Our Goals are to:
1. Discuss current issues and controversies in American education and society related to educating gifted students.
2. Express our opinions concerning how these issues and controversies will affect gifted education.
3. Describe current books, periodicals and projects which are particularly important for improving the education of gifted students and their teachers.
4. Present information and comments from our readers which can also help to improve the education of gifted children.
We Must Take Charge: Our Schools and Our Future by Chester E. Finn, Jr. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
Dr. Finn provides a detailed account of the demise and problems of American education which he compares to the present disastrous state of the Soviet economy. He recommends radical changes based upon such concepts as accountability, parent choice and national testing. Teachers, administrators and parents should read this book to help them think about the role they will play in a radically changed education system in the United States.
The Cry for Myth by Rollo May. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.
The author shows how human beings need to believe in myths in order to develop a healthy personality and to reach their fullest potential. Examples of some current positive myths which stir American's imaginations are the astronaut as a heroic explorer of new worlds, and the ability to achieve one's dreams through hard work and dedication. This book includes chapters on other relevant myths such as "Gatsby and the American Dream," "Peer Gynt: A Man's Problem in Loving," and "Faust in the Twentieth Century." Rollo May argues that our modern society has few myths which can motivate children to develop positive aspirations. His book is more relevant to the problems of our society than Joseph Campbell's writings. This is why it would serve as an excellent resource for students to use in secondary level seminars which address issues of modern society.
Microcosm: The Revolution in Economics and Technology by George Gilder. New York: Touchstone, Simon and Schuster, 1989.
This book provides a detailed description of the origin of the silicon chip from the early work of William Shockley and his colleagues in the late 1940s and 1950s at Bell Labs to the use of these powerful devices in today's personal computers. Gilder's main thesis is that the study and application of quantum physics (the scientific basis for silicon chip technology) to electronics has "dissolved matter" into the analysis of electrons and smaller particles. This dissolution of matter has and will continue to create a revolution in all areas of our society.
An important issue which secondary level gifted students should study after reading this book is: Will this silicon chip technology release human potential for greater accomplishments, or will it retard achievements in the humanistic and social areas by making us insensitive to human problems?
"...With a book tucked in one hand, and a computer shoved under my elbow, I will march, not sidle, shudder or quake, into the twenty-first century." Ray Bradbury
"Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?" Benjamin Franklin
"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." Franklin D. Roosevelt
"All humans long for wisdom, the life of the mind which cannot be kept alive by any other food than truth." Nicholas of
After several years of research on this topic, Robert Slavin and his colleagues have produced no definitive evidence to show that cooperative learning is more beneficial for gifted children than differentiated instruction. Some articles from state gifted association newsletters which discuss this matter from the perspective of tracking and ability grouping are:
Cooperative Learning: Will It "Buzz" the Gifted? by Patricia O. Tierney, Pittsburgh Public Schools. In
Spring 1990 PAGE UPDATE, published by the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education. Address: Patricia Tierney, Editor; PAGE UPDATE; Gifted Program Office; Conroy Education Center; 1398 Page Street; Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
Ability Grouping for Gifted Learners as it Relates to School Reform and Restructuring by Ellie Schatz, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In October 26, 1990 KAGE UPDATE, published by the
Kentucky Association for Gifted Education, Inc. Address: Julia Roberts, Executive Director, KAGE, P.O. Box 9610; Bowling Green, KY 42102-9610.
Answering the Critics of Ability Grouping by Alan J. White, Connecticut State Department of Education. In
Jan/Feb 1991 Advocate (p. 2), a publication of the Connecticut Association for the Gifted. Address: Jakki Garlans, Editor; Advocate; Connecticut Association for the Gifted; 20 Wolcott Drive; Granby, CT 06035.
An Update on Ability Grouping and Its Importance for Gifted Learners by Barbara Clark, Professor of Education at California State University, Los Angeles. In Jan/Feb 1991 Advocate (pp. 11,18). Same address as above.
The New York State Commissioner of Education, Thomas Sobol, has recently issued a report written by a task force of 24 educators which has recommended radical revisions in teaching history and social studies. This approach would base history courses mainly upon the experiences and contributions of different ethnic groups. It seems to ignore the major unifying themes of our Democracy, established by the founding fathers, of freedom, individuality and equality under the law. But even more disturbing, it presents students with false historical information and concentrates upon teaching the divisive aspects of American history rather than the features which can help to unify our nation. Read the following critiques of this report to understand why educators of the gifted must resist this divisive curriculum:
Who Are We? TIME Magazine. July 8, 1991, pp. 12-20.
The Cult of Ethnicity, Good and Bad by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. TIME Magazine. July 8, 1991, p. 21. The author is a distinguished professor of American history at the City University of New York and one of the few members of Sobol's task force who objected to this report.
Mr. Sobol's Planet. The NEW REPUBLIC. July 15 & 22, 1991, pp. 5-6.
The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (Published by Whittle Books of Knoxville, TN, 1991).
Equal But Separate by C. Vann Woodward. A review in The NEW REPUBLIC (July 15 & 22, 1991, pp 41-43) of Schlesinger's recent book.
Ask your students to read these articles as background for discussing the pros and cons of multicultural education.
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