Educating Gifted and Talented Children – Turning Research Into Practice

Dr. Shirley Kokot

Dr. Shirley Kokot, South Africa

Dr. Shirley Kokot, South Africa

Planting a garden

The title of the talk is taken from a quote by Ray Bradbury. In his book, Fahrenheit 451, he wrote that it is important that what you do changes something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.

This talk will share Shirley’s experiences with those in WCGTC and the broader field of gifted education who, through their legacies, helped her create the only school for gifted children in South Africa – how that happened, the unique approach at the school and the lessons she learned along the way that has led to the continued success of the school. This will hopefully be her legacy to others that follow.


Dr Shirley Kokot  is an educationalist and psychologist who specialises in the field of gifted education and neurodevelopment. She was Associate Professor at the University of South Africa, where she was primarily responsible for teacher training courses in gifted education. She served as President of the National Association for Gifted and Talented Children in South Africa for many years as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the WGCTC for 9 years.

In 1995, she founded Radford House, the only school for gifted learners in South Africa. She has published many research articles, two books on gifted children (one translated into Chinese), another aimed at fostering thinking skills in youngsters and yet another on helping teachers ensure learning readiness in school beginners. She has visited most countries around the world in the course of her work and has presented at many national and international conferences.