The third post in our summer series on gifted education comes from Jerry Blumengarten, better known to many as Cybrary Man (@cybraryman1 on Twitter). Cybrary Man taught several subjects over 32 years in one of the toughest areas of NYC, the last 12 years of that as the teacher-librarian of his middle school. He started Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites as a library site and it now serves all grade levels and subject areas. He has also written educational materials for the utility industry over the past 30 years. Most recently, Jerry gave the keynote at ntcamp in Philadelphia.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. (Marie Curie)
Students, teachers and parents need us to change the way we deliver and support our gifted education programs.

One of the greatest learning experiences that my son had was while working on his Westinghouse Science (now Intel) project. He had the opportunity to work directly with scientists once a week at a Science Institute. I did not mind carpooling until he got his license, because I saw the great value in this connection between students and specialists working in the real world. Local businesses and medical facilities could provide students with hands-on training and internships and the professionals there could act as mentors. On a Middle School level, my school had a Health Careers Program that gave our students a wonderful opportunity to do community service while learning along with medical and support staff in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and senior centers.

We should be taking this same approach with our gifted students. We can easily accomplish this with the plethora of great web tools and our ability to connect with Skype, etc. Distance learning has to be revived with the latest tech tools. We should also be making better associations with higher education institutions. Provisions can be established for gifted high school students to earn college credits with colleges. We have to do more to join our students with experts outside the traditional classroom walls. I can envision Elluminate sessions with experts in a wide range of fields addressing and answering questions from students. This should be standard procedure in classes. It would also be nice to have students shadow professionals in different fields We also have to examine how individual students learn best. Some need structured learning environments where others need less structured learning experiences.

All preservice, graduate and leadership education programs should include specialized training for teaching and mentoring gifted learners. Emphasis should be focused on differentiated education of gifted learners

Teachers must also reach out to local museums. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, for example, has the Wachovia Education Resources Center that helps teachers use art and art images to enhance lessons in core curricular areas. The Exploratorium in San Francisco provides tools to make your work easier and more enriching, including things to do at the museum, hands-on activities, and a wealth of Web features about important science topics. Each year more than 10,000 educators take advantage of The Field Museum’s resources for professional development.

Reflecting on my own education I felt that the best classes I had on the undergraduate and graduate levels were ones that were taught by people who actually worked in that field or were called in as experts.

I feel that there has to be a strong commitment to gifted programs, the ongoing training of gifted teachers as well as all school staff members, and follow-up research on children who have gone through these programs. Counseling and guidance services must be provided on a continuous basis for gifted students.

More support services not only for the children but their parents to help them deal with their children are also needed. Every school district should have a gifted education school committee.

Much should be done to improve the delivery of education for our gifted students to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

[Please check out Jerry’s Gifted and Talented page: http://cybraryman.com/gifted.html]