BOOK NEWS AND REVIEWS
"Time flies." With this issue we present a summing-up of the best books reviewed in GIFTED EDUCATION NEWS-PAGE over the last six years. This list should help those readers who seek highlights of past issues. Here are outstanding books published since 1989 that we recommend for everyone concerned with the development and education of gifted children. They are listed primarily in the order in which they were reviewed.
The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach by Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1991. The author discusses how research on thinking and cognitive development can help those with the highest abilities, but 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. This is an important book which all educators concerned with developing a stimulating curriculum for the gifted should read.
Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice by Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1993. A comprehensive summary of the applications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner's original work on this topic, Frames of Mind, was published in 1983. We have always been impressed with his engaging style of writing about multiple intelligences because he writes from the perspective of a humanist psychologist and scholar of the arts and humanities than as a narrowly focused psychometric theorist.
Education of the Gifted: Programs and Perspectives by Joan F. Smutny and Rita H. Blocksom. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa, 1990.
A Thoughtful Overview of Gifted Education by Judy W. Eby and Joan F. Smutny. New York: Longman, 1990.
Your Gifted Child: How to Recognize and Develop the Special Talents in Your Child from Birth to Age Seven by Joan F. Smutny, Kathleen Veenker and Stephen Veenker. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.
Many parents are effective advocates for gifted children but they do not usually read enough in the field. These three books by Joan Smutny (Director - Center for the Gifted; National-Louis University; Evanston, IL) and her colleagues should be used as a set for providing parents with information they need about the gifted field. All three volumes are written with enthusiasm and considerable knowledge concerning what it takes to raise and educate the gifted.
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.
Terman's Kids: The Groundbreaking Study of How the Gifted Grow Up by Joel N. Shurkin. Little, Brown, 1992. An excellent resource for those individuals who would like to learn more about the gifted, and to read a concise description of Terman's research. Shurkin has provided readers with a complete description of the technical details of Terman's longitudinal study of about 2,000 intellectually gifted individuals.
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. 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.
The Creators: A History of the Heroes of the Imagination by Daniel J. Boorstin. Random House, 1992. Besides being of great value to educators and parents interested in the humanities, this book would be a very useful resource in advanced secondary and college level humanities courses.
Gifted Children: Myths and Realities by Ellen Winner. Basic Books, 1996. A unique and essential work in a field that has an abundance of textbooks on identifying and educating gifted children. Winner's book is similar in quality to a few exceptional works in the gifted field such as Gifted Children: Their Nature and Nurture (1926) by Leta S. Hollingworth and Differential Education for the Gifted (1980) by Virgil S. Ward.
Some Of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Pre-School to High School by Judith Wynn Halsted. Ohio Psychology Press: Dayton, OH, 1994. A comprehensive guide on the importance of books in the lives and education of gifted and intellectually curious students. Besides providing extensive information on how books can be used to foster their emotional and intellectual development, Halsted gives the reader useful background information on the history of current issues in gifted education.
Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership by Howard Gardner. Basic Books, 1995. Although this study of leadership has wide applications to education and society, Gardner's book is of special interest to educators of the gifted because it provides many insights into the leadership characteristics of highly able individuals in science, social change, politics and business.
Gardner argues that leaders exert their primary influence through the stories they tell and the embodiment of these stories in various traits.
Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman. Bantam, 1995. Provides information that teachers can use to design emotional training in differentiated programs. Of equal importance, it can help gifted children to understand the neurological foundations of emotional responses, particularly the short circuiting that occurs when sensory stimuli bypass the cognitive areas of the brain and directly impact on the emotional areas (amygdala).
Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. Hardcover Edition (1994) -- Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York. Paperback Edition (1996) -- Berkley Books: New York. A work of both fiction and nonfiction -- both genres are interwoven into an exciting story about a fourteen-year-old girl's encounters with the great ideas of Western philosophy. We highly recommend Sophie's World for use in the humanities curriculum because it provides intellectually advanced students with an overview of philosophy through the eyes of a charming and bright teenager.
To be Continued
SUMMER CONFERENCE -- Open Space Communications, Inc. will offer a conference (Chaired by Joan Smutny) on The Gifted Child in the Regular Classroom August 8-9, 1997 in Boulder, Colorado. Call 1-800-494-6178 for further information.
MARCIA DAVENPORT'S MEMOIR OF GIFTEDNESS by MICHAEL E. WALTERS
CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF THE HUMANITIES IN THE SCHOOLS
". . . .Between us we might build up in America an audience fit to listen to geniuses, and therefore ready to produce them." From The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant.
This quote by Will Durant describes the lifestyle of Marcia Davenport (1903-96). Mrs. Davenport's memoir is entitled, Too Strong for Fantasy (Scribner's, 1967). She portrays a community of gifted personalities in her time and place, and the range of her cultural and political interactions are awesome to the reader. There was to begin with her immediate family: her mother was the world renowned opera and concert performer, Alma Gluck. Davenport's childhood was suffused with singers, musicians and conductors of such note as Arturo Toscanini. In her twenties, she completed what was and is still considered to be the best biography of Mozart (published in 1932, revised in 1956). Her homes were in New York City and Connecticut but she constantly traveled to Europe, especially to Salzburg, Austria and Prague, Czechoslovakia. Because of her experiences in these two European cities, she witnessed the totalitarian repercussions of Hitler and Stalin. Many of her close companions were refugees and victims of both of these regimes. An example was Jan Masaryk, the son of the founder of the Czech Republic in 1918, and later a martyred prime minister of Czechoslovakia who was deposed by a Stalinist coup in 1948. In middle age, Mrs. Davenport became a famous novelist of such books as Valley of Decision (1942) and a traveling magazine journalist for The New Yorker and The Saturday Evening Post. Her book editor was Maxwell Perkins of Scribner's. Through him she met the major writers of the 1930s and 1940s such as Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway.
Mrs. Davenport's memoir is a travelogue into the world of giftedness as shown by the individual's productivity rather than by standardized test scores. The talents and abilities of the people discussed in this book were universally accepted -- Arturo Toscanini, George Gershwin, Leontyne Price, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, E.B. White and Theodore White. Too Strong for Fantasy is now out of print and it deserves to be republished as a legacy to giftedness. If American society wants to produce geniuses, there must be an audience to respond to their insights, artistic activities, and political and ethical sensibilities. Davenport's book enables educators of the gifted to appreciate the need for creating an audience for their students.
Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, June-July 1997