In Gifted Awareness week we get the news that New Zealand students have taken out 13 of the top places in the International Finals of the Future Problem Solving Program (FPS) held in the USA over the weekend. Personally, I’m not at all surprised.
Since the early 1990s when NZ first started competing internationally, New Zealand students have consistently demonstrated that they have what it takes to cut it with the best on an international stage. Coached by dedicated, top-rate teachers, these students return year after year with a sense of awe and wonder after mingling with and succeeding against over 2000 finalists in this highly challenging program.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, it has several components. Two are centred around a problem solving model developed by E. Paul Torrance several decades ago which he intended should provide the type of challenge for gifted students that other programs lacked. One component is the Global Issues Problem Solving, a theme-based, two hour written futuristic scene that needs solving (the team booklet competition); the other is Community Problem Solving, wherein groups of students research a community problem, and design and implement a plan of action to tackle that problem. Both are primarily team events, but some individuals choose to compete on their own.
Another component requires that students competing in the team booklet competition present their Plan of Action in a live stage presentation. This is yet another aspect of FPS that has enormous value. The best idea in the world will fall on fallow ground if you don’t have the skills to convince others of its worth. Time and again I have seen quiet, introverted students blossom as they pushed themselves to achieve in the unfamiliar territory of stage presentation. Academic learning is important, but well-rounded gifted individuals need public speaking and presentation skills.
Scenario Writing is another component of the program that gifted writers like to compete in. The program is also offered non-competitively for students from Primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools. Competitive divisions range for Yrs 5 through to Yr 13 in Junior, Middle or Senior sections. Many senior students so value the program they become FPS coaches in their senior years, and work with younger students.
All New Zealand contestants have to prove themselves nationally against the competitors before winning the right to compete at the International Finals in the USA each year. Congratulations to the following schools for their success:
Oturu School, KeriKeri Primary, Mission Heights Junior College, Cobham Intermediate, Selwyn House, Nelson College, Tauranga Boys / Tauranga Girls.
We are proud of your hard work and resulting success :). I hope you get the press you deserve. I know if you were a sports team you'd be well and truly trumpeted. Let's hope our media are more receptive to success in intellectual and creative pursuits during Gifted Awareness week.