Mensa Conference on Talent Development – March 2014

This Mensa Talent Development Conference took place on 13th and 14th March 2014. Many experts in the field of gift development gave interesting lectures. The programme of the conference was focused on teachers from primary and nursery schools, as well as on parents.

PhDr. Jolana Laznibatová, CSc., MUDr. Ranko Rajović, PaedDr. Jiří Rozehnal, Ass. Prof. PaedDr. Jana Škrabánková, Ph.D., PhDr. Hana Halfarová, Mgr. Dana Havlová, Ing. Tomáš Blumenstein and others
13.3.2014, 8:00  —  14.3.2014, 14:00
Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Sněmovní 1, 118 00 Prague (1st day, conference) / The Mensa Grammar School, Španielova 1111/19, 163 00 Prague (2nd day, workshops)

Despite the fact that Mensa International only associates a very small percentage of the population, Mensa Czech Republic invited such lecturers to provide teachers, educators, and parents with a lot of experience, insights, and inspiration, not only for the development of talent, but also for improving learning capabilities of the whole population. If you are interested in these issues, come and attend the next conference, because not even a detailed article could capture the unique atmosphere when we tried to remember as much as possible, discussed the topic, and looked forward to using techniques that proved their value elsewhere when working with pupils, or even with our own children.

PhDr. Jolana Laznibatová, CSc. made us aware of the fact that despite the Council of Europe recommendation (“15 years of the same education for all”), the School and Grammar School for Extremely Gifted Children in Bratislava, and a network of another 25 similar schools throughout Slovakia, proved to be successful. The reason is that they respect the fact that, according to research, highly talented people need differentiated education, and the highest level of talent requires special classes in order for that talent to develop.

We also listened to information about many special classes in the Czech Republic from other lecturers ­– PaedDr. Jiří Rozehnal from the 8th Elementary School in Frýdek-Místek (from 3rd grade, mathematics according to Professor Hejný), Ing. Tomáš Blumenstein, President of Czech Mensa (the usual programme of the 1st class in Prostějov is enhanced by splitting the class into two halves, and offering additional voluntary courses in mathematics, English, and information technology, arranged by a civic association, and funded by monthly contributions from parents).

Mgr. Michaela Širůčková, Ph.D., and PhDr. Miroslava Štěpánková, Ph.D., advised us not to concentrate just on the pupil’s performance - it can lead to a loss of motivation for talented children. We were also informed of a method of working with mistakes in a way to help develop, not to discourage (even a popular saying encourages us – failure teaches success).

Ass. Prof. PaedDr. Jana Škrabánková, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Education of the University of Ostrava, told us how they prepare future teachers for working with gifted children. The question of whether an ungifted teacher could do a good job in this field was answered in the affirmative; a powerful tool for such a teacher is pupils’ competitions - not as a goal, but as a method.

MUDr. Ranko Rajović put an emphasis on the development of the natural abilities of preschool children, and introduced us to his book, IQ of the child - a challenge for parents, that is just coming out in Czech (motor exercises, symbols, associations, and enigmatic riddles offering parents a way to stimulate neural connections in the children’s brains, of which 50% are formed in pre-school age). Dr. Rajović also studies the causes of more frequent occurrences of DYS disorders, and states that many are the consequence of the persistence of congenital primitive reflexes, when the child does not have enough stimuli to push them out.

Parents will certainly welcome the opportunity to participate in Mensa summer and suburban camps for talent development, the Discovery Saturday (Jeanne Bockova, CTY CE, Nadané dítě o.s.), and the Island of Discoveries (Zuzana Ludvíková MD - multisensory courses for the youngest participants).

In conclusion – we have to develop not only talent, but also the ability to learn at all. According to Dr. Rajović, none from the 10 most desirable professions of today was popular 8 years ago, and 5 of these professions did not exist at all 5 years ago. In fact, we do not know what kind of jobs we are preparing our children for, which is really a very strong argument for working with preschoolers and, of course, with schoolchildren; the same can however be said about lifelong skills development. We therefore welcome Mensa’s activities to help us. The Mensa Conference on Talent Development has achieved a great deal.

RNDr. Danuše Kunovjánková
Teacher at ZŠ Květnového vítězství 1554, Prague
Participant of Conference Day 1

Photo gallery

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Mensa Conference on Talent Development – March 2014 (photo: Vojtěch Indráček)

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