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Gifted Education in the post-communist countries | Educatia de Excelenta

Gifted Education in the post-communist countries

Cultural characteristics are very important to be considered when projecting the appropriate policy for gifted education development. Several characteristics are historical and they are derived from the communist philosophy that reverted Maslow’s pyramid at a social level.
It is well known that the communist ideology created a leadership model based on the “healthy origin” of the working class. Nobody had the right to get promoted on the social hierarchy if she didn’t have a healthy origin and obviously, intellectuals were not among the preferred ones.
Because of this doctrine, the basic physiological needs in the hierarchy characteristic for the first level of Maslow’s pyramid became the top level needs in the rows of the social class leaders.

Safety needs became also very important (i.e. the second level of Maslow’s pyramid).
Taking this from a different perspective, we see how the intellectual social class was so very poorly remunerated so that their basic needs could not possibly be satisfied.
This ideology produced specific reactions in the social environment after 1990. One specific reaction was the immigration of the intellectual class, their majority being gifted people. For example, in Romania of 1990- 2000 more than 90% of the scientific researchers immigrated.
Another specific reaction was the great number of young people who went to college or post-graduate studies to foreign prestigious universities.

But the social reaction at their return was rejection, since they already had lost their healthy origin by getting contaminated with the new thinking shaped in the western universities.
This behavioral pattern was also present in the political sector until recently, when some efforts were timidely made to get gifted education into the educational system. Generally, highly performing students were considered just very hard working and not as a trace of their natural intellectual giftedness.

Most of the political reactions were based on the fear that their political class might be replaced by these gifted and educated people who studied abroad. They were seen as a potential threat to their actual positions.
This reaction was also strengthened by the isolation in information during the communist time. The isolation created a great gap between recent studies in education and the educational theories that were promoted at the time by the political environment.
This behavioral pattern changes very slowly and with high difficulty. A new educational system will become visible in relation only with the new generation and coupled with foreign investments and western companies doing business in Romania.

Since the economic development and the challenging new behavior imposed by a free market were not encouraged by the communist system, the old or middle aged population doesn’t feel the need for well trained and professional leaders. So this demand is forced by the international companies in Romania.
Because of these relative recent changes on the market, gifted education is regarded as an alternative and anticipated both with hope and fear by population. Generally, immigration and brain drain continued over the time and people just can’t understand why would anyone need to make financial efforts to train people who will emigrate anyway.
The only experience Romania has in the gifted education field is related to international competitions. However, most of the winners of the international competitions went to western countries, and most of them had a great professional and social success there.

This success is ensured because of their high level of complex intelligence which is especially richer because it’s formed in a complex social environment to whom they are forced to adapt themselves. It is a natural tendency to develop high abilities in complex thinking, lateral thinking, and also form a visual spatial psychological profile which all makes them very competitive in exact sciences, especially mathematics.
For a long period of time Romania was a strong competitor in mathematics. However, because of the low interest in this field versus the challangeing political and economical realities and the urgency for economic development at present, mathematics is not really valued as a field of interest.

At present gifted education is seen by several NGOs as a potential successful alternative. There are even several political trends that are induced with a sustained mass-media campaign, where gifted education is correlated with the national development.
Gifted education can become a successful alternative in correlation with a “brain regain” program, with a “new technologies” program, and with an increasing number of western business companies coming into Romania, and imposing highly performing management techniques.

There are already several institutions, most of them NGOs that are involved in supporting gifted education with gifted materials and gifted psychological testing.
A consortium of NGOs representing institutions and companies interested in developing gifted education in Romania is setting up at the present moment. The official support of Romanian authorities is still reduced, but the aggressive attitude is replaced now with a passive, aggressive or inert attitude.

This attitude will change in the coming future because of the great need for highly qualified human resources required in the process of Romania’s accession to the EU. There is a large need of financed programs and collaboration with the gifted education network in order to increase the speed of development of the gifted education system in Romania. The system can start as an official alternative to complement the public educational alternative, or as a private international series of school units and educational programs, or both at the same time.
At the same time, it is very important to orient this program towards a social program that will support gifted children from ill-favored social environments in conjunction with a high level of quality education provided to children with financial means. This approach will ensure financial sustainability of the gifted education program without its depending on political struggles that will continue in the future.

At this moment the political struggle is focused on an anti-Mafia and anti-corruption programs, primarily focused on the justice, police, political and business sectors.
Another alternative for the development of gifted education programs can be an international network of educational programs that will offer gifted people the opportunity to self-instruct and self-educate, and later on to find the proper economical environment somewhere in the world were to perform and get involved & integrated.

If the first program alternative can be useful to local cultures, the second one will target the global world and the global economic development in a durable and sustainable manner. Maslow’s pyramid was reverted not only in the post-communist countries, but due to the Keynesian and neo-Keynesian economic philosophies also in the capitalist countries, but on a different level and also, differently directed.
It is hard to describe a complete set of indicators able to characterize a culture in order to find the best alternative to introduce the gifted education program. Anyway, some of these indicators below can give a better image.

The following table is inspired by the study of conflicts (see Becker M., Crises in World Politics):
Rank Effects
1 Structural compatibility (cultural and economical area of trust)
2 Structuring level of the social system (no. of structuring directions)
3 Mean age of population correlated with professional chance for success at different categories of age
4 Average intellectual and professional capacity, and extreme capacities of the population in percentiles
4 Political regime type characterized with Maslow’s pyramid
7 Internal instability (political, economical, cultural, demographic)
8 Geographic distance to the main cultural attractor in the main area of cultural trust
9 Stability of the program promoting the institutions and consistency in time of these programs
10 Geographic territorial size of a culture

There are probably other indicators that determine variables in how to implement a program into a culture, specific for the gifted education program.
Gifted education programs can be an alternative program able to re-balance the highly complex current situation and contribute to solve crises on a global scale and in specific cultures, by using new educational technologies, Internet communication and collaborating networks among professionals. It can become the educational spine that can be projected differently to various cultures that are tributary to different historical development of own shape. At the same time, a gifted education program can become the potential provider of leaders with high intellectual abilities, high aspirations and ideals, moral health and balanced personalities in every field of activity.

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