Source: Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability,vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 66-74, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article presents information about the current state of teacher education for gifted pupils in Austria, Belgium, Finland and Slovakia with the focus on sustainability. These countries were chosen because of very different perceptions of the gifted education and teacher training.
The review of the issues of teacher training for gifted pupils reveals that despite the great attention provided to the education of gifted pupils, the education of teachers of gifted learners has been neglected. Austria is on the best path to gain progress and retain sustainability in teacher training and gifted education. Belgium is a country that has so far failed to address giftedness, gifted education, as well as teacher training for gifted pupils. Finland has long been one of the best in terms of education results in general, despite the absence of gifted education per se. Slovakia with elaborated gifted programs is missing programs in the area of teacher training for gifted pupils.
For progress of the gifted pupils in special classes there needs to be courses provided not only in general pedagogy but also in the field of didactics with the aim to make gifted education sustainable. With the aim to bring some system into understanding of gifted education, the authors recommend some common terminology, understanding, principles and requirements concerning gifted education in Europe.
Concerning teacher training within the scope of academic subjects related to pedagogical and psychological matters, all faculties of education should offer courses on giftedness, peculiarities of gifted children, principles on working with the gifted, etc. The authors argue that teachers and teacher trainees are experts in their subject matter, but because the gifted children require special attention and have specific needs, the teachers need to be able to shift from the traditional approach towards the more constructivist approach and to adapt to differences of gifted children with the aim to reach sustainability of field didactics within gifted education.
At the university or institutional level, there is a need to create graduate and post graduate programs, courses in teacher training programs and courses for in-service teachers specialising on gifted education. Specialised courses should significantly contribute to sustainable gifted education, where sustainability is integrated into schools, classrooms, subjects, etc. The Austrian system of having specialists on gifted education in every school could be given as a model for sustainability of gifted programs in schools.