Please read my proposal description for "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" at:http://nasa-academy-of-the-physical-sciences.blogspot.com/
I have proposed a nationwide public school for high school students who are exceptionally gifted in mathematics and the physical sciences. The curriculum is standard, straightforward, and universal with very few choice options. I call my proposed school "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences."
I am especially proud of one particular element in the curriculum that I call the Colloquy, which awards The Linus Pauling Medal to deserving students. I describe the Colloquy at:http://nasa-academy-of-the-physical-sciences.blogspot.com/2009/11/colloquy-linus-pauling-medal.html
The following excerpt describing my thinking regarding the Colloquy is from my "One Response" at:http://paulingblog.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/pauling-and-the-nobel-prize-trip/
"Though I am proud of my academy idea in its entirety, I am especially proud of the Colloquy honoring Linus Pauling. I believe the Colloquy will be the most inspiring and life-changing learning experience of all for some academy scholars, and I look at it as something Linus Pauling would be proud to have his name on. Being awarded The Linus Pauling Medal at a “NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences” will be a high distinction that will certainly earn some academy scholars significant university scholarships.
If you have not read through the Colloquy description in my document, please do so. And then remember back to being in high school. The academically-minded high-achieving grade-driven student who will be the typical academy scholar will be entirely flummoxed by the Colloquy in the beginning, because all of the usual motivations are gone: it is Pass / No Pass with no need whatsoever to please or impress the teacher, but with every need to impress and influence peers with clear thinking, precise articulation, and persuasive argument in achieving a growing agreement toward a common goal of identifying and advancing an idea for the good of humanity.
A careful read of the Colloquy description reveals the telling endgame decision that will seriously challenge some academy scholars: Do you abandon the growing consensus of the group effort when the rules allow you to revert to being a lone wolf again, or do you stick with the group effort (even if only in a supportive role) to make the shared solution the best that it can be?
In the world of ideas, there are those who create, invent, or form ideas, and there are those who make ideas happen — the doers. The idea people need the doers more than the doers need the idea people; the doers can muddle on because they will always accomplish something in the process, but the idea people and their ideas will die lonely deaths if they cannot persuade the doers to actually make things happen. The Colloquy will identify both the idea people and the doers, and sometimes the doers will be those who are most deserving of praise and recognition — and should be those who sometimes receive The Linus Pauling Medal for their efforts.
Again, I think Linus Pauling would be proud."
I hope you will read the entire blog. If you do, know that I especially value the following excerpt from:http://nasa-academy-of-the-physical-scie...-of-oregon.html
"NAPS will put an enormous academic and emotional strain on its NASA Scholars, especially during the junior year. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that each and every scholar can relate in a genuine supportive way with his/her classmate scholars especially, but also with scholars from the other two grade levels and with the “high school” teachers. Because emotional maturity is not always on a par with intellectual maturity, gifted adolescents in the transition to adulthood need friends who can understand them. Gifted adolescents are adolescents at risk who are sometimes very vulnerable to social challenges, and they tend to know this about themselves. But, in usual settings, they are alone with their fears. NAPS academies will have the opportunity to create a safe haven in which truly extraordinary young people can experience what it feels like to be ordinary, at least during the while when they are among peer classmates; the importance of this cannot be overstated: a NAPS site will either succeed or fail in its primary purpose by whether or not it can succeed in making its scholars feel ordinary."
It may seem like an odd thing to many, but special programs for gifted students only succeed if they create an opportunity for the gifted child to feel "ordinary" or normal. Too often — in fact, almost always — the TAG opportunity is something IN ADDITION TO the regular curriculum. By comparison, Special Education for poor performing students is something INSTEAD OF the regular curriculum.
The catch is this: a truly gifted child does not need something IN ADDITION TO the regular curriculum, because the truly gifted child is NEVER unable to be self-directed in a personally interesting fun activity. A truly gifted child is rarely bored if he/she is left alone. Therefore, the IN ADDITION TO stuff robs a truly gifted child of that most precious thing of all, which is free time.
It is tiresome to always be extraordinary in a school setting. Worse than that, always being the smartest person in the room can lead to self-destruction, because even the very smartest young people want more than anything to fit in somewhere — to be ordinary — to be normal. My "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" proposal attempts to create that "somewhere" for those young people who are exceptionally gifted in mathematics and the physical sciences — that "somewhere" where those who are truly extraordinary can be simply ordinary for three years of their life.
Steven A. Sylwester