Help Write a Book on Giftedness
Now here’s an interesting concept: David Shenk
, author of five books, and a contributor to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper's, The American Scholar, NPR,
, is asking for help in writing his next book, which is tentatively titled, The Genius In All of Us: Nature, Nurture and the New Science of Talent and Giftedness
, to be published by Doubleday.
Shenk started a blog in January called The Genius In All of Us
where he presents research that fleshes out a new way of understanding the source of greatness. In the blog, he asks for reader skepticism and openness and for observations and personal experience through posts on the blog or through e-mail. From this dialogue, he hopes to solidify ideas to write a provocative and compelling book.
Some of his blog entries include
The Narrowness of Greatness
"Gifted and Talented" School Programs
On Musical Talent
My (Current) Bias
What Is I.Q.? (An IQ FAQ)
Overconfidence → Incompetence; Humility → Success
Genius Is . . .
How to Motivate Kids to Be Their Best
Where Does Persistence Come From?
Labels and Limits
Savants and Us (An FAQ)
How to Bake a Beethoven Cake: Johann's Recipe for Musical Genius
Is IQ Actually AQ? (Mistaking Achievement for "Intelligence")
Whether or not you choose to participate in the online dialog, I think you will find Shenk’s entries interesting. It is also informative to follow the reader discussions that follow each entry.
Authors Sought for Advanced Placement Shakespeare Guides
At Prufrock Press, we are interested in developing an innovative line of teaching resources for Advanced Placement teachers using Shakespeare in their classrooms.
Specifically, we are seeking teacher-authors who could write exciting, innovative guides to teaching the following plays:
- Romeo and Juliet
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
These guides would include debates, role-play activities, engaging discussions, critical and creative writing activities, and creative projects within the context of a rigorous academic study of Shakespearian works. Authors must be able to offer teachers practical, field-tested ways to make the study of Shakespeare meaningful, creative, and substantive. Additionally, each guide would be aligned with Advanced Placement guidelines and standards.
We are seeking teacher-authors who could work collaboratively with us to develop one or more of these guides over the next 6–12 months.
If you or a teacher you know has a special talent for effectively teaching Shakespeare to teenagers, we would love to hear from you. Please send your name, current position, and summer mailing and e-mail address
. Doing so will ensure you receive an information packet in approximately 4 weeks.
Please respond before May 25, 2007 if you would like to receive an author information packet for the four AP Shakespeare projects listed above.
Artistically Gifted Children
How can parents and teachers assess whether a child is artistically gifted? In Identifying Artistically Gifted Children
, Willemina Foeken does a commendable job of summarizing research, listing characteristics of artistically gifted youth, and offering recommendations for parents and teachers.
Foeken believes that artistic talent does not normally reveal itself as early as musical talent. When looking at the childhoods of great artists, we find that the earliest known painting of Rembrandt was done at the age of 19. Although Leonardo da Vinci took up art at the age of 15, all his great work was done after the age of 40. Matisse and van Gogh didn’t start painting until they were in their 20s.
Foeken feels that the most remarkable work on artistically gifted children has been done by C. Gaitskell and V. Lowenfeld who both conducted many long-term case studies. In searching the Internet, I found that it is not easy to find information on these two experts. One might have to go to a specialty library to find them. However, Foeken summarizes the characteristics that Gaitskell and Lowenfeld use to identify children as being artistically gifted. They are
- Artistically gifted children show fluency of imagination and expression. These children can’t get their ideas down fast enough. They don’t need stimulation. One idea leads to another.
- They might have a highly developed sensibility in certain areas. For example, movement, space, rhythm, color. (One small boy I taught was only interested in tempera paints and lost interest if other media were used. Another child drew only figures showing a lot of movement or action.)
- They show integration of thinking, perceiving, and feeling.
- There is a distinctive quality to their imagination. These children have faith in their ideas and don’t find the need to copy.
- There’s a directness of expression. The gifted child can be very expressive but only if the experience motivating him or her to paint, has been personally meaningful. Such a child rarely responds well to classroom activities where the teacher sets the topic.
- There is a high degree of self-identification with the subject and the medium. Artistically gifted children live their art. They are in their work. It is part of them. Even the medium is often like an extension of the fingers. Their work is intensely personal and shows an inner need for visual expression.
- Most of these children draw well before the age of 2—usually by 15 months if given the chance.
- They are always above average in intelligence. Although studies indicate that all those gifted in art score well in IQ tests, the reverse is not always true. Many with high IQs are below average in art!
- All show extraordinary skill with the medium.
- There is usually a sensibility for design.
- Each child is highly individual and inventive.
- The artistically gifted child works frequently on a favorite art form. No encouragement is needed. (Foeken, 2005)
Foeken offers recommendations for parents and teachers of artistically gifted children, based on both Lewenfeld’s suggestions, as well as her own. They are
- Regard your child’s art as a record of his or her personality.
- Don’t put too much emphasis on the end product.
- Display the work of all of your children—not just the one best at art.
- Teach your child to respect the work of others.
- Don’t correct wrong proportions.
- Don’t encourage competitiveness in art.
- Provide your child with an appropriate space for work and suitable materials.
- Send your child to art classes.
- Don’t show children how to paint.
- Allow experimentation.
- Provide a range of materials and experiences to suit as many children as possible.
- Avoid the trap of over-teaching. Teachers need to know when to assist and when it is best to leave children alone. (Foeken, 2005)
Foeken also says not to be concerned if, as a parent, you know very little about art. Some of the greatest artists also had parents who knew very little about the subject. She advises parents to burn all coloring books and “how-to-draw” books. Do visit art galleries with children and make them familiar with the art sections of the library. “Above all, enjoy your child’s creativity but don’t make a great fuss over it.”
Mensa for Kids
, the high IQ organization, has launched a Web site for kids
, geared toward children ages 6-10. The site provides numerous interactive educational games and puzzles that are frequently updated. There is also a monthly feature written by Mensa members on a wide variety of topics. The feature this month includes a series of physics experiments that kids can do at home. Be careful, though, because one of the experiments requires the use of a diamond. (Hang on to those rings.)
Mensa for Kids also provides lots of information and resources for parents and teachers, including articles, booklists, and Internet resources.
The site is colorful and easy to navigate. It is one more worthwhile resource you will want to bookmark.
Asperger's Syndrome -- An Overview
On April 5, 2007, ABC News ran a nice introductory article about Asperger's syndrome that I believe offers a good overview of the topic. The article, Asperger's Syndrome: Separating Myth From Reality
, includes this brief description of the condition:
In short, the syndrome is a developmental disorder most often characterized by certain social deficiencies or "quirks." This often includes an unusual preoccupation with a particular subject, repetitive routines or rituals, peculiar speech patterns, and other behaviors that may make interacting with peers difficult.
The rest of the article goes on to discuss ways Asperger's is diagnosed, common misconceptions about the condition, and provides a look at future directions for research.
"Basically, you get an individual who might have a real restricted repertoire of things they are interested in," Roane said, adding that those with Asperger's may attempt to engage in conversations with others that focus only on their particular area of interest to the exclusion of all other topics.
However, what separates this disorder from many [autism spectrum disorders] is the fact that in most cases, those with Asperger's have normal, or even above normal, intelligence.
Treatment for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome
The article was interesting to me because of our newly released book, School Success for Kid With Asperger's Syndrome by Stephan M. Silverman, Ph.D., and Rich Weinfeld. The most important feature of this book is its focus on interventions that help kids who have the disorder. With their wide ranging background in psychology and exceptional education, the authors have written a book that focuses on practical, effective ways that parents and teachers can help kids with Apsperger's syndrome.
The Positive and Negative Powers of Praise
Why is it that some children who are very smart lack confidence about their abilities in school? According to a recent article in New York Magazine
titled How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise
, a large percentage of gifted students severely underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.
The vast majority of parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart, but a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that labeling kids as “smart” may actually cause underperformance.
, formerly from Columbia and now at Stanford, has spent the last 10 years studying the effect of praise on students in New York schools. She found that, when given a choice, students who were praised for their intelligence
chose easier work so that they could still look smart; they didn’t want to risk making mistakes. Ninety percent of the children who were praised for their effort
chose harder work.
In a subsequent round, when all students were given a very difficult task, there was also a difference between the two groups. Those who had been praised for effort got very involved and were willing to try all the solutions to the puzzles, many remarking that “This was my favorite test.” Those who had been praised for their intelligence had a different reaction. They found the test to be very stressful.
Dweck concluded that emphasizing effort gives a child something they can control.
In follow-up interviews, it was found that those who think that innate intelligence is the most important ingredient of success feel that they do not need to put out effort. Dweck found that this effect of praise held true for students of every socioeconomic class, and was especially true of the very brightest girls.
To be effective, researchers have found that praise needs to be both sincere and specific (i.e., I like how you keep trying, or you listened well to instructions, or you concentrated for a long time without taking a break, or your free throws during the basketball game were very good).
Students must have a strategy for handling failure. The lack of this strategy is compounded when a parent ignores a child’s failures and insists he’ll do better the next time. This may cause the child to believe that failure is so terrible that the family can’t acknowledge its existence. A child deprived of the opportunity to discuss mistakes can’t learn from them. Dweck wants students to believe that the way to bounce back from failure is to work harder. By developing this trait of persistence, students are able to sustain motivation through long periods of delayed gratification. If one is rewarded too much, they’ll learn to quit when those rewards disappear.
Asperger's Syndrome and School Success
Back in September of 2006, I posted a blog entry about Asperger's syndrome
in response to a reader's question. In that post, I mentioned that Prufrock was preparing to release a book on the topic titled, School Success for Kids With Asperger's Syndrome
by Stephan M. Silverman, Ph.D. and Rich Weinfeld. I'm proud to announce the release of this new book from Prufrock Press.
Hundreds of thousands of children face life with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism spectrum disorder that affects a child's language and social skills. In their book, Silverman and Weinfeld describe 10 of the most common school concerns faced by students with Asperger's syndrome, including:
- problems with social interactions;
- very focused areas of interest and expertise;
- need for predictability;
- problems with language;
- problems with abstract reasoning;
- problems with sensory hyper- or hyposensitivity;
- problems with anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation;
- problems with attention, organization, and other areas of executive functioning;
- problems with motor issues including written production; and
- problems with ritualistic, repetitive, or rigid behavior.
The authors provide detailed explanations of each of these problem areas and describe field-tested strategies to help teachers adapt their classrooms to provide opportunities for students with Asperger's syndrome to overcome their weaknesses in these problem areas. The book also offers strategies for parents that will help their child with school success.School Success for Kids With Asperger's Syndrome
includes an excellent chapter about the behaviors a parent might see in their child with Asperger's syndrome
. Feel feel free to share this link with others. I think the chapter offers some important insights.
When the authors of this book first approached Prufrock Press, they made it clear that they wanted to write a sensitive book that would focus on the strategies that would promote school success for kid with Asperger's syndrome. They wanted to write a positive book that focused on ways parents and teachers can take positive action to help these children.
They have achieved this goal, and I would recommend that anyone touched by this issue purchase this book or check it out from their local library.