Alexiniay Baldwin

ALEXINIAY BALDWIN

Alexiniay Baldwin:  I’m Alexiniay Baldwin. I’m a professor at the University of Connecticut in Stores, Connecticut.

Well first of all, I have a problem with separating gifted and talented because I feel that um you are gifted regardless to whether you are a musician or whether you are an acamadician.  And um most of the time people always um put those who are talented at a lower level. And so therefore, I always think of it as one thing.  And uh I feel that those people who are gifted will show signs early uh and maybe—could be later, but yet in still, you can look for creativity as one. You can look for people uh being able to solve problems readily, uh, uh to take in information, good memory skills, and I always like to include a sense of humor because very often we don’t even look at that part of it.  But when people can—can see the—the um, uh disconnect uh very easily, I think that’s a sign uh of giftedness. And that can be in leadership skills, it can be in psychomotor areas and I don’t mean just the jock, but a jock is one aspect. But a person who is able to use their body physically to communicate uh efficiently and can also be a sign of giftedness.

Well, that’s an area that I’m very uh concerned about because very often uh we hear all about the nature and nurture uh argument. And in that argument people say that uh you are uh born with certain skills and abilities and therefore regardless to what kind of environment you grow up in, that uh the scale or the um assessment of intellect uh will be quite on target and—and you’re able to know exactly what a person is capable of doing. I don’t agree with that at all. I feel that that is such a role that the environment plays, that we cannot overlook that.  So therefore, if we’re going to use identification strategies, we need to look at things such as um, uh just portfolio assessment can be that. In what type of work have they been able to do?  What type of um ways they can articulate ideas?  Um, there’s several ways other then just uh an I.Q. test.  And I have already uh always spoke about a matrix of ideas, a profile which will give you a total assessment. I’m not advocating throwing out the baby with the bath, you can have all kinds of I.Q. scores, but I think that you need teacher assessment, parent assessment, and you can look for creative uh ability, leadership ability, and just motivation. And I—I’ve been through this so many times myself that I know that uh you can find children who might not blossom all at once. But if they have the kind of experiences in a classroom or at home or in the community that will encourage that innate ability that they will have there, it—it would be fantastic. In fact, I often use um a little um example and say that some children might be born with a large cup of ability.  There might be another child that’s born with a small—a smaller cup, but that child has had much uh—many more experiences then the child with a larger cup. And when they take that I.Q. test, they might measure much more then that child that has the capacity but has not had the experiences. So I feel that it’s very important for us to look at identification procedures that will tap those abilities that are innate but yet—and still not obvious because they have not had the experiences.

Now that is an area that I’m very concerned about and I have done, you know, quite a bit of work in that area because I feel that uh those children who are um from various backgrounds, diverse backgrounds—and of course, if you define what—what diversity is you might get into a large uh category. But um I have um worked primarily with children who have come from African-American backgrounds but I can draw from that to children who come from other ethnic groups as well. And uh what—it has been the problem many times, is that those children have not had the type of um interaction in society that is necessary for them to develop to the fullest. And very often the social stigma that might be attached to um them, not because of their own making but because of the color of their skin primarily, sometimes prevent them from being able to uh be challenged to the highest. Uh and therefore they are not um accepted into classes that are—uh might be gifted because first, uh people don’t feel that they are going to be successful.  In—in looking at that though, the uh boys in that particular group are often not included because they feel that uh gifted programs are elitist in a sense, and therefore they don’t want to be categorized as being elitist.  But if you don’t tap that group, a large number of young uh students in that particular population group, diverse population, will not be able to um show what they’re able to do—can’t do the inventions and there—there’s—there’s a wide range of abilities within this particular group that is very often left untapped. So therefore, I would say, you know, creativity is one of the things they have learned how to make do when other things are not available for them.  Of course, this is true in a lot of uh, uh communities and a lot of groups, especially those who are socially uh—socio/economically deprived.  But very often those children from diverse groups fall more frequently in that category of—of socioeconomic deprivation. So I say we need to look further um and you have, as I say, boys who feel that they don’t want to be in that class because somehow the macho image for them means that they don’t want to be uh considered gifted, even though they are extremely gifted. And um I often think about uh Bill Cosby who was a person that uh a teacher had not been—and I’m sure some of his teachers were very distracted by him because he was very, very disturbing in class. He was always joking about something.  So (?) but bright as a button and someone recognized that along the way and helped him. And I say that we need more attention uh being paid to these kids who are from (?) groups. And this is for boys as well as girls.

Well, as I was saying—um, have been saying—uh, I’ve been doing in all of my research, it has been in the area of uh the child who comes from a diverse background and I have been particularly interested um with the African-American students. And so um identification is one area, curriculum design is another area, and I say the whole gamete of—of what you would do when you identify them, then what are you going to do with them. All those have been of interest of mine. And one of the things I’ve been even—have even looked at some of the work that uh Arthur Jensen has been doing and have used his button box as a uh, uh method of trying to see how you can identify these children and um I found some very interesting information and want to hurry up and get it published so people, I think, can see the kinds of things that—that I have found about um using his button box to identify some of these children who uh might not have been identified as gifted. And then I am uh also developing a—a lot of uh material on multicultural education. In other words, trying to show how you can incorporate multicultural ideas in the regular curriculum as you’re working with these children who are gifted. And I start off with saying that you must have a belief that they can uh succeed. You must have a belief that if you do something like this by incorporating uh material from uh various backgrounds within the culture into their regular work then the self-concept can be enhanced. So I’ve been working on that and writing articles related—related to nature, nurture, and so forth.  Been very busy.

Oh, that’s a big one.  I would—I would um (interruption) If I had wish uh and—and—and—and this wish could possibly come true, uh I would wish that uh we would come to an agreement and minds of what is the best way to identify all kinds of children from all backgrounds and that we would uh be able to sell this idea to the general public. That would be my big wish and also that we would be able to have schools where we could uh actually not be forced to forget about gifted children and that all children would have a chance to be considered gifted.