Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning by Jacques Barzun. University of Chicago Press, 1991.
For those who are looking for an effective antidote to Madeline Hunter's "seven elements of instruction" and her "dipsticking" activities, Barzun's book of intelligently written essays is one of the best available. As a Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Columbia University, he has written about educational issues for many years. This book covers essential themes of good education such as the use of essay questions to develop students' understanding of real school subjects, i.e., history, geography, English, mathematics, foreign languages and the sciences. His insights into current curriculum issues are provocative and sensible. He says, "Right now, in despair, some schools are 'experimenting' with courses in problem-solving and in critical thinking. The school has not taught how to learn; now it wants to climb that Mt. Everest of intellect, critical thought. Critical thinking can only be learned by the discussion of an idea which is part of a subject, under the guidance of an able thinker. Thinking is like piano-playing; it is shown, not taught." (p. 46). Read this book! It will give you a unique view of schools by a great scholar of the humanities.
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. Studs Terkel's statement about Your Gifted Child applies to the other volumes as well: "This remarkable book lets the reader know, simply yet eloquently, of the untapped potentialities of the child; and of the astonishing surprises that might ensue."
America 2000: An Educational Strategy
President Bush's proposal for improving the state of America's schools contains an element which could have a revolutionary effect upon educating gifted children. This is the recommendation that national tests be developed for assessing students' knowledge in English, mathematics, science, history, and geography. Such tests, if presented as essay questions, could provide a significant impetus for expanding AP courses, differentiated instruction in specific subjects, International Baccalaureate programs, and rigorous field work outside of secondary school. Would national examinations improve the quality of gifted programs? Would more specialized subjects be offered in these programs? Since educators of the gifted could take a leadership role in developing and using these tests, we would like to know your opinions on this matter. Please let us hear from you.
Follow-up on Multicultural Education
In our first issue we briefly discussed this matter and listed some relevant articles and books to use with gifted students. Some additional references are as follows:
America Before Columbus: The Untold Story by Lewis Lord & Sarah Burke. U.S. News & World Report. July 8, 1991, pp. 22-37.
Taking Tribalism Out of History by John Leo. U.S. News & World Report. July 29, 1991, p. 14.
The Professoriate of Fear by Mortimer B. Zuckerman. U.S. News & World Report. July 29, 1991, p. 64.
Early Man: The Radical New View of Where We Came From by William F. Allman. U.S. News & World Report. September 16, 1991, pp. 53-60.
Afrocentrism: Was Cleopatra Black? Facts or Fantasies -- A Debate Rages Over What to Teach Our Kids About Their Roots. Newsweek. September 23, 1991, pp. 42-50.
Recommended fiction on multicultural issues for gifted high school students. RAIN by W. Somerset Maugham is a long short-story written in 1920. It exemplifies the type of literature gifted students should read in order for them to become involved with the seminal works of world literature. This story also demonstrates the quality of great literature which motivates students to analyze the writer's attitude about what he or she has written. It has interested Americans to such an extent that three major films have been made about it featuring great actresses. Maugham's tale is recommended for gifted high school students because it pits the problem of ethnocentric thinking against the inner psychological tension essential to human sexuality. He also describes the cultural tensions between the Polynesian life style and the theology of the Christian missionary. This story was written before Margaret Mead's field work in these same islands, American Samoa, and before the impact of Freud's theory in Great Britain and the United States. The main characters represent the Freudian battle between the Super Ego (the missionary) and the Id (the prostitute). Gifted students will appreciate the literary artistry of how Maugham dealt with these issues and forged a great story. I call this interaction of students with literature, reconstructionism. Heraclitus (Michael E. Walters)
The Prufrock Journal: The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education. (quarterly). Joel E. McIntosh, Publisher & Editor; 1617 North Valley Mills Drive; Suite 237; Waco, TX 76710-2552. Contains many excellent articles on secondary curriculum for the gifted. A much needed journal in the gifted field.
The Concord Review. (quarterly). Will Fitzhugh, Editor & Publisher; P.O. Box 661; Concord, MA 01742. A journal of essays by secondary level students of history. It should be available in all high school history courses. The extraordinary fall 1991 issue contains articles by students in International Baccalaureate programs.
Gifted Education Review. (quarterly). Carol Fertig, Editor & Publisher; P.O. Box 2278; Evergreen, CO 80439. A new and much needed periodical which summarizes articles from other gifted publications.
Mentor. (quarterly). Maureen Waters, Editor & Publisher; P.O. Box 4382; Overland Park, KS 66240. Includes many interesting articles which are relevant for mentoring gifted children.
The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of Gifted and Talented Learners by Karen Rogers, University of St. Thomas. This excellent summary (order # 9101 - $2.00) and full length paper (order # 9102 - $12.00) should be ordered directly from Dissemination Coordinator; The National Research Center on the Gifted/Talented; The University of Connecticut; 362 Fairfield Road, U-7: Storrs, CT 06290-2007. It provides a thorough critique of the effects of grouping upon gifted students by addressing such issues as: What does research really say about ability grouping? Do gifted students benefit from cooperative learning?
Response to Washington Post Article Criticizing Gifted Education Programs by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, College of William and Mary. In Gifted Education Press Newsletter, Fall 1991. Cost = $3.00. Address: 10201 Yuma Court; P.O. Box 1586; Manassas, VA 22110.
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"The Gifts of nature are infinite in their variety, and mind differs from mind almost as much as body from body." Quintilian
"A mind stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimension." Oliver Wendell Holmes/ "Only those who dare to fail can ever achieve greatly." Robert Kennedy/ "It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement." Mabel Newcomber