Tag: UNESCO

Is using the word ‘gifted’ the right word for labeling those few individuals that rise to the top? I have been struggling with this question the past few weeks since my visit to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris where they refer to the gifted individual as ‘high potential’ individuals and while doing my own research on homeschooling the gifted. I have also had several discussions with all types of educators and non-educators who have already have an idea of what the term ‘gifted’ means the second you say it.

If you take the time to look up all the different terms to describe the gifted individual you will turn up a whole range of terms: exceptional or high potential, high academic ability, intellectual ability, accelerated learner, high abilities, able learners. I recently read through the different country reports in the WorldGifted newsletter (World Council for Gifted and Talented Children) and found that different countries have different ways of referring to their extra-special students, too. The question has existed for years because I remember active discussions in my graduate classes about labeling a children.

We can’t change the perception that one has when they hear the word ‘gifted’ until we are able to thoroughly and confidently explain how these learners are different. Why Not Gifted has explained their position on the matter (which was the inspiration for this entry). I know that Ohio gifted educators are now struggling with their state government are working out how to describe these students and their needs for funding purposes. Labeling a child is quite a slippery but a necessary thing to do so I offer the following metaphor to help the uninformed relate.

Take a moment to watch the following video from Mythbusters: Mythbusters. Here’s how my metaphor works: You know there are banana peels (different perceptions and emotional responses of what gifted means), you know there should be the objective to educate the students to their full potential (Adam navigating his way through the peels). Gifted educators, some parents and others know the cold hard facts (the floor) that these students have different academic, creative and social/emotional needs which, if not addressed, can negatively impact the child’s perception and confidence in themselves in their future. We’ve slipped several times during the history of defining and educating our cream of the crop but let’s hope that we have increased our understanding along the way.

We, as a responsible, thoughtful and cautious society, might have to hold hands to get across those bananas (come together), we might have to come up with a hover board to get across those bananas (create something new), we might compromise (continue our current path), go around the bananas (ignore the gifted learner all together) or wait for the bananas to decompose (the child grows up and out of the educational world). Whatever we choose, let’s apply the sound scientific principles, logical testing procedures and solid record keeping, just like Jamie and Adam, before we answer this question. We are sure to blow up a few myths along the way. In any case, let’s not forget to have fun!

Gifted Education

Sorry, I haven’t posted recently. Not much had inspired me lately, then we took a 12 day trip to Brazil/Rio sailing with friends. More about that later.

What I really wanted to write about was a discussion that my daughter and I had a couple days ago. She’s currently doing her internship in the education branch of UNESCO in Paris. She attended an interesting task force on teachers. I decided to explore this a bit deeper by going to their site online. I found this very interesting statistic in the action plan document: Without adequate numbers of professionally qualified teachers, access, quality and equity of education suffer. Globally the recruitment, deployment and retention of 18 million additional teachers is needed by 2015 to reach the goal of universal primary education with a pupil- teacher ratio of 40 – 1.

Forty students to one teacher worldwide by 2015. Sounds reasonable if you live in the US or other developed countries. If you live in the desert, deep in the outback, or in the slums of Brazil, this number becomes more daunting. How can one teacher be supported and encouraged in less than desirable conditions?

Eighteen million teachers are needed worldwide by 2015. That’s six years from now. So today, say, ten million teachers are needed. That’s quite a demand. Our world deserves teachers, our children deserve to learn. For those of you who are teaching right now – you’re doing a great thing! Let’s inspire more individuals to teach and support international programs that work to provide education to all!

Added: 3/18/09 This tidbit of information came across my screen and I thought it appropriate to add to this article from The American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence “Need for New Teachers – America’s children will need 2 million new teachers by 2014.”

Random 'Munchings"

People are a distinct species known as the homo sapiens sapiens. Do you realize the full impact of the thought that you are ONE in 6,751,687,611 humans in the world according to the best estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau on 01/05/09 at 00:06 GMT (EST+5)? My mind has been churning lately on just how many homo sapiens sapiens there are and have been in the world. Each with their own thoughts, desires and needs. Each looking daily for their sustenance. Do you realize right now that a mother of two may be cooking a meal in her big kitchen fully stocked at the same time that a mother of ten is cooking over a fire in a worn pot using what she can find? Do you comprehend that around half of the 6,751,687,611 people in the world are preparing, storing or throwing away food at the same time? I have watched the driven suburban mother on her cell phone urgently telling someone to pick up their child from soccer while scanning the grocery shelf like her family is the only family in the world doing the same thing.

We can easily find opulent images of the wealthy and healthy on the billboards, in the newspapers and on the net. Then in one the matter of a second we can see images of the depravity and cruelty that exists around the world with humans in all types of situation. Consider people enjoying their yacht lacking nothing then swing your mind to the starving child that has nothing and you can understand why I feel the urge to explore this issue.

Now, take the vertical plunge and imagine the images you’ve seen from the past – the remains of a prehistoric homo sapien sapien, the artwork portraying a Pharaoh of ancient Egypt or learn how many people died from the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages or the black and white photographs men lying on Normandy Beach on D-Day. As archeologists explore more and more of the layers of history in areas such as South America, the ancient Puebloans living in the valleys of southwestern Colorado, and the Middle East, science is discovering that humans have lived, loved, and learned since forever.

You are reading this blog because someone in your life, be it the government or an individual made sure you had an education. According to UNESCO about 80% of the people in the world are literate. You are one of the lucky ones who can read AND have access to the internet, 1,350,337,522 people cannot.

Well, that’s just some food for thought.

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