Summer Time: A Time to Talk

by Sandra Kaplan

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It is acknowledged that teachers and students, students and students, and parents and children talk throughout all the seasons of the year.  It also is acknowledged that the talk among these individuals represents meaningful discussions for the time and place.  It also is acknowledged that these discussions may be characterized by their terse use of words, limited by the time allocated for discussion, shaped by the selection of a topic available for discussion, and the situation under which the discussion took place under circumstances of either work or play.

Summer time affords the times and events for discussions between adults and children and/or peers that transcend the brief commentary that often exists within the daily school year.  Summer time can be the time for talk or a time that affords the opportunities to engage in discourse that is lengthy, complex, and revealing of many dimensions of the potential, talent and the emergent aptitude of children.

Students need to be assisted to “study talk” in order to understand the importance of talk in relationship to the nature of “giftedness” and the development of expertise and talent in roles individuals assume.  Reading biographies and autobiographical sketches of people whose “talk” transformed the course of events or reshaped the knowledge that has been needed to advance society and the people within it.  Contemplating the importance of why and how individuals participate in talk situations is vital to developing an appreciation for the abilities related to practicing the art of talking.  Consider discussing with students the impact of talk derived from Ted Talks, podcasts, and news casting.

Time to talk is time to indulge in conversation that is representative of “talk as an art form.”  The artistic process of discussion is learned and it is supported by learning how to focus talk on a variety of dimensions that allow talk to become a meaningful form of expression for speaker and listener.  Some of the skills that are essential to developing “talking skills” are related to critical, creative, problem solving, and logical thought.

  1. Elaborate on ideas with details that provide a continuum of expression from what is actually observed to what is perceived to be observed.
  2. Evoke responses that represent multiple viewpoints and can be assessed as strong/weak, positive/negative. etc.
  3. Recognize that every experience represents fodder for conversation.
  4. Define the differences between prattle and talk.

Time to talk is time to indulge in conversation that is representative of “talk as an art form.”  The artistic process of discussion is learned and it is supported by learning how to focus talk on a variety of dimensions that allow talk to become a meaningful form of expression for speaker and listener.

“Listen” to this discussion between two students who have shared a visit to the zoo.  Note how their discussion is referenced to the topical areas identified as elements of the artistic process of the “talk.”

Child 1 – “I was just wondering what if the animals have a sense of the difference between roaming wild and being caged.”

Child 2 – “I don’t think so.  Some of the animals do not know the difference.”

Child 1 – “We learned about the rights of people in our history class and I think that we need to establish some type of Bill of Rights for Animals.”

Child 2 – “There is a Humane Society and I think that they do that work for us but do animals have the right to have a lawyer or is there a court of appeal.”

Child 1 – “I think I will become a Zoologist.”

Child 2 – “That’s funny.  Your first client could be the giraffe because he will have a long, long, long compliant.”

The “art of talk” is understanding how to apply the skills of critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and logic in discussions rather than simply relegating these skills to questions and answers within the course of the classrooms while studying a topic or responding to literary passages.  Learning to be a “talker” is dependent on the need to learn the prerequisite skills.  Summer time is a time to understand and practice the “art of talk” when there are so many experiences and the time that lends itself to good conversation.  Basically, the “art of talk” is the development of an art form that allows students to experience themselves and the world in a unique way.


Dr. Sandra Kaplan
is the editor of the GEC, an active member and past president of the California Association for the Gifted and chair of both the Blue Ribbon Committee and Education Committee for the organization to research a non-traditional identification instrument to recognize the underrepresented students as gifted. Dr. Kaplan has recognition for her work, receiving awards for Excellence from the Council of Exceptional Children, National Association for the Gifted for Service and Achievement and Research awards from the California Association for the Gifted. You can see her full bio here.

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