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Japanese educators learn about gifted education at W&M

  • Educating educators
    Educating educators  Recently, a group of Japanese educators visited William & Mary's Center for Gifted Education to learn about gifted education and science education. Here, the group shares data from observations.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Educating educators
    Educating educators  The educators were hand-picked by the Japanese government to make the special trip. Here, one of the educators works on conducting inquiry through observation. During the exercise, the group conducted an in-depth observation of an object, recorded the features of the object, drew the object and asked questions about the object resulting from the observation.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
  • Educating educators
    Educating educators  Lori Bland, director of professional development and practice in gifted education and director of Project Clarion, discusses how they teach children that scientific questions can arise out of observation.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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William & Mary's Center for Gifted Education is known around the world for its research and curriculum. Recently, a little section of that world came to the center to learn first-hand from its experts.

A group of 17 teachers, administrators and college faculty members from Japan visited the center in early December to learn more about gifted education and science education.  

The educators were hand-picked by the Japanese government to make the special trip, said Kimberley Chandler, curriculum director for the Center for Gifted Education. Sumida Manabu, a professor of education from Ehime University, served as the group's leader and initiated the trip based on past collaborations with Chandler.

"This visit represents a unique collaboration between the United States and Japan, as gifted education is not currently practiced in Japan," said Chandler.

During their two-day visit to William & Mary, the group met with the center's faculty and staff members and delved into topics ranging from cognitive characteristics of gifted students to current research on the social and emotional development of gifted students.

One evening, the center also hosted a reception for the group, during which William & Mary students who are taking advanced Japanese courses, served as translators.

The two days at the Center for Gifted Education allowed the group to learn the "basic tenets of gifted education and information about research and development in science curriculum/instruction for highly able children," said Chandler.

After leaving the College, the group was then able to see those tenets at work when they visited four Virginia schools: an elementary school, a middle school and two governor's schools.

"We were quite fortunate to have this opportunity to share what is being done in the USA, and specifically at William and Mary, in the areas of science education and gifted education," said Chandler. "The participating teachers were in a select group composed of the best K-12 science teachers in Japan.  In making the decision to develop this program, the Japanese government chose the Center for Gifted Education at William and Mary as the best option (in the world) for giving their teachers a view of both innovative curriculum/instruction in gifted education and in science pedagogy."

Tracy Cross, director of the Center for Gifted Education, said that visits like these show the global impact of the center’s work.

“As Thomas Friedman has said ‘The world is flat.’ This is true across a wide range of human endeavors, not merely commerce,” Cross said. “Consequently, increasingly countries from around the world are looking to America for expertise. In the study and education of students with gifts and talents, the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary is privileged to be one of only a few with the expertise and reputation to serve in this role.”

He added, “Working with the group of teachers of science from Japan was a delight, and something that goes beyond the development of skill sets to the development of relationships among international groups with the same goal in mind: to provide an appropriate education for all students, including gifted students.”