On Giftedness and Education… a few thoughts, perceptions and musings…
I may be wrong, but coming to this subject from both a parental, and an educator’s point of view, I have my own vision as for how gifted education is/should look like….
Most educationatl systems insist, with a very little bit of varience from side to side , that learning or education usually should take place among a group of same age students and in a generally linear fashion.. you move from point ‘a’ through to point ‘z’ learning how to get there along the line….. A closed fan, from handle to top of fan.. with a clip firmly clasped on the upper end for fear that it may unfurl before they ge t there….
My view is that education and learning should follow taking the clip off to allow for a more of a fan shaped version… The fans handle being the starting point for all students.. some of which will comfortably follow a linear rib in a straight line, right straight up to the highest point of the fan..Others may require it to be shaken out a bit.. may move through it’s openness and coloured hues along several periferal ribs before reaching the top edges… and then there will be those who may need the fan to be openned to it fullest stretch.. and perhaps even bent while being waved back and forth, aso they may bound along moving at speed over many parts of its surface, toward the edge and even over it…
Needs based, rather than labels based, ability and maturity based, rather than age based, interest based and life skills based too…
There are many models used around the world in different countries, which at times are culturally dependent or resource dependent and also awareness dependent.. however one thing advocates and supporters of the need for special accomodation for gifted learners, is that it is necessary and important whatever the shape it takes.
In the USA for example, in mainstream schools there is no countrywide mandate for Gifted Ed, but most states would have some sort of legislation in regards to these kids. There is alot of good information on the this on the NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) site. In mainstream education, there are several types of provision used, dependent on resources and degree of understanding within schools. This may take the form of extra worksheets sent home at the lower end of the scale, to cluster grouping, pull-outs and or differentiation(ated) curriculum to the occational and much rarer self contained gifted class – at primary level. At secondary- a selection of AP (Advanced Placement) classes may be available, also some may offer the alternative IB programme, college credits are sometimes offered on these more advanced classes. Occationally concurrent enrollment, or early enrollment in community colleges can be seen. In some places the existance of STEM (Science, Tecnology, Engineering and Math) schools have offered a much closer educational match for highly able (gifted) students who excel in these areas. There has been a small but growing movement/realisation that perhaps other schools, based on the STEM model of teaching, but based on Humanities/Literature/Art might not be a bad thing either.. The success, and evident social emotional benefits of students working with and being challenged by other gifted peers has lead many in the USA to view ‘Gifted only’ schools with increasing favour. Also there is a large, and increasingly confident Gifted Homeschoolers (see G&T Homeschool page) movement, parents that, increasingly dissatisfied with the present educational system, and it’s offerings, are opting to educate students themselves.
Unlike a number of European models, for example, Britain, where they favour a more inclusive differentiated within age group/mixed ability type of provision, (an excellent explaination of this, as well as other international perceptions/reflections can be accessed from @GiftedPhoenix blogsite), and Ireland (see G&T Ireland page on this site), there are many in the US that see acceleration as the way forward. Advocates for Acceleration see this as the most effective intervention in regards to gifted children, both educationally, socially and economically. It is important to note that Acceleration here is not defined as simply grade skipping, there are at least 18 different types of acceleration, from working within same age groups to the more commonly understood grade skip.. There is more information on G&T Strategies Page, but probably the best place to look for info on same would be the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration at the Belin Blank Centre in University of Iowa. The Insititute has developed a research based document called ‘A Nation Decieved‘, widely thought of as the definitive document on information in favour of Acceleration, and is available to download for free in many languages from the website. It also offers ‘Acceleration Policy Guidelines’ for download, and for purchase- The Iowa Acceleration Scales widely used to determine student readiness for acceleration. A presentation of an evalution on same is also available here.
Although most schools do try/ seek to be as inclusive of all needs as possible, it does appear that a large part of the problem is not so much a willingness to provide or even learn more about this population from teachers and schools, but the lack of funding, and interest and willingness from the Dept’s. of Ed. in many different countries, something it seems that many of us share in the western world.
There is more I might say here, about other countries and gifted ed, at a later date, however, I do want to include at this time a few links to places outside Ireland, where educators, should they want to persue an interest in this area, may find some interesting connections and even opportunities to take for further teacher training in this area:
They have on going courses in teacher training for those interested in upskilling in the area of Giftedness, and are also very interested in fostering international connections with groups of teachers/teachers colleges outside the US. They already work with, for example, educators from Mexico, Korea and China. They run a Giftedteacherslistserve, and support the Templetonfellow group of 5o international educators who seek to support each other in their collaborative advocay efforts within their own countries.
Free modular course, which can be downloaded. Contains all essential information for teachers on what they should know when teaching exceptionally able or gifted and talented students. Excellent course, authored by one of the giants in the field of gifted education Dr. Miraca Gross,
I will continue to add information from other places here as time permits…
(Teachers opps.. for training.. Belin Blank/Gerric Aus/ others.. )