Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From the Week of January 18th

ALONG WITH THE BIENNIAL WORLD CONFERENCE for Gifted and Talented Children this August in Vancouver, the Lower Mainland Gifted Contacts is sponsoring a Youth Summit Vancouver 2009, according to one of our good subscribers (thanks, Louise). The international event is geared for gifted students ages 15–18 and is being held at the University of British Columbia. The chairperson of the Youth Summit says that they are already registering students from around the world, including Germany, New Zealand, China, Singapore, and Afghanistan. Information about the Summit is included in the World Conference brochure -- look hard or else visit http://www.worldgifted2009.com/.

KNOWING OUR CHILDREN. A New York Times Magazine blog, "Motherlode," asks whether we really know our children, and then suggests that, for parents, "
there is often a mismatch between what we see when we look at our children, and what is really there." The writer relates stories of parents who don't notice patterns of behavior until an educator comments on them, or until a child asks for help with the behavior; or missing AD/HD for years, all-the-while just urging the child to try harder. The reasons? We're too close, and we sometimes we don't want to acknowledge certain things. Reading the article gave us flashbacks to some of our omissions of observation and reasoning. You can feel guilty too, if you read the article.

REMEMBER THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE, and the faces on the fronts of all of the engines? British researchers have developed a video DVD called The Transporters that uses a similar technique to get autistic children to look at faces and learn about emotions. Vehicle such as trams, cable cars, and tractors are fronted with faces of highly expressive actors. An NPR report this week relates successful results from the use of the DVD; you may also see an excerpt from the DVD at NPR's site.

STRESS AND ASTHMA. An international study by researchers in New Zealand has found that stress in childhood -- psychosocial, physical, or mental -- are associated with an increased risk of developing asthma later in life. Whether the link is causal is unclear, although, according to the lead researcher,
"Chronic stress and mental disorders are known to be associated with deleterious changes in stress hormone pathways and in immune responses, leading to inflammation."
Read the Reuters article.

MENSA RECOGNIZES GIFTEDNESS PROFESSIONALS. The organization Mensa has awarded Miraca Gross with its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2008. Gross is a professor of gifted education at the University of New South Wales, Australia, and long-time contributor to the field of giftedness.
This award is presented every other year by the Mensa in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the field of intelligence and related subjects.
Read the announcement. In addition, Deborah Ruf is the current winner of the organization's Intellectual Benefits Award, which recognizes the application of intellectual abilities that result in tangible benefit to society. Ruf is the founder of Educational Options, an author, and a frequent presenter. Read Mensa's announcement. Subscribers to 2e Newsletter may find our coverage of some of Ruf's NAGC sessions in the subscriber-only area of the 2e Newsletter website. Thanks to OGTOC for bringing these awards to our attention.

AUTISTIC VERSUS "NORMAL." The BBC reports on UK researchers who contend that children diagnosed with autism have severe versions of character traits shared by many other, presumably "normal," children. So the traits, according to the article, do not begin and end on the autism spectrum, but continue into the population of children as a whole. A quote from one of the researchers:
"Clinicians and those involved in education need to aware that there are children who do not have autism but who nevertheless have somewhat elevated levels of autistic traits - our research suggests that these children are at slightly greater risk of developing behavioural and emotional problems." Read the article.

MORE ON THE "GIFTED" LABEL. We've reported previously on the ruckus over the Washington Post's reportage that the MCPS schools were dropping the gifted label, and on the schools' response to the article. (See our posts from the weeks of January 4th and December 14th.) The debate over the label, however, continues on the pages of the Post. You can read more about how advocates for the gifted and school officials feel about the gifted label at the Post's website. You can even take a poll about whether you feel the gifted label should be dropped. (Over 10,000 people have voted as of the date of this posting.)

RESOURCES FOR HARD-CORE BRAIN FREAKS. This month's issue of Brain in the News from the Dana Foundation brings pointers to a couple of sites that might be of interest to parents, educators, and clinicians who are seriously interested in brain research. One is a blog called "Brain Windows," focusing on new tools for examining the brain; be advised that the discussion is often technical (eg, "Update: Structure of G-CaMP2"). The other is a series of online videos from the Society of Neuroscience -- dozens of interviews with "eminent and senior scientists" in the area of neuroscience.

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. Want to hear why Maurice Fisher has been publishing a journal/newsletter on gifted education for over 20 years? Who else but Michael Shaughnessy interviews Mr. Fisher on his goals for the quarterly and the contents of the most recent issue. Read the interview.

GIFTED ED: CLUSTER VS. PULL-OUT. An article in the Arizona Republic explains how some Arizona schools cluster young gifted students within the classroom rather than providing pull-out services, where students leave the classroom. The director of gifted education for the Paradise Valley Unified School District, Dina Brulles, says in the article that "the practice of cluster grouping provides full-time academic services to gifted students with minimal budget implications."
Read more about the practice.

NEGLECTING THE GIFTED? EdNews.org's Michael Shaughnessy interviewed psychologist, professor, and SENG board member Steve Pfeiffer this week, soliciting Pfeiffer's opinions on the book about child giftedness he recently edited, the unmet social/emotional needs of gifted children, identifying gifted children, and his work with SENG. Read the interview.

LEARNING OUTSIDE THE BOX. We were in the car driving through Wisconsin last weekend and heard a "To the Best of Our Knowledge" program from NPR on the topic of learning outside the box. The program turned out to be a re-broadcast, but it's interesting listening regardless. Moderator Jim Fleming talks to experts such as author/speaker Jonathan Mooney, alternative education advocate Matt Hearn, and author and professor Michael Piechowski, who talked about the intensity with which gifted children experience their lives. Hear it.

MIND CANDY. In a recent Frazz cartoon, the good janitor and Caulfield discussed the definition of insanity... and expectations. Read it.

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