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Who was George Parkyn?

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WHO WAS GEORGE PARKYN?

"When we turn to the problem of identifying the gifted and encouraging the development of their giftedness, two basic aspects need to be considered.

The first is the ability of gifted children to progress rapidly through the known and accepted stages of development of rational thinking, ethical sensitivity and aesthetic awareness.

The second is their potential ability to achieve new insights beyond those already known."

George Parkyn, keynote address to 1st World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children, London 1975.


Professor George Parkyn (1910-1993) was one of New Zealand's most distinguished scholars in the field of educational research, with an international career that took him to Paris to work with UNESCO and to universities in the USA and England. In New Zealand, he served as Director of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER), produced the research that led to our current university assessment system, and became an expert in distance learning.

He was interested in gifted education throughout his long career and was founding patron of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children from 1975 until his death in 1993. His book "Children of High Intelligence: A New Zealand Study" (1948) was the first book on giftedness to be published in New Zealand. He later wrote on many related topics, such as the measurement of giftedness and the mental health of the gifted child.

In 1975 he was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at the First World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children, held in London. There he delivered a remarkable paper in which he challenged the conventional view of the nature and significance of giftedness with a concept of giftedness that embraced the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of life and looked forward to the future needs of mankind. Over the next nine years, he explored and developed this theme further in a series of papers later edited by Rosemary Cathcart and Phoebe Meikle, and published by the NZCER.

The concern that he expressed in these papers for the future direction of humankind is one now widely shared by people in all parts of the world and in all walks of life. The philosophical solutions he suggested offered us profoundly important starting points for a new approach to education, and in particular to education of the gifted.

The same philosophy informs our approach to One Day School and underlies the REACH model on which the programme is built.

The Centre was originally named after George Parkyn firstly in recognition of his huge contribution to our understanding of gifted children, but most of all because in himself he embodied the qualities of wisdom, compassion, open-mindedness, generosity, humour and intellectual and personal integrity that we hope to see emerging in every gifted child.