Senad Bećirović and Edda Polz. Fostering giftedness. Challenges and opportunities. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2021. Pp. i-xi, 1-234. ISBN: 978-1-53619-098-4.
Reviewed by Grigore-Dan Iordăchescu, 1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia
The book entitled Fostering giftedness. Challenges and opportunities provides a useful insight into the current challenges entailed in gifted education for all stakeholders with a vested interest in the development of gifted learners at the cognitive, emotional and physical levels. It consists of two main parts, a theoretical and an applied section, with the aim of enhancing educational practice.
The first part, Chapters 1 through 13, offer a comprehensive theoretical framework, and provides an account of operational concepts beginning with the definitions and characteristics of gifted learners, followed by the identification and care of gifted students. Moreover, the authors bring a highly important aspect to our attention, namely that of the socio-emotional development of gifted and talented learners from the two-fold standpoint of the family and the peer environment. Key aspects, such as giftedness and gender are addressed, with particular emphasis on stigma and how to manage it, as well as ways to counteract the adverse impact of gender differences on the development of giftedness.
Furthermore, the authors identify effective ways to ensure an optimal learning environment, which needs to be approached from a realistic and thorough perspective. The need for trust is at the core of an effective learning environment, and this can only be achieved through efficient communication and honest, interdependable teacher-student relationships. The authors also discuss the assessment and evaluation of giftedness, and stress that appropriate decisions pertaining to the improvement of the educational process are crucial for the gifted, as this process is actually a sum of their recognition, learning and development, as well as the methodologies at work from a curricular perspective. On-going research and the integration of the results thereof into the didactic process is an essential component of successful teacher development.
The authors pay attention to the ways in which teachers can address the undesirable situation of gifted learners’ underachievement by focusing on both the emotional and the environmental reasons. The training of educators faced with giftedness is equally important, and the authors provide a competence profile (personal and social characteristics, teaching strategies and approaches, intellectual and cognitive characteristics), as well as elements of professional development. Bećirović and Polz then consider the types of educational programmes for giftedness (that is, enrichment, differentiation and acceleration programmes), which need to be selected carefully according to the students’ characteristics and needs in order to sustain and enhance the students’ progress.
Finally, the authors expound on another essential feature of fostering giftedness, particularly considering the time in which we live, namely modern technologies (online mentoring, electronic teaching and evaluation materials). E-mentoring, unlike t-mentoring, has numerous benefits in terms of mentee and mentor autonomy, as well as their social and emotional welfare. The authors turn their attention to the importance of training teachers to integrate new technologies into their classes, while simultaneously acknowledging the importance of endowing institutions with adequate and up-to-date technological equipment. A useful framework for the use of technology in gifted education is also provided.
The second part is devoted to a case study of mathematically gifted students; the authors conducted the study to identify the development of gifted mathematicians in two essential areas: school and family, and from early childhood to tertiary education. The authors first introduce the subjects, the research method and the instruments. The study evaluates several factors pertaining to the family environment, such as the socio-economic and educational status of the parents, the learning conditions, the number of children in the family, the parents’ support with school requirements, the parents’ answers concerning their children’s successes and failures, punishment and rewards, and so forth. The results revealed that the parents who adopted a proactive attitude and employed counselling and communication rather than punishment to improve the work and behaviour of their gifted children had an extremely positive effect on the children’s mathematical development.
The research then analyses aspects connected to the in-school environment that could have a positive or a negative impact on the development of the mathematical giftedness of learners, such as the identification of mathematically gifted learners, as well as educational approaches to working with them, the teaching atmosphere, encouragement, curricular issues, programmes and methods of working with them, rewards and punishments, and the relationship between teachers and gifted students.
In addition to the family and the school environment, Bećirović and Polz address the issue of mathematically gifted students’ motivation and interest. The authors consider the relationship between motivation and success, as well as the parents’ and teachers’ reactions to the respondents’ success.
The taxonomy of factors conducive to the development of the respondents’ mathematical giftedness was established based on the interviews that were conducted with the respondents, whereas their development was benchmarked based on their pedagogical documentation to establish their abilities outside of mathematics, which is an important aspect in the educational trajectory of gifted students. Essential milestones impacting on the mathematicians’ achievements are also explained. Finally, a significant contribution of this part takes the form of practical recommendations for both teachers and parents in order to work more efficiently with gifted students.
In summary, the book is a valuable instrument for teachers, as it assists them to identify giftedness at an early stage, to create an optimal environment for development, to implement appropriate teaching methodologies, and ways to self-train in order to manage the complexity of such an endeavour. Moreover, it is a helpful tool for parents, who are provided with practical guidelines for coping with the challenges posed by their children’s superior abilities.
How to cite this review: Iordachescu, G.-D. (2021). Senad Bećirović and Edda Polz. Fostering giftedness. Challenges and opportunities. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2021. Pp. i-xi, 1-234. ISBN: 978-1-53619-098-4. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 14(2), 183-185. doi: https://doi.org/10.29302/jolie.2021.14.2.10
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