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Carol Fertig

Carol Fertig

I have been active in the education community for more than 40 years and involved in gifted education for more than 20 years. At various times, I have been a classroom teacher, gifted education teacher, consultant, writer, editor—you name it. I live in Colorado, but also spend a fair amount of time in Chicago. I have two grown boys: one in Colorado and one in California. In my spare time, I enjoy skiing, mountain biking, and golfing. I also like to read, go to plays, and watch foreign movies. Feel free to send me an e-mail.

I am also the author of Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook. This book offers a large menu of strategies, resources, organizations, tips, and suggestions for parents to find optimal learning opportunities for their gifted kids, covering the gamut of talent areas, including academics, the arts, technology, creativity, music, and thinking skills.

Raising a Gifted Child

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Using Universal Themes to Promote Higher Level Thinking

 
The use of universal themes has been discussed in this blog on a couple of occasions:
 
The topic is so important for gifted students and so sought after by parents and teachers that I want to visit it again.
 
In education, we are often accused of delivering a curriculum that is not relevant to today’s students. If we teach (or have discussions at home) using universal themes, the material presented does become relevant.
 
A universal theme is a timeless, broad, abstract idea that can be used to tie together literary works or understand broad concepts in history. It is one to which all people can relate. It transcends race, gender, and creed.
 
In good literature, themes are implied rather than directly stated. By looking carefully at a universal theme, students are able to explore what that theme reveals about people, about their relationships, and about life in general. What motivates people to action? What causes a person to change? What human weaknesses and strengths do we see in others? Powerful universal themes explore concepts in depth. For example, rather than just study the facts of war/conflict, it is more interesting and meaningful to figure out how conflict changes the lives of all people involved.
 
If you visit the previous blogs mentioned above, you will find many ideas for using universal themes as well as many potential concepts that can be used as universal themes. Below are additional possibilities. 
  • Conformity/Nonconformity
  • Free will vs. fate
  • Growing up
  • Hate
  • Hypocrisy
  • Martyrdom
  • Restrictions of society
  • Temptation
By using universal themes, you will make learning relevant, provide umbrellas under which details become easier to remember, and give students a framework of understanding that they can carry with them the rest of their lives.
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