Welcome to a collection of thoughts, questions and interesting links relating to giftedness ..............
You may also like to check out my website where you will find more information for children, parents and teachers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Free Stuff

While I have been moving into my office I have rediscovered a few things! Amongst these are 25 copies of a DVD which I have decided to give away. This 30 minute DVD called the The Gifted Puzzle was made in 2004 by the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted (AEEGT) was filmed at a family camp in NSW.

This DVD covers a number of topics that will be of interest including identification, siblings, transition points and acceleration. It features parents chatting about questions and concerns and shows the positives for both parents and children of connecting with others. You also see the kids in workshops and hear their thoughts on opportunities to mix with like minds.

If you would like a copy of The Gifted Puzzle please enclose your name and postal address along with $1.10 worth of stamps (to cover the cost of the postage) inside an envelope and send to Thinking Ahead PO Box 171 Como. We will post off copies each week until the 25 are all gone (I will endeavour to update the website to let you know how many copies remain).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tips for Raising Learners

Over the last few months I have been thinking about some of the challenging (but very interesting) ideas I came across when reading a book titled ‘What’s the Point of School?” by Guy Claxton and will post more on those as the ideas distil a little more.

Towards the end of the book there is a focus on families as learning communities, acknowledging that as children do not come with an instruction manual, parents necessarily spend a lot of their time in the ‘Don’t Know’ zone. It urges parents to embrace being a Learner (rather a ‘Knower’), reminding us that it is never too late to further exercise our own ‘learning muscles’. In the process we can provide valuable role models to our children about the process of learning.

Here are the tips for a family as a learning community
  •  Be a visible learner for your children 
  •  Involve children in adult conversations
  • Let them spend time with you while you are doing difficult things
  • Involve children in family decisions
  • Tell your children stories about thyo0ur learning difficulties
  • Encourage children to spend time with people who have interesting things to share
  • Don’t rush in too quickly to rescue children when they are having diff
  • Restrain the impulse to teach
  • Don’t praise too much – use interest rather than approval
  • Acknowledge the ‘effort’, not the ‘ability’
  • Make clear boundaries and maintain them
  • Don’t over stimulate – boredom breeds imagination
  • Choose multi-purpose and open ended toys
  • Encourage different kinds of computer use
  • Talk to children about the process of learning (without offering too much advice)
  • Watch and learn groom your children’s learning

Monday, March 15, 2010

Skills for the 21st Century

There is no doubt the world is a different place now to when we were children and that different skills are needed to negotiate it. Consider the sorts of things that a child starting school now takes for granted that were undreamed of when I started school in 1966 (the list is enormous!).

Knowledge is being generated at such a pace that it is no longer possible to learn ‘everything’, nor is it possible to memorise the answers to life’s myriad of questions. Our children will grow up into a world that despite our life experiences, even we can’t imagine. They will require skills we are not yet aware of to solve problems that do not yet exist.
Change is inescapable but it also adds new dimensions to life.

How can we prepare our children for the world they will grow into?

One useful tool is the creative thinking process which provides us with tools for managing change. Building confidence in the ability to generate many and varied possibilities to paradoxes, challenges or concerns and then searching for meaningful connections between them is a way to empower kids (and adults) and build their confidence to manage change effectively.

This processes of generative thinking followed by focussing thinking work in harmony. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. Both are important, too much creative (generative) thinking can leave us drowning in divergence, with no path forward. Without it, we may not look widely enough or consider unique or original possibilities. The evaluative (focussing) thinking lets us look for patterns and underlying connections and to evaluate by criteria relevant to the problem we are trying to address.

A ‘safe’ climate is important for creativity, after all idea generation requires an element of risk taking. Deferring judgement is also critical to the flow of ideas. It is worth keeping in mind that praise is also a judgement. The challenge perhaps for our brightest students is that they may feel pressured to have the ‘right’ answer. Opportunities to come up with more than one solution or idea and to see adults talk through the process they use in decision making can be helpful.

If we are truly looking for solutions, we would also benefit from encouraging novel ideas but then cautiously sticking to more familiar and ‘safe’ ideas when we focus our thinking. Novel ideas are rarely born fully fledged and often need more development. Often they look ambitious or unlikely initially.

Of course, there is no one right way to the future and there are many opinions about which skills are most important. The World Future Society have a slightly different view.
‘The single most critical skill for the 21st Century

In this era of accelerating change, knowledge is no longer the key to a prosperous life. Foresight is the critical skill. Knowledge quickly goes out of date, but foresight enables you to navigate change, make good decisions and take action now to create a better future’

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