Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gifted Education in Ireland and the United States

Sometimes it pays to have a coffee and keep on going!

When I got up this Saturday morning, I felt daunted by the day ahead. After my first week back at work full-time in 20 years, I was running out of steam. By the time I had finished my morning clinic, I really wanted to go home to bed. However, I dragged myself off to DCU instead. What a great decision that turned out to be!

First up was a talk for parents given by Prof Deborah Eyre. While some speakers on giftedness can be very dry and academic, Deborah was engaging, warm and relatable. She gave lots of very practical advice which was gratefully received by a large and appreciative crowd of parents. Many thanks to Dr Colm O’Reilly who always brings great speakers to CTYI.

Then I spent a very exciting hour in The Hub bar with Dazzled. A pint of Guinness and a bag of Tayto cheese and onion crisps in front of the Ireland-Scotland rugby match on a Saturday afternoon...who could ask for more?! Whilst I was well behaved, I reckon Dazzled could be heard shouting from all over the campus :-(

Prof Deborah Eyre, Dr Colm O'Reilly, Dr Jennifer Cross
Re-energised by Prof Eyre’s talk and the rugby win, we headed off to the launch of a new book “Gifted Education in Ireland and the United States”. This book was the brainchild of Colm O’Reilly of CTYI and brings together the expertise of the staff of CTYI and the Centre for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Over the past few years, CTYI and the College of William and Mary have formed very close ties, with Prof Tracy Cross due to arrive in Ireland in September to spend six months here as a Fulbright Professor at DCU. The two institutions have collaborated on several pieces of research, most notably, Dr Jennifer Cross’s recently published study on the attitudes of Irish teachers to gifted students. This book is yet another huge step forward towards putting gifted education on the map in Ireland. It will be a very useful source of information, ideas and advice for both parents and teachers alike and can be bought through Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

We had the pleasure of chatting to Deborah Eyre, who launched the book. I think we often take CTYI for granted. Not alone do Colm O’Reilly and his staff run the wonderful classes and courses that our children attend, they are constantly working on research and collaborations with other experts in the field of giftedness. Most people rarely hear about this side of their work so it was wonderful to hear Deborah talk about how they are held in such high esteem worldwide. She described CTYI as “a beacon of excellence” and we would certainly agree.

To round off a great day, we sat down to a lovely meal with the staff of CTYI and the authors of the book. At our end of the table, Dazzled and Eleanor Healion brought the tone down a little by watching the England-France match on an iPad. Some more (slightly restrained) shouting was heard, I’m afraid. Despite updates being relayed along the table, eventually Colm O’Reilly couldn’t resist and joined us for a bit of a look himself. So, two great accomplishments for Ireland...the Six Nations Cup and the launch of a groundbreaking book on Gifted Education in Ireland.

It was lovely to catch up with our friend Jennifer Cross again. She and Tracy have been so supportive and encouraging of our efforts as parent advocates and we are looking forward to having them here later in the year. It was also great to meet Dr Jenny Robbins who edited the book and Dr Mihyeon Kim, one of the authors from the US. We hope Jenny managed to surface at 3.45am today and has a fabulous first visit to Paris!

By the time we left the 1838 club at DCU, Dazzled and I were buzzing with energy. I finally collapsed into bed but couldn’t resist the temptation to get stuck into the book.

PS. There is a GAS support group meeting this Wednesday, 25th March, at 7.45pm at the Glenview Hotel. All welcome!

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