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Book review: A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children

Submitted By: Suki Wessling

A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, James T. Webb, Janet L. Gore, Edward R. Amend, Arlene R. DeVries, Great Potential Press, 2007

 

Parents often wish their children came with an owner's manual. If there is anything that comes close to being an owner's manual for parents of gifted children, this book is it.

The authors comprise a who's who of experts on gifted children. James T. Webb, the lead author, is perhaps the best-known writer and speaker on gifted issues in the United States. His more recent book, Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults (also written with a team of experts), outlines the specific psychological pitfalls gifted children face. The other three authors, Janet L. Gore, Edward R. Amend, and Arlene R. DeVries, add both depth and breadth to Webb's solid credentials. Together, the authors have worked with gifted children in almost all capacities.

 

The book serves first as a very good primer for a parent who is facing questions about raising a gifted child. The first two chapters define giftedness and explore common characteristics of gifted children. In doing so, they answer two questions that often accompany a parent's first forays into the gifted literature: First, is my child gifted?, and second, how is my child different from other children?

The authors point out that the diagnosis itself can cause problems for gifted kids and their parents. From dismissive comments by other parents such as "all children are gifted," to misunderstandings from educators like "bright children don't need any special help," gifted children and their parents face a lot of opposition as soon as their children are identified.

 

The second goal of the book is to teach parenting and educational approaches that work as an approach to all children, but are even more important when working with the needs and intensities of gifted children. Chapters on communication, motivation, and discipline outline an approach that takes into account both the child's age-appropriate emotional needs as well as respecting the child's unusual ability to process and understand information.

 

The parenting sections of the book expand into gifted-specific problems: How do the parents of gifted children help them in relationships with their peers? How does having a gifted child affect the relationships of siblings? How can a family's values support a gifted child? And most importantly, how can a marriage survive the complexities of parenting a gifted child?

 

A Parent's Guide only touches upon aspects of aspects of raising a gifted child with twice-exceptionalities such as learning disabilities, mood disorders, and ADD/ADHD. Parents who suspect that their gifted child may suffer from concurrent problems will do well to read Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults after getting an introduction to the issues in this book.

 

Finally, the book devotes chapters to the educational needs of gifted children, as well as working with other professionals. The educational section gives a blueprint for looking at schools -- what to expect in traditional schools, private schools, gifted programs, and gifted schools. There is a short section on homeschooling, a popular choice for parents of gifted children. More useful is the information offered about teacher training for gifted issues (most teachers receive no training), gifted programs in schools (which may or may not serve a gifted child's needs), how to work with the school administration, and how to advocate for your gifted child.

 

A Parent's Guide is a great starting point for educating yourself about the needs of your gifted child and the possible pitfalls you may face as you raise and educate him or her. However, more important than the actual information in the book are the pointers to how to learn more about giftedness, schools, and your child's emotional health and educational success. If you're just starting down the road to helping your gifted child, especially a younger child, this book offers a straightforward "owner's manual" that will guide you through the challenges you and your child will face.

 

For more information: Read A Gifted History: James T. Webb, founder of SENG and Great Potential Press

 

 

Finding a specialist to work with your gifted child

Submitted By: Suki Wessling

 

Finding a good pediatrician, occupational therapist, tutor, or other specialist is hard for every parent. If you're the parent of a gifted child, you know that it can be even harder.

Specialists who are trained to work with gifted kids or who are well-versed in literature about treating gifted children are few and far between. Will an untrained specialist be able to tell when a characteristic of your child's behavior is a symptom of another problem, or when it's just a by-product of giftedness?

 

Here are some ways to consider whether a professional is right for your child:

All professionals who work with gifted children should be aware of the conditions that may be a result of or exacerbated by giftedness. For example, gifted children can present indicators of ADHD to professionals who are not familiar with the higher degree of focus present in the gifted population.


Professionals working with gifted children should be sensitive to the child's possible heightened ability to analyze adult conversation. If a gifted child is in the room, professionals used to working with them will be aware not to assume the child will not understand what is being discussed.


Gifted children often present very different levels of intellectual and emotional/social development (asynchronous development). Professionals who are misled by the child's advanced vocabulary and understanding of technical language may not respect the child's age-appropriate emotional development.


For more information on this topic, refer to Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults and Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted.

 

Suki Wessling, Gifted Children Examiner

School or homeschool? The best place for your gifted child

Submitted By: Suki Wessling

 

In years past, only children that excelled in school were considered "gifted." In more recent times, the understanding of what makes a child gifted has widened, and it's become clear that some gifted children don't, in fact, excel in school.

 

But how can you know what is best for your gifted child? The lucky parents will get it right the first time; others might have to try a few options.

 

Consider some characteristics that make a child who will excel at school:

  • is social in nature and craves time with other kids
  • has a difficult relationship with the parent and needs time apart
  • enjoys structured learning and is inspired by working with other people doing the same assignment
  • reacts well to healthy competition
  • learns in a relatively linear fashion
  • doesn't have any unusual behavioral issues that would make school difficult

Then, consider some characteristics of a child who would blossom in homeschool:

  • prefers solitary work
  • learns in a non-linear or unusual fashion
  • rebels at structured activities
  • enjoys being home with the parent
  • is highly motivated
  • does not enjoy competition with other children
  • has unusual or difficult behavioral issues that might make a classroom an uncomfortable place

It's also important to take a hard look at your local schools. Will you be sending your child to a public school? What is the gifted program (if any) like there? Many gifted kids will be frustrated by the "pile on more work" focus of some gifted programs. Many gifted kids will become restless or tune out when waiting for the class to "catch up" because teachers aren't trained to differentiate for gifted students.

 

If you are planning to send your child to a private school, don't assume the school will be better for gifted kids than public schools. Depending on the way they are implemented, a number of private school philosophies such as Montessori and Waldorf may be very unsuited to some gifted kids. Private schools may say that their environment is appropriate for gifted kids, but might have the "pile on more work" attitude as well. Gifted kids with a low tolerance for busy work can become frustrated.

Parents whose children would blossom in homeschool should consider very seriously how homeschooling would work for them. Some parents of gifted kids really need a break from the intense personality and needs of their gifted children.

 

"I used to be pretty reluctant about homeschooling," admits James T. Webb, founder of SENG and publisher of Great Potential Press. "The more I have looked at the children and the parents, the more favorably impressed I am. The kids by and large do wonderfully. The only downside is that for some parents, it tends to be exhausting for them."

 

If you choose homeschooling, you can make sure that you can get the time you need by enrolling your child in a program that has classroom days or set up exchanges with other parents of children at a similar academic level so that you both can get time apart from your children. When your child is young, a babysitter can help by doing crafts and outdoor play.

 

If you are in the process of making this decision for your young child, you can learn a lot by seeking out parents of older gifted children in your community. Join online support groups (see sidebar) and see if you can find others who can give you information about your local schools and homeschooling services.

 

For more information: A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children offers advice about finding the appropriate educational opportunities for your child. Read Is Montessori education a good fit for gifted children?

Suki Wessling, Gifted Children Examiner

Info 101: Choosing books for your young gifted reader

Submitted By: Suki Wessling

 

Although it's not always the case that gifted children read early, or that children who read early remain gifted learners, it is a common lament amongst parents of the gifted that they can't keep up with their voracious reader's appetite.

 

The other problem with choosing books for young advanced readers is that most often, their emotional capabilities are closer to their chronological age. Books at their reading level often contain age-inappropriate content or high levels of violence.

 

So how should parents of early readers satisfy their children's demand for more and more literature? When choosing novels, you can follow some general guidelines:

Books from other eras: Children's books written before 1960 are more likely not to have inappropriate content. The Wizard of Oz series started in 1900 with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and extended past L. Frank Baum's original 14 books to 40 books by different authors. Many young readers find that they can be absorbed into the world of Oz for months, and the scariest it gets is the Wicked Witch of the West. [Click here to see a full list of Oz books.]

Read-out-loud books: Books that were written with the intent of being read aloud to younger children often are written at a level that will excite the gifted reader. The prose in Winnie the Pooh is fun and engaging, and is written at a high enough level that a gifted young reader will enjoy the age-appropriate story as well as offering rich language. Alice in Wonderland is fantastic for a child interested in wordplay.

Trusted authors: Certain authors are more likely to write books appropriate to young readers. Beverly Cleary's animal books are usually a safe bet. Dick King-Smith's books are short and thus will be absorbed quickly by a voracious reader, but they're fun and age-appropriate. Roald Dahl's adult characters are often mean, but young kids usually love these books.

Safe science fiction/fantasy: Children who love science fiction but want to avoid more violent content are in a particularly awkward situation. The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane have strong, pre-adolescent role models. The Dragonling series by Jackie French Koller is a great fantasy book with action and adventure, but nothing too scary for a young reader.


Children's librarians and bookstore buyers can help you choose appropriate books for your children as well.


Resources:

The Child Lit WIKI is a knowledge base compiled by adults who love children's books. Though limited to what has been entered by participants, the books are categorized by all sorts of useful categories such as "stories without villains" and "kids with secret powers."

 

Kidsreads.com offers book reviews with estimates of the appropriate age range for each book reviewed.

 

Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Pre-School to High School

 

Hoagies' Gifted: Books for Young Readers and Longer Chapter Books for Early Readers


Wikipedia List of Classic Children's Books


Don't forget about your local children's librarian (if your library system still has one!). Children's librarians and children's book buyers at independent bookstores can be great resources for you and your child.

 

Suki Wessling, Gifted Children Examiner

A Gifted History: James T. Webb, founder of SENG and Great Potential Press

Submitted By: Suki Wessling

James T. Webb, Ph.D. answers a question about his past after a pause.

"Do you want the long version or the short version?" he asks.

 

The long version includes Webb's upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee, his involvement in the fight for civil rights, his education including a PhD in psychology, his move to the Midwest, and his eventual growing interest in the psychology of gifted children and adults.

 

The short version is that Webb is one of the most influential advocates for the mental health of gifted children and adults in America.

 

James T. WebbIt started, Webb says, in graduate school. "One of the things that my mentor, Dr. Ray Fowler, believed was that every psychology graduate student should spend a day riding with a public health nurse," Webb remembers of his education at the University of Alabama in the 1960's. "He believed that public health nurses saw more in a day that you're likely to see in your office in a week of a month."

 

Webb's day with a nurse ended up influencing the future direction of his career. They drove to a very small African-American community of ten to fifteen families. The families lived in shacks. "There was major poverty there," Webb says. The nurse stopped before they entered one of the houses.

 

"The word on the street," she said, "is that these little girls can read."

Inside, Webb met a mother and two small preschool girls. The girls, it turned out, had taught themselves to read by asking about the words on the newspapers that served as wallpaper in their house. Webb pondered on how in the rural south the girls would be able to get an education that developed their potential. But the further question was one that nagged him as he proceeded with his career as a family psychologist. Even if they got that education, what are the social and emotional implications of being gifted black girls in a society that didn't want people of color and women to step out of their traditional roles?

 

Webb's career took him to Ohio, where he occasionally saw gifted children and noticed the emotional and social problems that seemed to accompany their giftedness. But it wasn't until he took a position at Wright State University that a nationally recognized event caught his attention and required him to put together the observations that started that day in Alabama.

 

"There was a young man from Dayton, Dallas Egbert," Webb remembers. "He entered Michigan State University as an early entrant, a computer wiz kid. After a couple of months he disappeared. The parents hired a private detective and undertook a nationwide search. The private detective found young Dallas Egbert working in the oil fields in Louisiana as a roustabout, a gopher. Clearly not a happy camper. They brought him back, hooked him up with a psychiatrist who knew little about gifted children. It was too late and he suicided, shot himself."

 

Webb was approached by Egbert's distraught parents, who wanted to know where they could find an organization they could support that focused on the emotional, social, and family needs of gifted children. Webb asked around and found that if anyone had focused on gifted children, it concerned academics.

 

In general, Webb says, psychiatrists and psychologists depended on faulty research. "What they are taught still is what Louis Terman found years ago, the notion that gifted children are emotionally more stable, socially more adept, so you don't need to worry about them."

 

Webb points out that Terman's "gifted" subjects were nominated by teachers, who of course nominated their best, well-adjusted students. Webb knew from years of experience that a fair number of gifted children did have emotional problems and poor social interactions, but no one had done the research to support his observations.

Webb got Wright State to agree to found a program with a donation from the Egberts. He and his dean assumed the program would be small. But they didn't foresee the need that they'd find once word of the program got out.

 

"Three months later, I got a call from Dr. and Mrs. Egbert," Webb remembers. "The Phil Donahue show had contacted them. They agreed to be on it provided that I could be on it with them and I would talk about this embryonic program that we called SENG -- Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted."

 

"The show was absolutely electric," Webb says. "We had over 25,000 letters that came in after the show. The Donahue folks said that it was the largest response to any show that season. I said, we're on the back of the tiger here. We can't get off, we just have to ride it!"

 

SENG started off with a bang, and research poured in, confirming Webb's many years of observation of gifted children.

 

"We found that there is an incredible need and that the whole area of gifted children and later gifted adults is a neglected and overlooked area for psychologists and other professionals," Webb says. "Later, we began to realize how many gifted children were being misdiagnosed, many of them being put on medication -- mistreated in the sense of incorrect treatment."

 

SENG's research created a whole new field of study and has opened up new avenues for parents and gifted adults. Webb says he enjoyed creating the organization, but then he knew when it was the right time to bow out. Wright State was offering early retirement, and he and his wife were off to Arizona for a whole new adventure.

 

"I've continued to be involved in SENG," Webb says. "We've helped it morph into its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit and it has its own board of directors, and I've been able to be less active in it which is helpful for the organization."

 

While continuing on the board of SENG, Webb has struck out as a publisher. He says that his wife says that he has "a terminal infection: missionary zeal!" Webb's publishing company, Great Potential Press, publishes books and videos for parents, therapists, and teachers of gifted children.

 

"The company is just the latest iteration in a passion for trying to get information out there about the social and emotional needs of gifted children," Webb says.

His company has published scores of books and videos dealing with all aspects of gifted children: education, parenting, emotional health, legal issues, and even a guide for grandparents.

 

Webb's own writing is represented in his catalog. A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children is like an operating manual for gifted children, with information about all aspects of raising and educating gifted children. [See review: A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children]

The more recent Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults develops a theme touched on by Parent's Guide and expands it. This theme is part of what Webb sees as his mission today.

 

"One of the things that I'm working with [SENG] on this is to try to educate pediatricians and family practitioners and nurse practitioners as well as psychologists," Webb explains. "Other than Wright State University, there just aren't graduate programs that specialize in training psychologists about gifted children."

 

Webb's view of the training of psychologists and psychiatrists on the whole is dim. "If they do [get training in gifted psychological issues], they get maybe one clock hour over their four to six years of training. And that hour is focused more on research and a very brief overview."

 

"The psychiatrists in particular seem to be the reluctant group to come to terms with this -- they seem to focus more on pathology," Webb explains. "Psychologists are a somewhat less hard sell, but it's still an issue. I've seen three and four and five year olds being misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder, hospitalized, put on medication that was not tested on children. And the issues were clearly not anything like bipolar. It was the fact that gifted children are intense. They do overreact to situations. Unless you understand that it's easy to fall into a trap of saying, 'Oh, this is a child who's disturbed mentally and emotionally'."

 

Webb says that parents of gifted children have a lot of societal baggage to get over before they can help their kids. "I think our society has become increasingly less tolerant of quirkiness. Our schools, too," he points out. "Gifted kids are by definition exceptional. They have characteristics like the sensitivity and intensity which play out in ways that make gifted children look quirky and different."

 

Parents, he says, react to these societal pressures by criticizing their gifted children and using what he calls "killer statements":

 

Can't you just do it because I said so?


Just play with the other children, you are no different than anyone else.


I can't believe you forgot, I mean, after all you're in the GATE program.

 

"What we're saying to the child is, 'You know I'd like you a lot better if you weren't who you were are'," Webb explains. "'If you were just more ordinary or average.' That takes its toll over the years with gifted kids."

 

But Webb understands the difficulty of the role that parents of gifted children have to play. Not only the problem with finding appropriate education, but also the intensity, sensitivities, and oppositional behaviors common in gifted kids can make parenting them a hard venture.

 

Webb hopes that his life dedicated to understanding gifted children will help open up new ideas in parenting and teaching. He passes on a story one mother told him as an example of the daily joys and frustrations of raising a gifted child.

 

"One mother was driving her child to a dance lesson, and her daughter says, 'Mom, please slow down.'"

 

"The mother says, 'We're going to be late."

 

"And her daughter says, 'I know, but we're killing bugs on the windshield and I've seen too much death for my age!'"

 

For more information: Visit Great Potential Press and SENG -- Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted.

Suki Wessling, Gifted Children Examiner

Kids, Communication, Creativity, Education in an Uncertain World

Submitted By: Chris Yonge, Makers Factory

communication

We all know that kids love to communicate - it's their nature. You can argue the whole point of childhood is learning to do just that: with others' minds through language, with the real world through science, with one's body through exercise, and with imagination through art and music.

But something is missing from that list, an important part of our world: communicating with computers and robotic machines. Computing has become central to our lives very fast, in little over a generation. Look at a science fiction movie from the 1980s: you won't see computers being owned and used by ordinary people. From HAL in 2001 to the tellingly named "ship's computer" in Star Trek they show what computers were at that time and it was assumed would continue to be: large machines, operated by specialists. But a generation later almost every home has at least one - often many more, as even simple electromechanical devices like telephones and cameras have turned into computers. So as a result there has been another change: the physical data containers we grew up with, such as maps, movie tapes, photographs, books, and magazines, are becoming electronic files that need computer hardware and skills simply to see them.
No-one saw this coming thirty years ago. What will our kids be using thirty years from now?

accessibility
More than we can imagine. Partly because two of the fastest growing creative professions just now are UI and UX design. These initials stand for User Interface and User Experience. Every manufacturer and software firm and web site owner wants to give their customers an easier, faster, more productive experience. This is hard to do as the increasing complexity of products and the web present real challenges if they are to be used properly.


But to those who understand them, and where UI and UX designers have worked their magic, many technologies have moved away from the expensive world of trained specialists to being affordable and accessible. Programming a processor was difficult a decade ago; now, with the appearance of versatile $30 printed circuit boards like the Arduino, anyone can build and program their own robot, display panel, automatic plant feeder, or alarm clock. The free computer languages these devices use such as Python, JavaScript, Processing, and Ruby are well designed, and learning them opens many doors in electronics and robotics. Kids take to this fast: they're wired for it. It's communication - and power.

Another reason our kids will have many more doors open to them is that professional grade creative programs are increasingly affordable and even free. Open source software like Blender (at www.blender.org) for animation or Inkscape (www.inkscape.org) for vector drawing are rapidly growing in power and rival the capabilities of expensive programs like the Maya or Illustrator of five or ten years ago. Professional work can now be done with free software, and it is all around us.

2D to 3D
Our kids will experience other changes, particularly in the way things are designed and made. When I lecture on this subject I often use cave paintings of hunts as an example. These dramatic events took place in three dimensions of space and one of time but could only be recorded as flat and frozen diagrams. But when that recording surface of rock wall changed to a clay tablet and then to papyrus and paper, the two dimensional filter on how humans recorded 3D objects and events remained. For tens of thousands of years our society and its creative potential were limited to flat pictures of a solid world until the development of 3D computer software fifty years ago. Now that constraint has gone and everything has changed.

Like computers, computer controlled machines have been around for fifty years, but they were subtractive devices. In other words they removed material from a solid block of metal or plastic to make the final shape. Often most of the original volume ended up as shavings or dust. But now we are seeing the rise of additive technologies, where the material starts as a gypsum or metal dust, or a plastic filament, and is formed into its final shape through layers solidified with inkjet applied glue, or precisely melted with a laser, or built up with a heated extrusion head. Little to no material is wasted in additive processes and we can make shapes this way that were impossible to create with subtractive machines. At MakersFactory we 3D print working gears complete with axles and supports in one piece; in our exhibition cases we have a metal sculpture consisting of three concentric cubes spinning inside one another that was also made in one piece and would be impossible to make any other way. Soon many household products will be manufactured this way, custom sized and detailed for each purchaser. Or by the purchaser - in future the distinction between designer and client will blur.

the new creativity
Using and understanding the new technologies in a creative way, picking them up and setting them down like pencils in a drawing set, will be increasingly important. Our kids will not experience employment the same way that our generation has; they may change jobs and professions many times in their working lives, moving from full time employment to part-time and contract work, from self-employment to full-time education. Some of the professions they practice will not even exist today. They will need to learn and adapt, and those who are best at learning - those who enjoy it most - will be the most flexible and have most opportunities. Developing a profitable and flexible set of skills, experiences, and knowledge is a lifetime process that begins at birth. It is the most valuable thing that we can provide for our children.


In response to these changes in society the way that learning is taught is being reexamined, particularly in Europe. Internships and workplace simulations ease the transition for students from school to work, and subtly encourage them to carry their "learning mode" with them.
Traditionally, school-based learning has been organized in a formal curriculum, focused on a combination of testable knowledge but rather vague skills. There was a distinction made between theory and practice. By contrast training in the workplace was based on vague, often example based knowledge but very clear skills acquisition in specific contexts and with particular tools. Theory and practice were far apart. Over the last decade, however, those poles have moved closer. Schools have closer links to local industries and more project based learning, while workplace education has benefited from the ability of web based courses to provide more academic content.


STEAM not STEM
All these enable students to know and do what exists, but not to create something new. It is the innovators and entrepreneurs who will be secure and succeed in the world as it will be, and a key component in their makeup will be creativity.


I am co-founder of MakersFactory in Santa Cruz. We teach classes in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) rather than STEM - blending technology with creativity. The arts are a natural way to explore creativity and problem solving, not least because there is often no right answer and equally no way in which a solution can be completely wrong. But making things in a traditional industrial arts course can be a recipe for loss of confidence.

High school woodshop classes could be - and certainly were, in my case - more lessons in frustration than creativity. This is because making an object in wood or metal by hand is subject to endless risk. A pen and ink engineering drawing can be ruined by an accidental smear. A chisel may slip after the student cuts a dozen good joints and mean tedious work has to be repeated, or damaged work accepted if there is no time or material to repeat. A chemical photograph of the result could be unusable in many ways only discovered later in the darkroom. A generation ago students learned slowly and often through failure. Childhood (given what children have to learn these days) is too short, and kids' self confidence too fragile, for this.

New technologies allow students to be learn without the continual risk of losing everything they have done through accident. An electronic drawing can be amended and corrected endlessly, and for every mistake there is the Undo command. A laser cutter or a 3D printer follows commands perfectly, and even if the power is cut or the computer crashes the process can be repeated exactly. Creative technologies become exercises in learning and not in painful hand skills. Kids don't have the time to learn to be master craftsmen unless they really want to be (despite my teenage experiences in shop class I went on to work as a furniture designer/maker for ten years), but they do need to understand how different materials behave, how to create things and finish them and take them home to show, and how to communicate with a machine through software.


At MakersFactory we offer a unique setting: classes in animation, robotics, game design, and technology in the surroundings of a professional creative business. We practice what we teach: MakersFactory produces high level technical animations, product designs, and digital models for a wide range of local companies and creative professionals. This benefits both sides of our business: students see professional work all around them and are taught by practicing professionals, and our business clients benefit by the freshness and exposure to new ideas that our students bring. We blend education and experience.


new ways to learn and earn
Education itself is changing. A promising innovation is online learning; not just YouTube videos, useful though they are, but the phenomenon of MOOCs - Massive Online Open Courses with thousand or hundreds of thousands of students in a class. Stanford and Harvard both run such courses online. Education, like communication and creative software, will become yet another commodity available at little cost to anyone, anywhere. Being born in a Western country will no longer give you quite such a head start in life.


Our children will live in a world where today's expensive and difficult projects - developing an electronic product, making a movie, starting a company that markets its services worldwide, writing and publishing a book - will be accessible and affordable to anyone across most of the globe. The next generation of Americans will be competing against well educated, energetic kids from China and India who can live on much less than a Western income. They will be trying to find jobs at companies that find it cheaper and more flexible to outsource technical and administrative work.
But there is one area where being born in the United States may well continue to be an advantage. Ours is a society which excels in the creative use of technology. America still leads the world - and in my opinion will continue to do so - through its established centers of creative excellence such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and the character of its culture and its business climate. This is our strength and our future, and it will be expanded upon the skills and imagination of our children (by the way Santa Cruz, in that geographical respect alone, is about as ideal a location as you could find to educate a child).


But still in the geographic mode, the future is also a foreign country. What do we pack in our kids' bags before we send them there? Our parents' generation gave us shovels, pens, typewriters, and books: the tools of specific, static professions and skills. A little money helped as well. But now that future country is no longer solid; it is a maze of floating islands between which our children must swim in order to survive. The answer is that we give them the ability to design and make their own tools; the confidence and the skills to learn, change, and succeed no matter where they find themselves.


Education is the best (as well as the most enjoyable) investment we can make for our kids and for our society. As a Santa Cruz parent and educator I look forward to our challenging, fascinating, shared future.


Chris Yonge
MakersFactory
v 20130222a
chris@makersfactory.com
c 831 212 3458


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