BOOKNEWS AND REVIEWS
The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories by William J. Bennett (Editor). Simon & Schuster, 1993.
"You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken...." Plato's Republic (Quotation at the beginning of this book, p. 17).
Plato then says the young must hear only the best moral tales that are "models of virtuous thoughts...." The Editor, throughout his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration, was a strong advocate of character education in the public schools. As a Ph.D. in Political Philosophy and the father of two young children, he has compiled a wonderful collection from world literature that illustrates principles and concepts of Self-Discipline, Compassion, Responsibility, Friendship, Work, Courage, Perseverance, Honesty, Loyalty and Faith. Bennett says, "Most of the material in this book speaks without hesitation, without embarrassment, to the inner part of the individual, to the moral sense." His choice of stories and poems to awaken and illustrate various aspects of the moral sense is superb. For example, the section on Work contains "The Song of the Bee" by Marian Douglas, "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" by Eugene Field, "The Ants and the Grasshopper" by Aesop, and "The Darning Needle" by Hans Christian Andersen. There are many other beautifully written tales and poems included in this section. The section on Courage includes, for example, "Chicken Little," "Hansel and Gretel" adapted from the Brothers Grimm, "Susan B. Anthony" by Joanna Strong and Tom B. Leonard, "Rosa Parks" by Kai Friese," and "The Iron Horse" by Bob Considine. Bennett has written a few sentences preceding the stories and poems that concisely describe their moral injunctions. In this era of trashy TV shows, outrageous popular music, corrupt public officials, and life-threatening social environments, this book can serve as a partial antidote for the lack of moral and character education in the public schools. As Bennett says in the Introduction, this "is a 'how to' book for moral literacy...." Parents should read these stories and poems to their children and discuss the underlying moral concepts. All children need to hear about and identify with the situations and individuals described in The Book of Virtues. To encourage widespread identification, Bennett has included stories written by and about individuals of both sexes and from different ethnic groups. We predict it will become a major resource for the moral education of children and adolescents. This is an outstanding book for gifted students to read and study!
The Private Einstein by Peter A. Bucky (In Collaboration with Allen Weakland). Andrews and McMeel, 1992. Tel.: 800-826-4216.
There have been several wonderful biographies published about Einstein, most notable is 'Subtle is the Lord...' The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein (1982) by Abraham Pais. But Peter Bucky's view of this great genius has a very different slant. He was a close friend and carefully kept a written record of their conversations and interactions during visits, vacations and trips they took together across the United States. Peter Bucky's family knew Einstein and his wife when both families lived in Germany. After the Buckys and Einsteins fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, they remained close friends in the United States. Peter's father was a brilliant physician and inventor of X-ray technology; he consulted regularly with Einstein. This book contains charming anecdotes about Einstein the man, such as his amazement when the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University offered him a salary five times higher than he thought he deserved. It also includes many serious topics such as Einstein's "Thoughts on Germany and Hitler"; his role in the Atomic Bomb Project; viewpoints on religion and education; his family life, musicianship and "light-hearted" poetry. It expands the human perspective of Einstein's life, and will help gifted students to obtain a broader understanding of him.
Girls and Young Women Leading the Way: 20 True Stories About Leadership by Frances A. Karnes and Suzanne M. Bean. Free Spirit Press, 1993. Tel.: 800-735-7323.
The individuals described in this book have been successful leaders in areas of great concern to our society, such as helping the poor and homeless, training the handicapped, changing discriminatory practices, and accomplishing other difficult to achieve goals. Each story reverberates with the enthusiasm of youthful dreams transformed into positive accomplishments. Everyone needs inspiring models to realize their aspirations. We highly recommend this book because it provides girls and young women with excellent models who have achieved worthwhile goals. The authors have provided gifted females with excellent information on leadership and its applications.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
SUPPORT CONTINUED FEDERAL FUNDING FOR GIFTED PROGRAMS -- The U.S. Department of Education wants to abolish the Javits grant program for gifted children and shut down The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Stop the federal bureaucrats' assault on gifted programming! Write your Senators and Congressmen -- please tell them to continue funding the Javits program IN ITS PRESENT FORM and NRCGT.
PARENT INFORMATION NETWORK FOR GIFTED (PING) -- The Gifted Child Society, Inc. of Glen Rock, NJ provides the nation's only live-response information hotline designed specifically for parents of gifted children. The cost is $3.00 for the first minute and $2.00 for each additional minute. Call 1-900-773-PING. The address is: 190 Rock Road; Glen Rock, NJ 07452-1736.
NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY PROJECT -- This organization sells many interesting biographies, histories and posters about women from different ethnic groups and cultures. Write them for a free catalog at: 7738 Bell Road; Windsor, CA 95492. Tel.: 707-838-6000.
PERIODICALS OF NOTE -- SKIPPING STONES: A MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S QUARTERLY contains fascinating articles and poems written by and about children from around the world. The address is: P.O. Box 3939; Eugene, OR 97403-0939. Tel.: 503-342-4956. HARPER'S MAGAZINE of November 1993 contains an insightful article by Benjamin R. Barber entitled, "America Skips School: Why We Talk So Much About Education and Do So Little." For ecology studies, we recommend a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIAL EDITION entitled, "Water: The Power, Promise and Turmoil of North America's Fresh Water." (Vol. 184, No. 5A). To obtain information about ordering this issue write: National Geographic Society; 1145 17th Street, N.W.; Washington, D.C. 20036.
"It is unbecoming to a soldier, all this book-learning," Pickett said haughtily. "It ain't gentlemanly, George," Armistead corrected. "The Yankees got all the smart ones," Pickett said placidly, "and look where it got them." (From The Killer Angels  by Michael Shaara. The movie is based on this book.)
In the 1950s, there was a popular television show, "You Are There." It consisted of dramatizations of famous historical moments. The narrator was Walter Cronkite, and many of the mock correspondents "on the spot" later became renowned news commentators, e.g., Harry Reasoner. Ted Turner recently produced a miniseries of the Battle of Gettysburg for his TV network. It has been released as a four-hour movie that is being shown at selected theatres. The format is similar to "You Are There." This manner of presenting history is very appealing to gifted students as it stimulates one of their important intellectual traits -- the ability to understand history not as merely dry facts, but as a living spectacle performed by human beings whose personalities contribute to the outcome in a major way.
The film, Gettysburg, ably conveys the significance of decision-making, which is another component of giftedness. On the Confederate side, there was a significant difference in decision-making between General Robert E. Lee who sought victory via a bold offensive strike, and General James Longstreet who counseled a flanking maneuver. On the Union side, there were the decision-making insights of the calvary leader, General John Buford, who realized the significance of retaining the high ground, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, whose tactics saved the day at Little Round Top and forced Lee to conduct the folly of Pickett's Charge. This film is important because it demonstrates the role of gifted individuals during crises such as combat. George Pickett found out the hard way -- courage alone will not defeat intelligence!
"I hear the great drums pounding,/And the small drums steady whirring,/And every blow of the great convulsive drums,/Strikes me through and through." WALT WHITMAN, Dirge for Two Veterans, 1865. "The slaying of multitudes should be mourned with sorrow. A victory should be celebrated with the funeral rite." LAO-TZU.
"" Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, December 1993-January 1994 " "