Category: <span>International Gifted and Talented Educational Issues</span>

I’m sharing this poem with you from the editor of the TAGT Tempo Magazine. It reminds us to look forward to the wild and crazy ride of our future thanks to those gifted and talented individuals in our world!!

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent.
They imagine.
They heal.
They explore.
They create.
They inspire.

They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that has never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough
to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

Education Gifted Education International Gifted and Talented Educational Issues

My Most Moderately Gifted Royal Daughter (my new nickname for her BTW) sent me the notes from a talk she attended at UNESCO in Paris on Nov 4. She states (and I agree) “I think it’s good for teachers in the US to be in the know about how US education is viewed on the international scene…..” How many teachers in our nation even think of themselves as a necessary link in our society beyond our country’s borders? We must think about how our students will function in the world rather than in our backyard. We need to ask the question daily: What do we need to do to today prepare our students for 2030 and beyond? Simple things like deciding that an elementary student can miss a day of school to participate in a region-wide chess tournament or providing the technical tools necessary to connect a classroom to one on the other side of the world.

Here are the notes from the talk. There is a link to the entire speech at the end of this post.

The Vision of Education Reform in the United States of America
with Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO
Mr. Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Education
on Thursday, 4 November 2010, 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.


“Teachers are unsung heroes…Teachers are underpaid, and great teachers are immensely underpaid.”

“What can the U.S. learn from other nations?”

“States have become ‘compliance factories’ to federal-level educational initiatives. It is time to give them a more creative role again.”

“The best way to build consensus is to get teachers’ opinions on reform.”

“Expanding educational attainment and achievements around the world together is the only way forward.” -Secretary Duncan

Mr. Duncan was introduced at the start of the program. He is currently U.S. Secretary of Education under the Obama administration. He has held numerous posts including as superintendant of Chicago public schools, and has also played professional basketball (he was also team captain of the Harvard basketball team).

The presentation was organized to shed light on the following question: How can we provide the same opportunities to those living in economic disadvantaged or isolated areas in the U.S.? This is essential for maximizing education’s role in sustainable development. The U.S. education system, especially at the university level, is a major role model for other nations. However, there are numerous problems, at local, national and international levels, that need to be addressed through reform. A few numbers to shed light on these challenges:

The current drop out rate is around 25% in 2009 for K-12 → Crime
Over 90% of incarcerated individuals are high school drop outs → Wasted potential
The percentage of American adults who are college graduates is only around 42% → U.S. ranked only 9th in the world
Around half of Ph.D. students at U.S. universities are foreign-born, and a majority of them do not return home after graduation → Brain drain

The Secretary highlighted the U.S.’s role in rebuilding Haitian schools as well as those ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. He also spoke of the particular importance of girls’ education and integration into the work force for eliminating poverty and increasing human development in the U.S. Mr. Duncan also elaborated upon President Obama’s intentions for education reform. In addition to those mentioned above, they include:

Improving teacher evaluation and respect for teachers; enhancing their career trajectories;

Expanding high performance schools’ policies and practices to all schools;

To redress problems relating to financing higher education, including banks taking advantage of low-income university students who carry great debt upon graduation

Improving teacher evaluation and respect for teachers; enhancing their career trajectories;

Expanding high performance schools’ policies and practices to all schools;

To redress problems relating to financing higher education, including banks taking advantage of low-income university students who carry great debt upon graduation

Speaking more directly to the UNESCO audience, the Secretary’s modesty regarding the U.S.’s challenges and his openness to learn lessons from other nations’ education systems (especially from success stories in Singapore, Finland and South Korea) was well received by Member States.
Mr. Duncan highlighted a number of concerns about the status quo of education in the U.S. First, a cycle of failure can be seen in the lowest performing five percent of schools (around 2,000) which produce around half of the nation’s drop outs. Capacities must be expanded to in “drop out factories”. More should be done to reach out to minorities, especially in light of the fact that a large majority of drop outs are of Latino and African American origin.

The Secretary offered a number of solutions as he closed his presentation. First, children must be better engaged. This means providing for more extra curricular activities, a child-by-child approach, and increasing the number mentors/counsellors available to schoolchildren. Secondly, technology and media such as Skype and Facebook should be used to create cross-cultural dialogues between classrooms in the U.S. and foreign countries.

Resistance to implementing reform does not only come from teachers. Many obstacles are the fault of bureaucratic practices at higher levels as well as conflicting interests among parents, teachers, principals, and policy-makers. To garner support among teachers for implementing reform, Mr. Duncan stated that increasing teacher salaries is not enough. Teacher training and the career ladder/trajectories could be changed. Instead of having to wait until age 55 to finally earn a decent salary, why not create incentives for young teachers to perform with excellence—and then reward them with salary increases. More incentives like Teach for America could be explored to improve respect for the teaching career. Actively recruiting teachers from the top third of college graduates would elevate the profession and enhance its competitiveness.

More important, teachers should be given more of a voice in the reform debate. Currently, teacher ambassadors are called upon to provide input and critiques into national reform. This should be pursued and expanded to state and local levels.

During the Q&A session following Mr. Duncan’s speech, audience members were keen on finding more about how to prevent juvenile violence; what the Department of Education is doing to teach tolerance of cultural and socioeconomic diversity in the classroom; where more information about technology in education could be found; what his thoughts were on standardizing European universities; and what the U.S. was doing to alleviate the ‘brain drain’ problem.

Here is the full text of his speech.

Education International Gifted and Talented Educational Issues Random 'Munchings"