On March 8th and 9th, 2012, The College of William and Mary Center for Gifted Education hosted the 17th annual National Curriculum Network Conference: Supporting Gifted Learners from Potential to Success. This year focused on an exciting variety of sessions about the "hot topic" of talent development and what it means for the evolution of the field of gifted education. The talent development model tailors identification processes and procedures to a specific domain (not necessarily academic) in relation to domain learning trajectories. This allows individuals to receive "high levels of training and achievement," eliciting "optimal performance" over the course of a lifetime (Subotnik, et al., 2011, p. 6).
As always, the conference included a special focus on the William and Mary curricula in language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics and directors from the Center for Gifted Education (CFGE) presented a variety of sessions. Session topics included the William and Mary curricula within the talent development paradigm by Dr. Kimberley Chandler, Director of Curriculum, professional development as developing teacher talent by Dr. Lori Bland, Director of Professional Development and Practice in Gifted Education, how to alter unsupportive attitudes toward gifted education by Dr. Jennifer Cross, Director of Research, and inquiry-based questioning strategies by Dr. Mihyeon Kim, Director of Pre-Collegiate Programs. Dr. Elizabeth Harbron, an Associate Professor in Chemistry from The College of William and Mary, presented a Featured Session on developing science talent and the career paths of her college students. This session supported the links between the development of talent in content domains and the field of gifted education. Attendees were able to learn and explore many aspects of gifted education and link theoretical constructs to practical applications in their programming or teaching practices.
Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, director of the Center for Talent Development of Northwestern University, current President of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) presented her recent Presidential Speech at the NCN Conference. Following her speech, a panel including several of our National Advisory Board (NAB) members, Dr. James Gallagher, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, Dr. Larry Coleman, University of Toledo, Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, University of Iowa, Dr. Tracy L. Cross, The College of William and Mary, and Dr. Linda Brody, Johns Hopkins University explored this potential new direction with Dr. Olszewski-Kubilius and Dr. Rena Subotnik of the American Psychological Association. This panel continued the conversation with their own individual thoughts about the talent development model, its implications and practical applications. One practical, easily implemented, though controversial application of talent development in the schools is acceleration. Dr. Nicholas Colangelo from the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education discussed the findings of over 30 years of research on acceleration from the monograph, A Nation Deceived. Additional presenters throughout the conference included Dr. Susan Johnsen, Baylor University; Dr. Karen Rogers, University of St. Thomas (MN); Dr. Julie Dingle Swanson, College of Charleston; Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, University of Louisiana; Dr. Carol Horn, Fairfax County Public Schools (VA), and Michael Clay Thompson of Royal Fireworks Press. CFGE also welcomed a new international NAB member, Dr. Colm O'Reilly from Dublin City University, Ireland, who presented on his Center's work, the Center for Talented Youth, Ireland. The valuable insights from these presenters reinforced the talent development model in the field of gifted education and sparked interesting discussions among all who attended the conference.
Every year the CFGE invites all district coordinators in Virginia to participate as members of the CFGE State Advisory Council (SAC). CFGE provides free attendance for SAC members and, in return, the SAC provides advice and help with initiatives undertaken by the Center. Gail Fischer Hubbard, Supervisor of Gifted Education and Special Programs from Prince William County Public Schools (VA) and SAC member was the 2012 recipient of the CFGE Outstanding Leader Award for Program Development and Support of Gifted Learners. This award is given by the Center to an individual dedicated to serving gifted students and furthering gifted programming, standards, and leadership within the field. Gail Hubbard's gracious and touching speech spoke to all of us in the audience who firmly believe that gifted students need guidance, mentors, and individuals who will advocate strongly for their individualized learning and development.
Dr. Tracy L. Cross said, "Every aspect of this year's conference seemed to click and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I take my hat off to the conference planners and the graduate students who worked so hard to pull it off. My favorite part of NCNC this year was the supper held in the Great Hall of the Wren Building [Thursday evening]. Among the group were three generations of professional gifted educators from Dr. James Gallagher (grandfather of gifted education), to Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius (current President of NAGC) to eight graduate students in our doctoral program in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership (EPPL) with an emphasis in gifted education. I was witness to the past, present and future leadership of the field of gifted education."
Mark your calendars! Next year's NCN Conference is scheduled for March 21-22, 2013! Don't miss it!
Subotnik, R. F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Worrell, F. C. (2011). Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 12(1), 3– 54.
Submitted by Paige Hendricks
Paige Hendricks is a doctoral student at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. Her concentration is in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership (EPPL), Gifted Administration and K-12 Administration. Paige is also a full-time graduate assistant at The Center for Gifted Education specializing in professional development, curriculum, gifted program evaluation, and conference planning.