P.O. BOX 1586







Dr. James Delisle -- Professor and Co-Director of SENG, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Dr. Jerry Flack --Univ. Of Colorado-Colorado Springs

Dr. Howard Gardner -- Professor, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ms. Diane D. Grybek -- Supervisor of Secondary Gifted Programs (Retired), Hillsborough County Schools, Tampa, Florida

Ms. Dorothy Knopper -- Publisher, Open Space Communications, Boulder, Colorado

Mr. James LoGiudice -- Director, Program and Staff Development, Bucks County, Pennsylvania Intermediate Unit No. 22 and Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education

Dr. Mary Meeker -- President of SOI Systems, Vida, Oregon

Dr. Adrienne O'Neill - Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island

Dr. Stephen Schroeder-Davis -- Coordinator of Gifted Programs, Elk River, Minnesota Schools and Past President of the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented

Dr. Bruce Shore -- Professor and Director, Giftedness Centre, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Ms. Joan Smutny -- Professor and Director, Center for Gifted, National-Louis University, Evanston, Illinois

Dr. Virgil S. Ward -- Emeritus Professor of Gifted Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Ms. Susan Winebrenner -- Consultant, Brooklyn, Michigan

Dr. Ellen Winner - Professor, Boston College

As we approach the end of the century and millennium, it might be of value to reexamine our society's perceptions of giftedness in order to develop some new ideas for improving this area of education.  Americans today have great respect for and interest in high levels of performance bordering on the fanatic. Unfortunately, this attitude is primarily directed toward the sports mania prevalent throughout all ages and social classes. The high athletic accomplishments of Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa cannot be denied. They demonstrate a program of success that educators in the gifted field should thoroughly study to learn about identifying potentially high performers at young ages, how to best educate them, and how to generate more support (both moral and monetary) from the American public. Why does the typical football weekend at most universities and professional football stadiums produce hundreds of thousands of fans in addition to millions of television viewers around the world?  What attractions do sports such as football, basketball and baseball hold for the typical fan?  The systematic study of these and other related questions (such as team selection and training methods) might shed light on how educators can generate more interest in developing high performing children in the academic, music, artistic and personal areas of development.  Obviously, millions of fans have great respect for highly gifted athletes, but they usually ignore the outstanding achievements of children who are exceptional in such areas as writing and mathematics. Sports in America (1976, Fawcett Crest) by James Michener provides important insights into this problem. His discussion of the similarities between great athletes and highly gifted individuals is particularly relevant:  ". . .I believe that the human intellect also prospers from competition. It seeks challenges. It has got to test itself against tasks of magnitude. It wants to weigh itself against the great norm of its time. On the lowest level it is the small-town pool shark who dreams of the day when he can challenge Minnesota Fats. On the highest level it is the burgeoning scholar who wants to test himself against Spengler and Einstein. Flamboyantly, it is Ernest Hemingway boasting that he went into the ring against Flaubert and Pio Baroja and fought them to a draw. Less flamboyantly, it might be the businessman who says to himself, 'I think I’ve put together something that may stand for a while,’ or Hank Aaron saying quietly, 'If I make it through till next April, I know I can break Babe Ruth’s record.’" (p. 526).

The University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus has recently developed a world champion chess program that shows how Michener’s statement can be put into action (“Kings of the Campus – At Maryland School, Chess Team Gets Glory Usually Reserved for Football,” The Washington Post, February 5, 1999).  Here, cheerleaders, the school mascot, the marching band and the entire student body turned out to cheer their chess team’s victory in the Pan American Chess Championship. Why this high level of support? The president and faculty have set the tone by recruiting and supporting top chess players. “Chess can really set the tone for this university, our emphasis on the value of being a good thinker, a good problem solver, with great discipline. This is not a party school.” (President Freeman A. Hrabowski III, p.A7)

In this issue of GEPQ, Dr. Lynn Fox discusses a problem of serious concern among teachers and parents -- the gifted student who is learning disabled. Her article describes one of the best programs for educating these children, the Lab School of Washington, D.C. located at American University, which has been operating since 1967 under the direction of Professor Sally Smith. The second article by Ross Butchart from the Vancouver, British Columbia Public Schools provides more details concerning his Quotations Curriculum.  It provides a stimulating method for differentiating the education of intellectually advanced students. He originally wrote about this topic in the Summer 1995 issue of GEPQ.

The current issue also includes an important announcement from Linda Silverman concerning the journal, Advanced Development, an interesting letter from Mary Meeker regarding previous issues, and an essay by Michael Walters on a new book by Wayne Dyer.

                                                                Maurice D. Fisher, Ph.D., Publisher   




What do actor Henry Winkler, musician-activist Harry Belafonte, writer Fanny Flagg, and professor of medicine Dr. Donald Coffey have in common?  As children, all four struggled to overcome a learning disability.  The four are also gifted and talented. Although the phenomenon of learning disabilities became generally known in the educational community around 1960, the fact that people could be both learning-disabled and gifted was not immediately recognized (Fox, Brody & Tobin, 1983). Although there are numerous approaches to the identification of giftedness (Fox, 1981) and variability in the assessment and classification of learning-disabilities (Berk, 1983), the idea that these categories of students are not mutually exclusive has been repeatedly demonstrated in more recent years (Tannenbaum & Baldwin, 1983; Rosner & Seymour, 1983; and Senf, 1983). Indeed, children who are both learning-disabled and gifted may go unnoticed if their giftedness masks their disability and/or the disability masks their giftedness.

Students who are both gifted and learning-disabled fall into one of three broad categories.  The first group are those who appear to be bright. They are full of information that they can recount and explain orally very well.  If referred by teachers for testing for gifted programs, however, they are not likely to be identified as gifted because their performance on paper and pencil tests (which are used in most preliminary evaluations) often places them in the average to above-average range, but not the gifted range.  A variation in this scenario is that the students are placed in a program for the gifted but are not able to keep up with the fast pace of an accelerated class or to keep up with written assignments and readings required in an enrichment program, so that eventually they are dropped from the program.  The second group of gifted and learning-disabled students are those who are perceived as average.  In reality, they may be very talented in one or more areas but children in this group also have some learning disabilities that are not quite severe enough to be noticed (Fox, 1983).  In a sense, their disabilities and giftedness cancel each other out and they receive no special services.  The last group of students who fall into both categories are those children who have very severe disabilities and whose giftedness may be totally ignored or unrecognized.

Unfortunately for all three categories of special students, the outcome is that their talents are not nurtured and their self-esteem is likely to be very low.  Even when the learning disability is so severe that they are referred for special services, most programs for the learning-disabled focus on overcoming or compensating for the disability and fail to nurture talents and gifts. One remarkable exception is the Lab School of Washington, D.C. (LSW), a not-for-profit school affiliated with The American University in Washington, D.C.

The LSW, founded by Professor Sally Smith in 1967, has a history of helping the severely learning-disabled student develop his/her talents.  In a recent study of four LSW graduating classes (1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992) there were no dropouts and the rate for entering college was 73 percent (Fox, Smith, & Knight, 1995).  From 1993-1998, 90 percent of graduates went on to college or community college.  This is dramatically different from the norm for learning-disabled students in high schools. National statistics estimate that roughly half of the learning-disabled population become high school dropouts and only a third of those who graduate attempt post-secondary education (Levin, Zigmond, & Burch, 1985; Peraino, 1992; and Zigmond, & Thornton, 1985).  Even more remarkable is that the LSW serves a population of students that are considered to be the "toughest cases" by the school systems that refer them to LSW.  Approximately 85 percent of the student body each year is referred by their local public school system in the greater Washington, D.C. area because their schools cannot provide an appropriate educational program for them. In addition, most students at LSW are diagnosed as having an attention deficit in addition to their other specific learning disability.  The student body is fairly representative of the racial and economic diversity of the area (about 28-30 percent are African-American) but there are large differences in referral rates by gender and there are usually four boys for every girl enrolled.  Although these children have been judged as the "worst cases" in their home schools, at LSW they grow into more competent students and even high achievers.

An alumnus who was recently honored at an annual LSW Gala is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin College and a graduate of the Duke University School of Law.  He was referred to the Lab School as a child who was behind his peers in every aspect of schooling, and he is not unique.  Graduates of LSW include several that have flourished in fields such as architecture, film production, photography as well as law.  Indeed, students graduating between 1989 and 1992 were enrolled in colleges ranging from small liberal arts schools such as Guilford College and Southern Vermont College to large universities such as The American University, Florida A&M, the University of the District of Columbia, Syracuse University and the University of Arizona  (Fox, Smith, & Knight, 1995).

LSW has been recognized as a model of  "best practices" by the National Diffusion Network and received the Blue Ribbon Award for Elementary and Junior High Schools in 1997 and the Blue Ribbon Award for High Schools in 1995.  (Note that the school was only one of two special education schools in the country to win the Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education.)  A model for special education, the LSW offers insights into what other schools could do to foster the gifts and talents of at-risk students while still providing each child with the appropriate help and instruction to meet individual needs. The formula for success at LSW involves the interaction of several factors and program components that challenge students’ intellects as much as possible.  In brief they are:

1. Concrete and thematic teaching,

2. Use of microcomputers,

3. Emphasis on the arts and arts-based teaching,

4. Recognition of multiple intelligences and diverse learning styles,

5. A focus on self-esteem, and

6. Psychological support services.

With all six components present, the learning environment of LSW works to meet both the cognitive and affective needs of each student. The LSW nurtures the students' talents and strengths, and helps them compensate for their specific learning problems.  Indeed, the LSW represents a model of teaching for diversity that could be applied to many different populations besides the learning-disabled, particularly gifted students.

Concrete and Thematic Teaching

Influenced by the research and writings of educators and researchers such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and Howard Gardner, Professor Sally Smith, creator and director of the Lab School, developed a curriculum model that emphasizes active and experiential learning, the arts, and integrated content domains.  One of the most exciting parts of the day for students is the one hour allotted for their special academic club.   The themes of these clubs are different for each grade and they integrate classical literature, history, geography, science, and mathematics, as children become immersed in a reconstruction of the life and times of another era or the magical world of mythology and fantasy.

For example, in a recent summer school academic club, the theme of rainforests was used.  Art and science naturally merged as students created colorful pictures and models of inhabitants of the forest to decorate walls, hang from the ceiling and perch in a large artificial tree that sat like an umbrella over the work tables in the classroom.  Discussions of endangered species led to collecting information about the species and their environmental needs.  Another possible extension of this theme might be a discussion of social studies topics as students try to understand the politics involved in saving the forests from over-development.  The folklore and stories of the peoples of the rainforest could also serve as a natural bridge to having students create, write, and dramatize their own adventure tales.

Another example of concrete teaching techniques was a class in which the teacher realized that his students had no grasp of the relationships among geographical and political entities such as continents, countries, states, and cities.  This teacher brought in boxes of various sizes and students labeled the smallest ones with city names, and the next larger size set of boxes with the names of states.  A very large box was designated as the United States of America and the very largest box became North America.  By nesting the boxes, students came to understand the idea of inclusion as it related to cities, states and countries. In another class, students who were studying the history of Native American tribes, were intentionally displaced to smaller and less comfortable classrooms in the school several times in a two-week period until the students became so annoyed with their treatment and the conditions in which they had to have class that they wrote a letter of protest to the Director of the School. Through this activity, the teacher was then able to help the students appreciate the parallels in their own repeated displacement and loss of resources to the experiences of the tribes they had been studying (Smith, 1991).

Other examples of the use of concrete and relevant teaching techniques include a unit in archeology.  This project evolved as students became part of a real dig when an Indian Mound was discovered on school property.  Another meaningful learning experience is a writing assignment that requires students to interview local artists.  In past years, this assignment has led to the production of a pamphlet complete with LSW students’ photographs of the artists, their write-ups of each artist and gallery, and quotations from the artist.  The students were responsible for the printing of the pamphlet, advertising, and sales.  The pamphlet is now sold at some galleries and museums such as the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Museum.

Regardless of the specific teaching tools or medium, the curriculum emphasizes engaging the learner in meaningful activity with concrete examples and opportunities to engage in authentic hands-on projects.  For example, mathematics instruction relies on manipulatives and elaborate visuals to help teach operations and number facts and concepts.  In one class, students were having difficulties grasping the concept of measurement of volume.  The teacher in this classroom brought in balls of different sizes that the students cut open and could fill with paper wads to "see" the differences in volume.

The educational literature is replete with research and theory extolling the value of hands-on learning under many names such as cognitive constructivism, authentic assessment, whole language, and so forth.  The implementation of theory into practice is too often missing from the classroom strategies teachers routinely employ.  Programs for the gifted, especially those who have specific learning problems must move to the forefront in demonstrating that such teaching methods can become central to the instructional process on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment basis.

Use of Microcomputers

Thematic and concrete teaching is enhanced by the use of technology.   Word processing skills are essential for learning-disabled students, especially those heading for college.  Often these students have both spelling and handwriting problems. When they learn to type papers and use spell checkers, the looks of their written products are vastly improved and they can communicate their ideas more clearly.  Of course some mistakes will not be caught such as typing “to” for “two,” but it is easier for the students to proofread their work when it is typed than when it is in their own handwriting which is often messy, disorganized, and error-ridden. Indeed, the graphics and "patience" of even the more mundane computer programs often motivate the learning-disabled student who might otherwise grow restless when trying to master simple tasks. At a more advanced level, students work with authoring software to create multimedia presentations that can be used to teach their peers as well.

The use of technology such as word processing and multi-media software for presentations helps the gifted child to produce work that is more compatible with their potential than they could otherwise produce because of poor handwriting and spelling. This helps to reduce some of the extreme stress felt by those who are gifted and learning disabled, and who are frustrated by their inability to communicate as effectively as they would like, or who are frustrated by their inability to produce written work that reflects their level of conceptualization.  Microcomputers are not toys or frills but critical tools to help compensate and circumvent the communication barriers typically encountered by the learning disabled.  Microcomputers allow gifted students to really express themselves in creative and sophisticated ways.

Emphasis on the Arts

A twelve-foot tall dragon constructed by the students over a period of several months sits outside the main entrance of LSW. Art work of every type and size adorns the walls, hallways, and classrooms. A huge mosaic made of carpet tiles covers one entire wall of a large all purpose room, and the library’s shelves are lined with books written, illustrated, and bound by the students themselves.  Not only do students take great pride in producing this artwork but these works serve as valuable teaching tools as well. In the lower grades, for example, the students cannot take a wood-working project home until they have explained to the class or another student each step of the process they used to create the object.  This is, of course, a great challenge to those children for whom memory and sequencing skills are a major part of their disabling condition. Indeed, projects are often chosen specifically to help the students master the skills of organization, planning and monitoring their own progress.

The graphic arts are not the only focus at LSW.  Music and dance are also essential parts of the program and are integrated with physical education so that dance and gymnastics are choreographed to music and performed for peers and parents. It is believed that there are clear links between developing gross and fine motor coordination and thinking skills.  Smith’s theory is that concentrating on organizing the body helps students to organize their minds. Interestingly, some of the teachers have seen an actual motoric breakthrough occur just before a corresponding conceptual breakthrough.  For example, children who finally master walking backwards may soon afterwards grasp the mathematical concept of reversibility that had eluded them in their mathematics class.

Unfortunately many school systems see the arts as a "frill" or "extra," not a crucial part of the mainstream curriculum.  When funds are short the "specialist teachers" are often the first to be cut.  The LSW program is a testimonial to the importance of the arts in the curriculum for the learning-disabled and gifted child as well as showing the logic for integrating the arts more centrally into all instructional processes and related to all curriculum content.  Science, mathematics, history, geography, and language arts all involve multi-media expressions of information, feelings, and ideas.

Recognition of Multiple Intelligences and Diverse Learning Styles

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Model (Gardner, 1983) also contributes to the philosophy and teaching techniques used at the LSW.  If a child is gifted in areas other than the more traditional academic ones, the outlet for these gifts may be limited in a typical school setting.  At LSW, however, musical, kinesthetic, and visual activities are integrated into all the academic clubs along with the traditional logical and verbal curriculum content.  For example, learning about the Gold Rush may require the construction of elaborate paper maché models of mines and mountain ranges as well as the construction of prairie schooners of varying sizes.  Understanding the concept of the greatest common factor can be done by comparing sets of jumping children, those who jump on multiples of two and those on multiples of three, etc. to see what happens when we count to 12.  Performing for students at other schools as part of a musical outreach to the community has also fostered the “can do” attitude so necessary for the success of these children.

The academic clubs model incorporates Gardner's multiple intelligences with thematic teaching and a whole language approach in ways that make learning meaningful and exciting for teachers and students alike.  Professor Smith is currently writing a manual for teachers on how to replicate the clubs.  Funding is being sought to bring teachers to the LSW for a full year of training in teaching with the LSW model. Clearly this approach could be used for self-contained gifted classes or for pull out enrichment activities.       

A Focus on Self-esteem

Common adjectives used by learning-disabled people, and their teachers and families to describe a learning-disabled person are stubborn, recalcitrant, intractable, unmovable, and impossible.  One of the major goals of LSW is to help students see how these characteristics can be recast in more positive terms.  That is, stubborn can mean tenacious; recalcitrant may be single-minded. The words indomitable, fiercely determined, and driven can replace the terms intractable, unmovable, and impossible, respectively.  One way this is done is by the use of role models.  Each year the school holds an awards ceremony to honor one or more successful adults who were learning-disabled children.  As part of the events, these adults visit the school and talk with the students.  Seeing adults that they recognize from movies, sports and television admit that they could not spell, read, or organize themselves as children, but have worked to overcome these problems, gives a real breath of hope to students at LSW. They are still struggling to overcome the feelings of failure and inadequacy often brought on from spending years in schools that only recognized the child’s deficit, and never saw the wonderful potential and creative thinking that was there, too  (Smith, 1991).

Some of the growth in self-esteem seems related to mastery of sophisticated information through the Academic Clubs.  Being able to intelligently discuss the Industrial Revolution and role play the life stories of famous characters of that time period gives students a feeling of efficacy, even if they must struggle to learn the information from alternatives to textbook reading.  LSW teaches students that they can master information and learn the skills to acquire information using a variety of strategies.

The many concrete products that students produce in the course of their studies such as their self-authored books in the school library also contribute to feelings of increased self-worth.  The teachers' uses of concrete and visual aides to problem-solving and critical thinking become models for the students in their own efforts at problem-solving. This acquisition of general heuristics that they can transfer to new situations and problems gives them the courage to tackle college.  They learn to translate stubbornness into tenacity as they try to tackle new skills and information.  Teachers are trained to understand the students and their need for success and to use specific praise to reward meaningful effort.  Teachers also learn how to use reflective "recasting of affect" to help students put things into perspective.  When a student over-generalizes from failure on one task to a sense of hopeless total failure, teachers know how to diffuse this and focus the students (Smith, 1991).  When Arnie says he is doing terribly at school when he has just been unsuccessful at an immediate task, the teacher is quick to say something like, "I know you are disappointed that you haven't learned all these new vocabulary words yet, but remember how well you are doing this week in your math class, and what a good job you did on your book report yesterday."

Self-esteem is important for all children.  Just because children are intelligent doesn't mean they feel good about themselves. For gifted children who are learning disabled, self-esteem is critical.  They are prone to depression resulting from their frustrations in producing the work on paper that they can envision in their mind’s eye.  Thus, for these children attention to self-esteem in the classroom may need to be supplemented by additional psychological services.

Psychological Support Services

Turning failing students into high achievers is a difficult task and the path is never direct.  For every success a student may experience, there are likely to be ten times more failures or frustrated attempts.  They are often discouraged, sometimes depressed, and sometimes so depressed that they contemplate suicide or running away from home.  The staff of LSW includes full-time psychologists who are able to intervene immediately and meet one-on-one with the student on a regular basis when necessary. These psychologists work closely with students’ families and teachers to help them recognize signs of stress and impending crises.

Indeed, support services for parents are an essential part of the LSW approach.  Often the parents are frustrated from years of seeing their child try so hard yet only meet failure and rejection.  Sometimes they are bitter, or resentful because the child is an embarrassment or requires so much time and attention, or is so depressed or manic that the parent does not know how to cope.  LSW realizes that the parents need help in developing parenting skills to cope with the special needs of their child. They also realize when they empower parents,  they can in turn be an asset to the program by reinforcing the desired behaviors at home and fostering positive self-images.  LSW conducts regular monthly programs for parents over a wide range of topics, and counseling is provided for the parents and child as needed, especially in the early months at the school.

Although this last component may not be essential for programs for gifted students who are not learning disabled, it is likely that parents of all children need more support than is typically available.  Some areas have associations of parents of the gifted that can be invaluable in sharing ideas for solving the problems that can arise when a bright child meets a barrier or encounters failure, an unsympathetic teacher, hostility from peers, or other problems.  For the parents of children who are learning disabled and gifted, the need for support groups and advice is great.

Applying the LSW Model to Gifted Education

The Lab School of Washington is a school designed for a very special population, those students who are not able to survive in the normal school program, even one that has resources and special services for the learning disabled.  Yet of the six key components of the program, only one is not readily exportable to regular schools serving all types of students.  That is the extra staff for psychological services and crisis intervention.  The other five components of concrete and thematic instruction, use of microcomputers, infusion of the arts, teaching for diverse talents and learning styles, and attention to self-esteem can be incorporated into any school setting.  While it is true that LSW has small class sizes, this is necessary because of the large number of students who have severe attention deficits and learning disabilities.  With a more general population or a group of gifted children, a teacher could handle a regular size class and still implement thematic and concrete teaching, more focus on the arts, and a climate that promotes self-esteem and parental involvement.

The LSW was designated a model of promising practices in April 1994 by the National Diffusion Network.  It is the goal of the school to explore ways to expand the impact of LSW nationally.  It seems likely that the Academic Clubs, experiential learning and arts infusion into the curriculum could be used with even greater success with other populations such as the gifted.  If one school can help so many severely learning-disabled children beat the odds for failure, just imagine what a whole nation of similarly successful programs might accomplish with gifted ones.  

Although known as a school for the learning-disabled, the LSW could be a viable model for a school for the gifted or for an inclusion approach in a regular school.  The elements that are especially important for the gifted are as follows:

A curriculum rich in information as well as in modes to access and express the information as in the model of academic clubs where art and role-playing are part and parcel of learning history, science and literature.  

The use of technology to enhance individualized learning goals and activities, and to allow for collaboration among students on meaningful projects like the creation of multi-media storybooks.

The emphasis on multiple intelligences and the need for multiple approaches to teaching and learning, the integration of curriculum, and inclusion of art, dance, drama and music into the daily study of reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The focus on self-esteem and the development of empathy.

Exporting the LSW Model

One of the unique features of LSW is that it serves as a teacher-training facility as well.  Students in the Masters Program in Special Education at American University become part of the teaching team long before they officially enroll in student teaching.  Students enrolled in regular teacher certification programs have an opportunity to learn about the school and work there as well, especially during the summer school programs conducted at the Lab School. The school is now undertaking the creation of partnerships, and in-service training workshops for schools interested in applying the LSW techniques and philosophy.

The LSW model of teaching offers insights into how to foster talents and gifts for all learners everywhere.  Thematic teaching, the infusion of the arts into basic curriculum, focusing on self-esteem, and communication and support for parents are all important components of the LSW model that can be applied to gifted education. Most importantly, the LSW shows that it is possible to offer hope and help to those who are both gifted and learning-disabled.  l l l


Berk, R. A.  (1983).  Learning disabilities as a category of underachievement.  In L. H. Fox, L. Brody, and D. Tobin (Eds.), Learning-disabled/gifted children: Identification and programming  (pp. 51-76).  Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Fox, L. H. (1981). Identification of the academically gifted. The American Psychologist, 36 (10), 1103-11.

Fox, L. H. (1983).  Gifted children with reading problems: An empirical study. In L. H. Fox, L. Brody, & D. Tobin (Eds.), Learning-disabled/gifted children: Identification and  programming (pp. 117-140).  Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Fox, L. H., Brody, L., & Tobin, D. (Eds.).  (1983).  Learning-disabled/gifted children: Identification and programming. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Fox, L. H., Smith, S., & Knight, L.  (1995).  Beating the odds: Helping learning-disabled students succeed. The Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems, 3 (4), 26-30.

Gardner, H.  (1983).  Frames of mind.  New York: Basic Books.

Levin, E., Zigmond, N., & Birch, T.  (1985).  A follow-up study of 52 learning disabled adolescents.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 18 (1), 2-7.

Peraino, J. M.  (1992).  Post-21 follow-up studies: How do special education graduates fare?  In P. Wehman (Ed.), Life beyond the classroom: Transition strategies for young people with disabilities (pp. 21-70).  Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Rosner, S. L., & Seymour, J. (1983).  The gifted child with a learning disability: Clinical evidence.  In L. H. Fox, L. Brody, & D. Tobin (Eds.), Learning-disabled/gifted children: Identification and programming (pp. 77-100).  Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Senf, G. M. (1983).  The nature and identification of learning disabilities and their relationship to the gifted child.  In L. H. Fox, L. Brody, & D. Tobin (Eds.). Learning-disabled/gifted children: Identification and programming (pp. 37-50).  Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

 Smith, S.  (1991).  Succeeding against the odds: How the learning disabled can realize their promise. New York: Putnam Publishing Group.

Tannenbaum, A. J. & Baldwin, L. J. (1983).  Giftedness and learning disability: A paradoxical combination.  In L. H. Fox, L. Brody, & D. Tobin (Eds.). Learning- disabled/gifted children: Identification and programming (pp. 11-36).  Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Zigmond, N. & Thornton, H.  (1985).  Learning disabled graduates and dropouts.  Learning  Disabled Quarterly, 1 (1), 50-55.





In a previous issue of this quarterly I wrote an article ("Using Quotations to Challenge Gifted Students", Vol. 9, No. 3, Summer 1995) where I began by explaining how I came to write Quotations for Creative Insights and Inspiration: A Quotations Based Humanities Curriculum for Gifted Students and Their Teachers in Middle and High School (Gifted Education Press, 1995).

I then went on to discuss five values I saw in a quotations-based curriculum; and finally, to suggest nine possible products of learning from a quotations-centered curriculum, along with examples of assignments that could foster their creation.

As a parallel to coincide with release of the expanded second edition of Quotations for Creative Insights and Inspiration. . ., my purpose now is to capitalize on lessons learned from events and experiences over the intervening years and add to those thoughts I expressed in that earlier article.  


It greets my students every day as they arrive in class -- a new quotation on a section of the blackboard specially designated for the purpose.  Often humorous, frequently serious, periodically ridiculous, sometimes controversial, it is an immediate measure of students' interest or indifference.  On some days it generates little or no response.  On others it galvanizes discussion or debate that can go on for as long as an hour and a half.  But there are two barometers of greatest success: when students are still debating the significance of a quotation as they leave the room for their recess break or a change of subject, and when a student asks if he or she can offer a quotation for the 'quote board.’  Recently I received the measure of ultimate success --  a student gave me eleven pages of Humorous Quotations taken from the Internet.  And while some were beyond the bounds of good taste for classroom use, others were imaginative and creative -- and will be put to good use.

A timely quotation can give emphasis to expression of feeling or attitude about a significant event or a significant person.  On the day prior to the Remembrance Day holiday (Canadian equivalent of Veterans Day) I placed George Santayana's famous quotation, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." on the 'quote board.’  Not only did it serve as a lead-in to a discussion about the historical significance of Armistice Day and how commemorating the sacrifice of the dead from World War I on November 11 has been expanded to include World War II, the Korean War, and UN Peacekeeping Missions; it gave pause for thought to consider what is required to avoid future repetition of past horrors.  Then, as a follow-up on the day after the holiday, I presented F.W. Robertsons' quotation, "There is a past which is gone forever, but there is a future which is still our own."  "Is there any connection between the two?" I challenged.  "Does the second contradict the first?"  "Is either, or are both an expression of hope or pessimism?"  "With which quotation are you in greater agreement?"

Further examples of quotations that connect to significant personages and/or events could include the following:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

                - Martin Luther King

"The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy."

                - John F. Kennedy

"Seriously, I do not think I am fit for the presidency."

                - Abraham Lincoln

     *          *          *          *          *

A quotation can give perspective to students' personal experiences.  On the day after I returned a test on which the class as a whole scored particularly poorly, the 'quote board' contained the following two quotations:

"Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker."

                - William Arthur Ward

"Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped."

                - African Proverb

About the test itself -- nothing was said; no questions were asked.

     *          *          *          *          *

A good quotation can serve to 'lighten up' a serious or sombre classroom atmosphere.  Certainly this was the case the day the words of Clarence Day were the quote of the day: "If your parents didn't have any children, there is a good chance that you won't have any."


Quotations, as the following example illustrates, are an ideal avenue to consider opposing points of view relating to a newspaper article:

Recently a municipal councillor complained to the press that the mayor was treating her with disrespect.  "He ignores my efforts to contribute dialogue during public meetings," she agonized, "and he told me to 'keep my mouth shut and be quiet' in an in-camera session."

My approach to a discussion about this article was to challenge the students with a single question:

Which of the following quotations most aptly applies to this story:

   "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

                - Harry S. Truman

    "Rudeness is a little person's imitation of power."

                - Anonymous


A verse of poetry, when presented as a quotation along with a question(s) for directed study, invites research and analysis.  Not only does such an approach reveal to students varieties of style and the great themes of literature, it frequently forces them to confront a dilemma or resolve moral predicaments.   Consider the following:

"He breathed, 'I'd do it for you, Bob.'"

        - "David" by Earle Birney (1904-1995)

   1)  What is Bob's dilemma and how does he resolve it?

   2)  Discuss this resolution.

"And that has made all the difference."

        - "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

"We drew a circle that took him in!"

        - "Outwitted" by Edwin Markham (1852-1940)

           1)  What is the significance of the final line of each poem to its theme?

"They also serve who only stand and wait."

        - "On His Blindness" by John Milton (1608-1674)

           1)  How can standing and waiting, normally considered qualities of passive indifference, be considere attributes of service?

           "I'd toddle safely home and die - in bed."

        - "Base Details" by Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

           "And like a thunderbolt he falls."

        - "The Eagle" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

       1)  What figure of speech does each author use in his poem?

       2)  How does each give emphasis to poetic expression?

        "Then you are a man my son."

        - "If" by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

       1)  What are Kipling's criteria of manhood?

        "And lo!  Ben Adhem's name led all the rest."

        - "About Ben Adhem" by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)

        "'Not love, quoth he, but vanity, sets love a task like that.'"

        - "The Glove and the Lions" by Leigh Hunt

       1)  Which poem by Leigh Hunt do you consider the better?  Why?

        "Though each was partly in the right,

         And all were in the wrong!"

        - "The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

       1)  List two ways a person can be blind.

       2)  How do these two final lines of the poem relate to the theme of blindness?

        "Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

          For the lesson thou hast taught!"

        - "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

       1)  What is 'the lesson'?

       2)  How is it relevant to students of today?


As a boy growing up in Vancouver during the 1950's, I was intrigued by the advertising campaign of an emerging GM dealership.  Invariably their radio spot would end with the slogan, "Not best because we're biggest, but biggest because we're best!"  Long after they became the biggest in both size and sales the organization retained the slogan -- a testament to its impact on the purchasing public, as over time it had become a verbal trademark of the company.

Impressed as I was, as an adult I began to collect and create examples of similar expressions where reversal of word order or interchanging parts of speech in parallel structure form a captivating expression.  When I recently shared this passion with a new colleague she suggested, "Since I've never heard of a name for this type of expression, why don't you give it one?"  Why not, indeed?  So I coined the portmanteau word Aphersal -- a blend of 'aphorism' and 'reversal' to fill the absence of any other know term.   Some examples of aphersals from my repertoire include:

"People don't care how much you know, they want to know how much you care."

                - Bank commercial

"Better one be dying to live than be living to die."

                - Author

"A life of waste is a waste of life."

                - Author

"To do what you like is freedom, to like what you do is happiness."

                - Anonymous

"It's good to be great; it's greater to be good."

                - Anonymous

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

                - John F. Kennedy

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

                - Anonymous

To create similar expressions is a particular challenge to gifted students.  To write a story or poem where the assignment calls for one of the lines to conform to the reversal pattern (of the aphersal) is germane to the requirements of both flexible thinking and original thinking -- key elements in William's model for implementing cognitive and affective behaviours and a central area in Calvin Taylor's Multi-talent Totem Pole model.

     *          *          *          *          *

Similar in nature, but different in structure (to the aphersal) is the challenge to gifted students to create Incongruous Conclusions.  In this instance the accepted words of a well-know quotation begin the expression, while an incongruous ending for the purpose of creating humour concludes it.  Anonymous examples to serve as models might include:

"Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine."

"Where there's a will, I want to be a beneficiary."

"Just when you think you've hit bottom, someone tosses you a shovel."

"If at first you don't succeed, skydiving's not for you."

"I have not yet begun to procrastinate."


I credit Stephen Covey for this excellent use of quotations.  In his recently-released book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (New York, A Fireside Book Published by Simon & Schuster,1998) he makes the following suggestion:

"Collect one to five of your very favorite quotes onto one sheet of paper.  The sum of these quotes then becomes your mission statement.  For some, great quotes are very inspiring, and this method works well for them." (p. 90).

Following Covey's advice, and some examples students may wish to consider as they formulate a personal mission statement could include:

"So much is a man worth as he esteems himself."

                - Francois Rabelais (1495-1553)

"We are as much alive as we keep the world alive."

                - Chief Dan George (1899-1981)

"We have to accept personal responsibility for uplifting our lives."

                - Chogyam Trungpa

"Success is a journey, not a destination."

                - Ben Sweetland

"From now on, any definition of a successful life must include serving others."

                - George Bush

"You should pray for a sound mind in a sound body."

                - Decimus Junius Juvenal (50c. - 130)


In his book Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (Philadelphia, New Society Publishers, 1992), John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year for 1991, makes a damning indictment of  the  public educational system.  He writes in part:      

     1.  The children I teach are indifferent to the adult world.

     2.  The children I teach have almost no curiosity, and what little they do have is transitory.

     3.  The children I teach have a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is inextricably linked to today.

     4.  The children I teach are ahistorical. . .

     5.  The children I teach are cruel to each other. . .

     6.  The children I teach are uneasy with intimacy or candor.

     7.  The children I teach are materialistic. . .

     8.  The children I teach are dependent, passive, and timid in the presence of new challenges (pp. 30-32).

Given that "modern" society still believes in sequestering children for one-half of each year in compartmentalized, frequently architecturally antiquated, factory-style institutions, and then releasing them to be bombarded by the dogma of acquisition preached through the curriculum of television, can Gatto's observations from 26 years of teaching be anything but right? What's to be done to restore meaning and purpose to the lives of those disengaged and disaffected?

Since schooling as we know it is not going to go away, part of reform must begin within its existing structures.  And it is here that a quotations-based curriculum reveals its greatest merits.  For through quotations students can study the lives of great thinkers from the past whose ideals influenced those in more modern times, and by so doing come to understand and value the continuity of history. Through quotations students can investigate the context of meaning in which historical events occur.  Through quotations students can confirm those enduring principles of responsibility, virtue, ethics, morality, and integrity admired by all cultures throughout the continuum of time.  Through quotations students can explore and develop the diverse forms of creativity that have enlightened the world's stages and libraries with beauty.  Through quotations students can begin to develop their personal lives.


Announcement From Dr. Linda Silverman

Call for Manuscripts for the Journal, Advanced Development       

Topic: Spirituality and Giftedness

Guest Editor: Kathleen Noble

Research into the relationship between spirituality and giftedness is a complex, embryonic, and multi-disciplinary undertaking. This special issue of Advanced Development will explore the phenomenon of spiritual awareness and its role in psychological, cognitive, affective, and moral development. We invite original and unpublished material on the following topics: spirituality and psychotherapy with gifted adults; research on spiritual intelligence; gifted children's spiritual experiences; spirituality and gifted education; literature reviews on spirituality and advanced development; exemplars of spiritually gifted adults. Also relevant are essays exploring definitions of spirituality and the methodological issues that are involved in studying spirituality.  Manuscript due date: July 15, 1999.

Send questions and submissions to: Kathleen Noble, Center for Capable Youth, University of Washington, Box 351630, Seattle, WA 98195-1630.

Comments from Mary Meeker, Psychologist and Educator

Dear Maurice:

Some comments on the information in your last few newsletters, if you don̓t mind. I usually stay fairly silent, but sometimes another voice needs to be heard. The general difference I have with many of the writers in the gifted field has to do with the background and focus of the writers. Most of them are educational, curriculum or philosophical in their orientation.

My focus has always been the minority voice -- the psychology of giftedness. For, if the notion that academic achievement is the measure of human giftedness continues unchallenged, then the support of parents, legislators and the gifted themselves will hardly be enlarged, except on the part of those whose outlook stays focused on the academic curriculum as the answer -- it is this attitude that puts people off.

There are several considerations that deserve acknowledgment if we want to make giftedness acceptable to the non-gifted. The people hell-bent on the classics, on academic achievement cannot provide a service to the systems which educate our gifted, not today. Please hear me out:

1)  There is no discriminatory hate more prevalent, less uttered, than that against gifted achievers -- with the exception of gifted athletes in sports. This is also true among professional educators themselves who, not gifted, simply do not cooperate when they are behind closed doors, and in fact wreak havoc on gifted students. Regarding this point, educators who grade gifted students on a bell shaped curve, when these children by definition are in the upper two to five percent, should be educated themselves, because the results  -- lowered grades that prohibit their acceptance in colleges of their choices, lowered self-esteem, eroded relations between parents and children -- take their toll on human potential.

One resolution to this problem has lain in the acceptance by some educators of the Structure of Intellect (SOI) and differential intellectual abilities -- but for years I was talking in the wind; even after years of success with SOI diagnoses and training materials that maintain gifted abilities and address undeveloped abilities.

The importance of addressing undeveloped abilities lies in the need for gifted children to compete with each other successfully when they may have a vastly different set of strengths and weaknesses on their SOI profiles -- yet they are grouped together in the same gifted classes.

2)  In the competitive schoolroom, as in the workplace, of the 26 known abilities which are differentially required for mastering math, language arts, social sciences and science, (SOI, 1974), a deficiency in any area, leads to poor achievement. In fact, I must smile when I read, as continually published -- girls do not go into math and science. Believe me, Maurice, the causes are simple. It begins with the gender differences in their neural networks within the hemispheres at birth. The schools that take this fact into account and begin with SOI diagnoses early, then teach the undeveloped abilities, have girls who succeed in arithmetic and math -- and since this has occurred during the early pre-SOI tests, many of these girls have gone into math and science fields.

3) Another issue often reported and ignored is the high percentage of suicides among gifted boys -- boys who, unable to compete successfully for many of the reasons cited above, and who by nature show such extreme sensitivity they cannot handle stress.

4)  This leads to a fourth major issue -- the psychology and social development of gifted boys in particular. Primary educators have a great advantage in shaping the future of these boys by extra care and understanding of their psychology. This attention will make their adolescence somewhat easier.  (I am writing a book on this issue.)

5) This is only a portion of the excellent information the social and neurological sciences have given us. But the academic curriculum will not change, cannot change because it is based on knowledge of the past – it is the past.

Human beings have changed; their needs have changed, and the technology they must master changes most of all. The fortunate ‘haves,’ whose fathers or mothers work with technology, have a good chance to stay with it. But the gap between the haves and have-nots will only widen until technology and changes are properly incorporated into the public schools.

                                                                                Mary Meeker, President      SOI Systems, Vida, Oregon

Dear Mary – As an educational psychologist, I strongly support the need for more psychology based approaches in the study of giftedness. This is why we need to learn more about your current worldwide work in applying SOI theory.  However, I also believe that the past should not be ignored – a humanities curriculum, the work of psychologists such as yourself, and the best technology should be combined to produce the most effective gifted programs.



 A Study of Gifted Individuals: A Book for the Ages by Wayne Dyer  

Reviewed by Michael E. Walters   Center for the Study of the Humanities in the Schools

"The traits of these self-actualizers included appreciation for beauty, sense of purpose, resistance to enculturation, welcoming the unknown, high enthusiasm, inner-directedness, detachment from outcome, independence of the good opinion of others, and absence of a compelling need to exert control over others. . . .” (p. 207).

  This description of self-actualizing individuals is in a recent book by Wayne W. Dyer, Wisdom of Ages: A Modern Master Brings Eternal Truths into Everyday Life (1998, HarperCollins).  Self-actualizing personalities possess a sensibility of giftedness as demonstrated by Dyer's list of characteristics, and these traits are also found in the gifted child.  

Dyer writes about gifted individuals throughout history.  He places each of his personalities within the context of a theme such as meditation, knowing, leadership, patience and inspiration. Each chapter begins with a quote from that individual -- after analyzing the significance of this quote, he then discusses its implications.

The range of individuals that Dyer includes in his book represents multi-culturalism in both history and interdisciplinary activities.  On a historical level, he discusses such individuals as Pythagoras, an ancient mathematician-philosopher (580-500 BC), Leonardo da Vinci of the Renaissance (1453-1519), William Blake, the British poet and artist (1752-1827), and Mother Teresa, a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1910-97). The interdisciplinary nature of the book is shown by the author's use of scientists, religious figures, writers and social thinkers such as Mahatma Gandhi (1868-1948), and The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68).

The themes Dyer explores are also personality traits found in the gifted individual. A few examples will clearly illustrate what he perceives as representing the sensibility of giftedness.  Some of these are: meditation (Blaise Pascal and Pythagoras), balance (Leonardo da Vinci), boldness-action (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), visualization (William James), and action-doing (Mother Teresa).

Teachers of the gifted will benefit from reading this book on two basic levels. First, they will be able to understand the sensibility of giftedness in living terms as expressed by obviously gifted people who are universally recognized as significant individuals in their fields of endeavor.  Second, teachers will experience how the traits of giftedness are applied in a concrete manner. Gifted students will enjoy reading this book because it provides them with paradigms for their inner selves. Dyer's writing is easily understood and his examples are presented in a vivid, inspiring and concrete manner.  Few abstract and useless academic exercises can be found in this book. It contains functional wisdom that has relevance for our daily lives. Wisdom of the Ages is like a textbook on applying the sensibility of giftedness.

In the chapter on "Action/Doing," Dyer's description of Mother Teresa's ability to transform human beings from cynicism to idealism is explained as follows: ". . .she created a meeting point rather a preaching point." (p. 262). This example from Mother Teresa should be heeded by educators of the gifted.