Sharing our gift
South Korean teachers visit UI to learn more about gifted education
Gifted education practices are very different in South Korea than in the United States.
"Gifted education is a far more established field, both for research and practice, in the United States," says Laurie Croft, professional development administrator with the University of Iowa College of Education’s Belin-Blank Center. To share some of that knowledge and expertise, Croft in July 2010 helped organize a visit of 22 Korean teachers to the UI campus and local community.
Croft said that during the mid-1990s, the South Korean government formally began strengthening gifted education programs. "One part of this was to encourage professional development for teachers of the gifted, both at home in South Korea and abroad, at centers such as the Belin-Blank Center."
To continue fulfilling this goal, the Korean teachers visited the UI campus as part of an exchange between the UI College of Education's Belin-Blank Center and the Daejeon Metropolitan Office of Education. This exchange marked the eighth year the UI Belin-Blank Center hosted educators from South Korea.
The educators—11 men and 11 women—included elementary, middle, and high school math and science teachers, two high school inventiveness teachers, and two team leaders.
During their two-week visit, the educators engaged in a variety of activities ranging from attending presentations on different facets of gifted education to touring the UI Natural History Museum and eating in Burge Residence Hall.
"The goal of the program is to share information about best practices in gifted education between the staff of the Belin-Blank Center and these Korean educators, all recognized as having expertise in the field," Croft says. "The Belin-Blank Center will share information not as familiar to these teachers, including the role of acceleration in the education of gifted children as well as ways to enhance creativity among students."
Croft says that learning opportunities work both ways, with the South Korean educators sharing their current practices in the identification of gifted learners, extracurricular enrichment programs, and their emphasis on the cultivation of talent to develop responsible and wise leaders for Korean society."Part of the Belin-Blank Center's mission is its dedication to the worldwide gifted community," Croft says. "Exchanges of greater understanding about the nature and needs of gifted learners will enable all of us to provide the most effective services for gifted learners."