Month: <span>March 2007</span>

I have just watched the Legacy of Rosina Lhevinne on the Documentary Channel. If you ever have the chance to see this documentary, it is particulary good. The program is fantastic for teachers of the gifted. She taught some of the most gifted and talented individuals during her time at the Julliard School of Music. I’d like to tease you a few quotes from the program to entice you. I’ve italicized a response to each quote and how it might relate to teaching the gifted child.

“She can do so much for a student and get so much out of a student through inspiration.” Van Cliburn Inspiring a gifted student to do more is not easy. I have found that inspiration comes only after a solid, trusting relationship has been established. The student must respect your knowledge on the subject(s) that interested him or her. A teacher may want to become versed in technology for this reason. I won over a particulary difficult gifted student because I could teach him things about technology that he could use.

“She had an uncanny ability to suit the way she was teaching to what she thought the student would absorb and react to the best.” John Williams This is differentiation in its purest form. Thinking continuously about the needs, levels and abilities of each student was ongoing as I planned curriculum. I asked questions like, “How can I provide challenge for this child and/or for fundamental knowledge in another child within the same lesson? How can I keep this student interested and that student challenged but not so challenged that they grow disinterested or discouraged.”

“She was not a dictator, she was just so severe in the demand that the person really do the ‘completest’ (sic) development that was possible and in that demand, she was very specific.” James Levine Setting high expectations, moving the student to higher and higher levels, encouraging them to wrestle through difficulties….students need to fail at times because that is when their learning becomes personal and valuable. Many gifted students are very hard on themselves when they fail. They know they are smart, they have been told they are smart. It’s important that teachers of the gifted to assure the student that failing is as important as succeeding. In fact, more learning occurs after failing because alternatives and options surface. Masterful teachers know just when to ‘stage’ failure to elicit the most learning for their students.

“She used so many forms of psychology….sometimes it would stimulate you to make it work.” Van Cliburn Every teacher does this on a daily basis. Here Van Cliburn was relating an instance where Rosina told him that a piece was too difficult for him. He set out to prove her wrong. Motivating a gifted child requires he/she has numerous ways to encourage and motivate the gifted learner that are intrinsic in value. Extrinsic motivations will have limited usefulness and value as the gifted student moves through the grades.

“If you convince me your way is right I accept it, and I leave it alone, it is only when I think you don’t know what you want that I move in.” Rosina Lhevinne The gifted child just may have a new of different way to solve problems and are eager to share their insight to anyone standing nearby. Teachers of the average learner might misunderstand the motivation for the gifted child, who just can’t reign their excitement, as trying to take over the class or undermine the teacher’s ability or authority.

” ….beautiful balance between inputing into the student what you are and what the student can absorb …..” James Levine I’m reminded of this frequently. As teachers, we should remember that not everyone in the classroom will like our unit on lighthouses which we feel so passionate about or fall in love with the novel under study for the next six weeks. We have to strike the balance between who we are as teachers and who our students are.

Gifted Education


Originally uploaded by afrench2.

The biggest landscaping project Dave or I have ever done is finally finished. You can see the walkway and three of the planters from this view. There is one more planter just out of the picture. The stones were laid mostly by me, the sand between the stones was done by me. All the heavy stuff and lots of loads of sand and dirt were brought over by Dave.

The plants are all Native Texas plants because I figure they need the best start I can give them. I don’t necessarily have a green thumb. I just hope that all these plants like their new home. I chose white and pink blooming flowers with one deep red bottle brush just in front of the trees.

Big project! It feels good to have designed it and completed it with my husband. We make a great team! I hope your sping projects have gone as well. If not, I give you what’s left of my energy and enthusiasm. You can do it!

Random 'Munchings"

Do you have a quote for educating the gifted child, teaching the gifted child or parenting the gifted child. Please feel free to send your suggestions to

  • “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)
  • “Every child deserves an equal opportunity to struggle.” (Mary Landrum)
  • “Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children the same age to wear the same size clothing.” (Madeline Hunter)
  • “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar!” (Helen Keller)
  • “You can never hold a person down without staying down with him.” (Booker T. Washington)
  • “Give me rigor or give me mortis!” (Michael Clay Thompson)
  • “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” (Justice Felix Frankfurter)
  • “The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do.” (John Stuart Mill)


I was spurred by an entry at David Schenck’s weblog ( entitled “The Myelin in All of Us” so I wanted to share my comment to it here.

His entry brings to mind a ‘random munching’ I dwelt on for a few months. “What if I wanted to play the piano like Horowitz, lead an army like Patton, or cook like Julia Child? Would I have been able to, if I were trained to do so from a very early age? Is it too late now for me to become an expert in a field like astrophysics (I’m 46). With intensive training and practice, how far would I progress to be a tennis star? Can an expert tell ‘right off the bat’ that I wouldn’t do well in ballet (even if my general build indicates that I would be?)

In the eons to come after all this research, I envision that every field of endeavor’s criteria so well documented that no time is wasted on training that doesn’t fit the individual’s natural tendencies. Another direction might be capturing all knowledge and information in a tiny chip and installing it in an individual’s mind. Schools might only be used for teaching morals and good social behavior. Then I could be that expert in whatever field I choose for today, and then, tomorrow I could choose something else. But would I still be limited physically and mentally?”

It’s food for thought.  Where will all this research take us?

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I’m linking to an online chat sponsored by The topic: gifted and the moderators just recently published an interesting book on the topic. Parents and educators can both glean some useful information from the chat. The main points are: gifted learners truly learn differently than others. This fact needs needs to be part of the gifted child’s academic plan, gifted educators need to inform/educate all educators about these learning needs, and parents should to educate themselves on their child’s academic needs. We should all keep in mind that when a child is tested and labeled ‘gifted’ it does not mean they are gifted in all areas. They may actually encounter additional difficulties socially and emotionally derived from their ‘giftedness’.

There are lots of wonderful sites within the chat that one can go for more information.

Gifted Education


Originally uploaded by afrench2.

It is so nice outside right now. If you haven’t been outside to enjoy the nice weather, shame on you. It won’t wait for you. If you live in the south, you only have a few days to be outside. It’s now or never!

We’ve picked an outside project to try to complete before the weather turns hot. This our front circle. Those stones…we moved them all. I moved the little ones, Dave moved the bigger ones. That dirt and sand, we moved it too. We still have several loads of dirt to bring over, several loads of flagstone and some planting to do. It’s expected to rain Wednesday and Thursday this week, just like it rained last week Friday and Saturday. Those prints you see in the walkway is the neighbor’s dog. He’s huge and he’s only a puppy. We’re hoping that the fencing (we are adding a 24 inch high wire fencing to the railings) will keep him out and our dogs in. That is the other spring project.

So, get outside! If you need something to do, head over to Texas. We got plenty!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Looks like nearly all zillion school districts in Houston go on spring break the same time.  Dave says the office is really quiet this week, workmate’s and their families are off skiing somewhere, probably.  I was thinking about how important a break is to teachers.  Some people think that a teacher’s yearly schedule is ideal; working shorter days, getting three months off.  That’s not really true.  Teachers need that break from the intensive day to day demands and schedule in their classroom.

To show for my spring break, my husband and I have nearly completed the landscaping in our front circle.  It has large square rust and gray colored stones outlining a curvy walkway that leads in and out of the circle.  It will soon be filled with flagstone that is reddish in color peppered with white leftover limestone from the house.  We’ve made a large garden bed and filled it with native Texas plants and so far, they are still alive.  And I’m hoping that the small white concrete bench will lend the area an informal invite to walk the path and come sit for a while.  The whole project has been quite enjoyable.  Lugging large stones and next to a zillion loads of dirt and sand into the space, planning the design and spending the money hasn’t been a drain on my mental and physical system, it’s been a boost.

The other thing we have to show for this spring break is a fence.  Now, we aren’t doing the work ourselves but we sure are paying for some quality work out there.  The 3 rail white vinyl fence (just like you see in the country magazines)  is being installed by a master.  You can tell.  He wastes no movements, works methodically, checks his work frequently and talks little.  In an essay I wrote for an undergraduate course, I called this type of person a ‘maestro’.  Someone who is a master of his/her chosen field.  My goal is to someday be a maestro in the field of education ….. but it is hard to give up days working at my own pace, creating something visibly pleasing.

Taking breaks are part of the process of becoming a maestro.  It gives one time to regroup, rethink and reflect on their live’s goals.  Spring break is a necessary thing if we, as a society, want to increase the quality of teachers working with its students.  Problem is, most teachers are working even harder during their break catching up on unfinished projects, housework, appointments or working with their own children.   What teachers truly need is a break from all their responsibilities.  A trip somewhere, time to sleep in, time to read a book for leisure (instead of planning lessons for the next week or month), time to work towards something they enjoy.  We all need it, whatever field we are in!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I just came across this story about the status of our young children and their weight. Many states have tried various ways to tackle this important issue. Arkansas tried weighing every child at school, then sending a postcard home to their parents as to their child’s status. Virginia had some kind of thing going on. Schools have been working towards taking soda and other unhealthy snacks out of their vending machines. Recess was always on the ‘chopping block’ at the sake of attaining higher test scores. It is an important issue!

Turns out that the schools are doing the right thing, either by way of normal moving about from class to class, health classes or PE. It appears that it is the parent’s choice (before and after school and during the summer). Hmmmm, we needed a study to tell us that. Of course. Schools establish routines and procedures that best suit their population. Teachers implement expectations and rules in their classroom so they are able to manage and teach the children in their care. What assistance do parents get to meet the demands of their children? Virtually none. Perhaps some will seek information on how to manage their children, but mostly, they ‘fly by the seat of their pants.’ Schools should be sources of information and encouragement to parents, sharing their knowledge. Parents should be right there soaking it up. Our children deserve it.

Random 'Munchings"