FROM THE EDITOR
There are all kinds of leaders—good ones, bad ones— benevolent ones, selfish ones—intelligent ones, ideological ones, partisan ones and more. We expect our gifted youth to become positive and effective future leaders in our increasingly complex world; that means that those of us who work with them have an important responsibility in providing experiences to develop and build ethical leadership skills.
This issue is devoted to examining the components of effective leadership development as well as the ethics that go with it. James Gallagher leads our feature section with an analysis of the critical leadership elements of evaluation and judgment. He acknowledges that “…evaluation doesn’t show up too often on intelligence tests—probably because it is so hard to score.”
Further, Gallagher points out that practice in making informed judgments is notably lacking in much of our curricula for gifted learners. He suggests several means of making such practice integral to gifted education, particularly that of Problem Based Learning. His article is entitled, “Teaching Evaluation and Judgment.” Service-learning is increasingly acknowledged as an effective means of providing practice for students to learn to become good citizens. Jann Bohnenberger and Alice Terry concur in their article, “Developing a Moral Compass: Service Learning
for Gifted Students.” They maintain that a “Community Action Service Learning” model is particularly relevant for gifted youth and lead us through its essential components. They point out that this model provides a differentiated curriculum for gifted learners.
Julia Link Roberts and Tracy Inman also focus on service learning in their article, “Preparing Student Leaders to Make a Difference: Adult Leaders Are Key.” They emphasize the need for intentional leadership development rather than an unfocused or scattered plan. And in order to implement intentional leadership development, training of key adults is critical. To meet this need they have developed an annual two-day workshop for adults at the Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University where they serve as Director and Associate Director.
Their Leadership Institute addresses both the theory and skills of leadership development—what they call the “minds on” and “hands-on” of leadership development. They share specifics of their Leadership Institute lessons and activities along with numerous resources.
Another means of addressing our topic is in “Learning Ethics Through Literature” by Jody Fickes Shapiro. Author and earlier columnist for this journal, Shapiro prefaces her article by discussing the increase in cheating prevalent in our modern culture. She points out that a benefit of using literature as a vehicle is that, “The characters in books are enough removed from the reader to give a sense of objectivity.” She discusses many specific books teachers and parents may find useful in helping students clarify their beliefs regarding ethical decisions they have already faced or may experience. At first glance, our feature article, “Too Many Gifted Kids Dropping Out of School,” may not seem to fit our theme. However, Toby Manzanares, who teaches in an inner city school in southern California, is fervent in his belief that it is we adults who must take the leadership role in keeping at-risk students in school and assisting them in leading meaningful lives. He discuses the philosophy of Futures
High School (a school-within-a-school for at-risk students in Montebello, CA); key among them is building trust between teacher and student. He shares some of the methods he uses in his science classes to build that trust. A measure of the effectiveness of the program is a 97% graduation rate for the school’s senior class.
There are many things to look for in our Department columns. Carolyn Cooper also addresses the issue of school dropouts among gifted students in her regular column for administrators in, “Preventing a Dropout Disaster.” Nancy Robinson provides practical wisdom for parents in her article, “The Elephant in the Room: Coaching Your Child How to Talk About Giftedness.” Beth Littrell emphasizes the need for “Ethical Leadership in Technology,” and Carolyn Kottmeyer adds numerous resources for our topic of leaderships and ethics in her “Web Watch” column.
Finally, we asked ourselves where might you, our readers, look for leadership within our field? We have included a listing of various centers around the country (and one in Canada) providing leadership and services to those who work with and parent gifted children. We have included as much information as we had space for from those who responded to our query; we gleaned information for others from their websites. We hope no errors crept in but welcome corrections or additions for the next issue.
And speaking of the next issue, we are currently working on our summer theme, “The Origin and Growth of Giftedness.” We hope it will be thought provoking and useful. We wish all of you a successful end to the school year.