What Should Be on the Tombstone of Gifted Education? Part 3: Classroom Activities for Gifted Student

In Part 2 of the series, the distribution of gifted programs in school districts was analyzed in terms of the allocation of this resource within a school district. In the vast majority of school districts, gifted students are segregated in dedicated facilities in which they have to apply for entry. While this method has advantages for both children and adults in the c=school setting, the major disadvantage is that students who are truly gifted or highly motivated are filtered out by a variety of statistical factors such as test scores, grades, and age. Not only are statistical factors used but having a dedicated facility opens up the possibility of filtering based on human factors such as race, culture, and gender issues. The best option is to have gifted programs in each school so that many more students who are capable will have the access they need to gifted resources.

One of the worsening factors of modern gifted education is the level and quality of classroom activities available for these students. The modern classroom is not geared toward gifted students but rather to the middle student who is perched on the edge of passing the state test. The second priority in the classroom is the lowest student who contributes to the failing rate of state tests. It is assumed that gifted students will pass state exams so they are at the bottom of the school’s priorities. For those teachers that are allowed to design their own materials, this forces them into a teaching mode that focuses on the middle and low-level students and to virtually ignore gifted or highly motivated students. Since most school districts force teachers to use their materials, the district itself sets the stage for ignoring the needs of the gifted student.

In terms of the individual classroom assignment, gifted students require a higher quality set of goals and objectives to meet. Most assignments are geared toward a lower quality set of objectives which hinge of meeting goals based on lower-level thinking skills. The majority of students are operating at the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. This forces the assignment created by the teacher or district to be based on simple modes of vocabulary mastery and simple application to prescribed situations. Once this is done, the students and teachers move on to the next assignment. The gifted child, who is in need of further learning at higher levels, is left with an experience that only marginally stimulates their higher potential.

The assignments that are provided to gifted children are not properly designed for their educational needs. They are designed for students who are working at much lower levels on a daily basis. Gifted students require assignment and activities that stimulate their natural abilities to a much higher level of thinking. This is not to say that lower level assignments do not have value to the gifted student, but if the teacher stops at this point, then the gifted child to left with unfulfilled potential.

Coming up: Part 4- The Use of Extracurricular Activities as a Method of Fulfilling Potential.

Education Needs a Makeover

In the great poem by Prince Ea, “I Just Sued the Education System!!!” he says, “… here’s a classroom of today and here’s a classroom we used 150 years ago. Now ain’t that a shame. In literally over a century, nothing has changed. Yet you claim to prepare students for the future? But with evidence like that I must ask: do you prepare students for the future, or the past?”

If you have stepped into a public school classroom in the last… well, 100 years, then you know how dire the situation is. But let’s go a little further than that. If you have stepped into a Title I school in the last ten years, then you could quickly understand why we have thousands and thousands of teachers across the country out in the streets demanding better.

I’m going to leave teacher salary and school funds and budgets out of this and just focus on our education system itself- the structure of it. School in America today is pathetic compared to the immense breakthroughs and upgrades we have made in science and technology.

How is it possible that today, in 2018, we can hold an entire computer in our pocket, with access to all of the information ever published on the world wide web, not to mention enough space for 5,000+ pictures, and the ability to have a face-to-face conversation with someone on the other side of the globe? And YET our classrooms (especially the ones in low-income areas) are still using whiteboards, cramped with over thirty students in a classroom, sitting at desks that are falling apart, always without a pencil. Who even needs a pencil nowadays?

As a public school teacher myself, I can say that I have been really discouraged by the educational system and structure. It was so clearly created to keep minorities down and despite all of the innovative ideas and new, alternative types of schools opening up (in rich areas, of course), these schools just keep the pipeline-to-prison cycle going around and around. As Prince Ea discusses in his poem, we are not preparing our youth for a successful future.

Case in point, here are just a few of the top skills that employers currently look for (Careers NZ) along with explanations of how we are not helping our students build those skills.

Top 5 skills employers look for:

Communication- We demand that students raise their hands to speak, only speak when called on, and only respond to specific questions that the teacher poses. Students are seldom given the opportunity to have open conversations with peers where they have to professionally express their opinions, allow others to speak and find an appropriate time to respond, and respectfully disagree. This means that our students are basically never given a voice of their own.

Teamwork- Yes, students still occasionally work on group projects, perhaps they create a poster board or PowerPoint presentation. However, there is no room in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for discovering your own personality type, learning how to work with different personality types, learning how to brainstorm ideas together, collaborate and take advantage of each team member’s strengths. In case you’re wondering, we still do old school quizzes, end-of-chapter tests, standardized state testing, all of which students can’t peak at their classmate’s work. What we deem as “cheating” is what we later demand that they have: the ability to work well with others!

Self-management- Whether or not you choose to believe the claims that the education system was created and implemented specifically to brainwash our youth to think and behave in a way that benefited us (specifically young boys in modern-day Germany to become obedient soldiers), anyone can walk into a school today and see that everything is black and white, set in stone, strictly structured and students are highly micromanaged. Assigned seats, bells (even minute bells!), waiting in lines, etc. Students are not taught to manage their time, to make decisions about how they complete tasks, or even just how to choose what environment they work best in.

Thinking skills- Teachers, and adults in general, are constantly jumping in to solve problems for kids from birth to eighteen years old and then suddenly, they are adults and we just expect them to know how to figure things out. Whether it’s conflict resolution and how to get along with peers, how to find a solution to a math problem, how to complete two homework assignments on time, how to coordinate their schedule with classmates to finish a group project… we do all of these things for students! Or their parents call in and excuse them from solving their own problems (which shows that school is not the only culprit in this). It is okay for our kids to have problems, it is okay for our kids to be stressed, it is okay for our kids to fail. It’s how they solve those problems that matters, which is why we need to be teaching them thinking and problem-solving skills early on.

Resilience- Speaking of failing, where in the CCSS curriculum does it cover how to bounce back from failing? Where in the CCSS curriculum does it cover how to overcome personal obstacles to be successful and create a better future? If you are over the age of twenty and have had at least one job interview in your life, you have most definitely had to give an example of when you made a mistake or failed at something and how you recovered. But when do we teach that?

In a world where the iPhone is updated every six months (or less), where we can order our coffee from our phones before walking into the coffee shop, where we can essentially collaborate and create a project with five strangers in five different countries, we absolutely need to upgrade and update our education system. We need to think more long term. Students do not need to be memorizing maps, or practicing alliteration, or reciting Shakespeare, unless it directly ties in to their life and the skills that will help them have a better future. Let’s be real, almost every fact is easily accessible on Google. Even maps are accessible on Google (including virtual tours of places like Taj Mahal and the Amazon Rainforest)! What our students need to be learning, practicing and mastering are the soft skills that their future employers will demand of them.

Elementary School Teachers, Counselors, and Career Education

As teachers and counselors, you know that the elementary school years are important. During the elementary school years, your students build visions of what they desire to do in their lives as they contribute to the workforce. With your help, your students remain open to new career ideas and possibilities. As you work with your students, your students do not make premature career choices or career preparations. For your students, elementary school is a time to build awareness.

As elementary school teachers and counselors, you use career education to promote self-worth, skill development, and decision making strategies. Your activities are designed to build self, family, school, community, and career awareness. You use age-appropriate materials that match your students’ developmental levels. These activities expose your students to a variety of different jobs, career information sources, and the reasons why people work.

When you prepare to develop age-appropriate materials products, tests and tools, you use career models like the National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG). The National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG) have domains, goals, and indicators. Each domain represents a developmental area. Under each domain, there are goals or competencies. For each goal, indicators highlight the knowledge and skills needed to achieve the goal. The National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG) prepares you to make materials that are suitable for your students.

As a elementary school counselors and teachers, you create individual career plans and portfolios. Individual career plans (ICP) –

  • Develop self-awareness
  • Identify initial career goals and educational plans
  • Increase employability and decision making skills

Individual career portfolios summarize career awareness activities and experiences that occur during the school year. In addition to individual career plans and portfolios, you use a variety of resources –

    Career days

  • Career fairs
  • Community speakers
  • Field trips
  • Information interviewing
  • Literary works
  • Mentors
  • Collages, murals
  • Educational games
  • Job shadowing
  • Dramatic presentations

All of the career activities and tools combine academic work with career pathways. Career activities serve as foundations for future skills. As teachers and counselors, you help students build connections between academics and real life situations. You use career education activities to stress the importance of language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.

You show students that Language Arts have many uses in the work force:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening skills

You provide examples that show how people solve problems when they use Mathematics. Different types of Mathematics include:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division

In Social Studies, your students learn how skills that are necessary to be successful in the global marketplace. In Social Studies, your students learn about –

  • Countries
  • Languages
  • Cultures

Your students learn the importance of Science gaining skills to solve problems. You show your students how applications of Science are used in different industries, such as –

  • Food
  • Media
  • Agriculture
  • Automotive industry

The connections between academics and real life situations reinforce, develop, and expand previously learned skills. In summary, as a elementary school teachers and counselors, you help students:

  • Know and value self
  • Build self-esteem and confidence
  • Learn and apply the academic material
  • Identify interests and build relationships between the school environment and the work force
  • Build academic, communication, problem solving, and social skills
  • Increase awareness of the need for future jobs skills
  • See the connections between learning in school, academic skills, job related skills, and careers
  • See career possibilities
  • See themselves as a future contributor to the job force
  • Receive empowerment
  • Build self-determination

As counselors and teachers, you build self-awareness, family awareness, school awareness, community awareness, career/ work awareness, attitude development, skill development, decision making strategies, and self-worth. You use age-appropriate materials that match the developmental levels of the students. Examples of activities include individual career plans (ICP), individual career portfolios, career days, career fairs, field trips, information interviewing, and library book reports.

After completing career education activities, your students are prone to get higher grades, academic achievement, school involvement, and interpersonal skills. In addition, your students are more adept to complete more complex courses and have higher graduation rates from high school. As your students get older, they will achieve their career visions and goals.

References

1. American Counseling Association, Office of Public Policy and Legislation. (2007). Effectiveness of School Counseling. Alexandria, VA: Author.

2. Angel, N. Faye; Mooney, Marianne. (1996, December). Work-in-Progress: Career and Work Education for Elementary Students. (ED404516). Cincinnati, OH: Paper presented at the American Vocational Association Convention.

3. Benning, Cathleen; Bergt, Richard; Sausaman, Pamela. (2003, May). Improving Student Awareness of Careers through a Variety of Strategies. Thesis: Action Research Project. (ED481018). Chicago, Illinois: Saint Xavier University.

4. Career Tec. (2000). K-12 Career Awareness & Development Sequence [with Appendices, Executive and Implementation Guide]. (ED450219) .Springfield, Il: Author.

5. Carey, John. (2003, January). What are the Expected Benefits Associated with Implementing a Comprehensive Guidance Program. School counseling Research Brief 1.1. Amherst, MA: Fredrickson Center for School Counseling Outcome Research.

6. Dare, Donna E.; Maddy-Bernstein, Carolyn. (1999, September). Career Guidance Resource Guide for Elementary and Middle/Junior High School Educators. (ED434216). Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

7. DuVall, Patricia. (1995).Let’s Get Serious about Career Education for Elementary Students. AACE Bonus Briefs. (ED386603). Hermosa Beach, CA: AACE Bonus Briefs.

8. Ediger, Marlow. (2000, July). Vocational Education in the Elementary School. (ED442979) Opinion Papers

9. Gerver, Miriam, Shanley, Judy, O Cummings, Mindee. (2/14/02). Answering the Question EMSTAC Extra Elementary and Middle Schools. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Center, (EMSTAC).

10. Hurley, Dan, Ed.; Thorp, Jim, Ed. (2002, May). Decisions without Direction: Career Guidance and Decision-Making among American Youth. (ED465895). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Ferris State University Career Institute for Education and Workforce Development.

11. Maddy-Bernstein, Carolyn; Dare, Donna E. (1997,December).Career Guidance for Elementary and Middle School Students. Office of Student Services Brief, v9 n1. (ED415353). Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

12. Ohio Department of Education, Division of Vocational and Career Education, Ohio Career Development Blueprint, Individual Career Plan, K to 5 (ED449322). Columbus, Ohio, 2000

13. Splete, Howard; Stewart, Amy. (1990). Competency-Based Career Development Strategies and the National Career Development Guidelines. Information Series No. 345. (ED327739). Columbus, Ohio: ERIC Clearinghouse on Education and Training for Employment & Ohio State University

14. U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education. (1994, 2004). National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG). Washington, DC: Author.

15. Williams, Jean A., Ed. (1999, January). Elementary Career Awareness Guide: A Resource for Elementary School Counselors and Teachers. (ED445293). Raleigh, NC: NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Job Ready.

16. Woal, S. Theodore. (1995). Career Education–The Early Years. AACE Bonus Briefs. (ED386603). Hermosa Beach, CA: AACE Bonus Briefs.

Recruitment Into Initial Teacher Education and Training: A Caribbean Perspective

The need to recruit teachers into Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET) is a worldwide occurrence. However, for the Caribbean region, the challenge is made worse when looked at in light of the fact that trained Caribbean teachers are being recruited to serve in other countries and regions.

Mike Baker, the British Broadcasting Cooperation's (BBC) education correspondent in his 2002 article entitled United Kingdom 'poaching' Jamaican teachers, pointed out that between 2001 and 2002 six hundred teachers (600) left the island to work abroad, mostly in the United States and the United Kingdom. During that same period, the United Kingdom government issued six thousand (6,000) work permits to teachers from outside the European Community.

The global demands for teachers including those from the Caribbean offer the region both a challenge and an opportunity. A challenge in that new teachers need to be attracted, recruited, educated and trained and an opportunity, in that, trained teachers who seek economic independence can achieve it by practicing their craft in an economically buoyant community.

While there are many strategies for encouraging the recruitment of people into ITET, given the social, cultural, political and educational context of each Caribbean state, it is not easy to discern what will and will not work. Pulling on the results of a number of regional studies, here are some suggestions.

1. Undertake innovative and strategic approaches to policy development in the area of ​​ITET. Policies are needed that would direct actions and guide innovations, thus boosting people trust in the process and product of ITET.

2. Formulate policies to address the nature and kinds of academic qualifications offered and the standards at which local teacher education and training institutions operate.

3. Develop policies on the process of recruitment into ITET and on the promotion of teaching and the identification of appropriate target populations for recruitment.

4. Offer competitive and internationally recognized bachelor's programs in education.

5. Develop a clearly articulated alternative paradigm for career structure and its underlying values ​​in the region, coupled with efforts to improve the economic status of teachers. In countries where teaching is thought of as extremely important, teachers are relatively well compensated hence teaching is viewed as a relatively well-paying job, the supply of new teachers is high and there is a low-level of attrition.

6. Enable ITET programs to be framed in a reflective model of teaching which encourages the development of skills and knowledge in content areas, professional studies, and practical teaching, grounded in the real world of the school and classroom.

How to Teach Ethics Education

The quality of life depends on the quality of who you are. What you actually become. It all boils down to how morally good and ethical a person is. So the question is how do we make every one become a good moral person? Since ancient times we recognize the importance of teaching moral values. We teach it the same way we teach math and science by providing the knowledge of good and bad. One very important factor that the world of education has still not completely woken up to, in spite of all these thousands of years of research, is that as there are two kinds of intelligences – regular and emotional – both require a different set of rules for education. Emotional intelligence education alters the actual physical infrastructure of the brain. Emotional intelligence education starts from the womb. And continues through hugs and kisses and a nurturing childhood environment. By the time the child is 6 years old the moral character traits are well set for the rest of the person’s life.

So to really insure moral education we must learn how to educate the individual at the fetus and the child stage. Thus we must put together templates and manuals for future parents, current pregnant ones and those with little kids.

Please consider the following:

There was a king who was very troubled because his people were very poor. He did not know what to do. He heard of this kingdom where people were very prosperous and lived in mansions and even marble palaces. So he went to the king of this place and asked him how they were able to live like this. The king told him that it was very simple he just passed a building code which everyone in his kingdom had to follow. So our king came back and passed a law that everyone must build a marble palace!

Now in his kingdom most could afford a straw hut, others could afford a log cabin. Still others could afford a cement mansion and a few could afford a marble palace. So the kings law went into effect and nothing changed. Just a few marble palaces came up. Except for the select few the rest were incapable of building marble palaces.

It is the same when it comes to morality. We have moral laws and we expect everyone to follow them. We spend billions of dollars on crime prevention and containment yet nothing changes.

The only way to change and reduce crime is by changing the physical quality of the brain that generates the moral compass of the individual. Thus ethics education means not just telling people what is good and what is bad. It is about creating the right moral infrastructure generating brain.

The brain has four basic levels as follows:

1) Premature brain – (I have quantified it as -2) Those stuck on this level have the moral values of a snake. In their mind they are everything and everyone else is nothing. They are above the law and everyone else is below the law. No amount of moral education is going to change them. Punishment is the only deterrence and even this they often ignore. Their physically brain is too far morally gone.

2) Immature brain – (I have quantified it as -1). Those stuck on this level are corrupt. In their mind they deserve the best, by hook or by crook. Current ethics education will not change them much as their moral values are generated by an entrenched selfishness producing brain infrastructure. We have to wake up to the fact that we will have to change this brain infrastructure.

3) Mature brain – (I have quantified it as +1). Those stuck at this level are driven by a trophy self image as in ‘I am the best’. This is the group that is the easiest to change. But not by the current way of moral education which practically amounts to pleading with people to do good. The trophy self image will have to be gotten rid of and replaced with a selfless self.

4) Super mature brain – (I have quantified it as +2). The brain at this developed level already generates a selfless self so moral education is not required for this group.

Just like a man with the resources of building a log cabin cannot become a marble palace owner; a man with a -2, -1. or even +1 brain can ever become morally +2. No amount of current ethics education can make a -2 brain generate a +2 brain power. The only way real moral values can take root is by making the brain +2. And this requires brain therapy more than anything else. It requires brain changing education. The sooner we wake up to this the faster we will create a morally healthy society. Current moral education amounts to like our local pastor telling us to live virtuous lives. We hear it and applaud it and then go back to our old ways.

Notice how without exception all books on self help talk of ‘7/9 steps. There is just one goal/step as far as self help is concerned – become wise. Thus ethics education is more like self transformation education. It is more precisely about making ones self +2! It is more in line with self help education. Then again not like the current self help education. My main field of work is wisdom. And as philosophy is considered the love of wisdom which means one of the main goals of philosophy is to try to find out what is wisdom. Most experts on wisdom are still stuck where they define wisdom by its attributes and are still struggling to define wisdom.

As the wisdom potential is there in every brain just like blood and as absence of wisdom means presence of ignorance (where actually there is a mixture of the two) so every life is affected by lack of wisdom, from individual to group to country, so the stakes are very high. In fact much of the present mess in the world today from the economic crisis to the problems of war can all be traced to lack of wisdom. So if I can wake up main stream education/science to the correct path to ethics education, I think my work will be done.

Philosophy, religion and science in my view are much more connected then we realize! I have found that at the highest stage of the mind/brain development the quality of the character traits (as defined by religion, philosophy and science) of every person are all one and the same!!! Religion wants you to be altruistic, philosophy wants you to be wise/altruistic and science/education wants you to be emotionally super mature which is the same! So wisdom is the common thread in all of them. Thus we need philosophers, religious leaders and scientists/educationists all working together to create ethics education that transforms the brain to +2.