Mensa Conference on Talent Development – November 2012

“There is no guide, no handbook on development and care for gifted children. Every school and every teacher finds their own ways to do it. Thanks to this conference, those who are really interested were given the time and opportunity to meet, gain new information, experience, and to network among themselves,” Dana Havlova said about the event that brought more than a hundred teachers, representatives of Mensa Gifted Children Clubs, and interested parents from all over the Czech Republic into a lecture hall of the National House in Prostějov, on Friday, 9th November. The busy schedule of lectures gave them a lot of theoretical knowledge, as well as practical experience on how to identify gifted children and to work with them. 

Ass. Prof. Šárka Portešová, Ph.D., PhDr. Hana Halfarová, Mgr. Božena Kučková, Mgr. Lenka Valentová, Mgr. Romana Divínová, Mgr. Miloslav Hubatka, Ing. Tomáš Blumenstein, PaedDr. Jiří Rozehnal and others
9.11.2012, 8:30  —  9.11.2012, 16:00
Národní dům, Vojáčkovo nám. 218/1, 796 01 Prostějov

“First of all, I am really happy that we managed to arrange for top experts to come here as lecturers. And I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of participants. I realize that ours is a very specific topic that has as yet not sufficiently recognized as important – which is, in my opinion, very short-sighted, as the proper care for gifted children can significantly improve the progress of society in the future,” Tomas Blumenstein went on. It was him, together with Hana Kalusová and Dana Havlová who, beside organizing and presenting the conference, also contributed with a lecture that had the audience actively joining in the discussion. In the optional afternoon programme, he introduced the participants to the topic of enigmatic questions developing divergent thinking, and demonstrated it by posing a few such questions to the audience. The brain synapses were teased, but that was actually the purpose of this presentation...

The Mensa Conference on Talent Development was opened by Šárka Portešová, from the Institute for Research of Children, Youth, and, at the Masaryk University in Brno. She especially addressed the issue of identifying a gifted child, especially where a so-called dual exceptionality is concerned, i.e. children who are both exceptionally gifted and, at the same time, afflicted by learning disorders. The teachers are then often unable to recognize that the child is exceptional in some fields, and therefore they do not develop their talent. 

Over the course of the conference, the audience could also listen to lectures given by representatives of schools successfully working with gifted children. They provided the audience in particular with valuable practical advice related to legislation, day-to-day operation, and educational approaches in classes with gifted children. “I am travel throughout the Czech Republic, visiting schools, and I can see that in many of them, the staff are already taking an active interest in these issues. Three of them have already developed very good know-how, and that’s why we have invited them to give lectures. These three are the Hálek Primary School in Olomouc, Kindergarten and Primary School of JUDr. Josef Mareš in Znojmo, and the 8th Primary School in Frýdek-Místek,” Tomáš Blumenstein continued.

Jiří Rozehnal from the 8th Primary School in Frýdek-Místek spoke in his final lecture about how to begin with a “gifted children’s class”, as well as about “why to do it”. “We can take good care of children with various handicaps, but where gifted children are concerned, the general thinking is “they don’t need it.” Why help someone who is already gifted? Sure, this is a legitimate opinion, but I cannot share it and believe in it. Gifted children deserve support too, and if their talent and potential is identified and developed, this will pay society back many times over,” Jiří Rozehnal said.

And how did the participants rate the conference? “It has been a long, long time since I attended a conference where all of the contributions were of interest to me – and this is the first after such a long time. Thank you!” one of the teachers wrote into the evaluation form. “I am happy with everything – the organization, environment, selection of topics, and their presentation” was the conference evaluation by Romana Poloprutská, a leader of the Gifted Children’s Club, who came to Prostějov from Malšova Lhota, near Hradec Králové. All of the reactions were in a similar spirit. The organizers can therefore immediately begin to think about where and how to organize the next year’s event. 

Mensa Conference on Talent Development (November 2012)
10.11.2012 Lenka Šnajdrová

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