Teaching the Gifted, Challenging the Average
Edward L. Edmonds is a professor of education at the University of
Prince Edward Island and an honorary chief of the Lennox Island
Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island.
This book of only 122 pages represents the experience of teaching gifted children, garnered by members of staff of the University of Toronto Schools, together with a short introductory chapter by Edward de Bono. He spells out the qualities of thinking associated with giftedness and touches on some of the approaches to harnessing them in school (including his own highly successful one, CORT on Cognitive Research Trust at Cambridge).
The real strength of the book, however, lies in the contributions made by the specific subject teachers of English, math, geography, philosophy, physics, music, science, and “the second language.” Each speaks with great authority on his/her own experiences and methodology. Each reinforces the others in recognizing particular attributes of giftedness, such as a very retentive memory, a disposition to abstract thinking, eagerness to learn, lack of acquiescence. Gifted students are full of ideas, quick to process information, loners (even angry ones, sometimes), persistent (but short on patience), ready talkers (often about themselves), acutely mark-conscious — the list could be extended. Incidental comment is also provided on the nature and background of the teacher of the gifted child, not least the need for absolute command and security in knowledge of one’s subject and willingness to give fully of one’s time. Valuable hints are also dropped on how to pick out those who are gifted.
The issue of separate schools for these students is fairly and squarely faced. It is ironic, perhaps, that the term “grammar” should find favour when such schools, with such proud lineage, have all but disappeared in Britain under successive Socialist government’s policy of comprehensivisation.
All in all, a most valuable handbook for the classroom teacher at elementary or secondary level, deliberately light on theory, but so very rich in practical advice.