Useful reading for educators and students from the world of science and technology.
by Balázs Hornyák
E-magazines, which are easily accessible from computers or mobile devices are gaining ground in the past decades. These publications are extremely popular among young people since they are easy to use and easily accessible with their spectacular graphics, interesting content and popular readings. Lovers of sciences and technology can choose from various exciting themes in the columns of STEM Magazine. This magazine is a monthly electronic publication aimed at talented, motivated students, teachers who tend to update their practices, and parents who are interested.
Wayne Carley is the Editor in Chief and publisher of all STEM Magazines. Wayne has been an educator of children and adults for over 17 years. Since 2006, Wayne has focused on STEM related curriculum and concepts having served as the lead S.T.E.M. instructor for grades 6 through adult at the National STEM Academy. Wayne has personally taught over 87,000 students in hundreds of classrooms. His educational experience in state and private schools successfully utilizes the content of STEM magazine.
For instance, in the October 2017 issue of STEM there is an interesting article on architecture. Young people can learn about the differences between industrial architects and landscapers, inspired by Nicole Dossot, designer of 7 WTC, and they get a picture of the work of Agata Dzianach, who is a widely known architect-researcher. The authors show spectacular illustrations of the increasingly popular green design technology.
The diversity of themes is demonstrated by the interview with Eva Shaw, a Canadian model and DJ. The interview was published in STEM Women magazine in April 2017 Eva speaks about the relationship between mathematics and music in details, exploring the contexts of different fields of sciences and music. We can get answers about the relationship between our biorhythm and music, and how these observations are used by DJs in their composing practice. Finally, the article also shows how the technology’s development has an impact on the music industry.
Perhaps these two examples may also show that the themes selected by the authors offer exciting and useful readings to subscribers, they are suitable for supplementing the curriculum and can be used to design enrichment programs for talented young people.
STEM Magazine believes that the key to success in seeing higher graduation rates, improved testing results, rests in the hands of the teacher. The example and inspiration of individual educators has a huge impact on the quality and effectiveness of the classroom environment.
The publisher of the magazine is proud of the fact that STEM is enriched by writings of well-known and recognized authors from month to month. The articles are writers of leading university teachers, members of literary platforms, experts from the corporate sector, researchers and politicians. Their knowledge, experience and professionalism are a guarantee that the publication meets the ever-changing needs of educators, students and parents.
STEM magazine family consists of various editions aimed at different target audience. STEM Canada, STEM for Women, specifically published for women, STEAM Magazine is primarily aimed at teachers and CTIM Magazine is the Spanish language version of the magazine. More information about the magazine family can be found on https://www.stemmagazine.com/.
 STEM is a well-known term in both education and the labor market; STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
Prepared by Mojca Juriševič, Head of CRSN at the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana
On 21 and 22 September 2017 CRSN held the 2nd International Conference, which was dedicated to networking among institutions and individuals within the European Talent Support Network (ETSN). More than 200 pre-school teachers, elementary and high school teachers, school counsellors, head teachers, high school students, university students and their mentors attended the conference. At the conference, which was opened by Dr Janez Vogrinc, Dean of the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana, and by Csilla Fuszek, Secretary-General of the ETSN, six ETSN Talent Centres from Slovenia, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Ireland and the Czech Republic, and twenty-three ETSN Talent Points from Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and Hungary were presented.
The main aim of the conference was to focus on and critically discuss the latest key research and expert findings, and experience with gifted education, with particular emphasis on approaches to, contents, strategies, methods and forms thereof.
The plenary lecturers Dr Fani Nolimal, Dr Heidrun Stoeger, Dr Margaret Sutherland, Dr Colm O’Reilly, and Dr Željko Rački highlighted the important didactical, methodological, and psychological aspects of teaching and supporting gifted students in school and outside, in particular mentoring to encourage in-depth learning of the gifted students in specific fields and their further motivation for scientific research. The message delivered to the participants was that “the collaboration with the gifted students is necessary for wading them through learning about the novelties, and for providing them with a model of perseverance, meaningful adaptation and motivation”.
Within six sections, we listened to thirty-six presentations and discussed with authors of eight posters from the field of gifted education in preschool, elementary and secondary schools, as well as in other educational and research institutions, e.g. Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia (ZOTKS), the Višnjan Observatory, the ETSN Youth Platform, etc. In their presentations the educators advocated personalized teaching within mainstream education, which is possible, but requires thorough preparation, organization and evaluation; the researchers also highlighted the importance of collaboration with the local and wider communities, with a view to provide conditions for quality assurance in gifted education (i.e., ranging from formulating an authentic problem to gathering funds for the purchase of materials and aids).
At the conference, two high-profile roundtable discussions titled “Researching with the Gifted”, and “The Gifted about their Education and their Future” were held.
The first round table discussion was moderated by Dr Mojca Čepič; the participants were Mija Kordež (Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia (ZOTKS)), Alenka Mozer (the Vič Gimnazija), Dr Jure Bajc and Dr Boštjan Kuzman – both representatives of the CRSN and of the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia (DMFA). The speakers addressed their experience with mentoring the gifted pertaining to research (research camps, preparations for competitions and the Olympics), and highlighted some neuralgic points that hinder quality research work with primary school students and upper secondary school students, e.g. the unregulated mentoring system, a lack of systemic mentoring plans, as well as an unexpected low level of responsiveness and motivation of the gifted in general, which, in their opinion and experience, is due to the existing school system which do not value neither rewards appropriately the students’ extracurricular work.
The second roundtable discussion, which was moderated by Dr Gregor Torkar, welcomed the global gifted youth, and was held in English. Tim Prezelj (a student of the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), Lukáš Kyzlík (a student of FEKT VUT Brno, the Czech Republic), Marko Agozzino (Liceo Scientifico Marie Curie, Meda, Italy), Sara Oblak (the Bežigrad Gimnazija, Slovenia) and Polona Čebular (the Ledina Gimnazija, Slovenia) presented their views on education and experience therewith. The participants highlighted the importance of good teachers and mentors (i.e., a teacher who understands and encourages students at the first place), of a favourable school climate (i.e., no “nerd” name calling), and in the end agreed, that positive communication with each other, with classmates and teachers (“teachers should be more friendly to us and pay more attention to us”) is of utmost importance for their development.
In the framework of the conference, a special competition “24NADur” for gifted students was also held, under the leadership of Dr Gregor Torkar. Eight student teams from five Slovenian gimnazijas (Bežigrad Ljubljana, Brežice, Jurij Vega Idrija, Ledina Ljubljana, 1st Gimnazija Maribor), and one Bosnian gimnazija (Bihać) took part in it; all of them were gimnazijas from CRSN Talent Points in the ETSN network. The task for teams was to solve the posed sustainable development problem within 24 hours and to justify the solution before the international committee. Twenty-four students and their mentors considered the competition to be a big challenge, and worked on the project solution almost without interruption; they spent the night at the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana that contributed to a good working atmosphere, and allowed all the necessary tools to be used in order to achieve optimum results. Although there was only one winner, i.e. the students of the Bežigrad Gimnazija, the participants believed the competition was interesting and worth taking every effort to solve a new problem, which required mutual connection and collaboration; they decided that they would respond to the invitation to such a competition in the future, as well.
The conference participants also listened to the performances of the musically gifted elementary students; Ilonka Krivokapič (mentored by Damjan Cvetko) played two of her own piano compositions, followed by the guitar player Miha Bregar (mentored by Mladen Bucić), the harp players Nika Kores Sraka and Adrijan Ignjatović (mentored by Anja Gaberc), the violinist Vito Bejat Kranjc (mentored by Sausan Hussein), and the pianist Tim Cergolj (mentored by Mirjana Kostic). The programme was demanding, the musicians did an excellent job, and the audience was excited.
What can be concluded based on the presented and addressed issues at the conference?
The gifted education in different countries is being developed and perceived more as the necessity and not as a capricious idea of a specific group of students or their parents, and at the same time the conceptual orientation of this education has become evident: the majority of the gifted do not predominantly need assistance in their education, but challenges and incentives for more thorough learning and more serious research. Institutions variously adapt the teaching of the gifted in mainstream programes as an inclusive approach, but it still seems that most gifted activities are carried out outside preschool and schools or the mainstream curriculum – such work is still performed as “additional” work for the gifted and their mentors, and often also for their parents, but lacking proper conditions and means of work. It is worth mentioning that positive professional attitudes towards the gifted education and the need for specific professional knowledge of educators, teachers and other experts about the characteristics of the gifted and about concrete ways of encouraging their learning and personal development are gradually strengthened. On the other hand, the participants emphasized the importance of such meetings (in their opinion, they should be organized more often to offer professional support), networking and transparency of communications, in order to maintain the achieved level of addressing the gifted. They agreed that specific knowledge is needed, and above all, time and space, to be able to understand in detail, and provide quality education of the gifted across educational sectors (starting in preschool), and in the wider cultural, educational, social and national contexts, and globally.
Catriona Ledwith (Dublin City University, Ireland)
Albert Ziegler (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany)
Non-systemic gifted counselling can be loosely defined as providing a gifted child or adult with professional advice on matters of personal, behavioural or learning concern. Systemic gifted counselling, in turn, is considered to be much more effective when the basic unit of counselling is not only the individual, but the individual and the material, the social and the informational environment with which the individual interacts. Together they form a system or as defined by Ziegler & Phillipson (2012), an actiotope.
The basic assumption of systemic thinking is that reality can be better analysed and understood by examining the relationship and interactions between the components that make up a system. Such an approach to counselling is holistic, because it studies entities and processes as a whole and tries to optimize the interaction of its components.
In contrast, non-systemic approaches apply the analytical method, which aims at dividing reality into pieces and optimizing each of these pieces individually. For example, a counsellor to the gifted working within the non-systemic tradition might start by assessing some variables like IQ, motivation, self-concept, and self-regulated learning. If he or she detects a problem with one of these variables, she might suggest a specific intervention that specifically targets this variable. For instance, the obvious solution within non-systemic paradigms for a student with issues in self-regulation (in terms of learning) would be to suggest a specific training that would help to improve this skill. The intervention therefore specifically addresses the deficit.
No doubt, it seems obvious that specific problems require specific treatments. Thus, if somebody has math problem, provide some math tutoring; if somebody is suffering from test anxiety, try an invention against test anxiety, and so on. There is nothing wrong with such an approach – except that in many cases it will not work or, more precisely, the effect will be limited and short-lived. Why is this?
Take the example of test anxiety. Under what contextual circumstances will a gifted child exhibit test anxiety and what are its dynamics? It is fair to say that most problems are a complex system of interacting factors. Focussing solely on the child will cause the gifted counsellor to miss other important issues. A basic assumption of systemic approaches is that problems are not limited to a specific part of a system, but rather signal that the whole system is dysfunctional. In the example of test anxiety, focusing on the child alone would maybe ignore that their teacher and parents had too high expectations or perhaps that strong classroom competition caused resentful peers. Of course we know of interventions that alleviate the unpleasant feeling of anxiety for some time. However, this doesn’t address the complex web of causes and circumstances that allowed the test anxiety to develop. This is the very reason why many interventions at first seem to be effective, but while quite quickly their effects peter out.
In a similar vein, if a gifted counsellor wants to stimulate a development, the whole system has to be developed and many co-evolutions need to take place. A shortened interpretation of the aforementioned could be that a gifted counsellor would just have to better address the environment in the counselling equation. This, however, would miss crucial points. Though it is correct that the focus must be broadened from the person to include the environment, this extension will not suffice. Equally important is to focus on the interaction between person and environment. For example, the expectations of the teacher and the abilities of the gifted student must be in sync. When the student masters a learning step, the teacher has to adapt her expectations and set new challenges within the zone of proximal environment. However, let´s assume that rising skill levels and public praise by the teacher might cause resentment from otherstudents in thisclassroom. Then a gifted counsellor workingwithin the systemic paradigm would also see the need to address the issue of social relationships among the peers. The gifted counsellor will thus not only focus on the development of the gifted student, but rather on the harmonious development of the whole actiotope.
So where does this leave us? When we take a look at the reported effect sizes of gifted education provisions we usually find them without effect, or with low or moderate at best (Kim, 2016; Lipsey & Wilson, 1993; Steenbergen-Hu, Makel, & Olszewski-Kubilius, 2016; Steenbergen-Hu & Moon, 2011). In the light of this, it seems reasonable to assume that many provisions have just focused on the individual and missed the other two important aspects: environment and the interaction of the individual with the environment. Thus, it is hoped that in the future more gifted counsellors would use a systemic approach. It will require some further training, but it is expected to be rewarding.
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Kim, M. (2016). A meta-analysis of the effects of enrichment programs on gifted students. GiftedChildQuarterly,60, 102–116.
Steenbergen-Hu, S. & Moon, S. M. (2011). The effects of acceleration on high-ability learners: A meta-analysis. GiftedChildQuarterly,55, 39-53.
Steenbergen-Hu, S., Makel, M. C., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2016). What one hundred years of research says about the effects of ability grouping and acceleration on K-12 students’ academic achievement: Findings of two second-order meta-analyses. ReviewofEducational Research,86, 849-899.
Ziegler, A. & Phillipson, S. (2012). Towards a systemic theory of giftedness. HighAbilityStudies,23, 3-30.
The Future Talents Generation (FTG) consists of motivated young adults under 30, whose aim is partly to encourage their generation to pursue their dreams, partly to change the attitude of youngsters to take responsibility for their own actions. FTG, a non-profit organization, was founded in June 2015; by now they have more than 120 active members all over the country. They have registered student associations as member organizations in 5 different universities. They also have 2 member organizations outside Hungary: Future Talents Generation – Pakistan and Future Talents Generation – Austria took off in the end of 2016. They have already organized 2 Erasmus+ projects in 2016 and 2017. Four of their members have TEDxTalks. In the past 2.5 years they created several different extracurricular talent support programs which provide practical knowledge and networking possibilities/capital for their members. Well-known multinational corporations and entrepreneurs, a number of renown private individuals support their programs and finance their innovative ideas to let the programs be offered to talented youngsters free of charge. Another interesting addendum is that FTG set the Rubik’s cube record.
To ensure the quality and the long-term development of the organization, they established an advisory board consisting of highly educated, famous, successful businessman or business women from Hungary.
Let’s see some of their programs. They established a free training program for students from elementary school to college graduation. Their priority events organized by member organizations include the so called Mentor Night, a joint dinner for 10 students and 10 senior managers, and the so-called Big4 Conference with partners and executives of the four biggest auditors. The FTG Attaché Program and Success Project started in March 2016. By changing the mentality of the high-school generation, their goal is to maximize their “Cool-factor”. They have monthly training courses covering CV design, job interview, relationships in life, entrepreneurship, case studies or presentation techniques. Moreover, participants must face different challenges month by month such as conducting interviews with a successful person or reading a book about success or organizing a charity event etc. For the elementary school students, FTG created the website okosdoboz.hu to develop the cognitive abilities of the younger generations. The youngsters can develop their cognitive abilities with the help of special on-line games and videos.
FTG conducted a research on success, made interviews with remarkable people and entrepreneurs, also asked high-school and college student about their concepts of success. Their results were presented at a TEDx conference and a Templeton conference held at Central European University.
One of their latest program is the so-called InnerTalent, a free website: innertalent.hu, addressing mainly youngsters aged 14-25. InnerTalent is meant to facilitate the development of young people through different challenges and to connect them with each other and the corporate/entrepreneurial sector. On the InnerTalent website you can find challenges in three different categories: FTG challenges focuses on improving cognitive capabilities, recognizing the possibilities of cooperation and mastering a success-oriented way of thinking. Corporate challenges: through these challenges set by multinational corporations; students have to face issues that reflect real market needs and get prepared for resolving them. Individual challenges are set by the users for themselves. This could mean giving up smoking, starting a business or even the climbing Mount Everest. Young people have the opportunity to include a personal referee in the process who follows and supervises the achievement of the goals. The website also encourages companies and young people to set challenges that conform to the S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time specific) criteria. In addition, it website provides an opportunity to build a mentor-mentee network with the inclusion of high school/university teachers and successful entrepreneurs.