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

Lighthouse

Girls skipping at an athletics carnival

Nature, Nurture, Practice, Performance and Posterity

In the early part of this week there have been some interesting items in Australia that have added to the discussions about the role nature and nurture play in practice, performance and posterity.

Matthew Syed, author of Bounce: How Champions are Made was interviewed on Radio National’s Life Matters program. This is a short YouTube clip to prompt discussion about opportunities to practice.

The Annals of Internal Medicine have published a paper on The Effects of Growth Hormone on Body Composition and Physical Performance in Recreational Athletes (Udo Meinhardt, Anne E. Nelson,  Jennifer L. Hansen, Vita Birzniece, David Clifford, Kin-Chuen Leung, Kenneth Graham, and Ken K.Y. Ho,.) The paper concluded that “Growth hormone supplementation influenced body composition and increased sprint capacity when administered alone and in combination with testosterone”. There is a podcast discussion of Human Growth Hormone on ABC’s AM program.

This week Professor Robyn Richmond presented findings of her study of 188 Australians who had reached 100 years of age. She suggested that and found maintaining social networks, keeping  active physically and mentally, and being open to change were common traits in this cohort. A news item from the University of New South Wales quotes Professor Richmond: “About 20 to 30 per cent of the likelihood of living to 100 is because of your genes. But that leaves 70 to 80 per cent up to environmental factors.”  “The major finding of this study is the impact of personality.” This is a podcast link to an interview with Professor Richmond.

Photo Credits

Little Monks Playing

Sprinting

Playing