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An Interview with Monita Leavitt and Roya Klingner: Let it Flow

Jul 23, 2014 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) First of all, tell us about yourselves, your education and experience.

Monita Leavitt, Ph.D., is an international Gifted Education Consultant who taught for over 35 years (25 in gifted education).  She has provided lectures and staff development in Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Kingdom ofSaudi Arabia and the USA.  She is the author of Building a Gifted Program:  Identifying and Educating Students in Your School (2007), contributing author of the second edition of Exceptional Needs Standards (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 2010) and co-author of Let it Flow (Germany, 2014). She currently is a teacher-trainer of online courses for SIG (Summer Institute for the Gifted) and is the Affiliate Director for California Future Problem Solving.

Roya Klingner is the Head and Founder of the Global Center for Gifted and Talented Children (2008). She is the German Delegate in World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC), Liaison of SENG, Lecturer. Roya Klingner has an unique and diverse background, having worked in all year levels and many specialist areas during a career in both Government and Independent schools in different countries and cultures over the past years. Her philosophy as an educator is a reflection of current best-practice teaching and learning. She has experience in the development and application of Professional Learning programs, assisting and supporting staff to implement new and innovative programs into their classrooms. Roya Klingner is a former gifted child and a Solution Oriented Therapist for Gifted Children.

Her main interests in the field of talent development and excellence are underachievement, teacher trainings, learning and motivational training programs, development of creativity and solution oriented counseling for Gifted and Talented children. Her goal now is to support and help Gifted and Talented Children around the world.She has been invited speaker in Germany, Austria, Iran, Spain, UK, Ukraine, France, China, Turkey, …

2) How did this book come about ?

We met three years ago in Germany and discussed the possibility of writing a book for and about gifted children.  We both had long term experiences in working with high ability children.  We wanted to share their special stories in a creative way.  Through this book, we wanted build an awareness and develop an understanding of gifted kids.

3) What were you trying to accomplish ?

Our goals were to give readers a simple understanding of giftedness.  We wanted them to know that gifted children are different and, therefore, they have different needs.  Because every gifted child is unique, they deserve individual accommodations and support to develop their own talents and potential.   We wanted to create a book for gifted children to learn about themselves and the importance of what giftedness means, how ‘flow’ can help them to build self-confidence.

4) You chose different animals to represent aspects of giftedness. Why did you do this?

We wanted to write a fable that would represent animals that symbolized gifted students whom we worked with.  We selected animals from around the world to demonstrate cultural diversity of those kids.

5) Let’s discuss one of the characters—the eagle –

The eagle was chosen to symbolize an educator who, at the beginning of the story, was neither open-minded nor able to see different colors.  He didn’t know or care to learn about gifted children.  He saw everything in black and white.   All he needed was to get more experiences by traveling around the world meeting gifted kids in different situations to learn more and more about them.  As a solution,  if you want to work with gifted children, you don’t have to be gifted yourself, but need to become open-minded and  appreciate the unique emotional needs of them.

Butterfly was one of the gifted characters in the story.  She was able to do so many things because she was talented in so many areas.  However, it was hard for her to focus on accomplishing one thing.  Because she couldn’t organize her thinking and was easily distracted, she easily became frustrated to deal with all of her talents. Each animal in the book has a different story.   After reading this book, we hope the reader will be inspired and become more interested to learn about gifted children.

6) What about the Penguin? What does she represent?

Penguin was smart and a fast thinker.  She became a ‘grade-skipper’ because of her advanced intelligence and knowledge.  Penguin was younger than other kids in her class, and smaller than them.  Because of this, Penguin had social problems and was not able to find friends.  Her father encouraged her self-confidence by sharing his own experience of when he was in school.  He told her to be loyal to herself and do what was best for her in life.  To cope with her situation, Penguin learned to follow her interest and developed her self-confidence by following her ‘flow’, and to believe in herself.

7) Panda is an interesting character. Tell us about Panda .

The work Panda turned into his teacher did not demonstrate his true ability or potential.  He discovered the truth about him when he recognized he was gifted in addition to having learning disability.  The truth is that no-one is perfect and it is important to understand how we can deal with our strengths and focus on the positive.

8) What lessons or insights are available from this book ?

The most important lessons we hope to give gifted children are to discover and understand who they are, how they can develop their interests and potential, and how to find and take care of their flow.  In this book, we explained the importance of morals and values in the lives of gifted children and the importance of unity, kindness, friendship, loyalty, etc.  A good mentor can help gifted children to develop self-confidence and deal with different situations that may occur in life.

9) Tell us about “flow” and why you chose this particular word.

Flow is a situation in which an individual experiences an intense activity with high motivation and interest.  According to Positive Psychologist Professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow is an optimal experience of doing something completely focused and immersed, ‘out of this world.’   Flow can look different ways for different individuals.  Different stories of animals in this book demonstrate how flow can be diverse in different situations, but the effect is the same.

10 Who publishes this book and where can interested readers get a copy?

The publisher is LIT-Verlag (http://www.lit-verlag.de) and located in Germany.  Let it Flow can be purchased online (http://www.litwebshop.de/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=11322)

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