Talent and Giftedness

I have written a great deal in this blog about the impact CCK08 had upon my thinking and practice. Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with one of my on-line companions from CCK08, Carmen Tschofen. We came together to discuss talent and giftedness. Our conversation drew upon some exchanges we had during CCK08 and subsequently after I wrote this post about nature and nurture.

I was fascinated to learn from Carmen about the Lighthouse Program in Minnesota (some background information here). A Lighthouse Program student is:

  • In possession of an insatiable curiosity
  • Drawn to complex ideas
  • Comfortable with ambiguity in learning
  • Self–directed in learning
  • Eager to learn the practice of experts from discipline
  • Capable of working effectively with team members
  • Capable of a sustained focus to resolve questions
  • Recognized as highly able in performance, as well as, potential
  • Currently 7-18 years of age
The Lighthouse Program comprises:
  • Accelerated pace of learning
  • Non graded, multi-aged grouping
  • Integrated curriculum
  • Opportunities for On-line Learning
  • Opportunities to experience the practices of experts
  • Depth of study in complex Inquiry
  • Student focused learning
  • Teacher/facilitator focused on students’ learning
  • Connections to rigorous high school options
  • Collaborative and Competitive Opportunities

Meeting Carmen and her colleagues gave me a wonderful opportunity to explore and reflect on generic issues around talent and gift that had prompted me to write about performance and share some early ideas about the identification process.

Our conversation used Elluminate and this is a recording of our hour-long exchange that linked early morning Australia and lunchtime Minnesota.

During that time we discussed:

2:40 Supporting and defining talent on an individual basis

5:15 The role of personal volition/motivation/environment

8:30 The importance of allowing time for self-discovery and play

14:30 On being the same/being different

20:00 The meaning of growth potential and potential triggers for growth

23:10 Resilience, persistence, and the issues with electronic entertainment

27:50 Understanding personal talent development through biography and narrative

30:30 Who guides talent development?

33:40 Values and ethics in coaching and mentoring

36:10 The “Birth Year Effect,” the development of talent over time, and “the system”

40:00 Relationships and life lessons

43:00 The role of deliberate practice, the problem of instant gratification, and computer games

48:35 The difficulties of “elite performer” lifestyles, the problems with shallow praise

51:50 Extrinsic rewards and the issues of ownership and autonomy

54:00 Self-ownership and self-accountability

I really enjoyed the hour I spent with Carmen and her friends. It was quite difficult to go back to bed (4 a.m.) after such a stimulating conversation. I am hopeful that this is the start of a close link with the Lighthouse Program. Sport has a great deal to learn from innovative educators within and beyond its cultural contexts.

I am convinced that any approach to talent and gift must have a profoundly personal focus that celebrates learning biographies. I am keen to explore the interrelationship between context and opportunity that can permeate personal stories.

Photo Credits


Girls skipping at an athletics carnival

CCK08: Week 1 (Part 3)

(Bridge Building over the Mongarlowe River)

I joined in the second of the two Elluminate sessions hosted by George and Stephen. It was a great time for me in Australia … 10a.m.. It was my first Elluminate session and rather like my first seminar at the University of York in September 1970 I chose not to talk! I had a USB microphone hooked up just in case!

Thanks to the post on The Daily with the link to the recording of the session I have been able to re-visit the exchanges that were occurring. In real-time it was quite a challenge to monitor the range of narratives that were underway: I recall people writing messages to say hello, news of a baby, wonderful exchanges of links and advice, statements about the (un) connectedness of personal interaction and questions about comments on blogs. At the same time I listened to George’s facilitation and the orderly taking of the microphone.

I had to leave my computer half way through the session to do some domestic tasks but turned up my audio to hear the voices of contributors (continuous partial attention!). Away from the computer I thought about some of the exchanges about about connectivism as a theory and noted that The Daily drew a distinction between the two Elluminate sessions in this regard.

The thoughts that were running through my head were:

1. It was 11 September in Australia and people from all over the world were connected by a mutual interest that had intrinsic value.

2. Does each of us have a different (relative) sense of the necessary and sufficient conditions of theorising and a theory? I will follow up on Stephen’s slides to see what he has to say about absolutes and universals in a postmodern world.

3. Connectivism attracts remarkable people. As George indicated in one of his contributions during Session Two, we ‘know’ of each other in a virtual sense. This knowing is phenomenally rich in possibilities (and depth). In one of my few posts in the written exchanges in Session Two I mentioned anthropologists’ use of the term ‘polysemic’. (This is a good example, I think.)

4. I shared a lot of the experiences of other participants in the session! I have failed miserably to join Second Life. I wonder if I should add a comment on all the blogs appearing in the CCK08 space to affirm each writer’s commitment to sharing ideas, thoughts and reflections. Should I have asked questions about the baby’s weight?

5. Most of all I thought myself very fortunate to spend an hour in the company of fifty colleagues from around the world. (I was interested to learn that on the same day as our conversation there was a presentation at the Alt-C conference in the UK entitled ‘What if learning technologists ruled the world?’)

Now where is that Buntine Oration I should be reading (it is 00.30 a.m. 12 September and unable to sleep)?

Afternote: Clive Shepherd posted this about Webcasting at another conference on the same day.