Gifted & Talented Study Tours
A gift is not a gift until it is unwrapped and a talent is only something waiting to happen.
There's no such thing as a level playing field when it comes to academia. The majority of school students fall into the 'average' category and, in any class, there will be those working towards that level and those who breeze though (or with application) to be at the top of the class. Some of these may be considered 'gifted and talented' but many very bright students become bored through lack of extension or choose a path of rebellion.
The 17th State Conference for the Queensland Association of Gifted & Talented Children (March 2008) is titled From Ability to Achievement: From Potential to Performance and that's what the Vanuatu experience is about. Below is a sample itinerary that will engage and extend the inquiring mind (based on the William's model, also below) - other itineraries can be created in conjunction with schools to suit the needs of individual students.
Between the idea
And the reality…
Falls the Shadow
TS Eliot - The Hollow Men 1925
SAMPLE ITINERARY - Devised for Fairholme College Toowoomba for 2008
- Departure From Brisbane
- Duration: 8 Days, 7 nights
- Number of students: 20 maximum
- Tour leaders: Annie Heydon MEd, COGE, DipT, MACE
- Karen Cottle MEd (Gifted & Talented), BEd, DipT, COGE
- Accommodation: Twin Share (teachers single room) Vanuatu Holiday Hotel
- Price: $1875 per student and includes Return flights, Taxes, Transfers throughout, 7 nights accommodation, All meals, All activities as per the itinerary below, Pre-tour briefing and preparation (via email/web), Post-tour debriefing and presentation of fieldwork (via email/web).
Aim Of Tour
Paradise Lost? Paradise Found? is the foundation question for this tour. Key learning areas of the curriculum will be incorporated under the guise if the students being 'on assignment' - they have to observe, question and investigate to decide why Vanuatu was officially named the 'Happiest Nation on the Planet' and whether the impact of tourism and development is having a positive or negative effect on the country. Along the journey brushes with history, culture, marine & earth science, politics, pastoral care and comparative religion will be inevitable. Overall we want to extend and engage the students, expand their social/cultural awareness and impart a sense of responsibility to society. Also important - to have a great week with like-minded peers!
NOTE: While there will be a fairly stringent itinerary in place, the students won't have a copy of this - it is important that they experience 'the moment' rather than looking forward to the next activity - and there will be some flexibility and a few surprises. The tools they need - a pen & notebook, a camera and an open mind.
- Day 1 (Saturday): Arrive Vila early afternoon - students to town for lunch and an 'orientation' of Port Vila, luggage to accommodation. To Vanuatu Holiday Hotel for some relaxation time (e.g. swim in the pool) - evening a welcome BBQ dinner with an informal chat with guest speaker Pascal Guillet about Vanuatu and an introduction to the local language Bislama. Pascal is French but is fluent in English, is a former PE teacher and owns Vanuatu Ecotours - while a fun, informative evening, Pascal also quietly assesses the group's fitness to choose the best bushwalk for later in the trip - he has over 40 to choose from.
- Day 2: After breakfast, pick up 8:15am for full day Coongoola cruise Havannah Harbour (where Survivor was made) - visit the turtle sanctuary, Beach BBQ lunch, snorkelling and (hopefully) dolphins off the bow. While a day of 'leisure' it is a great way to get the group to bond and casually begin the 'assignment'.
- Dinner l'Houstalet restaurant - guest speaker restaurant owner Clement Martinez - it was in this restaurant that the Constitution was signed on July 30, 1980 and Clement can explain how the French live and work in Vila.
- Day 3: After breakfast, Vanuatu in Perspective Day. In the morning, a visit to the Secret Garden - local flora and fauna and a quirky look at history - cannibalism, blackbirding, the English-French Condominium prior to independence. Lunch at Chill Restaurant with guest speaker, Harry Atisson. Harry is a ni-Vanuatu tour operator and Vanuatu's only FIFA soccer referee. A visit to Eratap, a local village (non-tourist), meet the headmaster and students at this very under-resourced school and then a specially arranged Ekasup Cultural Village tour followed by a traditional Melanesian feast, dance and 'kastom' storytelling.
- Day 4: After breakfast a visit to Parliament House and the National Museum & Cultural Centre. A picnic lunch and swim at a private waterfall (Lololima Cascades) with Pascal Guillet as guide. Afternoon bushwalk with Pascal through agricultural gardens and to town to the women's markets to see where the produce ends up. Dinner at a restaurant TBA with a parliamentarian as guest speaker (e.g. Rt Hon James Bule, Minister for Tourism)
- Day 5: After breakfast visit some local businesses - e.g. Vila Handprints where Kalontas Mahlon works making screens for t-shirts (Kalontas designed Vanuatu's flag), the Michoutouchkine Foundation Art Gallery (a 'working gallery' with traditional carvers from Ambrym island). Lunch Café Deli with guest speaker Pam Ryan who owns the DHL courier business and Volcanic Earth, is a teacher, actor and can give an insight to expatriate life in Vila. Afternoon - a leisure afternoon at a resort like Le Lagon, Le Meridien or Benjor Beach Club (swimming, beach volleyball, petanque etc) followed by a poolside BBQ dinner with guest speaker the resort manager to talk about the importance of tourism.
- Day 6: After breakfast visit the meteorological, geological and marine authorities (cyclones, volcanic activity and marine environment). Lunch and a leisure afternoon at Hideaway Island Marine Sanctuary for swimming/snorkelling (and the world's only underwater post office). Dinner at l'Houstalet again - there is a private terrace/room that suits a group and it is a short walk from our accommodation. Tonight's guest will be from the financial or legal sector (we'll pick someone who is entertaining!). Vanuatu is a tax haven and heavily reliant on investment income. Alternatively, it could be a theatre performance by Wan Smol Bag Theatre.
- Day 7: By now the students should have the rhythm and an understanding of how Port Vila ticks so this morning it is an 'observe and absorb' time - break into smaller groups and explore the town - Chinatown, the shops, the markets - chat with the locals, ask questions and perhaps a bit of shopping (Mum might like some well-priced Duty Free perfume or a souvenir for a sibling?). Lunch at a designated time at the Nambawan Café or Jill's Café harbourside where we will have a arranged for some students of similar age from Port Vila International School to be waiting for a chat. For now, leave the afternoon activities open - could be a sports match at Independence Park or a visit to one of the Vila resident's home - we will wait until we get a profile on those participating. It may be more suitable to have an organised activity like a kayaking safari. Dinner at the Waterfront Bar & Grill - arrive pre-sunset to meet tonight's guest - Alcina Charlie. Alcina is ni-Vanuatu, was Assistant Manager for the Van
- uatu Tourism Office and has managed a resort (currently the Sales & Marketing Manager for Breaka's Beach Resort) - lovely outgoing lady - dinner and then stay for some live entertainment on this final night (another surprise is that Alcina is the lead singer in the band).
- Day 8: Basically, first day for a bit of a sleep-in or morning swim before breakfast. Nothing planned for this day - there may be something organised depending on how the week has progressed or it may be time to gather in the communal nakamal and reflect on/share observations and experiences. A light lunch before heading to the airport for the return flight.
The title, Paradise Lost? Paradise Found? gives a platform to look at the effects of tourism, expatriate development, the effect on the ni-Vanuatu people and the physical environment. The contrast of paradise and poverty, dreams and despair, resorts and reality… The students should start seeing the country as a tourist and slowly slip into the 'real' Vanuatu.
Frank Williams designed a program for gifted students in 1993 based on studies of the creative person and process. The model has three dimensions:
- The subjects that make up the school curriculum (in this case SOSE, Business, Language Arts, Creative Arts, Information Technology)
- 18 strategies to be used by the teacher to develop thinking/creativity
- Eight student processes involved in creative thinking to stimulate curiosity, imagination, risk-taking etc.
To quickly look at the 18 strategies:
- PARADOX: (At first glance this is something that appears to be counter-intuitive. Paradoxes can be used to evaluate ideas and challenge students to reason and find proof.) Example: How can such a poor country gain the title the Happiest Nation on the Planet? (Need to explain that the Happy Planet Index involves the ecological footprint as well as life expectancy etc)
- ATTRIBUTE LISTING: (This involves the skill of analysis. Students can be asked to list the attributes of or list the properties of something.) Example: What is a tourist? How does the tourist differ from a 'traveller'? How do both differ from a local resident?
- ANALOGY: (Students find the similarities between things and compare one thing to another.) Example: What do ni-Vanuatu families have in common with Australian families? What does a ni-Vanuatu school have in common with the school you go to?
- DISCREPANCY: (Williams is referring to the exploration of deficiencies in a person's understanding. Students should be challenged to discuss what is not known or understood.) Example: How did the French/English condominium come about? What did it hope to achieve?
- PROVOCATIVE QUESTION: (These are questions that require thoughtful consideration to clarify meaning or develop new knowledge. Many types of challenging questions can be posed to elicit higher-order thinking using Bloom's taxonomy, e.g. questions that require analysis, synthesis and evaluation.) Example: Is the development of a multi-million dollar resort productive for the ni-Vanuatu people? Take the side of the developer and look at the potential revenue - tropical paradise for the well-heeled tourist with revenue generated staying in a tax haven. Take the side of the ni-Vanuatu person who has sold his last 'beach' for what appears to be a fortune (say, $200,000) to see it subdivided and sold off for 10 blocks worth $1 million - is this supply and demand and capitalism at its best or moral bankruptcy? How could this lead to tension and unrest?
- EXAMPLES OF CHANGE: (Demonstrate the dynamic nature of things, make modifications or alterations.) Example: How would Vanuatu be different if World War Two had not have happened? There are obvious examples like the John Frum Cargo Cult on the island of Tanna and the lantana that covers the island - looks tropical but was introduced as camouflage. More far-reaching - at the time of WW2, French was on its way to become the official language. The arrival of the Americans stopped the momentum. Havannah Harbour was chosen as a safe natural harbour for American warships and is still seen as important strategically - the aid money donated by the American, Australian and New Zealand governments is not just generosity (the American are paying to have the road around the island sealed next year). Vanuatu receives $34 million in aid money, $24 million coming from Australia. Why?
- EXAMPLES OF HABIT: (Teach about rigidity, fixations and habit.) Example: Why is it important to retain tradition ('kastom')?
- ORGANISED RANDOM SEARCH: Given a situation or body of knowledge possibly from an historical context ask students to search for other information to answer questions such as, what would you do or what would you have done? Justify your response.) Example: What was Vanuatu like before the missionaries came? They saw an end to cannibalism, infanticide and widow strangling. They also introduced white man's diseases that decimated the population and a religion that replaced their own spiritual beliefs. Why was widow-strangling a part of some tribal kastom - and why were widows in favour of the practice?
- SKILLS OF SEARCH: (This involves searching for ways that something has been done before or searching for the current status of something. For example, looking for cause and effect, analysing results, drawing conclusions.) Example: Find a reference to Jose Garrenger's archaeological discovery of the Roy Mata burial grounds on Hat Island . Provide a summary of his findings.
- TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY: (In other words, an observation could mean one thing or it could mean something else. Pose open-ended questions, provide situations that puzzle. This is a good technique that leads to self-directed learning.) Example: All around you see the beginnings of first world affluence - mobile telephony, i-Pods, Coca-Cola… but is this destroying 'island time' - and diabetes is becoming a huge problem - follow-on effects from diabetes are heart disease, circulation problems, blindness - and where is the medical support that we enjoy?
- INTUITIVE EXPRESSION: (Being sensitive to inward hunches or nudges.) Example: Pretend you on a beach in the 1800's on an outer island and you are enticed aboard a boat, kidnapped and taken to work on a sugar cane plantation in Townsville - what do you miss? What happens when there are no longer men in a village? How do you feel as the wife of the man taken away? How would you feel as a ni-Vanuatu person today if offered the opportunity to go to work on a farm in Queensland to earn Australian money and live as we do?
- ADJUSTMENT TO DEVELOPMENT: (Learn from mistakes and failures. Show how failure, mistakes and accidents have led to the discovery of worthwhile things.) Example: The condominium wasn't called the 'pandemonium' for nothing. It was a failure on so many levels, but what good has come from it?
- STUDY CREATIVE PROCESS: (Traditionally this strategy is used to analyse the traits and characteristics of eminently creative people through biographies - not easy with this unit). Example: The ni-Vanuatu have had to be resourceful in order to survive. Those who watched Survivor on TV will have seen that we have lost a lot of resourcefulness in basic survival. Imagine you have been selected as a contestant on Survivor and you may be looking at three months on an island in Vanuatu. You are allowed to bring 6 items to make your stay more pleasant. What would those items be and why did you choose them?
- EVALUATE SITUATIONS: (Evaluate solutions and answers in terms of their consequences and implications — pose the question what if?) What if Captain Arthur Phillip had decided that Vanuatu was the best place to establish a British penal colony? Can you see any similarities between the indigenous people of Australia and Vanuatu prior to 1788? Can you see any similarities between the indigenous people of Australia and Vanuatu today?
- CREATIVE READING SKILLS: (Students generate as many ideas as possible after reading a text — this can stimulate a student to develop new ideas.) Go to local web sites and find three bits of information about Vanuatu that you don't already know but find interesting.
- CREATIVE LISTENING SKILLS: This is the skill of generating ideas by listening Students listen to a book excerpt e.g. Read the students the story of chief Roy Mata - how he united the tribes on Efate and was buried with his wives and others from the village (some killed, others buried alive). They then write a poem capturing the essence of the story
- CREATIVE WRITING SKILLS: (This is the skill of generating and communicating ideas through writing.) Example: Write an email home from the point of view of a volunteer aid worker, a missionary, a professional photographer, a tourist…
- VISUALISATION SKILLS: (Provide opportunities for students to perceive or visualise themselves in many contexts.) The usual example here would be to ask the students to visualise a situation and sketch what it would look like. A Powerpoint presentation and photographic record can also cover this for the individual but a web record for the group could also be produced.
Email us for more information on how we can create a package to suit your needs or for details on an obligation-free Expression of Interest afternoon/evening.
For general information on Vanuatu visit Vanuatu A to Z.