Different parts of the gifted education community can develop new learning, knowledge and understanding through their interaction with these resources. Service providers can advertise their wares to potential customers and identify opportunities for partnership and collaboration.

It is not always necessary to develop solutions specific to gifted education if effective generic solutions are already in place. There are strong arguments in favour of integration rather than silo-based provision.

But generic improvements to the education system – eg raising the quality of teaching, investing in school improvement – will not inevitably bring about improvements in gifted education, or such improvements may be less significant or take longer to accrue than those achieved through targeted intervention.

Success depends on active engagement across the system. It involves confronting ideological resistance and striving to find mutually acceptable ways forward. Support for gifted learners must never be at the expense of other learners within the system but, equally, gifted learners have an equal right to such support.

Success also depends on inclusive collaboration amongst the gifted education community. We must set aside fundamental disagreements over the nature and direction of gifted education to achieve the common purpose outlined above.

We must move away determinedly from the disagreements, factions, cliques, petty rivalries, self-promotion and empire-building that characterise the community and work co-operatively together for the benefit of all gifted learners. Everyone’s contribution must be welcomed and valued.

Despite the benefits for national economic growth, this is a global endeavour. We must work across national boundaries, avoiding the temptation to focus exclusively in our own jurisdictions. No country has a monopoly on good practice; every country can learn learn from the experience of others.

The gifted education community is a very broad church, but there is greater strength in unity than in a fragmented approach.

.

Kew Gardens courtesy of Gifted Phoenix

Kew Gardens courtesy of Gifted Phoenix

.

.

Postscript 1: A Vision for Delivery

A few weeks have passed and I have been reflecting again on how we might bring about improvements in line with the Manifesto. The following material was prepared with an eye to the UK (GT Voice) but should hopefully be relevant to other countries, as well as to continents (EU Talent Centre) and the global context (World Council).

It is the current iteration of an argument I have been promulgating since 2010, but it is still very much a ‘work in progress’.  I’ve even been tinkering with the words since I first published it!

My vision, set in the UK national context, is one in which:

  • All learning settings and providers of gifted education need ready access to a universal national network that supports their efforts to continuously improve their quality of service, making it the best that it can be. There should be a ‘one stop shop’ where they can go for help to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, to build on the strengths and rectify the weaknesses.
  • Learning settings need this network to collaborate in developing effective practice and sharing it as widely as possible. But it should be equally inclusive on the supply side. All providers of gifted education services should be strongly encouraged to join it, in recognition that remaining outside will weaken our collective, collaborative effort to meet fully the needs of all gifted learners. The network should be equally welcoming to, and inclusive of, learners themselves, parents/carers, researchers and policy-makers.
  • The network should be developed on ‘flexible framework’ principles as set out above. A set of universal core standards would be drafted, consulted on and adopted. All parties would commit to them. They would be framed so as to embody the essential underpinnings of effective practice at all levels of the system, across all learning settings and up to national (and even international) engagement. They would be deliberately flexible, to permit innovation and adaptation or adjustment to meet particular needs and circumstances. Subsets of the network would be able to develop and promulgate their own badged models, but all would need to comply with this core framework. It would be kept under review and adjusted as necessary on a cyclical basis. Negotiation of the framework would be a critical exercise in consensus-building across all stakeholders.
  • In the initial stage of development, the network would support a primarily market-driven approach. Providers of services would advertise their wares and settings their needs. The purpose of the network would be to match-make between the demand and supply sides, giving the demand side access to more choice and the supply side access to more potential customers. (The model recognises that the demand and supply sides are not mutually exclusive, in that many learning settings will also be providers of services to others outside those settings.)
  • Collaboration would involve the elimination of existing ‘closed shop’ arrangements whereby some settings can only choose from specified providers, and the restrictive practices that mean many smaller providers are frozen out by larger organisations’ use of  ‘approved’ consultants and sub-contractors. It would no longer be acceptable to rig the market in this way.
  • Over time, the network would transition towards a more coherent approach, enabling settings with common issues to learn with and from each other without any geographical or sectoral restrictions and service providers to offer a seamless package of high quality support to all regardless of their sector or location (while also protecting a degree of choice for settings when selecting providers).
  • The network might develop a core administrative function that all service providers could draw on in return for an annual  subscription. This would enable it to have its own staff resource, which it would need to set up and maintain the network. (These functions cannot be managed without a dedicated human resource.) This income flow could generate savings for providers by eliminating duplication and generating economies of scale.
  • Over time the network might also develop a small tranche of its own core services, such as an annual conference, publications for sale outside the network, consultancy services to third parties (eg abroad). These should cover the network’s costs, so that it can become entirely self-sufficient, but should not be developed beyond this point, otherwise the network becomes a direct competitor to the service providers it exists to serve.
  • Such a network would have significant development and running costs, up to the point where it achieved self-sufficiency. Initial development costs would have to be secured through a combination of fundraising, sponsorship, advertising revenue and/or bids for support from appropriate funding pots.
  • In the first instance, prior to establishment of an administrative core and network services, running costs might be met by a small annual subscription paid by each learning setting and each provider belonging to the network. The annual flow of benefits to every member should be greater than the cost of this subscription.
  • Light touch monitoring would be needed to ensure that all settings receive the quality of service to which they are entitled and all providers avoid the temptation to carve up the market for their own benefit. Sanctions would need to be agreed. Any escalation would be handled within the network rather than by a third party.
  • The network would operate on a ‘blended’ basis combining a sophisticated online dimension – conducted on social networking principles – with a more traditional face-to-face element. The social networking component is critical to sustaining a fully national network at relatively low cost.
  • The network would also operate as a vehicle for collaborative advocacy, research and policy development. One early project might be to draw together the full range of stakeholder interests to develop a ‘gifted curriculum’ which English school settings might introduce in place of the national curriculum (if they have that freedom) or alongside the prescribed programme of study (if they have not). This would define what the very strongest learners might achieve and then strive to bring as many learners as possible as close as possible to that outcome. 

This is admittedly an idealistic vsion. It should be achievable, but only through sustained and determined collaborative effort. Providers with an existing market niche would need to be prepared to abandon all protectionism. The biggest potentially have furthest to fall, so vested interests are powerful and will be hardest to overcome.

All of us would need to be aware that, if the network was perfectly successful, there would no longer be any need for separate fiefdoms in the territory. Some organisations might go to the wall, but the overall quality of gifted education would improve almost immeasurably as a consequence.

.

Postscript 2: Comments on the Original Text

I am most grateful to colleagues who have taken the trouble to comment positively on this text, whether via the comments facility below or via Twitter and Facebook.

We have also had some interesting discussions on Facebook about the economic justification for gifted education which I have reproduced below for ease of reference.

Facebook 1 Capture

Facebook 2 Capture

Facebook 3 Capture

Facebook 4 Capture

Facebook Capture 6

.

.

Postscript 3: #gtie chat on the Manifesto, Sunday 24th March 2013

The original text of the Manifesto has been featured on the Gifted and Talented Ireland Blog and on Twitter in a #gtie chat on Sunday 24th March 2013.

.

.

The full transcript of the chat can be found here.

I have also published my own selective transcript on Storify, with the Tweets reordered so the conversation is easier to follow.

It is unfortunately no longer possible to embed a Storify product on a wordpress-hosted blog, but here are a few contributions to give you the flavour of the discussion. Apologies if this doesn’t cover everyone’s contribution to what was a really helpful discussion.

For further reflections on the chat, including some very kind words about this Blog, please see:

  • this Review on the Gifted and Talented Network Ireland Blog and
  • this post on the Irish Gifted Education Blog.

I really am very grateful for their positive feedback and support.

I’m going to reflect awhile before attempting another edit of the Manifesto. Please don’t hesitate to use the comments facility below if you have further views, suggested contributions or ideas for how the Manifesto might be put to good use.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

GP

March 2013

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “The Gifted Phoenix Manifesto for Gifted Education

  1. Kudos to you my friend! I support, as always, your call for the gifted community to work together. I especially appreciate the recognition of the role of social media in facilitating collaboration and cooperation within the global gifted community.

  2. Well Done!! I too, think, that the more of us who ‘join together’ to address these issues the better chance we have of affecting real change in the near future!!

  3. Thank you Tim for this very interesting contribution to our ongoing discussion around the purposes of gifted education. There are two points I would like to comment on. Firstly, very early in my experience as an advocate and before I became involved in gifted education, I learned what all advocates must learn: that when two people in an argument have wholly different values and accordingly are in effect talking two different languages, the person who wins the argument is the person who learns to speak the language of the other person as well as his or her own – in other words, the person who can convey his or her argument in ways that the other side can identify with and comprehend. At the time I was representing the arts community and arguing with an exceedingly stuffy city council about the need for a local arts space. They were unimpressed by the fact that the local arts community contained some of the country’s finest craftspeople, people internationally renowned for their work. I won the argument when I began talking, not about the excellence of the work produced and the rave reviews from critics, but about the number of visitors to exhibitions (for “visitors” read “voters”) and the financial returns from these events. In that sense, the economic argument for gifted education is perfectly logical, convincing, and true. Unarguably the economic development of our countries needs the input of our best minds, in industry, commerce, research and government. We would be foolish indeed to ignore this, either when talking to those who fund our efforts and who by definition are aligned to economic benefits, or when planning the learning opportunities we offer to our gifted students. However, it is a very narrow argument, valid as a means of convincing authorities, but insufficient as a stand-alone explanation of what gifted education is for and why it is so necessary. Even thinking simply in terms of value-for-money to society, if one can put it so crudely, Renzulli, launching his Houndstooth project in 2002, called for us to recognise the development of social capital as of at least equal importance to humanity as is the development of economic capital, and to search to understand how we can identify and nurture those who have the capacity to provide leadership in this way in society. That is a discussion we certainly need to have, and it forms the focus of my own research right now. But the point has also been well made that to attempt to “justify” gifted education in terms of its benefit to the larger society begs the question, why should gifted education, alone amongst all branches of education, need to justify its existence? Those of us who work or have worked directly with gifted children for any length of time cannot avoid the realisation that there are very much more immediate issues to be dealt with, sometimes simply to ensure the child’s survival, let alone achievement. The gifted child is a complex, diverse phenomenon, and giftedness impacts on virtually every aspect of that child’s development, in ways that differentiate that development from that of most other children and lead to different needs. Over and above all other considerations, that is why gifted education is justified and why providing it is a matter of providing equity. That is not, in any way whatsoever, to negate the hope that we have for all our gifted students, that they will achieve highly in their respective fields. On the contrary, it is a recognition that that hope is most likely to be accomplished when we think of the child first and foremost as a whole human being rather than primarily as a potential contributor to the wellbeing of society. That leads me on to the second point, thinking about how we accomplish this. The concept of a network involving and supporting all those whose focus is on the gifted child is an excellent one, but it does seem to me that, as described, it is potentially a little segregationist, though I am sure that’s not the intention. In our country we do have such a professional network which has been very successful in bringing together teachers and researchers interested in gifted students. But a very important part of its function and of its success is its determined effort to be inclusive – to reach out and spread awareness and knowledge about the needs of gifted children. It holds an annual national gifted awareness week, lobbies politicans (especially before elections), runs writing retreats to develop specific resources for teachers, liaises with regional gifted groups, holds conferences, and so on. Members pay only a few dollars annually, whether they enrol as teachers or as institutions. We also have the very active national gifted listserv on which Tim’s comment about the Phoenix manifesto first appeared. While all these things can always be made even better, there may be ideas here worthy of consideration in this discussion.

  4. Thank you Rosemary for taking the trouble to read the Manifesto and responding to it here. I’m sorry that it has taken me a day or so to reply – I have been preoccupied with completing a new post for publication.

    You misunderstand if you believe that I am advancing the economic case for gifted education as a ‘stand-alone explanation of what gifted education is for’. The first section of the Manifesto is setting out the economic case for investment in gifted education rather than justifying gifted education per se. It acknowledges what economists might crudely term ‘spillover benefits’ in addition to the economic return and the final paragraph also notes the range of other justifications that can be constructed to make the wider case. It was not my purpose to list the full menu as it were – that has been undertaken many times previously and I doubt I could improve on those precedents.

    My experience of researching global provision over the past few years has led me to the conclusion that, whereas some countries are committing significant funding to gifted education as part of their wider strategies for investment in human capital, many others (yours and mine included) are not citing that as a reason for their (often more limited) engagement. I wanted to articulate the economic case in a way that might be meaningful to any developed country contemplating the arguments for and against such investment.

    I’m afraid I don’t see gifted education as alone in needing to justify its existence, but then I don’t really see it as an entity separate from education per se. My experience suggests that a case often needs to be made for additional or extra focus on learners who, for whatever reason, are not close to the norm. The ideal is a personalised approach that reflects the complex interaction of a whole range of factors on each learner. But, if we are to speak in terms of crude groupings, some groups’ needs are relatively more recognised than others, though this can often vary from country to country. Hence England is currently concerned about learners from disadvantaged backgrounds, whereas New Zealand is more concerned about Maori and Pasifika learners. Some in England might suggest that, in focusing so heavily on socio-economic disadvantage, we are neglecting issues associated with ethnicity (whereas you might recall that I’ve made the reverse case in respect of NZ, both generically and in respect of gifted learners).

    I think I could also disagree with what you say about ‘the gifted child’ in that I feel your generalisations could be applied to some gifted children, but by no means to all of them. But my interest has always been gifted education as opposed to giftedness, so I recognise the mote in my eye when reading and responding to your words. The tensions between these two viewpoints have often been problematic in my view, but that’s a different topic.

    I’m afraid you’ll have to explain what you mean by the network being ‘segregationist’. I certainly intended it to be fully inclusive. I applaud giftEDnz for its work but I can’t resist pointing out that a ‘professional network’ is by definition ‘segregationist’ if it only includes those who are professionally involved with gifted learners. Any vision I have for a similar entity in the UK would be equally welcoming of parents and carers – and potentially also of learners themselves. I’m not sure that is the case for giftEDnz, or perhaps I am mistaken?

    Thank you again for your interest. I always read your contributions to the discussion on the NZ discussion board and often find myself nodding in agreement. Despite our different approaches, I suspect we may have a fair deal in common. As I grow older and more experienced, I recognise increasingly the value of wisdom and experience, especially in the cyclical world of (gifted) education. (Though one can of course have too much of a good thing – I think there may be a superfluity of wisdom and experience in some parts of the field right now and perhaps not enough ‘fresh blood’ with radical new ideas and innovative approaches to foist on those of us who are become more set in our ways.)

    Best wishes

    Tim

  5. Hello Tim.
    That’s an interesting and helpful reply. I must acknowledge I was somewhat startled to find you of all people apparently coming down on the side of those for whom economic gain is all, or at least first in priority. Perhaps the difficulty lies in the choice of the word “manifesto” which, to me at least, implies a more complete statement of aims and purpose than you evidently intended. No-one in this field could disagree with the relevance and value of the economic argument in winning financial or political support for gifted education. But that is surely a strategy, not a vision or a statement of aims and policies which is what I would take a manifesto to be. And I think we do need such a manifesto, something that challenges us to think deeply and critically about the ultimate outcome we are seeking for that person, that child, at the heart of what we do, something that continuously brings us back to a sharpened awareness of the effects of our actions and choices for that child, both now and for the long future ahead, something that gives us perceptive guidance in constructing that child’s experience while in our care.

    I agree entirely with you that this is not limited to gifted education. It is true for all those children who differ from the “norm”. It’s surely also true for all those children who do not differ from the norm. Educators in every setting, regardless of time, place, technology or whatever other criteria apply, should surely have some sense of the fundamental purpose of what they are doing, even though that purpose may differ in different settings. It is never enough to trot out sayings such as “fulfilling their potential”, “meeting all needs”, “learning for life”, etc, unless such sayings have been rigorously examined and thought through and are open to ongoing reflection and review.

    But for now we are talking specifically about gifted children, and I do not know how to separate writing about gifted education from writing about gifted children. Gifted education must take its aims, its raison-d’etre, its strategies from what we so far know about gifted children as a group and about gifted children as unique individuals within that group. When we work on that basis and do so wisely and with insight, then ultimately those larger social purposes have their best chance of fulfilment, I would suggest. Annmarie Roeper makes a related and important point when she argues that success of the kind so much revered by the quantitative lobby is in fact a natural byproduct of an education that concentrates on the development of the inherent self of the child.

    It’s for that reason that in responding to Robyn Boswell’s comment on the tki listserv, I said I preferred Torrance’s manifesto, because it does start with the child. (I see you have a reply on the listserv, but I haven’t looked at that yet). But I would also have to say that Torrance’s Manifesto is certainly far from complete as a stand-alone statement. I’ve written more fully about this elsewhere and it’s too large an issue to address in detail here, but I would like to mention that in our work with some hundreds of children in the One Day School programme, we did indeed find that variation in characteristics and needs that you mention briefly, but we also developed a structure that could use that as a strength in building our programme.

    Lastly, with reference to giftEDnz. it is the absolute opposite of confining itself soley to those who are already interested in or directly involved with gifted students. It actively campaigns to reach teachers, administrators, officials and politicians who do not currently have that interest. That is seen as a major part of its role. Yes, it does focus on professionals, but that is because we already have the NZ Assn for Gifted Children which caters for parents, teachers and children. But while one has a more specific focus on parents and children and the other on educators, they liaise well, and many people are members of both bodies.
    Best regards
    Rosemary

  6. Hi Rosemary

    Once more it’s taken me a little time to get round to responding to your comments and I apologise for that. We’ve had some hot sunny days and a bank holiday, so my attention has been elsewhere!

    I devised the original Manifesto with two discrete sections, the first intended to make the case for investment in gifted education and the second to lay down a direction of travel for gifted education reform. I don’t think that content is too inconsistent with the use of the term ‘Manifesto’, but I stand to be corrected.

    I’d like to think that I am challenging my readers to think deeply about outcomes, but I am couching that argument in terms of the system rather than the child. I don’t disagree that there is a case for designing policy from the starting point of our current understanding of the nature and needs of gifted learners (the other end of the telescope if you will), but that immediately pulls us back to the vexed questions of terminology, definition and identification that I deliberately set to one side because they so often seem to derail consensus.

    It is for that reason that I prefer to start from the opposite pole, striving to create a broad but meaningful framework that everyone can sign up to, while also defending their right to interpret it differently to reflect their own predilections and the needs of the learners they are responsible for. I am somewhat sceptical of the Roeper comment, because it seems to me a bit like motherhood and apple pie. I wanted to offer a bit more direction and a little less vague idealism…though I readily accept that I might have failed in that ambition.

    I hear what you say about the good relationships between giftEDnz and NZAGC. If you are successfully building consensus between professional and lay interests via that bipartite structure then more power to your collective elbows! My observation is that tensions often seem to spring up between these two perspectives whether they are drawn together within a single organisation (eg US NAGC) or maintain separate identities (as is also the case here in England). That is why I was at pains to stress an inclusive, collaborative approach in the second part of the Manifesto.

    Thanks for giving me some more of your valuable time. I feel it can be helpful to debate these issues once in a while – it certainly helps to clarify my thinking anyway.

    Best wishes

    Tim

  7. Dear Tim,

    I am sure you must think I’ve walked away from this interesting discussion, but that wasn’t my intention – I’ve just been particularly busy with other matters I couldn’t postpone. Amongst other things, I am this weekend engaged in emailing every Member of Parliament with a letter about our New Zealand national Gifted Awareness Week, and that letter has been put together and signed by no fewer than 14 separate professional and parent groups working cooperatively together, as we do each year and as we did for the aborted world conference. I hope that answers your query about the possibility of such positive liaison. It can happen!

    I do very strongly agree with you that gifted education needs a broad framework that we can collectively accept and advocate for. The divisiveness in gifted education which is seemingly such a feature almost everywhere does our cause no good at all. I don’t imagine that we will ever reach a paradise of perfect agreement on all points, but we do need somehow to move beyond the polar opposites we currently have when it comes to interpreting our purpose in gifted education. I think that can only come about through our continuing rigorous examination of our understanding of gifted children and their needs. (Sorry – computer glitch – I can’t get beyond this – will start again)
    In that regard, I’d like to refer back to your response to Anne-Marie Roeper’s comment.

  8. Hoping this will work! I’d like to refer back to your response to Anne Marie Roeper’s comment, which you’ve described as a bit like motherhood and apple pie. To some extent I share your discomfort with the slightly flowery language, but I’d like to look beyond that to what is actually being said here. There is nothing “motherhood and apple pie” about working with a gifted child who is nearly destroyed as a person through negative school experience, put-downs from teachers, uncomprehending taunting from other children and endlessly irrelevant learning demands. There was nothing motherhood and apple pie about being confronted by the mother of a seven-year old who had just attempted sucide, a six-year old who didn’t want to be in the world any more, an eight-year-old with an IQ of 160+ who hid in the corner of the room and could not trust herself to become involved. Equally there was absolutely nothing motherhood and apple pie about working with a child full of joy and excitement at the learning you’re involving them in, the adolescent attending a residential writers’ course who says, “For the first time I feel normal”, about being invited eventually to that six-year-old’s bar mitzvah where his involvement in the gifted programme was celebrated as one of the special candles he lit, and getting a letter from his mother a few years later enclosing his Dux’s speech reflecting on how success in life relates so much to the network of support every successful person has behind them (it’s doing it again! – I’ll try again!)

  9. He made such an interesting comparison with King Lear and his failure to value such relationships and what it cost him. My point is this. The reality – sometimes the grim or the uncomfortable reality – is that gifted education, like all other education, must have as its core purpose understanding and meeting the needs of the child, albeit in relation to the wider needs of society. If we focus solely on measurable outcomes, we will not adequately achieve even meeting the needs of society, let alone the child. I base this very, very securely and directly on our work with some hundreds of identified gifted children attending our One Day School programme, some for just a couple of terms, far more often for much longer than that, in some cases for several years. Over and over again, what we saw was that by paying attention to the whole child, we achieved positive change in attitudes to learning, in self confidence, in relationship skills, and, ultimately, in learning. That, I think, behind the language, is what Anne-Marie Roeper was saying and what we do need to deal with. I look forward to your comments! Warm regards,
    Rosemary

  10. Hi Rosemary

    I’m sorry if the fault preventing you expressing your comments is on this blog. I’ve just come back from an evening out to see that you keep getting interrupted just as you’ve built up a head of steam, which must be incredibly frustrating. I won’t try to respond to your comments now (I’ve had a drink or two) but I’ll get back to them shortly.

    Looks like next week might be more than ordinarily busy though. We’re expecting a ‘landmark’ survey report from our inspectorate – Ofsted – on support for our most able pupils, so I’ll need to review that in my next ‘Summer of Love’ episode. But I already have a post on India on the stocks which I should try to finish beforehand. Then there’s an outstanding QA job on a policy document and even a NAGC Board meeting to round off the week…

    So do forgive me if takes me some time to respond.

    Best wishes

    GP

  11. Your schedule sounds like mine! Take care, have a good week or so, we’ll catch up at some stage.

    Rosemary

  12. Hello Tim. It’s a long time since we’ve been in touch – I see my last contributions to the blog were in the middle of last year. A lot has happened in my life since then, both personally and professionally. Currently we have a general election about to happen with at least one party making helping gifted children part of its policy. Hurray! But what I really wanted to share with you and I hope with others is that we have the Columbus Group – all ten of them! – coming to New Zealand in April next year for their first-ever presentation as a group outside the US. We are very excited about this. I understand the International Research Assn is having a conference in Brisbane a couple of weeks earlier and we are also looking at the possibility of developing some tour options for people who would like to go to both events and to take advantage of the opportunity to see something of one or both countries while in this region. Information about the symposium is on our website, http://www.giftedreach.org.nz, or people cam email me directly ofr this forthcoming updates at reacheducation@xtra.co.nz. I’d be very grateful if you could flick this information on to any others you think might be interested. Best regards, Rosemary Cathcart

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s