UConn prof. presents at world conference
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 01:10
Researchers at the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development have been promoting their work at conferences in Kentucky and Indonesia.
Neag Professor Dr. Joseph Renzulli has recently returned from delivering keynote speeches at two international conferences, where Renzulli, who is also the director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, drew upon his 40 years of experience in the field to speak to hundreds of guests.
At the International Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children in Louisville, Renzulli delivered a keynote speech to 600 guests from 35 countries. He spoke on the topic ‘Intelligences Outside the Normal Curve: Factors That Contribute To The Creation Of Social Capital And Leadership Skills In Young People And Adults’.
UConn was also represented in Louisville by Vice Provost for Academic Administration, Dr. Sally Reis. Dr Reis, also principal investigator of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, received a Distinguished Scholar award at the Louisville conference.
Taking his research further afield, Renzulli also travelled to Indonesia for a conference hosted by the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Ciputra in East Java. There he addressed 350 Indonesian guests on ‘The Importance of Promoting Gifted and Talented Programs in Developing Countries’.
According to Renzulli, academics in developing countries are very interested in U.S. educational models. American educational achievement and academic success is always highly publicized.
As Indonesian colleagues told Renzulli, “[Indonesians] work hard and can produce most things just as well and far more cheaply than in the U.S., but [Indonesia] doesn’t have any Nobel Prize winners.”
International interest in the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development is not without cause. UConn is a world leader in gifted and talented education. Its long-standing partnership with the University of Virginia in the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented produces some of the most important research in the field.
However, conducting research in a consistently underfunded field can pose difficulties even at a comparatively well-resourced base such as the Neag Center. Last year, funding for research under the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Education Act was removed from the federal budget.
Though UConn’s program is the best in the world, Renzulli says that the constant battle for funding is holding back gifted and talented research. “When you compare funding to special education for instance… well, there’s currently no federal funding for gifted and talented research,” Renzulli said. “Obviously education for people with disabilities is very important, but our economy depends on people like Steve Jobs, Stephen Spielberg… people whose parents were told to take them to a psychiatrist!”
According to Renzulli, gifted and talented education isn’t about using traditional methods to find gifted students. “I’ve been doing this 40 years, and I still don’t have a formula for what a gifted student looks like,” Renzulli said. He recounts the tale of a 15-year-old boy who recently developed a test for pancreatic cancer to prove his point. “The boy said, ‘I’m not even one of the smartest kids in my class’… It’s about finding kids who are highly creative but might not show up on IQ tests, the traditional gatekeepers of gifted and talented programs,” Renzulli said.
Renzulli says that the research conducted by him and his colleagues is for all students, not just those who may be identified as gifted and talented.
“It’s to provide a more personalized education… to provide every young person with an education that is appropriately challenging,” he said.