The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach by Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1991.
This Book discusses how research on thinking and cognitive development can help educators to design better learning environments. Gardner shows how students, even those with the highest abilities, have difficulties learning mathematics, the sciences and the humanities because of their immature ways of reasoning acquired during the early years from five to seven. He proposes that teaching must be changed to encourage more advanced levels of understanding, and recommends using apprenticeship models of teaching/learning and museum settings which stimulate self-directed learning. Gardner masterfully summarizes research on cognitive development including the works of Piaget, Bruner, Chomsky and the Neo-Piagetians. In the Introduction he says, "The principal question addressed in this book can now be stated succinctly: Why do members of a species who master certain concepts and skills so readily exhibit so much difficulty in obtaining the skills and understandings that school at its best strives to provide? The question may appear an old one, but neither its proper formulations nor the evidence relevant to it has been fully appreciated until now. Only a mastery of scientific knowledge about human development and learning, considered in the light of institutional history and constraints, allows us to grasp the problem in its fullness." This is an important book which all educators concerned with developing a stimulating curriculum for the gifted should read.
Program Opportunities for Academically Talented Students. Baltimore: Center for the Advancement of Talented Youth, The Johns Hopkins University, 1991.
What makes this such a fascinating book are its hundreds of descriptions of enrichment/accelerated learning programs which primarily occur during the summer across this great land. Whatever happened to old fashioned summer vacations where children lazed around and did what they wanted to do? From looking at this book, it appears that our hyper-accelerated, high-pressure age makes these bygone summers obsolete for gifted children, although these unorganized past summers might have been just as beneficial for them. The book divides programs by regions and states, and the very useful index cross-references them by programs for Older/Younger Students, Residential Programs, Commuter programs, and Academic Year Programs. Some of the more fascinating titles are: Crow Canyon Archeological Center High School Field School (Cortez, Colorado) and Joseph Baldwin Academy for Eminent Young Scholars (Kirksville, Missouri). The richness and variety of educational experiences described in Program Opportunities indicates the strong concern for educating gifted children in every region of the country.
Personal History (The Classics at Oxford) by Ved Mehta. THE NEW YORKER. November 11, 1991, pp. 83-110. Read this intriguing article to understand how the British schools educated such great geniuses as Jasper Griffin, Professor of Classics at Oxford University. Maybe we should use the best ideas of this meritocratic system in our gifted programs.
Aren't We Special? The Dope on 'Gifted' Education by Jonathan Bines. The NEW REPUBLIC. December 16, 1991, pp. 16-18. Presents a reporter's bird'seye view of gifted programs for such diverse groups as Yup'ik Eskimos in Alaska and upper middle-class children in Fairfax County, Virginia. He poses some interesting questions about the real purpose of these programs.
Teaching the Virtues by Christina Hoff Sommers. IMPRIMIS: Because Ideas Have Consequences. November 1991, Volume 20, No. 11. Professor Sommers presents a brilliant analysis of the problems of teaching ethics in colleges, and she discusses what should be done to improve students' ethical values and behavior. Her ideas should be carefully read for application to philosophy of ethics courses in gifted programs. ***** ***** *****
"Our whole life is startingly moral. There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice." Thoreau
Christopher Columbus & America 2000
By now it is clear that the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to the New World is being used by various groups to attack all aspects of Western civilization. Instead of concentrating on these criticisms, educators of the gifted can use this celebration to discuss and analyze the differences between facts and opinions. The facts of Columbus' voyage and exploration are well-documented; gifted students can study these facts and form their own opinions concerning the impact of his journey upon a myriad of topics ranging from how it affected the Indians of the Caribbean and of Central and South America to the influence of his "discovery" on the aspirations of ordinary people in Europe and the Americas. The educational opportunities provided by this extraordinary event ought to become a part of America 2000 through its proposed national testing program and its sponsorship of essay contests. Here is a unique opportunity for the President's proposals to influence students' awareness and analysis of a great historical event. (Clearly, there are many other great occurrences in American history which America 2000 could use to appeal to our "national psyche," and thereby stimulate more interest in education among students and their parents, e.g., Pearl Harbor, World War II, and Operation Desert Storm.)
We recommend the following articles related to the study of Christopher Columbus: (1) When Worlds Collide: 1492-1992, How Columbus's Voyages Transformed Both East and West (A Joint Project with the Smithsonian's Natural History Exhibit 'Seeds of Change'). Newsweek: Columbus Special Issue. Fall/Winter 1991; (2) 1492 America: The Land Columbus Never Saw by William H. MacLeish. Smithsonian. November 1991, pp. 34-49; (3) The Columbus Wars: Debunking Columbus by Stephen Goode. Insight. October 21, 1991, pp. 10-17; (4) History: The Columbus Fuss. TIME Magazine. October 7, 1991, pp. 52-61; (5) Questions of Conquest: What Columbus Wrought, and What He Did Not by Mario Vargas Llosa. HARPER'S. December 1990, pp. 45-53.
Recommended Classic for Gifted Adolescents: A Book of Inspiration and Ethical Values
Reviewed by Mike Walters
For gifted students reading is not a mere process of information gathering or data collection. Books serve as a form of bibliotherapy for them. (See the article entitled, Bibliotherapy: An Innovative Approach to Teaching The Humanities by Stephen Schroeder-Davis in the Gifted Education Press Newsletter. Winter 1992, Volume Six, No. 1.) The novel, Banner in the Sky (HarperCollins Children's Books, 1988) by James Ramsey Ullman (1907-71) is an excellent example of this bibliotherapeutic experience. It has been a classic of adolescence since it was first published in 1954. The locale, an Alpine village, stirs the imagination while the objective of the mountain climbers, the Citadel, captures the soul of the reader. This imaginative focus creates an inspirational vision which proclaims that risk-taking is the essential ingredient in the search for excellence. At the end of the novel, Rudi Matt, the main protagonist, chooses to rescue a fellow mountain climber instead of merely being the conqueror of this elusive mountain, the Citadel. This outcome demonstrates the novel's character development; the hero is seeking not only to conquer the mountain itself, but command over his inner psyche as well. Courage is linked to compassion. (This book was also made into a movie called Third Man on the Mountain by Walt Disney Productions, 1959.) "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land...." Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
OUTSTANDING ARTICLES FROM STATE NEWSLETTERS: (1) Cooperative Learning: A Clear and Present Danger to Gifted Education by Grace P. Lane. Gifted Assoc. of Missouri Newsletter, Fall 1991; (2) A Proposal for Restructuring Secondary Gifted Education by Patricia O. Tierney. Penn. Assoc. for Gifted Ed. Bulletin, Sept. 1991; (3) Advanced Placement Programs by Marge Thomas. Nebraska Assoc. for the Gifted NL, Oct. 1991. ********** ********** **********
"It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others -- and less trouble." Mark Twain
"It is better to support schools than jails." Mark Twain
"Out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation." Mark Twain