Transplant Tourism: A Euphemism for Organ Trafficking!

What could possibly go wrong? Take the survey and find out!

What could possibly go wrong? Take the survey and find out!

I am studying a Science Communication paper this summer semester, and instead of studying new topics for all the different styles of writing and presentation, we are covering the theme of organ transplantation and organ availability for all our various media.

So-o-o-o interesting, to really study a topic in depth that was completely foreign to me.

One of the communication methods we must discover and use is writing and analysing a survey. If you have the time (just 5 or 6 minutes maximum) I would really appreciate it if you would take the survey our group designed.

We want to find out about what types of legislation you would feel comfortable with the New Zealand government enacting, should they decide to try and increase the supply of organs for transplantation, which is currently very low, globally.

Sorry the survey is now closed

 

Kia Kaha Ireland – Gifted Awareness Week 2013

Gifted Education Awareness Week Ireland 22 - 27 September 2013
Gifted Education Awareness Week Ireland
22 – 27 September 2013

In essence, if we want to make someone more aware of something, we need to first educate them. Educating people about the gifted should help people to become aware of the idiosyncrasies that often accompany these special people. But to be aware, you need to know more than the facts; you need to be intimately acquainted with the subject.

Some synonyms of awareness are:

  • alertness – more than just knowing, alertness implies you have a keen sense for the presence of the attribute.
  • appreciation – having a sense of awe about the subject, and keen to treat it with respect.
  • consciousness – keeping alert in the presence of the subject, ready to attend to the needs.
  • experience – being familiar with many varieties of the subject.
  • perception – have the ability to discern what is actually happening deep down; not just a surface impression.
  • realisation – when you can put all the pieces together to make sense of something.
  • understanding – knowing more than the when? where? and who?; knowing the what? how? and why?

This sort of awareness of giftedness is not going to occur in a 2 – 4 hour lecture in a pre-service education course – but it’s a start. It is not going to happen in a week of national awareness of the plight of gifted education – but it’s a great start.

Just as average New Zealanders have lately become more knowledgeable  about racing America’s Cup catamarans through prolonged exposure to the racing in San Francisco Bay, gifted education will need repeated exposure to break through the ignorance and diffidence of many mainstream educators.

Teachers make a difference in students’ lives. If they are to make a positive difference, then they need to know what actions they take that have a positive impact on their students. Over 20 years ago, William Purkey developed the Invitational Learning Model (Kane & Fielder, 2010) on the basis that learning thrives with enthusiasm. Enthusiastic teachers of the gifted will find out what encourages the development of their students, and seek to provide an environment that invites them to take part. These teachers will model an attitude of encouragement and expectation, and gifted learners will likely perceive themselves much more positively.

Kane and Fielder (2010), described Purkey’s ‘four different levels of invitation’, starting with the least inviting at number one, to the most inviting at number four:

  1. Intentionally disinviting: purposefully harmful; degrading and destroying self-worth in an individual. This occurs when teachers have personal biases that manifest in thoughts of the gifted as a form of elitism, ‘you have just got a bad attitude’.
  2. Unintentionally disinviting: Careless, thoughtless boundaries. Commonly used when teachers say, “Of course, everyone is gifted in some area” or “I have never had one in my class”. They simply don’t know what they don’t know!
  3. Unintentionally inviting: These teachers have positive results with gifted students even though they rarely plan for it specifically. This can lead to a lack of consistency, and can confuse learners as a result.
  4. Intentionally inviting: This is the highest level of professionalism and realises human potential to the greatest extent.

There is a darker side to awareness which should be kept in check, too. As with all economic decisions, we are often asked to show the value of what we do – is it worth the financial investment? Can we add value to distinguish ourselves from the competitor? Hunt and Merrotsy (2010) cautioned us in selective schools to be sure the value we add comes directly from student needs and does not degenerate into a mere comparison of education providers in leagues tables. I would add, gifted learners’ results should not be just used to ‘advertise’ a school to encourage future attendees, but should be part of a transparent process of achievement for ‘all’ learners.

Clickenbeard (2007) added to the economic argument in advocating for gifted learners, when she called for the need to consider higher societal or aggregate benefits. Providing for gifted learners, she maintained, would not only result in a higher tax take (presumably from their advanced learning generating higher incomes) and greater productivity and GDP. She went on to claim this would also be offset by savings in costs from crime and prisons, where, I guess, some of the more ‘notoriously intelligent’ end up after a compromised education that didn’t meet their needs!

In New Zealand, Moltzen (2003) explained that the move to greater awareness of gifted education was linked to the change in the economy of the country from a more subsidised, agrarian-based economy to a more diversified, innovative economy. Clickenbeard (2007) also looked at the argument for school funding reform that could return the savings made by government through the years of acceleration (and lost opportunity cost to schools for the years the gifted learners are ‘not’ enrolled and subsequently funded) and have it returned to schools as extra funding for gifted education.

I am a keen Kiwi sailor that has just been through the last few weeks of nail-biting trauma, as our boys in black, Emirates Team New Zealand, tried to lift the ‘Auld Mug’ from Oracle Team USA. America’s Cup yachting started in 1851 as a race between the British and the Americans and has been a hard fought contest ever since. I believe our boys were winners on the day, even without the trophy, as they displayed humility and determination to succeed right to the bitter end. Their attitude won the hearts of a both New Zealanders and Americans. They quietly advocated for themselves, knowing who they were and what they could achieve, even under pressure from the naysayers.

These boys are a group of gifted sailors who persevered despite all, and we loved them for it. Advocacy all comes back to people knowing how to portray themselves to the world they are living in, appealing to the funders to support their campaign, and doing the best they can with what they have got. Many negative ‘non-yachties’ who thought the New Zealand government spend of $36million was extreme now support the cause simply because of the humility of the spokesperson and skipper, Dean Barker, and his afterguard. They may have been ‘unintentionally inviting’ in their approach – but how much more can we win hearts by being ‘intentionally inviting’?

Could we ever see the day where gifted education wins the hearts of the country simply because of the humility of the advocates? This might be a tall ask, but it might be the end of the pendulum swing we need to head towards. We have a Maori saying in New Zealand, “Kia Kaha” – “Stay Strong”. So, to all the Gifted Advocates in Ireland, Kia Kaha!

References

Kane, M. & Fielder, E.D. (2010). Invitational Learning: Classrooms with enthusiasm. Available from www.seisummit.org/Data/Sites/1/PDF/invitationallearning.pdf‎

Clinkenbeard, P.R. (2007). Economic Arguments for Gifted Education, Gifted Children: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, Article 3. Available from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/giftedchildren/vol2/iss1/3

Moltzen, R. (2003). Gifted education in New Zealand. Gifted Education International, 18, 139-152.

 

Who decides what giftedness is?

WCGTC logoNew Zealand may have lost a World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children, but Kentucky and technology has kept those of us unable to attend this one very well connected. It was just like being there ‘in person’ (ahem, she coughs), as I listened with passion to Roland Perrson’s Keynote address –

“Who decides what giftedness is? On the dilemma of researching and educating the gifted mind.”

So much better to hear his words, than to have to wait for the printed versions later.

To me, the biggest take-home (even though I am already at home!) had to be –

  1. We in leadership need to adapt more to the traits of our gifted scholars, those of risk-taking, setting things straight, not being afraid to challenge the status quo, question established traditions (some ideas from Winner, 1996) and challenge current knowledge monopolies, if we are to make a difference.

Are we ready to become more like those we advocate for? Or are we there already, and people find it hard to work with and accept our passionate personality type?

This last question also relates to the second ‘take-home’ from his address.

  1. To be in a place of influence, people must first adopt, conform and prove loyal to the dominant knowledge monopolies and their influential leaders; their allegiance must be proven before they are rewarded. Many of our gifted would find the sort of compromise needed an almost insurmountable challenge, given their traits identified in number 1 above!

This gets to the very heart of the acceptance of giftedness and following on from this, the funding of education provisions that will promote it. I agree with Roland, that their potential contribution to the global economy, to solving global problems, and meeting their own specific needs are important.  I love his comment, with regard to new threats in synthetic biology, nanotechnology, machine intelligence, and manipulation of genetic structure (Bostrum, in press):

“Will this human error become human terror?”

Roland (from Sweden) identified two problems that cause gifted education to suffer with problems of theory, implementation, and worldwide recognition, namely:

  1. Dogmatism ( a closed mind, characterised by stubborn refusal to acknowledge truth; a wilful irrationality leading to unsound thinking; something that can contribute tremendously to survival), and
  2. Frequent failure to recognise human nature (and take it into account in research and application).

Roland makes a great case for why this is so (you will have to listen to his speech here) but I want to look at the ability of creative gifted people to compromise, or work within the status quo.

I believe policy makers may want the ‘intellectual profit’ from our gifted population, but only if they can fit into their predetermined goals. Roland reminded us that Galileo was imprisoned for his scholarly opposition, and today the same sorts of ‘opposing scholars’ (read here, our creative gifted individuals) might also be viewed with antagonism if they are not conforming to societal expectations. As Roland reminds us, gifted often refuse to accept that which does not conform to their own logic, conviction, or insight. Their conclusions often don’t coincide with the dominant knowledge economies and therefore they may experience challenges with cooperation or eventually, continued employment. If this is the case, I wonder if there is a ceiling placed on funding ‘general education’ for the gifted and talented, but avenues outside this that government can selectively fund to promote their own ideologies.

This shouldn’t be, and probably hints at scepticism. But, Roland’s address also hinted at scepticism and Big Brother tactics, and I think realistically, we need to consider everything that might be causing a disjunction for our gifted and talented. We need to BE the change our gifted population needs; we need to encourage them to know this themselves and be their own best advocates. But, we will make more inroads if we can work with the system than fight against it. Roland spoke of Clickenbeard (2007) encouraging educators to increasingly emphasise the economic benefits of their work when interacting with policy makers to be listened to.

Funding in industry follows economic benefits – in the absence of any other form of economic benefit analysis in education, we now have National Standards! As educators, we need to be accountable for our work with the children – scary as it might sound to some. Others who have worked outside of education know only too well what accountability looks like. It is a reasonable expectation that we will be measured against some sort of goal. We would be listened to better if we were offering targets for our gifted education goals to be measured against, not just rebelling against the pre-set standards. Pro-activeness, like shown in our recent Gifted Awareness campaign is a great step forward. Encouraging our gifted students to advocate for themselves is huge!

Roland Persson started with the question, “Who decides what giftedness is?” The New Zealand Education Ministry has left that to us, to every community, to decide it for themselves. Let’s keep the momentum rolling and support those members of our gifted education organisations, advisory services, special interest groups, public and private organisations, and anyone like me, who just simply believes in gifted education and wants to see the best for our gifted kids, so they cope well into their gifted adulthood.

Roll on Odense in 2015! Saving my pennies already.

References

Bostrom,  N.  (2013).  Existential  risk  prevention  as  global  priority.  Global  Policy,  in  press.

Perrson, R.S. (2013). Who decides what giftedness is? On the dilemma of researching and educating the gifted mind. Keynote address at the 20th World Conference of Gifted and Talented Children, 10-14 August, 2013, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Winner,  E.  (1996).  Gifted  children.  Myths  and  realities.  New  York:  Basic  Books.

The Meaning of Change

purple-haze.jpgI was writing to an aunty today who had recently moved into a retirement village. It was thrust on her through mobility problems, so quite a shock after having lived in the same family home for the last 37 years. More of a shock perhaps, too, for the family who had to prepare the house for sale and minimise their mother’s belongings for her imminent shift.

As I spoke of change, in the time sense, I realised it had a lot to do with change in the monetary ‘cents’ (couldn’t help the pun!!!) When you receive change from the storekeeper you get back what is left from your money after your purchase. Change in the literal sense can also be viewed as what is left the same, after you have removed certain familiarities you once had. Continue reading “The Meaning of Change”

Mother’s Day 2013

Yes – we love our Mothers here in New Zealand. Out come the chocolates…the brunches…the special dinners…the flowers! Well, for some of us, anyway. I have to say I was very blessed with my family taking me to lunch – even if I did have to pay for my son, who yet again, had lost his EftPos card!

Yeah … Right!!! So the Tui commercial says!

Mothers have had the grace given to them to birth and nurture and bring forth into the world. What an awesome privilege. And it is not only our biological mothers I am referring to here. There are many wonderful women who have not had the pleasure of giving birth to their own children, but who, in many other ways, have helped in the raising of young people. Do we really, I mean, Really! appreciate our mothers? Continue reading “Mother’s Day 2013”

Shared Parenting

It's difficult ... but not impossible!
It’s difficult … but not impossible!

I spoke to a neighbour recently who has recently separated and is having some issues with the younger son coping with the change of households. It dawned on me, as I spoke and thought about the situation – I have been there, done that, and got the T-shirt to prove it! I can offer many insights into what might work for these situations in life. I have dealt with many of these single parenting issues myself, after parenting alone for nearly 14 years. And, if I haven’t had them, I know many who have, or seen many of the issues in my classrooms.

So, do you have a child that finds it a real challenge to go to ‘Dad’s House’ or ‘Mum’s House’ in this new experience they are having, sharing your marriage break up? I don’t say that in a derogatory way – but our kids often have no understanding of what is happening – sometimes we don’t either! Continue reading “Shared Parenting”

Pacific Paradise “burns the calories”

How many diets have we all tried, and failed … or at least not reached our goals with? I have been on this sort of bandwagon since I had my last child! He’s now 22, and it got a bit embarrassing when he told me one day I was heavier than he was for his latest rugby weigh-in!!!

Well, what do you say when you return from Samoa after 18 months in the hot tropical Pacific Paradise, and you are 26kgs lighter! Praise God, was my first reaction!

But really, it was so effortless – no diets to follow, no feelings of guilt after discarding a chocolate wrapper!!!

You Ask … How did you do it? Continue reading “Pacific Paradise “burns the calories””

Easter 2012

Well, I celebrated my second Easter in Samoa this weekend – NO chocolate or marshmallow here!! Too hot for that!

We truly celebrated our Lord’s Resurrection – He has been so faithful to us in our trek up to Samoa. We constantly are saying WOW – that must have been from the Lord.

We have had 5 WWOOFers here over the last seven weeks – Willing Workers on Organic Farms – they come for a week or two (or six) from all over the world. These last ones were from Germany, Italy and New Zealand (initially) – working about five hours a day on the land in exchange for accommodation and food!

It was a biggie for me, having only just returned to Samoa after a 7 week holiday visiting family in New Zealand for Christmas. I returned to NO power, very little gas, but finally we had running water to our property. It is very 3rd world on our land in rural Samoa, living like the locals, but a great experience for those who have come straight from their apartments in Europe.

We now have 17 hens and roosters, 2 dogs (well, puppies) and a garden full of ripening paw paws, taro plants, cassava, sweetcorn, tomatoes, beans, pineapples, noni fruit, coconuts, and bananas and much much more! All growing and needing weeding and watering daily!!!

 

Experiencing the Gifted

The trouble that arises from teachers and students alike not understanding someone’s differences can be widespread in the classroom. For gifted students, teachers not understanding their intentions, or criticising them for a seeming indiscretion, can damage their feelings of self-worth for years to come.

So how do you teach the teachers-to-be about gifted students in a way that doesn’t parade the gifted into more self-conciousness? Easy, by all accounts – view gifted people in films and identify with the common characteristics.

See Viewing Giftedness through Different Lenses: Film Character Analyses | Ako Aotearoa, an excellent article by Massey University’s Gifted expert, Tracy Riley.

I have a soft spot for this type of teaching and learning, because I have a son who was failing at NCEA English, until he changed schools in Year 12 and was catered for brilliantly at his new school. At this school, English Through Film was a popular class for students who were not that good with the standard reading and writing in the curriculum. It worked – he passed, and he finally enjoyed a year of English at school!

The Sweetest Sweetcorn

For those who don’t know, I am in Samoa with my creative-gifted husband, working on raising the tourism dollar post-tsunami. Another entry to my weekly update for folks back in New Zealand, this week, involved much about giftedness – repeated here for your consumption…

Gifted ideas in Samoa tourism
The sweetcorn patch

Harvested the sweetcorn and had our first meal – what a sweet treat that was! A few meals from the beans, but the tomatoes are s-l-o-w ripening!! One nearly turning red, out of about 450 last count!!

Three months of using the long drop – not a milestone I am particularly pleased about – and I may have a flush loo in a day or two!! Continue reading “The Sweetest Sweetcorn”