Recommended Practices in Gifted Education: A Critical Analysis by Bruce M. Shore, Dewey G. Cornell, Ann Robinson and Virgil S. Ward. Teachers College Press, 1991.
Every educator of the gifted should read and use this book. The authors have done a superb job of organizing and discussing numerous concepts of identification and differentiated instruction, and of relating these concepts to current research and accepted practices. The book contains chapters on Advocacy and Administration; Identification and Assessment; Curricular and Program Policies; Advice to Educators, Parents and Professionals; and Special Groups of Gifted Children. Each concept discussed in these chapters includes sections on background information, Current Knowledge, Implications for Action, and Needed Research. This is a very important book on gifted education and we highly recommend it for obtaining a "gestalt" of the needed rigorous research (there are many!) in this field. It should be studied as if it were the bible of gifted education!
to think by Frank Smith. Teachers College Press, 1990.
The author provides provocative and highly compelling arguments for completely changing the way we think about thinking. Many readers will find his controversial points in direct contrast to widely held beliefs and ideas about the capacity of schools/teachers to "train" students to think creatively and critically. I would liken Smith's point of view on thinking to the visual image of a diamond -- a single, unified entity with many facets. This image of thinking is in direct contrast to those who see thinking as a hierarchical system with some thinking skills being viewed as high or better than others. If this book were read in its entirety by a critical mass of educators and its conclusions were thoughtfully considered, it could be a major factor in revolutionizing the way we approach education. According to Smith, the real issues of education include finding ways to promote more effective and humane approaches to human thought. I highly recommend spending some thoughtful time with this book.
Reviewed by Heidi Van Ert. Ph.D. candidate in gifted education and art therapy, Department of Special Education, University of Utah, and Clinical Instructor in the gifted education program.
The practice of grouping, enabling students with advanced abilities and/or performance to be grouped together to receive appropriately challenging instruction, has recently come under attack. The National Association for Gifted Children wishes to reaffirm the importance of grouping for instruction of gifted students. Grouping allows more appropriate, rapid, and advanced instruction, which matches the rapidly developing skills and capabilities of gifted students.
Special Attention should be given to the identification of gifted and talented students who may not be identified through traditional assessment methods (including economically disadvantaged individuals, individuals of limited English proficiency, and individuals with handicaps), to help them participate effectively in special grouping programs.
Strong research evidence supports the effectiveness of ability grouping for gifted students in accelerated classes, enrichment programs, advanced placement programs, etc. Ability and performance grouping have been used extensively in programs for musically and artistically gifted students, and for athletically talented students with little argument. Grouping is a necessary component of every graduate and professional preparation program, such as law, medicine, and the sciences. It is an accepted practice used extensively in education programs in almost every country in the western world.
NAGC does not endorse a tracking system that sorts all children into fixed layers in the school system with little attention to particular content, student motivation, past accomplishment, or present potential.
To abandon the proven instructional strategy of grouping students for instruction at a time of educational crisis in the U.S. will further damage our already poor competitive position with the rest of the world, and will renege on our promise to provide an appropriate education for all children.
*Gifted Education Press strongly supports and endorses this statement from NAGC, and recommends that you give your superintendent and school board members a copy.
(Dedicated to the Many Science Educators Who Read NEWS-PAGE)
The decline in high ability students' performance on the SAT (see R. J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray. But We're Ignoring Gifted Kids. The Washington Post. Sunday, Feb. 2, 1992, p. C-3) indicates that most high school curriculums are not challenging these students, particularly in science and mathematics and literary analysis. We have been addressing the latter area in this newsletter through our discussions of books and ideas recommended in the humanities. Now, here are some recommendations for upgrading science education for the gifted:
1. Background for Studying Differentiated Science Education. Dr. Paul F. Brandwein has conducted important pioneering studies in this area. Brandwein's wonderful book, The Gifted Student As Future Scientist (Los Angeles: National/State Leadership Training Institute on the Gifted and Talented, 1981), reports his research on how methods of self-selection provide the best means for identifying students gifted in the sciences. A later book, Gifted Young in Science edited by Brandwein and Passow (Washington, D.C.: National Science Teachers Association, 1988), contains many insightful articles on science education for the gifted.
2. Study of Great Scientific Thinkers. Beginning in the intermediate level, we recommend that students learn about the basis of scientific thinking by studying such masters of science writing as Jacob Bronowski. His book, Science and Human Values (Harper & Row - Perennial Library, 1965), is a short and beautifully written masterpiece which captures the meaning of science to western civilization. He says: "All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses. The search may be on a grand scale, as in the modern theories which try to link the fields of gravitation and electro-magnetism. But we do not need to be browbeaten by the scale of science. There are discoveries to be made by snatching a small likeness from the air too, if it is bold enough...." (p. 13) Other excellent overviews of scientific and mathematical reasoning are: (a) Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics by William Dunham (John Wiley, Inc., 1990; and (b) Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Robert M. Hazen & James Trefil (Anchor Books, 1991).
3. New Resources. An outstanding new science magazine is QUANTUM: The Student Magazine of Math and Science which is published jointly by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the Quantum Bureau of the USSR Academy of Sciences. This magazine is now celebrating the International Space Year. It is issued bimonthly and can be ordered from: Springer-Verlag; P.O. Box 2485; Secaucus, NJ 07096 or call 1-800-SPRINGER. In the spring of 1992, Scientific American will issue "Books for Children." This series will emphasize the "hard" sciences such as human genetics, chemistry, and physics, and will also examine the relationship between science and ethics.
4. Current Articles. Write to Dr. Harold Stevenson (Program in Child Development and Social Policy; University of Michigan; Ann Arbor, MI 40109; Telephone - 313-764-2443) to obtain a copy of his study comparing the mathematics performance of children from Chicago and Minneapolis with those from China, Taiwan and Japan. The Christian Science Monitor (Thursday, January 2, 1991, pp. 3-17) contains a comprehensive discussion of several areas of scientific research on the environment, particle physics, a map of the universe, artificial intelligence, etc. To be continued
AND THE HUMANITIES! By Michael Walters
The concept of giftedness being related to sensibility is best represented by role models such as the British writer, Anthony Burgess. He is a modern exemplar of the Renaissance Man, but more than a polymath. He perceives all aspects of human knowledge as being interconnected and holistic. Mr. Burgess' productivity helps to explain his sensibility. He is a novelist, essayist, movie and television script writer, social critic and journalist. The range of his interest portrays the linkage between his giftedness and sensibility: world religion, linguistics, Shakespeare, James Joyce, music, science, technology, cinema, and popular culture. His purview is the world of knowledge as it unfolds with the human condition. Two books that exemplify his giftedness are: (1) Do Blonds Prefer Gentlemen? Homage To QWERT YUIOP and Other Writings. McGraw-Hill, 1986; (2) The Devil's Mode Stories. Washington Square, 1989.