BOOKNEWS AND REVIEWS
"History is the essence of innumerable biographies." Thomas Carlyle, HISTORY
Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi by Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1993.
While listening to the finale of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique performed by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, this reviewer wondered how Gardner's writings were related to this astounding musical performance. Surely his book can provide a deeper understanding of the creativity of Hector Berlioz, Leonard Bernstein and the musicians of this great symphony orchestra. It explains their accomplishments and those of other great individuals in the arts and sciences as a gestalt of their environmental circumstances, and the thrust toward creativity and giftedness in their environment. The author's clearly presented model and his related examples from the lives of creative geniuses do indeed help to explain the development of Berlioz, Bernstein, and other highly creative/gifted persons.
The first two chapters provide the reader with a detailed schema for studying and understanding creativity. It is a holistic model that helps to abolish the longstanding rift and artificial dichotomy between adherents of creativity and those who believe giftedness and creativity are inseparable. Subsequent chapters apply this schema to understanding the founders of our century's Modern Era. These individuals displayed various types of intelligence as described in Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, e.g., Freud showed high linguistic and intrapersonal intelligence, while Stravinsky exhibited high musical intelligence at an early age. We were particularly impressed with the discussions of the types of sensibility that underlie their development. For example, Picasso could draw wonderful pictures at an early age, and Einstein devoured books on physics and mathematics as a youngster.
This is an engaging and inspiring book for many reasons. It contains beautifully written biographies of profoundly creative/gifted individuals. One can read these biographies solely for their literary merit and content without being too concerned about the usefulness of Gardner's creativity model. However, we believe this model represents the most serious effort in the last twenty years to understand highly creative people. Both the biographies and model place Gardner's work in the same class as Abraham Maslow's and Jacques Barzun's very insightful writings on creativity. Educators and laymen should read this book to obtain a more sensitive understanding of creativity and giftedness. The author has written a classical synthesis of a very difficult field, and he has successfully made this information accessible to those who want to enlighten themselves about how creativity develops.
Nobel Prize Women In Science: Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne. Birch Lane Press, 1993.
"USING A PRIVATE ENTRANCE, Lise Meitner entered her basement laboratory -- and stayed there. A former carpentry shop, it was the only room in Berlin's chemistry institute that she was permitted to enter. No females -- except, of course, cleaning women -- were allowed upstairs with the men. Prohibited even from using a rest room in the chemistry building, she had to use facilities in a hotel up the street." (from page 37 of this book). The author explains how Lise Meitner's research was instrumental in producing nuclear fission. But her male colleague, Otto Hahn, received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this achievement.
This excellent book is a perfect complement to Howard Gardner's work on creative persons because it shows how great scientific and mathematical achievements were made by women despite the social and cultural barriers of their times. The lives and achievements of nine female Nobel Prize winners and five who should have received this award are described here. Their achievements were in such areas as physics, radiology, mathematics, biochemistry, genetics, neuroanatomy, and medical physics. It is tragic that one of them, Gertrude Elion, spent almost ten years preparing to be a secretary and working in temporary jobs before she obtained a position as a research chemist. Her research in drug manufacturing improved the success of organ transplants, cured childhood leukemia, and helped to develop AZT (used to treat AIDS). Many stories like this one occur throughout this book. In a time when our nation needs every drop of creative genius to survive, it is against our society's ethical standards and enlightened self-interest to continue this type of gender discrimination in any form! Educators and parents of gifted girls in science and mathematics should carefully read this book to understand what these pioneering women scientists accomplished against impossible odds.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
ALERT! FOR PARENTS AND EDUCATORS OF THE GIFTED! Our Fall 1993 issue of GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY will contain useful and important articles on EFFECTIVE ADVOCACY FOR THE GIFTED (by Joan Smutny) and how GENERAL SEMANTICS can be used by gifted students and their teachers to gain a better understanding of the meaning of language (by Susan and Bruce Kodish). Subscribe NOW and receive the Summer 1993 issue FREE! $12.00 for a One Year Subscription and $23.00 for a Two Year Subscription.
THE NATIONAL RESEARCH CENTER ON THE GIFTED AND TALENTED has produced some excellent research studies on educating the gifted. Contact DR. JOSEPH RENZULLI, DIRECTOR for information about these studies and the operation of this nationally important RESEARCH CENTER. The address is: The University of Connecticut; 362 Fairfield Road, U-7; Storrs, CT 06269-2007. Telephone: 203-486-4826.
GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS has several resources related to IDENTIFYING and EDUCATING GIFTED/CREATIVE CHILDREN, and STUDYING CREATIVE GENIUS. Among them are: SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE: WHAT MAKES THEM THAT WAY? by Alice Dunkle (Cost = $12.00); FISHER COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF GIFTEDNESS, a set of 40 assessment forms for determining the SENSIBILITY OF GIFTED STUDENTS (Cost = $25.00); TEACHING SHAKESPEARE TO GIFTED CHILDREN: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SENSIBILITY OF GENIUS by Michael E. Walters (Cost = $12.00); and WARP ZONE SHAKESPEARE! ACTIVE LEARNING LESSONS FOR THE GIFTED by Betty Eidenier (Cost = $12.00). The last two books were used in courses at the Utah Shakespearean Festival during the summer of 1993.
JURASSIC PARK (1993): WHAT STEVEN SPIELBERG'S MOVIE CAN TEACH US ABOUT TEACHING THE GIFTED BY MICHAEL E. WALTERS
Educators and parents of gifted children should take advantage of the surge of interest in this movie. There are four psychological and cognitive elements in Jurassic Park that appeal to gifted children's sensibility. The first is the role model provided by the author, Michael Crichton, who represents a paradigm of the sensibility of giftedness. When he was a teenager, he wrote articles for the Travel Section of The New York Times. His academic pursuits show involvement with the Humanities approach to learning. He graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in anthropology, and did further studies in England at both Cambridge and the British Museum. He returned to Harvard where he completed the four year program in medicine (1965-69). Yet his intellect and sensibility needed further stimulation, so he continued with postgraduate studies in medicine at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. He then decided to quit medicine and become a full-time writer and world traveler (see his book entitled, Travels, 1988). Another nonfiction book was a study he conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Five Patients: The Hospital Explained (1989). Besides his numerous best sellers (e.g., The Andromeda Strain, 1969), he has written about Modern Art (Jasper Johns, 1977), and directed several movies. He is an avid scuba diver and voracious reader of an estimated 300 books a year.
The second element of learning is for gifted students to compare the movie with the book. Crichton has a unique form of writing called "knowledge fiction." Each chapter contains large amounts of scientific facts described within the context of exciting and suspenseful fiction. The third element is the study of ecology and the environment of dinosaurs during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of geologic time. And the fourth element is concerned with using supplementary materials linked to the discovery of fossils. An extremely good example of this fourth element is Adventures in Prehistoric Archaeology by Robert Bleiweiss with a Foreword by Dr. Richard E. Leakey (GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS, Publisher). Regarding this book, Leakey said, "Any attempt to present the basics of archaeology to young people is to be welcomed. Therefore, I am especially pleased to see this work made available to elementary and intermediate level students." Jurassic Park, both the movie and book, are diamond mines of discovery for the sensibility of gifted students.
"And now chaos theory proves that unpredictability is built into our daily lives. It is mundane as the rainstorm we cannot predict. And so the grand vision of science, hundreds of years old -- the dream of total control -- has died, in our century. And with it much of the justification, the rationale for science to do what it does...." From Jurassic Park (1990) by Michael Crichton.
33222Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, August-September 199322222