Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Six Ways Teachers Can Meet Bright and Gifted Students' Needs in a Regular Class

I have a special place in my heart for bright and gifted kids. They have great potential to abet humankind but policies in many of today's elementary schools make it difficult to  provide them even with an appropriate-level education.

In a small attempt to help, I've created this seven-minute video of tips teachers can use to meet bright and gifted kids' needs in a regular class...without having to do undue additional work. It's below.

And below it, is an adaptation of the script. That's a bit more detailed and nuanced than would be appropriate for the video. 

As always, I welcome your comments.

Six Ways Teachers Can Better Meet Bright and Gifted Kids’ Needs

All children are entitled to an appropriate education, to not be bored too much of the time.

But in today's mixed-ability classes and with pressures to focus on low achievers, bright and gifted kids often get shortchanged.

And that's understandable. Perhaps you think they'll do okay without much attention. Alas, there are many brilliant failures. Perhaps you know one. And that's unfortunate because our bright and gifted kids are the most likely to cure our diseases, design helpful new products, and be wise corporate, non-profit, and government leaders. 

Here are six ways teachers can better meet bright and gifted kids’ needs in a regular class without incurring undue additional work.

1. Cluster group: You may be reluctant to divide your class into ability-based groups because of the extra work of creating a separate lesson for each group. But even if each group has the same lesson, a bright/gifted group discussing it among themselves can be more interesting and result in more learning. For example, if a class is discussing the causes of the Civil War, rather than forcing bright kids listen to lots of low-level comments, discussing it among themselves would likely be more interesting and engender more growth. A teacher might designate one student to lead each group’s discussion.

2. Encourage students to propose an alternate assignment. Invite bright and gifted kids (and perhaps others) to propose an alternate assignment they’d find more challenging and interesting. For example, if the standard homework assignment is to write a summary of a short story’s plot, a gifted child might propose, for example, writing a character’s backstory. With younger children, the teacher might well have to propose the alternate assignment.

3. Make gifted kids your assistant teacher…occasionally. Yes, a student reading on a fourth-grade level develops tolerance and patience by helping a slower child learn to read The Cat in the Hat but is thereby denied the right to learn new things. It’s usually best to have gifted students coach others on that which they themselves need solidifying. For example, if they’ve quickly learned how to estimate the probability of drawing a particular playing card in a poker hand, they could probably benefit by teaching that to a weaker student(s.)

4. Have gifted kids teach lessons to a group or even the entire class.  This goes a step beyond the previous tip. Teach one or more of your gifted kids how to teach a lesson. For example, you might teach them this model for teaching a new concept: 1. Explain why the concept is important.  2. Explain the new concept. 3. Give an example. 4. Walk the class through an example. 5. Have the class do an example on their own. 6. Give feedback on the example. 7. Summarize.  Using that model, have your "student teachers" teach a lesson to a group or even to the entire class.

5. Allow students to join a higher-grade’s class for one or more subjects.

6. Consider having a gifted child skip one or more grades. There's good evidence that acceleration can be of great value if the receiving teacher is welcoming of the idea and the child is capable and motivated, even if lacking in social skills. There’s just too great an advantage of being in a class in which much more of the instruction is appropriately leveled. Social deficits can be mitigated by pairing the child with a popular child in the higher grade. That child can teach the accelerating child the ropes, help her or him make friends, and the accelerating child starts out with the advantage of being associated with a popular child.

It makes me sad to see so many bright and gifted kids sit stultified for six hours a day, five days a week, for years. They deserve better and so does society.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Under-the-Radar Careers

I've written lately about the likely accelerating reduction of good jobs because of automating/roboticization combined with the ever higher cost of hiring an American. And then there's offshoring: Are American workers so wonderful as to justify paying them four times as much as an Asian?

There's even an oversupply in supposed hot careers, for example, in science, technology, engineering, and math majors (STEM). Evidence:THIS  and THIS and THIS and THIS. Too, there's an oversupply of lawyers. Evidence: THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS.

Long-term, there may no way to avoid the accelerating decline in good jobs but at least over the next decade or two, one way to cope is to consider under-the-radar careers. Here are some that score high, overall, across these factors:
  • Most practitioners feel like they're doing something importantl.
  • Good projected job market
  • Most practitioners earn a middle-class income
  • Little risk of offshoring or automating the job.
  • Not requiring inordinate education 
Before dismissing these careers, do remember that status is often the enemy of contentment. There are many unhappy lawyers, doctors, and executives even in vaunted nonprofits. A more likely path to contentment may be an under-the-radar career, where, because of less competition, you're more likely to find a job with the attributes that usually end up being central to career contentment: job security, a decent boss, ethical work, reasonable learning opportunities and a moderate commute.

Of course, the following list is just a sampling, as much to encourage you to think beyond the obvious as to consider these particular careers. 

The first seven were listed in a Business Insider article, 18 High-Paying Careers Youve Probably Never Heard Of.

Air-traffic controller. Yes, high stress but good job market--almost all grads of training programs get hired and six-figure income is common. INFO.

Surveyor. Their job is to use GPS and other tools to identify the boundaries not just of homes but, for example, of highways, airports, mines, and underwater property.  INFO.

Unexploded ordnance technician.  A career for people who would love a job blowing things up. And training is short. INFO

Court stenographer. Despite the presence of translation software, the job market for stenographers remains good. They're used not only in courtrooms but in captioning, for example, for the deaf. Three-year training. INFO

Anesthesiology assistant.  Pre-, post, and intraoperatively, you work alongside and/or under an anesthesiologist. It usually requires a pre-med bachelor's and a two-year masters. But after that, you'll be in demand for a six-figure job. INFO. Parallel position: radiologist assistant: INFO

Audiologist. Three-year doctorate and then you're in demand for a good-income career helping people hear better using ever improved hearing-aids. INFO.

Embalmer. You prepare dead bodies for viewing at a funeral. Not for everyone but, for the right person,  it can be a career to die for. INFO

The next six careers were listed in another Business Insider article:  40 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree.

Purchasing Agent . Buy machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies for an organization to use or resell. INFO

Power plant operator. You control the systems that distribute electric power. INFO

Transportation, storage, and distribution manager. You plan, direct, or coordinate distribution of products in warehouses, trucks, etc. INFO

Here are some other under-the-radar careers I've recommended to various clients:

Academic adviser: You help college students choose courses, majors and keep them on track. A college campus is one of the more pleasant places to work. INFO

Haircutter. This career always scores near the top of job-satisfaction surveys thanks to high success rate, pleasant environment, and regular customers with whom you get to chat. INFO

Optometrist. Also high success rate, a six-figure income, and prestige. Training is long: 4 years post- bachelors. Programs exist that let you earn both your bachelor's and Doctor of Optometry degree in seven years. INFO

Condominium association manager. You hire contractors, supervise maintenance, and collect bills. INFO

Elevator Installer and Repairer. You may work on escalators and moving walkways as well as elevators. INFO

Wastewater plant worker. Most people are turned off by the concept but the few wastewater workers I've spoken with like their jobs and demand is high for a variety of positions, from plumber to planner to project manager. INFO and INFO

Clergyperson. Unmitigated do-gooding in this varied career: ministering to the troubled, performing ceremonies, sermonizing, and planning the congregation's future. INFO

Monday, March 24, 2014

You're Invited to a Free Performance of a Show I'm Doing with Jeffrie Givens: "Retard!"

Jeffrie Givens was called "Retard!" by kids and retarded by teachers. She's come a long way.

You are invited to a special performance of the show that tells her story, "Retard!""

In it, I interview her and accompany her on the piano.

It is the reinvented version of her previous show, Big, Black, and Shy.

It will be at my home in Oakland, CA on Sunday May 4 at 2 PM. It will conclude at around 3:30.

We did our first performance of it last month in San Francisco and the audience truly loved it.

This performance will be free but my living room holds only 22 people. So, if you want to attend, you might want to email me soon, letting me know the number of seats you want. My email address is

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Transcript: "Work with Marty Nemko:" OVERsupply of STEM majors, attorneys

A reader asked for a written transcript of one of my radio shows. I had it made. HERE is the link

On that show, I first documented the oversupply of STEM graduates and of lawyers. I then talked about some under-the-radar careers, and then did Three-Minute Workovers on callers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Do What You Love? Risky

My article today is; Do What You Love? Risky.  There may be a more likely path to contentment.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Is Status-Seeking Worth It?

Here's my artlcle today on Is Status-Seeking Worth It?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My New Psychology Today blog: How to Do Life: Fresh ideas on career and personal issues

I'm pleased to announce that I'm now writing a blog for Psychology Today.

It's called, How to Do Life: Fresh ideas on career and personal issues.

In addition to new articles, they want me to post some of my previously published work. My first post is one of those: Four Approaches to the Life Well-Led.

Tonight, I Debate: Should Marijuana be Legalized?

Tonight, I debate prominent libertarian, Dr. Michael Edelstein on the question, "Should marijuana be legalized?" I take the no position. The public is invited.

It's at Opera Plaza, mezzanine level. 601 Van Ness St. San Francisco. It's $15, including dinner.

For more info, click HERE.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Five-Minute Course in Finding Contentment

I was curious which of my 1,250 blog posts has been read most often. Three stood out:

How I Could Live Decently on $20,000 a Year

Top 10 Ways to Gain Willpower

The Peter Pan Syndrome: Why Smart People Fail

So today, I went back and tuned each of those up. 

It would take you just five minutes total to read all three and it just might be of real value to you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Marty Nemko on the Adam Carolla Show

I've never been on a show in which profanity is allowed...until yesterday. I was on the Adam Carolla Show.

We talked about who should and shouldn't go to college. HERE is the link to the show. My segment begins at 18:10 and lasts about 15 minutes.