Monday, May 27, 2013

New Centre for Gifted Research Gives Hope to Irish Parents

DCU and the CTYI programme is a refuge for my son every Saturday and, last Friday night, I met my knight in shining armour there at the launch of the new DCU Centre for Gifted Research. 

Professor Tracy Cross, from the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary in the US, was there to speak at the launch and, more importantly, to us parents who were invited to attend. He is one of the world's leading experts in gifted kids and, as a parent of gifted kids himself, an absolute lifeline to someone like me, who was called into school twice last week because of my seven-year-old son's behaviour!

I know the benefit of talking to other parents in the same position as myself and, to talk to a parent with so much knowledge and experience in this field, was absolutely invaluable. He is such a warm and approachable man and clearly his kids are his best work because he is so obviously proud of them. For someone like myself starting out on this journey of trying to navigate my child through a hostile education system, he is absolutely inspirational. After our chat, I felt hope for the first time - that maybe it's not me failing my child, but instead it is our educational system.

The Centre for Gifted Research is an exciting and long-overdue development and a step forward for our kids. Speaking at the launch, Dr Colm O'Reilly, Director of CTYI, said: 
"We are increasingly expanding the work of CTYI and we believe research plays an important role in providing evidence for the need for gifted programmes and in helping people to understand the academic and social needs of high ability students. We are currently involved in a couple of research projects, including social coping and self concept of gifted students, a study of principals and school policy around academically talented students and an international study around what it is like to be a gifted student."

Two CTYI staff members, Dr Eleanor Healion and Dr Catriona Ledwith, have recently completed PhDs in this field and Eleanor talked about how a number of local schools in disadvantaged areas, selected their brightest students to attend special CTYI programmes. The effect it had on these kids, their families and school friends, was incredible.

CTYI will collaborate with the DCU School of Education Studies in setting up the Centre for Gifted Research to address the needs for research in this area. There are important topics to examine, including online learning, gifted disadvantaged students and STEM related topics. CTYI will need our help in the future, with possible participants in this research and, if you work in an institution that would be interested in collaborating with them in this regard, please get in touch with Colm. 

In the meantime, if you would like to get in touch with Professor Tracy Cross, his email is Professor Cross, an endowed chair at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and a leading expert in gifted education, was recently appointed an adjunct professor at DCU to help CTYI in the area of research.

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