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enfants hautement surdoués Traduction
de l'ERIC Digest n° 477 de Stephanie Tolan chez Douance Org.
TO AIR ON CBC NEWSWORLD Gifted Children Face
Complex Choices in Film by Vancouver Producer Ric Beairsto
us please, we're Canadian
VANCOUVER - (updated
Feb 29th 2004) - Gifted children are often viewed as having an easier time
than their peers, flying through their schoolwork and any challenges that
stand in their way. The reality is usually quite different, according to
Superkids, a documentary by Vancouver film producer Ric Beairsto, which
will air on CBC Newsworld’s series Rough Cuts March 11, 2004
The one-hour program, currently
in production, closely follows the lives of four Vancouver students who
have been assessed as gifted. Each is about to graduate from elementary
school and seek a place in the high school system where they may finally
find both challenges and acceptance. Their individual experiences raise
wider questions for society and the educational system about
giftedness and how we approach
Ric Beairsto is an award-winning
writer, director and producer, who recently produced Stand-Up Samurais,
an hour-long CBC Newsworld documentary about stand-up comics touring small
towns in Western Canada, and acted as Executive Producer on My Mother,
My Hero, a 13-part series about the relationships between mothers who survived
the Holocaust and their children. Among Beairsto’s many other credits are
Walking in Pain, which is set in a Native drug and alcohol treatment centre,
and A Life of Independence, a film hosted by Raymond Burr, about severely
handicapped men leaving an institution. Beairsto has also written and directed
TV dramas and docu-dramas, including Close To Home, a feature-length docu-drama
broadcast by the CBC, and
Eye Level, a dramatic mini-series
broadcast by a consortium of six Canadian broadcasters. He is currently
working on numerous feature film and television projects, including Reborn
and Last Laugh, both theatrical features; Gone to an Aunt’s, a movie of
the week for CBC; and Little White Lies, a movie of the week for CTV.
One of the students Beairsto’s
film follows is his own 13-year-old son, Jiten. Like many parents of gifted
children, Beairsto expresses deep ambivalence about his son’s gifts and
the resulting choices that face the family.
“This fall, Jiten began to
attend the University of British Columbia’s Transition Program -- a de
facto student of the university - - where he will compress the regular
five years of high school into just two,” says Beairsto. “A week earlier,
he was still 12 years old. When I recently told my favourite aunt,
aged 82, about all this, she replied, ‘When does he get to be a kid?’ Frankly,
I had the same question, and no answer.”
Another parent in the documentary
dismisses the idea that having a gifted child makes things easier for parents.
Jack Lin, whose son Michael is featured in Superkids, says raising a gifted
child “is not a blessing; it’s a responsibility.” Michael, who has attended
five schools in six years, has a daytimer where he keeps track of his extracurricular
math work, air cadets, English and Chinese language lessons, music theory
class, piano lessons, kung fu practice and orchestra performances.
Superkids is a sensitive
and nuanced approach to the complexities faced by gifted children, their
families and the education system. In addition to the students featured
in Superkids, the documentary also introduces voices from a variety of
professional educators, each with a unique perspective on society’s mixed
reaction to young people like the four featured in Superkids.
“Superkids doesn’t have all
the answers about the development of gifted young people,” says Beairsto.
“But I hope it will help to further the discussion, as well as provide
a window onto the sometimes difficult issues facing gifted kids and their
For more information about
Superkids, please contact Ric Beairsto, Producer, at
604-669-6887 or e-mail email@example.com.
Or contact Pat Johnson, Publicist, at 604-657-1719.
map Back to
from the "We can do it" conference in Denver)
Utopia must exist somewhere,
that's been my premise as I've spent the last few years searching out gifted
practices around the world, following the usual path through publications
lists, web sites and conferences. As a member of a local chapter
of our provincial organization for gifted children I have worked with teachers,
school administration and boards, public and private schools, and home
schoolers, searching for ways to help my children and those of our association.
The "We can do it conference" in Denver was great, especially since
it illustrated a few "home truths " to those of our association who were
there once more searching for ideas across the border.
The UN is right!
Canada is the best in the world! Our problem is that our quiet Canadian
style combined with the tendency for gifted individuals to try to fit in
instead of stand out, doesn't spread enough information about our success
around. We tend to believe that those who publish or speak have better
information or are more active, (remember, non of us admit to being gifted!)
Our relative population size leaves us open to assuming larger numbers
means more is known and done, especially when it concerns our neighbours
to the south.
At the Denver conference
discovered that although the American education system does supply funding
for research concerning gifted students, funding for programming is another
issue entirely. The situation across the states appears to be less
organized than in Canada, which was a major revelation to us. Massachusetts,
home of Harvard and MIT, doesn't have gifted mandates for programming or
identification. One parent from Massachusetts spoke of a complete
lack of programs for gifted children.
Colorado, with a population
roughly the size of B.C.'s and an area one third the size, has one hundred
and seventy six school districts compared to B.C.'s sixty. B.C. doesn't
have a perfect system, but at least the levels of administration our parents
have to cope with and advocate in are a bit more manageable.
In terms of research,
Dr. Karen Rogers quoted wonderful information on current research data
concerning gifted education at the Denver conference. She has data
that show the effects of giving gifted students credit for prior learning
(pre tests) allows them to complete three years of school in two. Compacting
curriculum can effectively allow gifted students to complete two years
worth of work with one year of effort in math and science. The effect
of full time ability grouping allows gifted students to do three years
in two in elementary school, three years in four in secondary school.
Her recommended reference of choice for gifted education practices? Dr.
Bruce Shore of McGill University "Recommended Practices in Gifted
Education, A Critical Analysis".
"Voting With Their Feet,
How Homeschooling is Changing the Face of Gifted Education" was a talk
at the Denver conference by Kathie Kearney, who founded the Hollingsworth
Centre for Highly Gifted Children. Kathie works tirelessly to inform
American parents of their options concerning homeschooling. The "Bright
Flight Phenomenon" is how she refers to gifted homeschooling. She
told us homeschooling has reached a critical mass of 1.7 million students
in the U.S. Much of her work focuses on available resources for homeschoolers.
In most American states distance education packages are not available through
the public school system. Parents must fund and resource individualized
programs for their children's education without access to public school
resources. ( That's why so many commercial resources are available in the
states!) When told that home schoolers in B.C. have access to
"School in a box" or computerized educations (with computers and internet
access supplied) through distance learning services and that home
schooling children can be included in regular local school activities (sports,
band and field trips for example) Americans were amazed. Organized,
homeschooling distance programs like those easily available in B.C., the
Yukon and Alberta to homeschooling families are almost non-existent in
the U.S. There are some advantages in having to serve remote populations!
Our grassroots Canadian
parent organizations also stood out from the pack in Denver.
We seem to be further along in sharing information on gifted education
within our provinces than is the case in many American states. Here
again distance and need seem to have played a part. We have solid
advocacy, information, support, contacts and resources in at least half
of the country which is driven by parents and relates directly to the needs
of our children.
Poor little Canadians?
I think not! Next time I go to an international conference, I'll
be preparing to share more of our well founded experience and resources.
Our trick is to find, support and publicize them in such a vast landscape.
To that end read the information about Lannie Kanevsky's "Toolkit for Curriculum
Differentiation". Lannie was to have been a keynote speaker at the
World Conference in Turkey (cancelled) last summer. Those of us in
the western half of the country won't have to fly so far to hear her this
fall in Vancouver! The rest of you might want to get a library subscription
to the GCABC's newsletter, their summer edition featured an article by
Françoys Gagné, from the University of Quebec at Montreal.
His "Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent" which proposes a clear
distinction between gifts or aptitudes and talents appeared in the Winter
edition of the Journal for the Education of the Gifted (Volume 22,
number 2 pp 230-234 ) Le Modèle Différentiateur de la Douance
et du Talent (MDDT) (regard thèmatique/
douance) propose une distinction nette entre
ces concepts fondamentaus que sont le dons (douance) et les talents
It was a good conference.
with groups of people dedicated to helping gifted children is always rewarding,
as well as interesting! (I can understand why so much research is based
in the states, federal funding!) This time though I learned that
we need to share our experiences and not imagine that the grass is greener.
I suspect as education goes through major shifts in the next century, Canada,
with it's remote populations and means of serving them, will like Australia,
be able to take advantage of more individualized educational opportunities
which best suit gifted learners. (Now to fund a "Bright Flight" resource
exchange to Australia!)
Neat building stuff for
kids showcased at the conference was a system called Zome tools.
Their bubble kit was an inexpensive way of trying out the system (about
$12 Canadian) which makes bubbles of all shapes and sizes and is available
in Canada from Jean Lau (She also sells Aristoplay games and
Don Cohen's math books)
back to top
What did you
learn in School today?
Looking for information on
what your child should cover in school next year? The BC Ministry
of Education site has very soft (and frustrating) online handbooks,
the Parents Handbook on School Curriculum
More useful are the actual
Integrated Resource Packages, the actual "blueprint" for curricula for
all grades in B.C. If you are wondering if your child already
knows the material for next year, check out this site.
Nechako School District in B.C. have some great resources at their E-Bus
home site. One of the best is a list of sites concerning assessment
information for parents who want to determine how well their children
are doing in various subjects. Many of these sites have great resources
to teach children how to critique their work, and they are useful anywhere
have been frustrated by your school lately maybe you need an alternate
view. Read John Taylor Gatto's article The Curriculum of Necessity
or What Must an Educated Person Know. If you find that thought
provoking you may want to check out more of Gatto's writing