Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Last week I spoke mister Piet Groenewegen about the possibilities of doing my graduation research within the begaafdheidsprofielscholen (gifted schools) in the Netherlands. What I had in mind was to compare regular secondary education on the one hand, with begaafdheidsprofielscholen on the other. The problem seemed to be that mister Alexander Minnaert was already performing a research on this exact subject. Aside from this, the participating schools would not be looking forward to another question list.. What to do then?

I told him that my subject of interest is underachievement in schools. Achievement is usually measured with the use of an IQ test. A common problem with IQ tests is that they cannot cover all aspects of giftedness. I said to him that more knowledge is needed on the subject of underachievement. This problem is present in the begaafdheidsprofielscholen. He agreed with me that this subject is an interesting one, and that too little is known about it (or even acknowledged) in the participating (and all other) schools.

As the weeks go by my research question is getting more solid, and now the methodology comes into the picture. In what way will I collect the information about underachievement from the schools?

I've been playing with the thoughts of conducting interviews at the schools, which Mr. Groenewegen thought was a good idea, also because the participating schools have developed an aversion against the question lists. An interview would be a nice change of methods here.

This Friday I'm meeting with Mr. Groenewegen and a colleague.  Until then I've got time to specify the research question a bit more: what do I want to achieve? What results do I look for specifically? If you have any ideas, please share them with me!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Although this week I will mostly be busy with writing a essay for (my last!) policy analysis course, this course has some valuable knowledge to share. Let's take the word 'framing'. Framing is the way people see things from their own set of references, like facts, values, theories and interests all integrated (Rein & Schon, 1993, pp 146). Frames are the reason conflicts exist. But the good part is that people can be re-framed  what in fact means that they in some way alter their view, with the intention to come closer to the other view, or convince that their view isn't right.

It is extremely difficult to recognize frames, because we are used to them. It's like differences in a family. When you have a brother and a sister, there's a big chance that for example you nose of eyes look the same. When a person then first meet the rest of your family, he is convinced that you three all look the same. Though, that's something you yourself never noticed (not in that big way anyway).

It's the same with the frames, recognize patterns were you're in is extremely difficult.

Well, to stay a bit on topic: what frames are used in the subject of giftedness? I think that the general prejudice that gifted children can educate themselves really is a problem. Only when you yourself undergo the problems of giftedness the full impact will arise. I'm not saying that nobody will do anything for gifted children, (hah, that could be a frame too) but it could be that there's done too little about it (and another). But, there are the 'begaafdheidsprofielscholen' who try the best they can, I'm convinced of that (and another frame).

though, the education in the Netherlands nowadays is more than sufficient (fact, although a general fact), so why need there to be other forms of education? (question; questions are a great way to get into the subject and to define frames). Is it not enough to have sufficient education? Don't people ''overreact'' when saying this education isn't enough (frame again). Are there other ways to look at it? Like, why can't children be educated at home (proposition)? Well, I can go on like this for a while, but I'll be a lot of my time busy with searching answers from literature. Maybe do you have striking examples on the subject? I would like to hear from you! You also can contact me via mail!

Next week, I will tell about how my research proposal will be created.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The intake

The second step. Talking to a potential mentor for my research. Monday became clear in a conversation with a teacher at the university that my subject is interesting enough to work with! besides that is great news, we also talked about a way to define the question a bit more. As I was wondering what way the question was going to myself, that was actually the problem. I couldn't define it more properly without having a intake first. It's different when you switch from study, it's not always clear what to expect from something when you weren't there at the start.

So, back to the subject; the research subject. I've tried to put it together in the following picture:
The main goal is to look at the begaafdheidsprofielscholen. ('giftedness schools' these schools have a label which means that they have special programs for the gifted child). There are 22 of them now. Is there a difference with the schools who don't have such a program? Within the range of giftedness, I'm especially interested in the problem of underachievement. Why? These children can function well on a very high level, but they don't show it. With the right approach I think it is possible to let them function on the level they should. So I will look further into the question of under achievement as a subject. Of this is possible, I have to look into literature, experiments, information available for me to work with... etc.

It looks like it will be a policy evaluation sort of research.

This week will focus on the research proposal (what to do, what to research, deepen the question even further, contact the CPS for more information about the begaafdheids profielscholen) and the plan I will work with the following 5 months.

Do you think the problem of underachievement is an important one? I spoke a remedial pedagogue who was convinced that children scoring less than 130 on the NIO IQ test weren't gifted enough for extra curriculum. On the question: ''don't you think you're throwing away potential Einsteins?'' she repeated: ''well, then they should have made the test better. It's their fault they score less than 130.'' Can someone who is a pedagogue, studied psychology at a university and is her whole life involved with children and learning problems be wrong?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Red blocks

I came across this interesting picture today about giftedness. It's from a publication of Esther de Boer and Nora Booij, who wrote 'excellentie in ontwikkeling.' It gives a clear view of how children are let down when people look at things from their own view. The english translation:

''can you give me the red block you have?'
'The RED BLOCK!!!'
''Don't whine Ivo.... you díd get a block didn't you?'
''Ivo may be really smart, his emotionally he is still behind....''

Recognisable? Share your experiences in a comment!

This afternoon more about the progress in my reaearch! There has been a couple of breakthroughs thanks to Jacqueline Lucas!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What to research for my graduation research?

The last part of my study comes into view. The part in where the graduation research finds place. How to choose a subject that is in line with the view and wishes of the education program of public administration (Bestuurskunde) and also is a interesting topic for yourself? Education programs can be quite demanding, actually the public administration program is.

That is actually an interesting view to look at, because what is said to be demanding? What is good education, when do you fulfill the education wish of the University? and, the other way around: when you as a student are good;

- Are you good enough?
- Is the excellent student good enough?
- Are you excellent when you receive good grades?
- Is excellence the same as giftedness?
- Could it just be that you don't fit in this system, but are in other ways excellent? What happens when they keep telling you you're not good enough, but you actually are?

When you're younger, it's difficult to compare yourself with others. Combine the 'middelbare school' (halfway middle school & high school in the Dutch system) kid with a lot of insecurity and puberty and you've got the perfect mix of uncertainty about oneself which happens to all of us. Try then to function the best you can!

That's a problem. When trying to function in a system you don't really fit into, you malfunction. That means in the Dutch system almost always a reduction of the learning level you're on. Is that the right way to look at a person? To measure their 'beings' on the basis of a system which has a really one sided view of people? Not fair at all, but it happens though.

Can this system function better for children who fell out, when the education is specially adapted to different needs of giftedness? Is the education system lacking this nowadays?

It's something I just don't know yet, but will find an answer on in the following six months! Let the research begin!

- Do you have ideas/information about the subject of giftedness, especially about children from 12 till 18 years? Please leave a comment or contact me.

- This week I start with literature: what has already been found in research? Next week more!