Quote of the Week
"It's a tough time to raise, teach or be a highly gifted child... Schools are to extraordinarily intelligent children what zoos are to cheetahs... Every organism has an internal drive to fulfill its biological design. The same is true for unusually bright children. From time to time the bars need be removed, the enclosures broadened. Zoo Chow, easy and cheap as it is, must give way, at least some of the time, to lively, challenging mental prey."
– Stephanie Tolan, Is It A Cheetah?
Hi, this is the GenWise team- we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and working together. We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network- if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (https://t.me/GiftedIndia).
In this week’s main post ‘Identifying and Nurturing Giftedness in the Early Years’, we share the recording of the expert panel discussion on this topic, as part of a Gifted India Network series. We also share some extracts from the panel discussion.
Join this conversation on learning, by commenting on our posts or writing to us.
Identifying and Nurturing Giftedness in the Early Years
Identifying and Nurturing Giftedness in the Early Years
On Feb 12, 2022, Dr. Bhooshan Shukla, eminent child psychiatrist and parenting coach, Dr. Devasena Desai, from the Kaveri Gifted Education Centre (KGERC), and Dr. Rhoda Rosen from Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD). had a conversation on this topic, moderated by GenWise co-founder, Vishnu Agnihotri.
The recording of the full session can be viewed here.
Some soundbites from the session are also shared below.
The 'Gifted Label' vs 'the Arc of Talent Development'
There are two different sorts of schools of thought about giftedness... and when you ask, "Is my child gifted? It assumes that gifted is a category. That we can understand a category that is stable. Like my curly hair or someone else's blue eyes. And if you believe that then you believe that it can't be changed. That nothing the child can do can help or that you can do as a parent, can help intervene and develop that. We don't really believe that, or that giftedness comes with a set of unique psychological characteristics.
At the Centre for Talent Development, the research in general doesn't bear that out. The research doesn't bear out that there is a number at which a certain number of psychological traits or problems or challenges will emerge and it doesn't bear out that that talent is stable But rather that it's malleable and it can change over time. So we really believe in a talent development framework. And instead of asking about the label we ask about how we can help the child that's showing and expressing an interest and a talent, and develop that talent. So it is the arc of talent development that we're really interested in.
-Dr. Rhoda Rosen, Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University
Giftedness- performing well above one's level, and the issue of 'resource allocation'
Punching above your weight is a sign of giftedness, at least in sports. For example recently I talked to a chap who is 14 years old. He was very keen on tennis and was spending a good six hours everyday on tennis.
Now here is a question of resource allocation. Because if parents are going to ask me how much money you should spend on this. Should we let him bunk school to play tennis? What should be our direction here. Clear-cut decisions are to be taken and money is at stake.
If you are struggling to get in to the top hundred in India in your age group, then there is very little chance that you are gifted. Because if you see all the professional tennis players, and which would be the aim of any sportsman, to go professional if they are talented.... if they had already qualified for two or three brackets above their age group at a very early age. These are important things to remember If we are talking about art and performing arts and things like that.
-Dr. Bhooshan Shukla, Child Psychiatrist
Bright & Curious or Gifted?
Going beyond 'YouTube' knowledge to connect the dots
If you are talking about maths, physics and science kind of stuff, then another difficulty is that how does the child behave, is something that is important for me. What is their seeking pattern? Truly gifted children will be self learners, particularly in this area. They would not only be gathering information... for me the key point is are they able to connect the dots.
Every five year old who has access to YouTube now talks about black holes and wormholes and spaghettification that happens on the aging of the blackhole. But you ask a second and the third level deeper question and you realise the knowledge hasn't gone beyond YouTube. Now that is not giftedness.
Unfortunately, that breaks the hearts of many parents. But is the child able to pursue knowledge? Is the child hungry for that knowledge? Are they driven by that curiosity? Are they able to connect dots? This is something that is really important because now all the children that we are talking about, all the parents who have joined here have unlimited internet access. And for a learner, that is a phenomenal gift. How are they using that gift? This tells me a lot about their gift.
-Dr. Bhooshan Shukla, Child Psychiatrist
The expansive thirst for knowledge and meaning
Parents are the best people to judge and put a pause button and wait and observe what kind of learning the child is doing. And like Rhoda was saying in terms of the kind of questions they are asking.
I was asked in the beginning whether there is a difference between a bright child and a gifted child.... So the gifted child will be asking questions and will be curious and will ask questions which are very thought provoking which are connecting to deeper meaning and understanding. Well, you have a bright child who just wants an answer and is very happy once he gets the answer. You know, that itself really clearly says... and these are the kids who will not stop with just one answer; they need more meaning, they need more reading, they need more discussion.
And they will argue so much and they are not scared of authority. They are not scared of asking a question until they find an answer. So these are very unique characteristics and if we kind of want to tame them, say like cut them short and say, no, let's get back to completing this. Let's get back to focusing on what a school requires... We are really limiting their learning experience and we need to as parents and as educators look at nurturing instead.
-Dr. Devasena Desai, Psychologist and Gifted Education Expert, Kaveri Gifted Education Research Centre
Perspectives in Math and Art is part of the Kaapi with Kuriosity series from the ICTS outreach team. and is scheduled on Sun, Apr 24, from 4 to 530 PM IST. Supurna Sinha, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Raman Research Institute will be speaking on the topic. Her work in the area of Quantum Brownian motion has led to predictions testable in ultra cold atom labs. In the session blurb, she says-
The European renaissance saw the merging of mathematics and art in the context of representation of a three dimensional perspective on a canvas. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, D¨urer, Botticelli, Raphael and others and mathematicians like Pascal, Poncelet, Desargues, and others contributed to this development. The mathematics that emerged from such a convergence is Projective Geometry. In fact, there were precursors to some of the developments in Projective Geometry which I will discuss. I will introduce the basic notions that appear in this geometry. This geometry is in fact more fundamental compared to other geometries like Euclidean Geometry and Riemannian Geometry which are more widely known. The mathematical notions will be concretised in the context of art. To summarise, this talk will shed light on the merging of these two disparate streams - math and art, which happened during the European renaissance.
You can register for the session here.
Summer Programs from GenWise (Residential)- May 8- May 29 (Paid)
If your child is currently in grade 7, 8 or 9, check out the Genesis Summer Program from May 8-29, 2022, at Manipal University, Manipal. While most students will attend the entire 3-week program, there also exist 1 or 2 week options. View the program brochure here. Students from 50+schools and over 20 cities have already registered for our summer camps at Manipal this May.
The academic enrichment component of the program features 3 courses- one in each week.
May 8-15: Reason like Sherlock Holmes- Become familiar with the reasoning process employed not just by detectives, but also by doctors, lawyers, historians, archaeologists, and virtually every domain where one is trying to piece together the full picture, from available clues. Unpack short stories from Sherlock Holmes (and potentially others, based on student interest) to appreciate the process of reasoning better.
May 15-22: Molecular Gastronomy- Intro to Culinary Science- This course at the intersection of Chemistry and Cooking is a great way to experience the power of science in our daily life experiences. The course emphasizes the role of sciences in cooking and how the world over, it has started to make a difference if the chefs understand the science that goes into it. Sessions at the world-class kitchen of the Welcomgroup School of Hotel Administration will involve working with materials like liquid nitrogen, dry ice and agar gels to create some exceptional dishes through the application of science.
May 22-29: Experiment Design for Critical Thinkers- Appreciate the importance of Experiment Design in exploring answers to relevant questions, whatever the domain (Economics, Engineering, Psychology, Marketing, Materials Science, Medicine, etc.). Often not taught formally at school (or even at College level), learn the vital skills necessary for understanding the role of variables, apples-to-apples comparisons, the role of bias, and how to attempt to overcome bias.
The program is much more than the academic enrichment component represented by the courses listed above and the goal of the program is to help with the development of the whole child- read more about the program experience in this post.
Please note that the Genesis Summer Program runs concurrently with the GenWise Summer Program (open to Ei ASSET Talent Search (ATS) Gold/ Silver/ Bronze scholars).
Students of both programs will be participating in common activities together, outside of the academic hours.
Feel free to reach out to our leadership team at the numbers below.
Rajesh @98409 70514; Vishnu @93422 47734; Shrikant @98600 33502; Sowmya @75985 66949
3. Nurturing Giftedness: The Goldmine- International Seminar on Apr 21 and 22
Women's Christian College, Chennai is organising a two day International Seminar on 'Nurturing Giftedness: The Goldmine' on 21st and 22nd April 2022. The registration fee is INR 500 for delegates from India and the last date for registration is April 18, 2022.
Kaveri Gifted Education and Research Center (KGERC) is the Knowledge and Media partner for the event. This seminar will be helpful for professionals, parents and undergraduates.
For more details, kindly refer to the brochure here.
<i><u>*Every organism has an internal drive to fulfill its biological design.*</i></u>
-- This is a *phenomenal statement* with far-reaching consequences and applications. The entire article (Is it a Cheetah?) by Stephanie is a master piece on biological existentialism. To draw a human parallel - "If Young Sheldon does not insist on correcting math & physics used by NASA, is it still Young Sheldon?" One is also reminded of Matt Damon's character from Goodwill Hunting. Will's professor made it his mission to ensure that Will fulfills his biological design. To Will's surprise, even his non-gifted friends were waiting eagerly to see Will fulfill his biological design of a mathematical genius.
Coming back to Stephanie's article, even a Cheetah needs the right environment to evolve into the Cheetah it is meant to be. Then it is imperative that the Young Sheldons among us are given the best opportunities and environment to fully develop into the Kalams, Bhabhas, and Sarabhais that they are meant to be. While parents and schools will do their bit, the larger responsibility falls in the lap of *Cheetah-Spotters* - GenWise, and all such organizations, who are working on this mission :-) May their tribe increase!!!