Giftedness and New Technologies

I’m not overly fond of the term ‘gifted’ as a distinct category descriptive of very intelligent people. Since intelligence exists along a scale, and may vary from one domain (or area of endeavour) to another, the point at which a person can be described as ‘gifted’ is to some extent arbitrary. I’m willing to accept the term as a convenient shorthand, however, while wishing to avoid any elitist implications.

I’ve already observed (following something I read a long time ago on a home-schooling website), that it seems absurd to adhere in the 21st century to a pedagogy developed at the birth of universal schooling during the Industrial Revolution. At that time, information was scarce, and school was the place where it was concentrated – in books and in the learning of the teacher. It was very much a transmission mode of learning. With the advent of increasing literacy, disposable income, cheaper books, public libraries, television and, more recently, the Internet, schools no longer have a near-monopoly on information. Arguably, children have access to more information outside the walls of the classroom than within them.

In addition, developmental psychology has increased our understanding of children as learners. The role of the teacher has consequently changed, from a transmitter of information to a facilitator of learning. The focus is now on giving children the tools they need to solve problems (and, ideally, real-world problems), including the framing of questions, the conducting of research, the filtering of information, and the formulation of their findings in multiple formats.

With these points in mind, it was interesting to hear a ‘Meet the Listener’ segment on Radio National’s ‘Life Matters’ program yesterday: Meet the listener: Stella Ward, what can go wrong with gifted children. Not only was this listener’s experience typical of the problems encountered by some gifted people (e.g. social isolation), but her comments about the Internet, which wasn’t even dreamt of during her 1950’s childhood, reveal the possibilities afforded by this medium, particularly for those with an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

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2 Responses to “Giftedness and New Technologies”

  1. Simon Kidd Says:

    These may also be of interest:

    http://judypdrsn.wordpress.com/about/

    http://www.classroom20.com/

  2. Averil Says:

    Tempted to get the book to assist with my assignment!

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