Mensa Conference on Talent Development – November 2013

On Wednesday, 13th November, 2013, Prostějov hosted (under the watchful cameras of Czech TV) an Autumn Mensa Conference on Talent Development, organized by Mensa CR. A total of 115 participants, mostly teachers, psychologists, and other people interested in working with talented children, participated in the event.

PhDr. Jolana Laznibatová, CSc., PhDr. Hana Halfarová, PaedDr. Jiří Rozehnal, Ing. Tomáš Blumenstein, Mgr. Alena Kýrová, Mgr. Marie Müllerová, Mgr. Markéta Valtrová, Mgr. René Gavlas, Mgr. Radka Foltová and others
13.11.2013, 8:30  —  13.11.2013, 16:00
Národní dům, Vojáčkovo nám. 218/1, 796 01 Prostějov

The opening lecture was given by PhDr. Jolana Laznibatová, CSc., the principal of the School for Exceptionally Gifted Children and Grammar School in Bratislava, one of the leading experts on the issue in both Czech and Slovak Republics. In the first part, she spoke in general about identifying talent, developing it, and the education of gifted children; her second lecture was on her experience and the effectiveness of the educational system, and of the support for gifted children in Slovakia, where, unlike in the Czech Republic, there is a nationwide network of schools focused on developing gifted children. 

The Mensa Grammar School was briefly introduced by Mr. Martin Kalivoda: “…we put great emphasis on the teachers’ personality – they do not necessarily have a higher IQ than their students, but we require them to have good general knowledge, as well as personal character qualities. Many teachers work with students on a first name basis, which does not compromise their authority in any way...”

PhDr. Hana Halfarová from a unique Open Gate School, a project of The Kellner Family Foundation, briefly presented the history of the school, explained who it is for, described life at the boarding school, extra-colloquial activities and student exchanges. Besides working with students, Dr. Halfarová occasionally visits their families. Many graduates of her school study at renowned foreign universities.

Another form of education is creating classes for gifted children, with extended education in some subjects, within the framework of standard schools. Such an approach was introduced by Mgr. Alena Kýrová from the Primary School Úvoz, in Brno, and by Mgr. Lenka Baše and Mgr. Romana Divínová from the Primary School Hálkova, in Olomouc. Ing. Tomáš Blumenstein then gave an example of an alternative method of funding such a class with extended lessons in English and Mathematics. It was formed at the Primary School of Jan Železný in Prostějov, and the extra-colloquial lessons are funded through a citizen group, namely through monthly parents’ contributions.

PaedDr. Jiří Rozehnal from the 8th Primary School in Frýdek-Místek held an excellent lecture on the use of Prof. Hejny’s method of teaching mathematics – it was so good that we were sorry that it is impossible to use the method for teaching all of “our” children. The method is based on creating familiar environments in which tasks are created in a playful fashion. Children are then encouraged to find the solutions through discussion among themselves. The teacher does not tell them the solutions; he/she only has the role of a guide. So far, the teaching methodology is fully prepared for primary schools, the methodology for subsequent lower secondary education is in preparation. A funny detail – the teacher also organizes workshops for parents, where he explains mathematics as they have never seen it before.

Mgr. Dana Havlová and Ing. Tomáš Blumenstein briefly introduced Mensa projects in the field of talent development: besides Mensa Gifted Children’s Clubs, the list of which can be found on the website, he introduced the NTC Learning System used within pre-school education: this is a learning system building on exercises with a scientific background capable of improving the effectiveness of the utilization of the brain capacity at the early age.  The research among other things demonstrates that the child’s brain forms 75 % of all neuron synapses (links) before the age of 7, whereby 50 % of which is created even by the age of 5. It is therefore extremely important to pay attention to children at the pre-school age. Mensa also organizes national meetings of Children’s Mensa, days full of games, summer camps and suburban camps and, last but definitely not least, the Logical Olympiad. 

What can we say in conclusion? Besides the lectures, the conference also provided a platform for meeting new people and mutual personal discussions. All of the participants, mainly teachers, had one thing in common: they do the extra work with love. On the other hand, I don’t think that it is just them giving something to the children – it is the other way around as well.

Mensa Conference on Talent Development (November 2013)
13.11.2013 Lenka Šnajdrová

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