Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2017
List of Tables
List of Figures
1.4. Research Questions
1.5. Overview of the Study
2.0 Literature Review
2.1. Untapped Potential in Marginalized Children and Youth
2.2. Role of the Environment
2.3. Performance and System Theories
2.4. Societal Impact and Responsibility
2.5. Creating a conducive Microsystem to create a condusive Mesosystem
2.6. Systems and Programs to Promote High Achievers
2.7. Impact and Development of Personalized Goals
2.8. Relationship between Goals and Role Models or Mentors
2.9. Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent as it relates to MCF
2.10. Social Interdependency of Each Individual within the Larger Construct
2.11. Learning Process:
2.12. Regulation types
2.14. A systemic approach: the Actiotope Model
2.15 An overview of the Actiotope Model of Giftedness
2.16. Learning Resources in the Actiotope: Educational and learning capital
2.17. Education Capital
2.18. Learning Capital
2.19. Consequences for gifted education
2.20. Education and Learning Capitals among the general Kenyan population and within the Marginalized in the Kenyan Society
2.21. Discovering the Gifted and Talented
2.22. The Role of Intuition and deciding who enters the MCF Program
2.23. Discussion of theory
3.1 Appropriateness of the Research Design
3.2 Research Design / Method
3.2.1. MCF Construct
3.2.2. Questionnaire Beneficiaries
3.2.3. Qualitative Interviews Beneficiaries
3.2.4. Qualitative Interviews staff
3.2.5. Questionnaire People in Shadows
3.2.6. Qualitative Interviews Community members
3.3. Setting and Participants
3.5. Data findings:
4. 0. Ethics
5.0 Internal and External Validity
6.1.1 Findings Part 1: MCF Construct:
6.1.2. MCF as it relates to Educational Capital
6.1.3. MCF as it relates to Educational Learning Capital
6.2 Part 2: MCF Awards and Achievements
6.2.1. General Overview of Awards and Achievements of MCF beneficiaries up to date
6.2.3. General Achievements and Awards for MCF and for the Founders Dr. Charles Mulli and Esther Mulli
6.3 Questionnaires and Interviews
6.3.1 Questionnaire Beneficiaries QELC
6.3.2 Qualitative Interviews Beneficiaries. 129 Summary
6.3.3. Qualitative Interviews staff
6.3.4. NBLC Questionnaire people in shadows
6.3.5 Qualitative Interviews Community members
7.1. MCF Construct
7.1.1. Education Capital Applied in the MCF Construct
7.1.2. MCF Construct providing Learning Capital Development Opportunities
7.2. Understanding Individual success factors
7.3. Impact of Important Individuals / People in the shadows
7.4. Final Thoughts and Discussion
7.5. Educational Impact
7.6. Further Research
Appendix A MCF Policies
Appendix B Table of Primary School Standings
Appendix C Table of Secondary School Standings
Appendix D List of Awards at the time of the study and letter sent to MCF
Appendix E Letter to the beneficiaries participating in questionaires
Appendix F Questionnaire for Beneficiaries
Appendix G Reliability Results of QELC Beneficiaries
Appendix H Interview Questions for Beneficiaries
Appendix I Interview Questions for People in the shadows
Appendix J Checklist for People in the shadows
Appendix K Transcripts Beneficiaries Interviews
Appendix L Transcripts People in the Shadows Interviews
Appendix L Transcripts Community Members Interviews
This study analyzes the success factors of winning awards for individual beneficiaries and as an organization within Mully Children’s Family (MCF), a Kenyan NGO for marginalized and traumatized children. The Actiotope Model is used to help analyze, and define the success factors. The Educational Capital developed and the development of Learning Capital supported by MCF as a construct is analyzed through the use of: 1) a QELC questionnaire with beneficiaries, 2) interviews of beneficiaries 3) NBLC checklist-based questionnaires for people in the support system and 4) interviews of staff and community. The Microsystems developed by the MCF construct, provide tools and well-developed Educational Capital as well as a system of coaching and nurturing to be able to enhance Learning Capital. The MCF construct is a Microsystem; it has its own compounds, schools, playgrounds and clubs, to ensure that the best Micro- and Mesosystem is created to rehabilitate and help beneficiaries effectively interact and impact the Exosystems around them, while some win awards. The success factors based on the QELC questionnaire for the award winners were determined. The three strong correlations for award winners were : 1) Cultural Educational Capital, especially as it relates to their choice to surround themselves with other high achievers within the MCF construct; 2) Organismic Learning Capital which suggests that award winners not only understand the significance of keeping their bodies healthy but also practice this; 3. Modifiability Belief, the award winners understand they have the ability to modify their behavior, learn from their mistakes and success and then modify their present actions.
The impact of mentors was researched. Peers were found to play a vital role in success as well. The MCF construct intentionalizes staff-beneficiary and peer-peer mentoring. The success of MCF, which supports the modification of each beneficiary through the complex intentionalized Actiotope, is effective as can be seen by the rankings of their primary and secondary exam results and the numerous awards of individuals and teams; and also provides an environment in which marginalized members of Kenyan society have the chance to develop themselves to win awards, become entrepreneurs, and become vital members of society.
Key Words: Impoverished and marginalized award winners, Actiotope Model, Educational Capital, Learning Capital, success factors of award winners, Kenyan Award Winners
Table 1. Definitions and Illustrations of the five forms of educational capital and the five forms of learning capital
Table 2 Kenyan Secondary School Participation from 2008 - 2012
Table 3 Strengths and Weaknesses of Mixed Research (Johnson & Onwuegbuzi, 2004 p 21)
Table 4.1. Questionnaire sample for people in the shadows
Table 5 Age and sex of all participants
Table 6 Age and sex of award winners
Table 7.2. Validations study of QELC with Post Secondary German students (Vladut, Vialle & Ziegler)
Table 8 Daily Schedule in MCF Primary Schools
Table 9 Daily Schedule in MCF Secondary Schools
Table 10 Daily Schedule in MCF Vocational School
Table 11 Improved reliabilities of QELC for study
Table 12 QELC correlations with award winners
Figure 1 Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT 2.0;2008)
Figure 2 The four compenents of an Actiotope (Vladut et al. 2013)
figure 3 Impact of Languages on Sub-Saharan Africa (Alidou, et al , 2009)
Figure 4 Overview of Research Design and Methods
Figure 5 various groups filling out the QELC questionnaire in Ndalani MCF, Kenya
Figure 6 a local market just a few kilometers from MCF Ndalani
Figure 7 Town Center of Kithmani, a neighboring town
Figure 8 Roads side market along the highway
Figure 9 Sofia, Business Center and Shopping Area
Figure 10 Sofia, the closest town to the MCF Ndalani home
Figure 11 the entrance to MCF Yatta
Figure 12 view of MCF Yatta, surrounded by trees planted by MCF and volunteers
Figure 13 view of MCF Farms and Greenhouses in Yatta
Figure 14 MCF coaches mentoring and coaching on the football field (karate and soccer coaches)
Figure 15 science lab
Figure 16 Science lab, computer lab and MCF outreach to internal refugee camps
Figure 17 Karate, Choir and Acrobatic Clubs
Figure 18 Seedlings being grown for planting various kinds of native trees which are adapted to the local climate
Figure 19 Seedlings being grown for planting various kinds of native trees
Figure 20 Water retention ponds for both water harvesting and irrigation and MCF fish ponds
Figure 21 groups of children in guided play
Figure 22 the playground for the younger children, climbing structures, swings, slides and merry-go- rounds
Figure 23 the courtyard for the middle school children: clean, a lot of shade and green
Figure 24 MCF Climate Change Nursery - signage reminding beneficiaries and staff
Figure 25 A freshly planted tree that has been raised in the nursery
Figure 26 MCF staff assisting tree planting (volunteering their time)
Figure 27 Dr Charles Mully explaining the importance of tree planting
Figure 28 The MCF medical clinic at MCF Ndalani
Figure 29 Award Winners and People with Distinction (non MCF Scholarships)
Figure 30 All MCF award winners and people with distinction
Figure 31 Discipline of award winners and scholarship recipients (without MCF scholarships)
Figure 32 MCF Ndalani Primary Zonal Standing 1996 - 2013
Figure 33 MCF Ndalani District Standing 1996 - 2013
Figure 34 MCF Vipingo Primary Regional Standing 2009 - 2013
Figure 35 MCF Vipingo Primary District Standing 2009 - 2013
Figure 36 Ndalani Secondary Zonal Standing 2000 - 2013
Figure 37 Ndalani Secondary Regional Standing 2000 - 2013
Figure 38 Location of MCF Primary and Secondary Schools observed
Figure 39 Extra studies during break time, outside in the shade
Figure 40 how became disciplined in studies
Figure 41 How is support shown to those that show potential
Figure 42 Who are staff members who were encouragement to you?
Figure 43 Peer encouragement impact
Figure 44 how encouragement and support was expressed
Figure 45 Role of Extra Curricular Activities in Development
Figure 46 How Sports Affected Development
Figure 47 Karate Training after School
Figure 48 Daily Afternoon Sports Activities on the Sports Field
Figure 49 Supervised Spare Time Soccer Match, with MCF boys of various ages
Figure 50 One of the Living Quarter at MCF Ndalani
Figure 52 MCF Teachers Preparing for Lessons in the School Courtyard
Figure 53 One of the MCF Yatta Secondary School Classes
Figure 54 Time of Goal Setting
Figure 55 a Clinic with International Volunteers Beneficiaries are allowed to help and often translate for community members. The exposure often helps in deciding which profession to chose
Figure 56 Interview with one of the participants, Acrobat, Academic Award Winner and now Medical
Figure 57 Karate Coach Paul Kimani, former Beneficiary and Award Winner in Karate and as a Coach, now MCF Staff Member
Figure 58 "Daddy" with his Karate Team, their Coach and the Awards won for MCF
Figure 59 Program Coordinator, Daniel Muindi, being interviewed
Figure 60 One of the Beneficiaries with one of the Trees Planted about 12 years earlier
Figure 61 MCF Medical Staff in the Ndalani Clinic
Figure 62 The Head Teacher of Tailoring, Agnes Muindi, at the MCF Yatta Location
Figure 63 Some Teen and Child-mothers and their Children at Break
Figure 64 The Girl's children are in Care while the Girls get some Instructions and Orientation in their first Week of School
Figure 65 Long Term MCF Staff who has held Many Positions and the Present Soccer Coach, who also Previously was a MCF Beneficiary
Figure 66 Principal Jerome in his Office
Figure 67 Various MCF Staff Participants in Study
Figure 68 One of the Matrons in the MCF Ndalani Library
Figure 69 One of the Long Time MCF Pastors, Pastor Josiah with the Author at the MCF Yatta Location
Figure 70 Dr and Mrs. Mulli with Former Beneficiaries
Figure 71 Anne Mueni, a Farm Manager and Gideon Musiymi a Village Elder, both live in the Community around MCF Ndalani
Firstly I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my advisor Prof. Dr Albert Ziegler for the
continuous support of my PhD study and related research. Thank you for the excitement for the topic and your support.
My sincere thanks goes to Dr Charles Mutua Mulli for allowing me to do a thorough study on the success factors of award winners at Mully Children’s Family and for making it possible to have access to all the MCF documents, arranging staff, beneficiaries and community to be available for questionnaires and interviews. Thank you too for providing staff -especially Festus, who was God- send- to assist in all the activities while being on site in Kenya. My utmost gratitude goes to you, your wife, Esther, and the whole team at MCF - who have created an organization, an Actiotope, that needs to be studied - for developing a “Family” that is talented, gifted and helping many to achieve awards. Thank you for allowing me and my family to feel a part of this very special family.
Thank you to Anamaria Vladut on staff at the FAU for your assistance in the analysis and entry of the questionnaire results (and for fulfilling last minute requests).
I also express my sincere thanks to Dickson Mutua Mulli for being available for questions and being a support from beginning to end.
A special thanks to my daughters who assisted in the research in many little ways while on site in Kenya. Having you there made the experience even more meaningful.
Most importantly, I would like to thank my wife for encouraging me through the whole journey and supporting the dream of researching this topic. Thank you for documenting the time in Kenya with great pictures that capture some vital aspects of the study that words cannot. Thank you for keeping me focused and all the “little and big” things you did that often went unnoticed.
Erfolgsfaktoren von begabten und talentierten kenianischen Kindern und jungen Erwachsenen, mit marginalisierten und verarmten Hintergrund, von Mully Children’s Family
Diese Studie analysiert die Erfolgsfaktoren von Bewohnern, von Mully Children‘s Family (eine kenianische nicht-staatliche Organisation für marginalisierte und verarmte Kinder), so wie auch die Erfolgsfaktoren von Mully Children’s Family als Organisation.
Obwohl es Übereinstimmung gibt, dass Begabung, vor allem intellektuelle Begabung, zum größten Teil genetisch bedingt ist (Plomin & Thompson, 1993: Winner, 1996), gibt es starke Beweise dass die Entwicklung des Kindes von der Familie in der es aufwächst stark beeinflusst wird, und dass viele Fähigkeiten vielleicht doch in keinem genetischen Zusammenhang dazu stehen (Plomin, 1995). Die Rolle der Eltern beinhaltet unter anderem das Talent ihres Kindes zu identifizieren und die Entwicklung von seinen Werten und Zielen zu unterstützen (Reichenberg und Landau, 2009). Typischerweise, stammen begabte Kinder aus Familiensystemen, in denen die Eltern entdeckte Gaben und Talente der Kinder fördern, und die Kinder dadurch ihre Begabung oder gar Expertise entwickeln können (Sternberg, 2001). Es besteht Uneinigkeit wie man Begabung definiert; Ziegler et al. (2012) definieren die Begabung als eine Bezeichnung für solche Menschen, die auf einem Weg des Lernens sind, der zur Exzellenz führt. Da die Begriffe Talent und Begabung verschieden definiert werden (vgl Subotnik et al, 2011; Rost, 2004; Coyle, 2009; Heller & Perleth, 2007; Heller & Schofield, 2000; Gagne, 1985), hat der Autor für diese Studie die Begriffe Talent und Begabung, als Bezeichnung für jemanden, der eine oder mehrere außerordentliche Auszeichnung(en) bekommen hat, definiert.
Wie, aber ist es möglich, das eine große Zahl von Kindern, die nicht mit ihren Eltern aufwachsen, zum Teil verwaist sind, und ursprünglich aus einer Umgebung kommen, in der es weder genug zum Essen noch ausreichend Behausung gibt, Auszeichnungen in verschiedenen Disziplinen bekommen können? Denn einige Studien haben die verschiedenen Aspekte gefährdeter Kinder untersucht und sind zur Prämisse gekommen, dass die Institutionalisierung schädigend für Kinder ist und die Kinder lieber in Familien ähnlichen Situationen untergebracht werden sollten. Obwohl es Erfolge in dieser Richtung in manche Länder gibt (Greenberg & Partskhaladze, 2014; Johnson, Dovbnya, Morozova, Richards & Bogdanova 2014), gibt es große Herausforderungen, wie kulturellen Widerstand, mangelnde Ressourcen, mangelnder politischer Wille und einige andere Faktoren (Engle et al.,2011; McCall, 2011; McCall et al., 2014). Institutionen für stark gefährdete Kinder wurden schon mehrmals untersucht und einige Dokumente mit Vorschlägen und Richtlinien wurden herausgegeben (United Nations, 1989, 2010). Verschiedene Organisationen haben Studien unternommen und Literatur durchforscht um globale Richtlinien für gefährdete Kinder zu erstellen (The Way Forward Project, 2011; US Government, 2012; Williamson & Greenberg, 2010). Auch wenn es schon einige erfolgreiche Programme von lokalen Regierungen und internationalen Organisationen für gefährdete Kinder gibt, können sie den aktuell wachsenden Zahlen von gefährdeten Kindern nicht stand halten (Groza & Bunkers, 2014). Kenia ist ein Land, mit wachsenden Zahlen von Kindern mit Gefährdung. In einem Treffen zum Thema Kinder mit Gefährdung, in Kenia, wurde ein Kind mit Gefährdung als jemand der in einem Haushalt mit einem chronisch-kranken Elternteil lebt und mangelnden Zugriff auf Essen, Behausung, Bildung, psychologische und emotionaler Unterstützung und Liebe hat, definiert (Skinner et al., 2006). Diese Umstände führen oft dazu, dass Kinder in solchen Situationen auf der Straße enden; nichts leistet so viel zum Verlust von menschlichem Entwicklungspotential bei, wie eine Kindheit und Jugend außerhalb des Rahmens einer Familie und Schule und in der feindlichen Umgebung der Straße (Lusk, 1989).
Diese Studie erforscht Mully Children’s Family, hierin bezeichnet als MCF Konstrukt, die sowohl als Organisation viele Auszeichnungen für ihre Schulen und Teams, als auch viele einzelne, individuelle Auszeichnungen bekommen hat.
Die Ziele der Forschung sind:
1. das MCF Konstrukt im Bezug auf Begabtenentwicklung zu verstehen und zu analysieren. Das Actiotope Model (Ziegler et al.,2013) wird als Model verwendet, um die Analyse durch zu führen, vor allem im Bezug auf Bildungs- und Lernkapital,
2. die Erfolgsfaktoren des Einzelnen, vom MCF Konstrukt, der Auszeichnung(en) bekommen hat, und auch die Faktoren die den Einzelnen, im Rahmen von dem MCF Konstrukt, zu der(n) Auszeichnung(en) geführt haben zu untersuchen,
3. die Auswirkung von wichtigen Menschen im Leben der begabten Teilnehmer der Studie auf ihr Leben zu verstehen.
Die angewandte Forschungsmethodik, ist die Mixed Methoden Forschung. Dieser Ansatz hilft die Forschungsfragen dieser Studie besser zu beantworten (Johnson & Onwuegbuzi, 2004), bzw. gibt einen Überblick von dem Konstrukt MCF. Dieser Ansatz versucht die Stärken von qualitativer und quantitativer Forschung zusammen anzuwenden, um ein besseres Ergebnis zu erreichen (Hoshmand, 2003).
Die Forschung wurde in 6 Bereiche aufgeteilt: 1) die geschriebene Richtlinien und Verfahren von Mully Children’s Family; 2) eine Befragung nach QELC (Vladut et al., 2013) der Kinder und Jugendlichen von Mully Children’s Family; 3) Interviews mit den Jugendlichen die Auszeichnungen bekommen haben. Die Interview Fragen sind auf dem Aktiotop Model (Ziegler et al., 2013) basiert; 4) Checkliste, nach der Nürnberger Bildungs- und Lernkapital-Checkliste (NBLC) (Harder, Trottler & Ziegler, 2013), der wichtigen Menschen im Hintergrund der Ausgezeichneten Teilnehmer der Studie (da sie keine Eltern haben); 5) Interviews mit den Angestellten vom MCF Konstrukt, um sie über die ausgezeichneten Teilnehmer der Studie und das MCF Konstrukt zu befragen. Die Interview Fragen sind auf dem Aktiotop Model (Ziegler et al., 2013) basiert; und 6) Interviews mit Menschen aus der direkten Nachbarschaft, um die Auswirkung, welche das MCF Konstrukt auf die Nachbarschaft hat zu verstehen.
Die Studie zeigt, dass das MCF Konstrukt ein komplexes bewusst durchdachtes Umfeld, so wie auch eine Ersatz-Familie-Atmosphäre schaffen konnte, in dem Lern- und Bildungskapital im MCF Konstrukt effektiv angewendet wird und sich dadurch (ehemals gefährdete) Kinder nicht nur entwickeln können, sondern auch Auszeichnungen gewinnen können.
Der Erfolg des MCF Konstrukts und der vielen Einzelnen von MCF können mit Hilfe des Aktiotop Models erklärt werden. Die Interviews und die verlässliche Korrelationen der QELC Befragungen verifizieren, dass bewusste Entwicklung durch verschiedene Phasen dann stattfindet, wenn man bewusst agiert.
Die Teilnehmer, mit Auszeichnungen, haben der Studie nach, das vorhandene Materialangebot, so wie auch das Sozialen- und Informationsumfeld von MCF effektiv genutzt und dadurch ihr Wissen und ihre Fähigkeiten erweitert. Sie haben auch die Traumata ihrer Herkunftssituation gut überwunden. Dies bestätigt die Modifiablitäts- und Stabilitätstheorie von Ziegler et al., (2010).
Wenn man versteht, wie MCF endogene und exogene Ressourcen verwendet, um Exzellenz bei ehemals gefährdeten Kindern zu entwickeln, könnten die Methoden so wie das MCF Konstrukt in anderen Rahmen angewandt werden, nicht nur bei Kindern mit Gefährdung, sondern auch um Kinder und Jugendlichen, mit potentiellen Begabungen aus anderen schwierigen Milieus zu unterstützen.
Although it is agreed that, giftedness, especially intellectual ability is largely genetically determined (Plomin and Thompson, 1993: Winner, 1996), significant evidence reveals that children’s development is considerably influenced by the families in which they grow up and it is suggested that many abilities may not share a strong genetic contribution (Plomin, 1995). The role of parents involves identifying their child’s talent, supporting the development of values and goals (Reichenberg and Landau, 2009). Typically children and youth who achieve excellence or giftedness, as defined as developing expertise, (Sternberg, 2001) come from family systems that support those gifts and talents that the parents discover in these children. Within the topic of giftedness there are further issues of how to define the term giftedness. It has been described with various terms such as “a manifestation of performance”, a “potential”, an “achievement” and a “label” (Subotnik et al.,2011 p.7). Ziegler et al. (2012) suggest that giftedness should be understood as a label given to individuals who are on a learning pathway that leads to excellence. For the purposes of this study, excellence will be defined as having achieved some kind of awards of distinction.
How is it, however, that a large number of children who not only do not grow up with their parents, are orphaned and originally came from backgrounds in which basic needs such as food and shelter could not be met are able to achieve awards in various disciplines? The participants of the study all come from a home with over 2500 children. Institutions of vulnerable children have been the study of many international child welfare organizations, who have issued documents providing recommendations and guidelines regarding the care of such children (United Nations, 1989, 2010). Organizations have attempted to review the literature on marginalized and vulnerable children and develop global policies for their care (The Way Forward Project, 2011; US Government, 2012; Williamson & Greenberg, 2010). Although the reports are varied and cover a number of countries and aspects of vulnerability, a major premise of each report is that institutionalization is harmful to children and should be avoided in favor of family care alternatives. Although there has been success in creating some such options in some countries (Greenberg & Partskhaladze, 2014; Johnson, Dovbnya, Morozova, Richards & Bogdanova 2014), there are large challenges in others, including cultural resistance, lack of resources, lack of political will and other factors (Engle et al.,2011; McCall, 2011; McCall et al., 2014). Even when the local governments and international organizations develop successful programs, they may not be sufficient to compensate for the increasing numbers of vulnerable and marginalized children (Groza & Bunkers, 2014). Kenya is one such country with increasing numbers of vulnerable children. A consultative meeting in Kenya defined a vulnerable child as someone who lives in a household with a chronically ill parent or caregiver and in terms of lack of access to resources such as food, shelter, education, psychological and emotional support and love (Skinner et al., 2006).
The participants in this study are (or were at the time of their entrance into the home) marginalized, (a term broadly used to describe groups of people who are relegated to a lower or outer edge of society (Collins, 2016)) and came as highly vulnerable children into the care of Mully Children’s Family. Highly vulnerable children are children and youth whose safety, wellbeing, growth and development are at significant risk due to inadequate care, protection or access to essential services (USAID, 2009). All the participants have become members of the Mully Children’s Family, an organization that has become a home for them. The participants have not only been able to achieve rehabilitation in the Kenyan society, but also achieve awards across many disciplines, such as academic scholarships, athletic awards as well as fine arts awards. The success factors of both the Mully Children’s Family (the “home” that houses / housed these children / former children) and the factors of the individuals will be explored in this study. This is a mixed study including quantitative questionnaires given to both beneficiaries and staff of MCF as well as qualitative interviews with Award Winners and staff of MCF.
The support of gifted and talented children has been researched and studied for generations. The vast majority of these studies have focused on the societies of the researchers doing the studies i.e. a European, North American and more recently Asian Foci. Most often those who achieve success come from environments in which there are families and systems in place in which these talents and gifts can develop and are fostered (Bloom, 1982; Winner, 1996).
In Tirri’s study on factors which contribute to Academic Talent in Finland, based on Olympiad participants, it was found that the majority came from the highest socioeconomic status (SES) categories. When the participants were asked to identify who was most influential in their development, the parents, the teachers and they themselves played vital roles (Tirri, 2000 ). As McBee explores in his study based in Georgia, USA, even when socioeconomic status is controlled, race has a great impact on the probability of gifted identification. In that context McBee’s study further reveals that certain minorities within the USA, especially Black or Hispanic, exert a large negative effect on the probability of direct identification; it also exerts large indirect effects through increasing the probability that the student will also be economically disadvantaged and therefore receive the penalties associated with socioeconomic deprivation as well (McBee, 2006). This supports the results Elhoweris discusses in the study on Teacher Judgment in Identifying Gifted/Talented Students; the results suggest that teachers generally refer students from upper socioeconomic status in gifted and talented programs than those from lower socioeconomic status (Elhoweris, 2008). However, the beneficiaries of MCF come from marginalized and impoverished, often traumatized backgrounds from all ethnic groups within Kenya and many are able to achieve high grades, win awards in various disciplines, although they do not come from advantageous socioeconomic backgrounds, but from marginalized impoverished ones. Although Kenya has various educational programs for the poor and disadvantaged, for the most marginalized they have almost none, one of those groups not covered by most of these plans are street children (Ouma, 2004). According to Lusk (1989), nothing contributes more to a loss of human development potential than a childhood and youth spent outside the framework of a family and school in the most often hostile environment of the street. The children and youth in this study originally come from environments described by Ouma and Lusk. The factors of the success of MCF as an organization and the individuals within it are to be analyzed and explored.
This study is an exploration of both the Mully Children’s Family, referred to as the MCF Construct, which has seen a high number of award winners individually and as teams in the areas of Academics, Fine Arts, and Sports while in the MCF construct; the MCF schools have also achieved tops standings on final exams both at primary and secondary levels. For the purpose of this study the terms gifted and talented as well as excellence will be defined as having won some kind of award of achievement, across all academic disciplines, athletic competitions, and in the areas of arts and performances. Unlike most award winners, these young people come from marginalized and highly vulnerable backgrounds, and have grown up in large homes with hundreds of children in each (mulychildrensfamily, 2013).
Hypothesis 1. The MCF Construct has been able to create the complex environment as well as a substitute family atmosphere, in which children can not only develop but also achieve excellence. The MCF Construct has been able to develop opportunities for individuals within the construct to develop themselves, using both Learning Capital and Educational Capital, (the term capital, as opposed to resources, was chosen by Ziegler & Baker because the they can both take on negative values, is the product of some activity and can grow). These capitals can be divided into those that are exogenous resources (school, teachers, classmates, educational system, sports facilities etc,) and provide people and systems so that the endogenous resources (subject exclusively to the subsystem of ‘person’) (Ziegler & Baker, 2013) .
Hypthesis 2. The MCF Construct’s success in helping to make it possible for many of those in its care to achieve awards can be explained using the Actiotope Model. The actiotope approach is actions and the possibilities for acting possessed by individuals. These must be recognized as a result of three adaptations:
- A biological assimilation that was mainly carried by the human species and is conceptually locatable in biotopes;
- A social assimilation that is mainly carried by social associations, which we can conceptually locate in sociotopes; and
- An individual assimilation that is carried by individuals, which we can conceptually locate in actiotopes (Ziegler & Baker, 2013).
which verifies that intentional development through various phases, levels when acted on intentionally helps to explain the success of award winners within the MCF construct.
Hypothesis 3. The award winners within the MCF construct have effectively interacted with the material, social and informational environment provided by the Mully Children’s Family Organization, which will positively correlate with winning awards.
The goals of this study are the following:
The MCF organization, hereafter referred to the “MCF Construct”, is a complex independent indigenous government recognized organization with not only a high success rate of rehabilitation of marginalized children and youth, but also many award winners. The following will be looked at:
a) The organization and policies of the MCF construct
b) The MCF construct as it relates to Actiotope Model, especially as it relates to 1. Educational Capital and 2. Learning Capital within the microsystems, mesossystems and the exosystem in which the MCF Construct has helped to create and/or impact.
1.2.2. To define and understand individual success factors within award winners from MCF. Within the population of the MCF construct the factors that led to those that won awards are to be found and analyzed.
1.2.3. To understand the impact of important individuals /people in shadows on the award winners.
When it is understood how the MCF construct effectively not only rehabilitates, but also assists former highly vulnerable children to achieve awards this knowledge can not only be beneficial for other Kenyan institutions caring for highly vulnerable children, but also for the estimated 2,000,000 children that live in institutions globally (UNICEF, 2009). Also understanding those factors which bring success to the MCF construct, in turn rescue lost talent. Sikora and Saha define lost talent as occurring when students in the top 50% of academic achievement lower their educational or occupational expectations or fail to achieve their educational plans (Sikora & Saha, 2011). Although this definition only covers those who had an initial chance to develop academically, the question bares to be asked, how much talent, achievement and excellence could be discovered among not only the those 2,000,000 children institutionalized globally, but also among the 428,127,385 children (0-14 years old) who live in extreme poverty (less than $1,25 per day) or the 50,477,548 children who live in ultra poverty (less than $0.50 per day) globally (USAID, 2009)? Effective measures for large indigenous organizations, such as developed and implemented by the Mully Children’s Family, if duplicable may have immense impact on the uncovering and developing of talent, individuals achieving success and receiving awards among those considered most vulnerable.
If one can understand how endogenous (internal) and exogenous (external) resources are used and managed within the organization of Mully Children’s Family to produce excellence the construct of MCF could be studied closer be applied in other contexts, where applicable, even beyond the context of children with marginalized and traumatized backgrounds, to help potential award winners win more awards, and just as importantly to assist more learners to preceded through various levels of learning more effectively.
To understand the success factors of award winners of Kenyan children and young adults from marginalized and impoverished backgrounds from Mully Children’s Family the study attempts to answer the following questions:
1.4.1. What defines the MCF construct?
1.4.2. What role does the MCF Construct play in the development of excellence in Kenyan children with marginalized backgrounds, who have become beneficiaries of Mully Children’s Family, as it relates to winning awards?
1.4.3. Can the Actiotope Model (Ziegler & Baker 2013) be applied effectively within the MCF Construct as it relates to 1. Education Capital and 2. Learning Capital and the interaction of the individual to explain the development of excellence of individuals in the MCF construct?
1.4.4. What are the individual success factors of the award winners from the MCF construct?
1.4.5. What influence and impact did important individuals / people in the shadows (teachers, mentors, coaches, trainers, significant other role models etc.) have on the development of the award winners from MCF?
The study is organized in seven chapters. The first chapter includes the purpose, goals and hypothesis, the significance of the study and the research questions.
In Chapter 2 literature and research that explores theories and studies of giftedness as well as impacts of the environments of marginalized and impoverished children, which are similar to the original environment of the subjects, will be explored. Studies on long term effects on children from impoverishment and traumatized backgrounds will also be looked at. Studies of findings of potential of excellence in marginalized youth will also be explored. Success and rehabilitation of former marginalized children will be explored. The influence and importance of various performance and system theories will be explored. The Actiotope Model (Ziegler, Vialle, Wimmer, 2013; Ziegler & Baker, 2013) which includes Educational and Learning Capitals will be reviewed. What Educational and Learning Capitals can be found among the marginalized in Kenya will also be explored in existing literature.
Chapter three presents the mixed-methodology, which was used in the study. The following research methods were used in each of the 6 parts: Part 1. MCF Construct - Qualitative methods; Part 2: Questionnaire Beneficiaries - quantitative methods; Part 3: Interviews Beneficiaries - Qualitative methods; Part 4: Interviews Staff - qualitative methods; Part 5: Questionnaire People in the shadows - quantitative methods and Part 6: Interviews Community members - qualitative methods.
The setting and participants are also defined as well as the instrumentation.
Chapter 4 briefly explains the ethics involved in the research.
The internal and external validity of the findings are discussed in Chapter 5.
Chapter 6 discusses the findings of each of the 6 parts of the study, especially in relation to the Actiotope Model, educational and learning capitals, and the interplay of the success factors of the MCF construct and the individuals who have achieved awards. In Chapter 7 the conclusions regarding the MCF Construct as well as the success factors of the individuals who have received awards are discussed. Chapter 8 discusses some final thoughts and suggested areas of further study.
Already in 2003, Don Ambrose did research which showed both the need for ethical awareness and the impact of various barriers that impede long range talent development. The study shows various factors that hinder the development of talents among the deprived (Ambrose, 2003). Although there are numerous programs being developed in parts of the world in which disadvantaged with talent and potential are supported with various excellent programs which help disadvantaged tap into their potential and develop it, these are focused on non-institutionalized children (McCluskey et al., 2012).
In Kenya, the issue of street children has been growing at a steady rate. In 1975 there were 115 street children recorded in Kenya, in 1990 the number increase to 17,000 and to over 150,000 by 1997. There are large numbers recorded in Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi, Kilifi, Kitali and Nakuru; the most can be found in Nairobi (Shorter and Onyancha, 1999). Street children in Kenya are not only disadvantaged but also marginalized, or disfavored (Lusk, 1989). They have poor chances of a decent future, condemned to live by deceit, stealing, prostitution or violence (Lusk, 1989; Young, 1995; Bennani, 1996). As stated by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, there are many multiple characteristics that restrain the opportunities available to such children, some are homeless, many who do attend school are forced to leave and relapse into illiteracy. While some may overcome one or two such disadvantages, the convergence of such effects can create a nearly absolute barrier to personal success in education or economic life (Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, 1999). The MCF organization has children and former beneficiaries from each of the centers mentioned above.
Children and youth, regardless of being institutionalized or not, have untapped potential inherent in being children. Street children, who represent a large proportion of marginalized children, have their own potential and personal gifts, which if developed add to both the value and stock of human capital (Munyakho, 1992). Not investing in street children and other marginalized groups in Kenyan society, not only constitute a major loss of human capital, but will also very likely become a major social destabilization factor and a definite cause of political instability (ANPPCAN, 1995). When children and youth are impoverished, marginalized, and institutionalized (put in group homes, orphanages etc.), this often equates to not having had a significant emotional attachment to a primary caregiver, which forms the basis of self work and empathy for others (Bowlby, 1969; Egeland, Bosquet and Chung, 2002; Grossman and Waters, 2006). The absence of this experience puts the child at a great disadvantage, with a higher probability of low self esteem, antisocial behavior, delinquency etc. (Andersson, 2005; Browne and Herbert, 1997: Fisher et al., 1997). Hence, research over the last decade has confirmed earlier findings that institutional care in early life predisposes children to intellectual, behavioral and social problems later in life (Browne et al, 2006; Browne, 2009). It would therefore seem that achieving excellence is a milestone often unattainable for children from these backgrounds in institutions.
Mully Children’s Family, (MCF) a non-governmental indigenous organization in Kenya, has been able to provide an opportunity for many to not only succeed but to achieve excellence. Although Mully Children’s Family would not be defined as a “Family” according to most definitions, (a group of people related to each other), even for East African cultures, where the family can sometimes be extended to the whole sub-tribe, or even the whole tribe in some settings as Smith (2009) notes in his study on extended families in East Africa, the founder has decided to include all who enter the home representing over 47 tribes as part of the Mully Family; they have been called the largest family in the world, (Boge, 2005) and it is this “family” that has developed a system and atmosphere that helps many disadvantaged abandoned and orphaned children and youth achieve excellence. The target groups that enter the Mully Children’s Family are children from the following groups: street children, orphaned children, abandoned children, abused children (physical or sexual), children from juvenile remand homes and government rehabilitation centers, child laborers, children with physical disabilities, destitute children , child mothers ex-commercial sex workers, HIV/AIDS infected and affected children.
The daunting tasks, to not only rehabilitate these children, but to help those committed, to achieve their best, which includes a strong educational background and hard work. Some of those achieve excellence and receive awards which is inspired and led by a vision cast by the founder himself, as he mentions in an article posted on the MCF website (June 2015).
It is a widely acknowledged that education is the key to success in life. It is through education that people get to pursue their career of choice so that they impact the lives of others; as well as earning income.
At the Mully Children’s Family (MCF), we are focused on rehabilitating street children and other vulnerable groups in the society…. We also teach our children important virtues such as love, honesty, humility, righteousness, perseverance, hard work, among other things. Most importantly, we endeavor to show them love.
… we endeavor to make them feel part of a loving family where people care for each other. This is aimed at making them to lead lives that conform to the accepted norms in the society. Besides all these forms of rehabilitation, we give formal education the greatest priority.
…After high school, those who pass to join higher institutions of learning are sponsored to proceed on. For the last 26 years, we have been able to produce medical doctors, teachers, media professionals, accountants, managers, ministers of the gospel, etc.
Those who do not get the required grades for Diploma and Degree training are taken to vocational school where we equip them with skills such as tailoring, cookery, hair-dressing, carpentry, masonry, among other things. This enables them to still use their skills to earn a living. The MCF children, through our guidance, have accepted to take life as it comes and are only focused on creating a better future for themselves…. We tell them that when you focus on the past, you fail to notice the good things that the future is holding out for you.
It is with this vision and commitment that MCF has been able to rehabilitate thousands of children, but also for many to achieve excellence, and many to become entrepreneurs and valued leaders in society. The specific factors that lead these beneficiaries of MCF to develop into “excellence achievers” will be explored in this study.
For the purpose of the study excellence is defined as someone receiving a regional, national or international award (especially, but not only outside of the organization of MCF). The awards are based on performance, exam results or competition results both academic and non-academic.
The role of the individual and their decision making process, their motivation, their perceived potential and role of the environment they developed in will be explored and defined.
Another focus of study is the environment in which these beneficiaries have grown up in since being rescued from their former traumatic surroundings and which impact the “new” (Mully Children’s Family) environment (physical and emotional) has played in their development.
Studies on the environment in which street children and abandoned children grow up have been performed in Kenya and have found that although this cannot be considered a homogeneous group, the reasons children leave home are: family conflict, being unloved, alcoholism, drug abuse, physical or sexual abuse from a relative, the need to earn money, and the desire for independence. These factors singly or in combination push otherwise intelligent and functioning children into the streets. Once on the streets that environment improved either marginally or even worsens (Ayuku, et al 2003).
In contrast to the environment described above, MCF seems to have recognized that those entering the MCF organization not only need basic needs covered, but need a whole new social network. In the study by Ayuku et al. on the complex networks of street children in Kenya the important role of this network is explained (2003). It seems that not only does MCF attempt to supply an environment for all the beneficiaries to improve their situation, but have also understand the vital role of social networks, especially within the Kenyan context. Replacing a network that takes the positive role of a functioning healthy family would seem nearly impossible.
Parental support is of utmost importance in developing gifted children, (Colangelo & Dettmann, 1983) and was also found to be a determining factor in the success of musicians (Davidsoon, Sloboda and Howe’s, 1995). This would seem to suggest that the best chances to achieve success and especially awards would be to be part of a functioning family and if this does not exist to be adopted into a functioning family.
Although there are studies (based on the Romanian experience) that show that when institutionalized children are adopted into new families, they perform much better at school, and have substantially better IQ scores than their siblings who stayed in institutions. However, when compared to their current non-adopted peers, adopted children showed similar IQ scores but their school performance and language abilities lagged somewhat behind (van Ijzendoorn, M., Juffer, F., 2005).
The above seems to suggest that the family itself alone is not the determining factor. At MCF the children are not adopted into a small family (but one of 2500 children), are out of their marginalized systems and networks, are joined with others from similar marginalized backgrounds and many are still able to achieve success and win awards. This begs the question what kind of system has been developed to help MCF create an environment in which awards are very achievable not only for individuals and teams but for average school grades regionally and nationally?
To help understand systems and analyze the MCF system, or construct, various performance and system theories will be explored. However, the focus will be on the Actiotope Model (Ziegler & Baker 2013).
The ability to perform has always played an important role in society to be successful. This is not only important for an individual to survive but also in each level of society. According to Bronfenbrenner (1979) an individual can create his financial independence on a micro level, when this is practiced in a meritocratic society, however there are many more factors involved than only performing, e.g. marketing of one’s own ability (Hartmann 2010) or dealing with the disadvantages of being in a minority (Borland 2005; Gagne 2011a). If however an individual can make one’s ability advantageous for himself then the exosystem and the mesosystem of the individual will profit, and if the society or country in which the individual is in combines efforts to effectively compete in the international arena benefits for the society and country as a whole will be observable.
One of the main goals of MCF is to change Kenya (and Africa) one child at a time. This can only be achieved when each child is given the best opportunities and possibilities to develop; this is then partnered with a belief that he/she in fact can change the society he is in (Pajares & Schunk, 2001).
However sometimes there are societies in which stability is not a constant; in Kenya, like any country, there are a number of people growing up in unstable situations. According to the the 2009 UNICEF statistics, about 46% of Kenyans live under the poverty line, which equates to about 17.6 million people, of which more the 60%, are children. The poverty line according to the CIA in Kenya is $1.25 US per day. Beyond this approximately 2.6 million children are either orphaned or abandoned, of those 1 million are orphaned due to AIDS. Often children are being raised by their grandmothers or left to fend for themselves.
Both the largest slum and the largest refugee camp of the world are found in Kenya. There is a rapid urbanization developing in Kenya, and as Mutisya states in his report, on understanding the dynamics of slums in Nairobi, “More than 34% of Kenya’s total population lives in urban areas and of this, more than 71% is confined in informal settlements” (i.e.slums) (Mutisya, 2011). There are about 2.5 million Kenyans living in slums in Nairobi alone, of which the Kibera Slum houses about 1 million. According to UNICEF from 1990-2012 there has been an increase of those living under the poverty line of 0.4%, meaning that as wealth increases in Kenya, poverty is increasing at an almost same rate. According to the UNCHR there are over 600000 refugees in Kenya (2014). This means that Kenya is dealing with issues that can be defined as shock issues. To exacerbate the situation is that Kenya is in a state to be defined as Economic Shock in regular intervals, and possibly on a semi constant state. Economic Shock is when unexpected, unpredictable events happen, which result in drastic economic changes. Changes can be either positive or negative, and are often caused by natural disasters (Eichengreen & O’rourke, 2009).
Dr Seringe Kandji, an agro-ecologist at the World Agroforestry Centre, (Kenya) recalls three major food crisis since 1997 because of drought. There were four severe droughts: January 1997: a severe drought threatened the livelihoods of 2 million people; December 2000: 4 million people were in need of food aid after Kenya was hit by its worst drought in 37 years; 2004: the long rains (March-June) failed and the subsequent crop failure left more than 2.3 million people in need of assistance; December 2005: the drought affected 2.5 million in northern Kenya. Dr Kanji goes on to say that poverty and food insecurity has escalated as a result of recurrent droughts. This has increased a number of social problems, (dismantling of family ties, child abandonment and school - drop-out especially for girls), which have far reaching implications for the country’s development (Kandji, 2006).
These crises do not include various political crises within Kenya and neighboring countries which have brought many refugees across Kenyan borders, both legally and illegally. According to the Kenya national Bureau of Statistics as found in “Trading Economics” the inflation rate from 2005 to July 2015 averaged at 10.79%, the all time high being reached in May of 2008 at 31.5%.
Although there is a vibrant emerging middle class in Kenya, the growth of the impoverished and working poor seems to be growing at the same rate. According to Unicef, from 1990 -2012 there has been an increase of 0.4% of those under the poverty line (whether working or unemployed). The working poor as defined by the ability to work, but not have enough money to care for the basic needs for a family.
The Kenyan government has made education free for all children since 2002. This has been helping to change the society, giving the hope that after some good education the standard of living will raise. However, increased class size has meant that the quality of education has gone down and according to the Kenya Education Fund, most children will not go on to high school due to prohibitively high fees. Although more and more Kenyans are attending post secondary education, almost 16 % of university graduates in Kenya find themselves unemployed after a good education. According to Munyardaradzi Makoni, “estimates are that it takes a university graduate five years to get a job in Kenya” (Makoni, 2013) .
Those extremely gifted in Kenya, however have a good chance of being employed and being supported to get a good future through good employment in Kenya (Republic of Kenya, 2006.; World Bank, 2000). This would seem to put young, poor, disadvantaged Kenyans in a very complex situation. To get out of poverty they know they need education and the best chance to get out of the poverty cycle is to get the very best schooling (Mutula, 2002). However, this goal can only be focused on when the basic needs of survival and shelter can be met (Bradshaw, Buchmann, Mbatia, 1994).
If the basic needs are met then one can focus on education, however, for many even the basic needs of food and shelter are not covered and often there is little family support, with many becoming ill because of illnesses such as HIV/AIDS (over 2.6 million alone orphaned Kenyan children in 2012) (UNICEF, 2012).
Furthermore, if one grows up in a rural area, this region has to be left in order to receive further training and higher education, adding costs that a poor family cannot cover even if they could get scholarships to cover tuitions. These complexities, confirm Kenya’s state of shock (at least for those not in the emerging middle class). When a society is under shock and efforts are combined as a societal goal, there will be members of that society to rise up to the challenge to solve that society’s problems from within. An example of this is the historical example of the “Sputnik-Shock” in 1957, when the USA started a program to identify potentially gifted and talented pupils and support their development. The goals for different countries to identify and support talented and gifted individuals are becoming more and more important in the international and global economy. Competent and specialized professionals are needed to solve the difficult and challenging issues facing each country individually and collectively. These are needed from all specialization areas to be able to not only analyze what is known in new ways but also discover new knowledge in looking at problems from different perspectives (Renzulli, 2005).
Beyond the societal perspective there is also an important psychological - pedagogical goal that should be looked at (Mönks & Katzko, 2005; Renzulli, 2005). It is the responsibility of each society to offer an overall balanced development. This includes optimizing the environment so that the person can develop his/her potential to the optimum. While, for a number of decades, this has been widely accepted within the school context for children with deficiencies (at least in the context of the developed countries), the need for tailor-made programs for children with special gifting is being noted (Olbertz, 2007; Rau 2007). Although MCF does not offer any tailor made programs for special gifting, they have been able to develop a tailor-made program for the impoverished and traumatized for rehabilitation with outstanding results including numerous awards.
Although it is the responsibility of each society to offer an overall balanced development it is rarely achievable (especially in contexts such as Kenya, where the poverty and related issues seem insurmountable with 43.4% of the population earning less than $1,25 on a daily basis) (indexmundi, 2014); what has been achieved in the case of MCF within the context of rescuing impoverished and traumatized children and youth and provide them an opportunity to not only become active members but also contributors to society, as well as for some to become excellent award winning achievers. The environment and support program of MCF that continually makes this possible must be looked at closely.
Support program initiatives ideally follow both goals; the highest possible performance and individual development. The path to an excellent performance level is long and difficult (Ericson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer, 1993). If this path does not coincide with the personal goals of the individual the support of this path will not be successful. The support of the gaining of expertise can only be realized if the individual has decided to take this path and when this path provides a life perspective for the individual (which often cannot be decided by the individual in the early developmental years). According to research, the characteristics of child care that have positive effects on development on children must have adult-child interaction that is responsive, affectionate and readily available, including people who are committed to the children, include safe and sanitary facilities, supervision that maintains consistency and stability and the care must include developmentally rich educational content (Melhuish, 2004). How then can success be achieved if one comes from situations where the above has not taken place?
As Bronfenbrenner noted the human development is a complex interplay of Microsystems combined to create Mesosystems influenced, impacted and created in part by Exosystems. A Microsystem is the complex of relations between the person and the environment in the immediate setting containing that person (e.g. home, school, workplace etc,). A Mesosystems includes the interrelationships among major settings containing the person at a particular point in his or her life, which comprises a system of Microsystems. An Exosystems is an extension of the Mesosystems which embraces other specific social structures, both formal and informal, that do not themselves contain the developing person but impinge upon or encompass the immediate setting in which that person is found and thereby influence, delimit, or even determine what goes on there (e.g. work, neighborhood, mass media, government agencies, informal social networks) (Bronfenbrenner, 1977).
This would suggest that to have successful individuals one needs conducive Microsystems, Mesosystems and Exosystems, or at least much guidance to understand and succeed within the Exosystems one finds him or herself in.
Within the MCF context, it seems the initial focus is not on individual goals, but rather on a system that provides the basic needs and an environment in which each child has a chance to succeed. To meet the basic needs MCF operates residential and welfare homes that offer care and protection to children and youth in need of special care and protection. The homes provide holistic care including feeding, accommodation, clothing, medical care, psycho-social support and all necessary parental attention to facilitate children’s access to requirements their school and college educations and promotion of talents. The homes receive rescued children, with the goal to rehabilitate and to reintegrate them back to society as independent and empowered young adults. The rescued children undergo a series of care and rehabilitation services aimed at behavior transformation within residential settings and are accommodated in dormitories, hostels and houses in respect to age and sex. Resident child-welfare staff including house parents, pastors, medical officers, counselors, social workers, security staff, teachers, and section Heads of department work together to oversee child welfare services (mullychildrensfamily.org, 2016).
The specific objectives that guide the program development of MCF are the following:
1. To provide an alternative home for secure residence and stabilizing family love alongside spiritual nourishment, counseling, guidance and Christian teaching.
2. To establish and maintain a comprehensive feeding and medical care programs to provide the children with the physiological needs as a prerequisite to their rehabilitation.
3. To provide basic and advanced literacy skills in conformity with the Ministry of Education’s 8-4-4 system of education or any other approved system by the Ministry.
4. To offer vocational skills training in various trades to complement formal education and to equip the beneficiaries with lucrative skills for resource exploitation and future self reliance.
5. To rehabilitate the children morally through character behavior transformation with the view of reuniting them with their respective families and those who have no parents to enable them articulate themselves comfortably within the society and the economy.
6. To integrate and mainstream environmental conservation and HIV/AIDS programs into all the internal and external activities of the Mully Children’s Family.
7. To create a humble and acceptable culture among the rescued children through guidance and counseling, promotion of sporting activities for effective socialization to the general public as well as sustenance of Christian outreach programs through gospel music, poetry, drama and testimonies.
8. To promote community education and empowerment in community health, subsistence agriculture and income generation to provide safety nets for children and improve best practices in child protection. (Mullychildrensfamily.org, 2016)
One of the keys to the rehabilitation within the MCF construct is the education program. MCF believes that the MCF education programme is the key rehabilitative program used by MCF in rehabilitating, providing perspective for the future and nurturing talents. The program covers from kindergarten to college education of beneficiaries. It is organized to meet the educational needs of very young children, teenagers and young adults of varying degree of cognitive perception, potential and abilities. The success of the MCF educational program is illustrated with the success of the first group of graduates who wrote the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education in 2000 and were position One in Machakos County. The first group all went ahead to join prestigious colleges and Universities. MCF own run schools have continued to offer competitive opportunities in which beneficiaries are able to explore their potential and nurture their talents. All children rescued by MCF access education free of charge in all MCF Schools. MCF seeks to sustain providing scholastic materials, teachers and all physical infrastructures to support the programs (mullychildrensfamily.org, 2016).
The MCF education program comprises the following sub-sections namely;
1. Five Kindergartens managed by MCF in MCF Ndalani, MCF Yatta, MCF Vipingo, MCF Lodwar and MCF Kipsongo
2. Three Primary Schools managed by MCF in MCF Ndalani, MCF Vipingo and MCF Lodwar
3. Four Secondary Schools managed by MCF in MCF Ndalani, MCF Yatta, Dr Charles Mulli Secondary School and MCF Vipingo
4. Two Tertiary Education centres comprising of MCF Yatta Vocational Training Centre and Mully International College- Yatta Campus
5. Academic Sponsorship & Scholarship for Form 4 graduates from MCF Schools pursuing higher education in various colleges and universities both in Kenya and foreign universities.
Although the highest possible performance is strongly encouraged in all beneficiaries, (beneficiary is the term used for all those children, teenagers and young adults who benefit from the MCF programs) and all must participate in various extracurricular activities, there are only special programs for those in competitions in the weeks before competitions take place. How success and awards are achieved within such brief special programs will also be looked at.
MCF has however, recognized that talent development is important for all the beneficiaries and has developed programs for all those at MCF. This is to complement the routine formal education program. As an organization that has children from diverse ethnic backgrounds and traditions they not only get training in traditional dances, songs/ music and poems but get the opportunity to join acrobats, karate, theatre arts, arts and design, ball games, athletics and dramatized presentations that nurture acceptable values in society; furthermore there are clubs for various sciences, environment, debating, children’s advocacy club etc..
Some of the routine activities include;
1. Annual facilitation of talent development through established children’s clubs and competitive sporting including ball games, music and dance.
2. Annually facilitate children participation in County and National Children’s Assemblies.
3. MCF facilitates child rights and responsibilities awareness forums for children under MCF projects. Topical areas covered include: rights of children; responsible citizenry, sexuality and protection against abuse; and children and youth roles in environmental transformation etc
Promotion of children participation in the various sporting and cultural activities especially arts and music is enhancing MCF efforts in child care, rehabilitation and transformation in the following areas;
1. Building self esteem and confidence among the destitute children under rehabilitation.
2. Participation in creative arts including dance and music performances serves as therapy for children who have come from difficult and abusive backgrounds.
3. Complementing formal education and general rehabilitation as co-curricular activities for physical and emotional health.
4. Enabling targeted children to discover their career potentials in specific talents and opportunities to strengthen the same for future livelihood.
5. Promotion of child participation in community education through arts and presentations on child rights, responsibilities and child protection at national and international forums (Mullychildrensfamily.org, 2016).
Although in the MCF documents and policies there are no specific programs for the award winners, it is through the above objectives that guide the MCF programs that beneficiaries have the chance to develop their talents and find the support needed to able to succeed and get awards in various fields. How award winners are specifically supported at MCF, as well as what factors in the program and within in their own decision making processes play a role will be explored in this study.
The need for support programs is widely recognized (Köppel & Plünnecke, 2008). When high achievers and performers are supported they have a profound impact on the society they live in. For example Rindermann, Sailer and Thompson show that the top five percent of the best performers provide a much higher percentage of the societal well being (measured by Nobel prizes, GDP, political involvement etc.) as the middle field or the lowest five percent. However, it is still unclear who should become beneficiaries of such support programs, how such high potentials are recognized, which competencies and knowledge should be passed on and in which context should this be done and what the economical costs for such support would be (Rindermann, Sailer and Thompson, 2009).
In other words it seems that systems should be put in place in which the highest numbers of participants possible have a chance to become high achievers. On a larger scale this could then impact the societal and country’s development in such a way that the advancements in society would be best provided for.
It is the complex system that provides the foundation for MCF beneficiaries well being, what however, is it that allows a number of the beneficiaries within this system, or construct, to become award winners?
Often street children have either no goals or very low goals related to careers, athletic competition and studying; instead they have vague hopes of success and attainment of material possessions (Raffaelli & Koller, 2005). In contrast general populations of adolescents’ future goals and expectations focus on education, work and family (Poole & Cooney, 1987; Nurmi, 1989; Greene, 1990). MCF beneficiaries, who are all formally street children or from marginalized groups are encouraged and taught to dream again and to set professional goals from a very young age. The role of visioning and dreaming in the development of excellence is pivotal in changing their destiny. According to Andrea Holyfield in her study with her own clients, most of whom are women of color in the USA, visioning assists in reaching personal and professional goals and in overcoming obstacles to success (Holyfield, 2012).
One of the goals of MCF is to create an environment in which beneficiaries are able to not only get food, shelter, emotional care, trauma counseling, but also move beyond all of that to discover and develop their own skills and talents. This is summarized by the statement found on the homepage,
MCF seeks out, rescues and rehabilitates street children for behavior formation and transformation and provides a family environment where they can reform and get the necessary skills in order to be independent and valuable contributors to the communities and largely the country’s economic development.
It has been found that not only personal goals, but also the goals of parents on adolescents serve as predictors of students’ final course grades (Zimmerman, Bandura & Martinez, 1992). Other research reveal that unattainable goal setting, or goal setting that is completely dependent on the conditions outside of oneself often lead to depression even among youth and adolescents (Street, 2002; Street; H. et al.,2004). Knowing that the MCF beneficiaries come from backgrounds where there are no parents to help set goals and that unattainable goals often set by street children lead to depression, how is it possible that the award winners are able to not only set goals, but also achieve them? What role do they play within the MCF Construct?
In order to be able to be independent and be valuable contributors to the communities, it is vital to ignite the possible goals of each individual to be able to dream and set goals, which at first would seem completely unachievable, however with time and small levels of success make the goals seem more achievable. One factor in making the goals achievable is with the intensive use of role models. According to numerous studies, individual decisions to act in certain ways, and especially regarding which profession should be chosen or to engage in entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs claim that their business start-up decision and the development of their business were influenced by others. These ‘others’ may range from famous people only known through the media to former colleagues, teachers or family members. Such persons serve as role models. A role model is a common reference to individuals who set examples to be emulated by others and who may stimulate or inspire other individuals to make certain (career) decisions and achieve certain goals (Shapiro et al., 1978; Basow and Howe, 1980; Wright et al., 1997; Bosma et al., 2004).
Although, it is very difficult to show the exact impact of a role model in the lives of the children and youth, one assumes a great impact. As Gibson found in his study, individuals pay attention to role models to create a viable self-concept; in middle stages, they seek to refine their self-concept in the early stages and in late stages, they seek to enhance and affirm their self-concept (Gibson, 2003). Youth setting goals, especially when they are connected with the belief that adults, especially teachers and coaches have similar goals for them have higher achievement of goals then when adults (teachers and coaches) do not share the same belief in attainment of those goals (Xiang, 1998). Although the previous was based on non-marginalized youth and children, the assumption could be made that it is just as important for marginalized children. What the exact role in the case of participants in the study of mentors is will be extracted from the interviews. One of the greatest role models that the impoverished beneficiaries have is the founder of Mully Children’s Family, Dr. Charles Mulli. A brief excursion into the impact of having a living role model will be looked at as well.
Theorists have argued that people use upward comparisons to those more successful to serve self- enhancement goals (Taylor & Lobel, 1989; Wills, 1981; Wood, 1989) and that the more successful others direct for what one can strive and can motivate to adopt similar behaviors to attain similar success in the future (Lockwood & Kunda, 1997). These role models help form the behavioral intentions of those looking up and considerable evidence suggests that the specific behavioral intentions are predictors of actual planned behaviors (Ajzen, 1991, 1996; Ajzen & Madden, 1986).
This would suggest that having successful role models could play a large role in the success of individuals; this combined with Xiang’s findings (1998) that the belief of important adult others, (such as teachers, coaches, mentors or is in the case of MCF a combination of various staff), in the ability and goals of the beneficiary would have a great impact on their success and achievement.
However, it is not only the goals and support of the important others that impact the success and achievement of individuals, but a complex interaction between the individual and the various environments the individual finds himself in. There are a number of models that help to understand the above mentioned interaction.
As Gagne states in his model (differentiated Model of Giftedness and talent) three moderators are conceptualized; 1. Intrapersonal catalysts, 2. Environmental catalysts, 3. Coincidences influences. As shown in figure 1 (Gagne 2011, p11) part of the environment is usually firstly the parents and family (familial). In the case of the beneficiaries in this study the environment in which they live as members of MCF does not include parents and often not the biological siblings, however each of the beneficiaries calls Dr Mulli and his wife Esther, Daddy and Mommy . In Sherer et al.’s study the results indicated that presence of a parent entrepreneurial role model was associated with increased education and training aspirations, task self-efficacy, and expectancy for an entrepreneurial career (Sherer et al., 1989). Although all MCF beneficiaries are abandoned or orphaned and impoverished with no surviving role models as mentioned above they soon get new “family members” and role models. MCF makes a point of helping the individuals know that they have a new family and that the other children and youth are their “brothers and sisters”. The new role of mentors outside the traditional biological family becomes extremely vital in the development of the individual. How these are chosen for the organization is a key factor, this will be explored in the study.
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Figure 1 Gagne's Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT 2.0;2008)
Care in the next aspect of Gagne’s model, EM, Environmental Milieu, is barely adequate from where they come from, however MCF provides an environment in which the children and youth can focus on learning and no longer need to be worried about the basic needs.
Parts of the environment that they have are shelter, food, medical care and a hygienic environment, which the beneficiaries did not have before joining MCF.
The children and youth are provided with basics but are trained to focus on all that they have and to make the most out of it. As stated on the MCF website, MCF seeks out, rescues and rehabilitates street children for behavior formation and transformation and provides a family environment where they can reform and get the necessary skills in order to be independent and valuable contributors to the communities and largely the country’s economic development (Mullychildrensfamily.org, 2013).
They are sometimes put in specific situations and put in contact with various successful people to be able to understand what is needed to achieve specific goals.
Since the organization is continually growing each of the beneficiaries is involved in the growth. Soon they are no longer only beneficiaries but also benefactors in that they join in the work projects and become role models themselves, as “big sisters and brothers”. What this looks like and what impact this method has on the development will be explored. This is carried through in both the physical and emotional areas, (i.e. the beneficiaries who have been at MCF longer, soon become coaches and counselors for the new arrivals, or even for their peers when they receive news of tragic news from their former homes and extended families).
The EP (provisions) is not as focused in this context as it often is in many other contexts, but needs to be looked at closely. Any enrichment curriculum is necessary to enable excellence to develop. The enrichment at MCF is focused once the individual has discovered his or her own most important.
For many of the beneficiaries the fact that they are able to attend school, be involved in sports, drama, do tree planting, be active in the agricultural department and be able to be involved in food handouts is an enrichment program that is beyond what they ever imagined.
In order to be able to understand the complete scope of MCF and the success of the program one must also research the aim of achieving the understanding of the social interdependency of each individual within the larger construct.
Related to this it is important to have a good understanding of the environment in general of MCF and specifically of the individual actiotopes that are being researched within the MCF Construct. The Actiotope Model of Giftedness says that: an actiotope includes an individual and the material, social and informational environment with which that individual actively interacts (Ziegler, Vialle & Wimmer, 2013).
Regardless of which model is used, excellence as it relates to performance is reduced to three concepts: 1. An existing potential which 2. Goes through a transforming process and 3. Changes into a specific performance (Harder, 2012). Although there is disagreement between the weight of nature vs. nurture in the research and the definition of where the existing potential comes from the purpose and focus of this research is to focus on what the transforming processes that help as well what steps took place to ensure that the transformation took place, and especially if specific transformation can be planned especially as it relates to traumatized and marginalized children and youth.
However, it seems to be evident that for excellence to arise there must be an environment in which it can evolve and develop. In order to develop excellence in any domain there are numerous interactions with dynamic, complex environments which help in forming excellent talents.
To illustrate this with the example used by Ziegler (2013): We understand why, as members of our own cultural community, a diver plunges into the pool after a forward dolphin spin with one-and-a- half twist. The very same maneuver would be incomprehensible if the same diver did it from the balcony of their home. Therefore, the person involved and the context of their action must always be considered. For this reason also, the question ‘Smart people or smart contexts?’ posed by Barab and Plucker (2002) regarding the main determinants of excellence development, cannot really be determined. Since the person and environment form one system, an actiotope ‘smartness’ can only be ascribed to the system as a whole: An effective action repertoire acquired over a long period of adaptation is functional only in the particular (performance) context of a domain (Ziegler, Vialle & Wimmer, 2013).
When excellence occurs especially to a higher degree in an “actiotope” than another or many others, one should try to define and determine what exactly makes up the actiotope of the excellent producing environment. For the purpose of the study the contextualist perspective will be used.
The contextualist perspective
As previously mentioned, traditionally, excellence research has focused exclusively on the individual. The desire was to know whether, and how, a certain person could achieve excellence. However, one could also ask from a contextualist perspective:
“How high is the probability that in the next 30 years a woman from China will win the Nobel Prize for physics? How high is the probability that a ski jumper from Saudi Arabia would win a medal in the Winter Olympic Games of 2014 in Sotschi? How high is the probability that in the PISA results of 2018 the average performance in mathematics in the 97th percentile of British pupils will lie above the average performance of the 97th percentile of French pupils?” (Ziegler, & Baker, 2013, p 5).
These questions are outside of the individualist perspective and reveal the need to be explored. The chance of excellence is obviously not only relative to the individual, but also relative to an individual’s (or group of individuals’) position within a system. For the individual to achieve excellence there must be a complementary relationship between the individualist and contextualist perspectives. If looked at as a dynamic-interactive perspective on the individual and the environment equally, (Zielger & Baker, 2013) one can better come to an understanding of what helps in creating the probability of the emergence of excellence.
The individualist approach to the development of excellence has its limitation. There are some examples highlighting the fruitfulness of a contextualist perspective. However, research in the development of excellence has, to date, not led to any robust empirical evidence on the level of usual methodological standards of empirical research. Instead, the rather anecdotal findings concern the learning process, the social as well as cultural surroundings, and the role of resources. This led to the study of talent development as an adaptation within a context (Ziegler & Baker, 2013).
According to most researchers in the field, excellence is the end result of an enormous learning process, which usually takes at least ten years (Ericsson, Charness, Feltovich & Hoffman, 2006). During this time an individual spends a minimum of 10 000 active, concentrated hours of learning. In the last few years a number of studies across a number of domains have provided a dependable picture of excellence development.
The learning activities are not isolated, randomly begun episodes, but rather targeted behaviors designed to improve the current state of learning. They can be described as a coordinated movement through carefully arranged learning sociotopes that are modified with each increasing competence level. Each new learning step requires the creation of a new learning situation precisely adapted to the current state of competence. When, for example, a talented pianist has mastered an etude, the piano teacher will then select the next etude that should reflect the new, higher competence level and offer a higher learning opportunity (Ziegler, Vialle & Wimmer, 2013) .
Excellence development should therefore offer an organized and well planned learning process of systematically arranged and sequenced learning environments conceptually sequenced as adaptations. The learning activities are not isolated, randomly begun episodes, but rather targeted behaviors designed to improve the current state of the learner (Ziegler, Vialle & Wimmer, 2013).
During the development of excellence, individuals find themselves in a continuous process of targeted (self-)modification, the most visible result of which is an increasingly functional action repertoire in some domain. Such adaptations to a domain are, however, not autocatalytic (i.e., processes proceeding by themselves), but rather require multiple regulations (Alexander, Dinsmore, Parkinson, &Winters, 2011; Alexander et al. 2011).
Gifted education must realize that the development of excellence consists of an extended sequence of highly structured, successful learning episodes based on the principle of co-evolution (Ziegler, 2005). Such orderly processes are not self-evident, but the result of regulations. Unfortunately, most regulations are still unknown, and of those that are known, almost all are poorly understood. However, we will see below that there are at least two types of regulations: homeostatic, and allostatic, with the second especially relevant for the development of excellence.
These two regulations and their interplay must be understood in the development of excellence. Homeostatic regulations are there to maintain nominal states of systems; however the development of excellence aims exactly at not maintaining steady states, but to change them. A complimentary concept to homeostasis regulations are the allostatic regulations. Allostatic regulations are there to attain new adjusted steady states, which require the activation of new resources each time (Ziegler & Baker, 2012). The question remains when achieving excellence is a striving for a new state when at the same time there is a regulation going on which would like to keep the present state. Through quantitative and qualitative observations the following questions are posed: how some people can succede in directing their actions steadily over such long periods, when they experience these actions negatively in great part? Why do these people maintain themselves in a meta-stable state during their development of excellence over long periods (sometimes years)? Why do further regulations repeatedly lead to attaining a further meta-stable state, while the process of transition is associated with (often) negative emotional qualities? Wouldn’t it be simpler to forego the daunting adventure of the development of excellence, and aim instead for a stable state which does not at least feature the negative emotional quality of the former and perhaps even provide some level of satisfaction? (Ziegler & Baker, 2012).
One answer is that achievers of excellence have exceptionally high levels of motivation (Winner, 1996). However the concept of allostasis was originally developed in medicine by McEwen and Stellar (1993) and refers to the mechanism of targeted adjustment of an organism reacting to challenges. To do this it must continually activate new resources to attain new (meta-) stable states. All the regulations occurring during the development of excellence can be analyzed with the homeostasis and allostasis concepts, that which are serving to maintain and which to attain newly adjusted nominal levels. To achieve excellence one must show one or both of the following characteristics: (1) the regulations adjust the target states (because yesterday’s target learning is too low because the competence of the learning has increased). (2) The regulations activate helpful resources to enable the attainment of the new target state (Ziegler & Baker, 2012).
In the Actiotope Model of Giftedness (Ziegler, 2005), the individual is seen from a systemic perspective; this leads to two problems. After each learning process the belief must be there that the next step is also attainable successfully, this is known as the modifiability problem. The individual must adapt to the new situation. Only when the there is no perceived threat to the stability of the Actiotope will the individual initiate new learning processes. The second problem is the stability problem; this refers to any changes, setbacks and difficulties which put the learning process at risk. According to Ziegler and Stoeger’s work (2008; 2010) it is demonstrated that modifiability and stability beliefs lead to prognoses which seem to be quite accurate (Ziegler et al, 2010). Although relationships between adaptive stability and modifiability beliefs and other determinants of motivation need to be examined, it is plausible that to assume that beliefs and goals correlate in numerous ways (Shah & Kruglanski, 2000; Shah, Kruglanski, & Friedman, 2003).
To develop excellence and regulate this various resources are necessary. Biographical analysis of people who perform at the excellence level give some indications (Bloom, 1985; Simonton, 1977; Wallace and Gruber, 1989). Based on the above there two kinds of resources: Endogenous resources which can only be regulated through a system or subsystem and Exogenous resources can be regulated equally through the system (in this case, the individual) as well as further systems (e.g. family, society) (Ziegler & Baker, 2012).
Resources are defined as means that can be employed to attain goals. Zeigler and Baker use the terms educational capital for exogenous resources and learning capital for endogenous resources. These two capitals will be more closely explained in the following chapters.
In order to better understand the development of excellence as it relates to a system the Actiotope Model (Ziegler) will be used.
In Csikszentmihalyi’s (1996) interviews with exceptionally successful people, Nobel Prize laureates, exceptional creative artists etc., he came to the conclusion that excellence is not localized in the person but in the system which consists of the person and the environment.
A person exhibits actions that in certain contexts are labeled ‘excellent’. This view raises a series of theoretically important questions including ‘how can acquisition and demonstration of excellence, as well as the conditions supporting these processes, best be analyzed? This perspective suggests a stronger focus on a contextual view (Ziegler & Baker, 2013).
There are certain contexts where, it is very important to consider social-emotional issues in the development of excellence with full reference to the cultural context and social environment (Yuen & Fong, 2013). As in East Asia where social connectedness in the family and peer groups plays a crucial role in socializing collective behaviors and reducing the relative importance of individualism (e.g., Chen & Tse, 2008; Rubin et al., 2011), Kenyan society, although changing, is much more collective, especially in rural areas, (Baumeister, 1992; Ma & Schoeneman, 1997) and most of the beneficiaries at MCF come from rural areas. For this reason, a systemic approach to the study of giftedness is more suitable in Kenya and MCF than an individual approach that relies, for example, on purely psychometric assessment (Robinson, 2005; Sternberg, Jarvin, & Grigorenko, 2011). Approaches such as Gagné’s (2009) differentiated model of giftedness and talent (which see the influence of environment only as an additive to intrinsic individual determinants in the learner) are not sufficiently comprehensive in a collectivist society. It is logical therefore that in Kenya, more specially MCF, a systemic approach that analyzes the strong interconnectedness of the social environment is more appropriate than only an individual approach.
In Ziegler’s Actiotope Model answers are attempted to be provided based on a systemic approach where excellence is understood as the consequence of an enormous number of successful adaptations to environments. This means for excellence to emerge a constant richer action repertoire needs to be built up that allow more effective actions in a specific talent domain, so that the individual can achieve excellence. As Ziegler states, that an actiotope is not static and unchangeable, but changes as each new goal is set during the process of developing excellence. The resulting adaptation comprises the four components of the actiotope (Ziegler 2005).
In brief the explanation of the Actiotope is as follows: First, an action repertoire is built up that allows functional actions in the talent domain. Second, goals are adjusted repeatedly, which is important so learning opportunities are optimized. Third, constantly new environments that offer optimal learning conditions for each learning step are required for the widening of the action repertoire. Fourth, each possibility of a further action opens access to the challenge of a new goal. These can be realized in a continually growing number of contexts. There is therefore a need to coordinate a richer action repertoire, more diverse goals and more numerous contexts. In terms of the Actiotope Model this means that the subjective action space must be adapted, from which the possibilities for action are selected. The latter occurs when the best action for reaching the currently pursued goal is selected from the action repertoire (Ziegler, 2005).
The analysis of the Mully Children’s Family or the MCF construct will be based on this model and will be used to help to understand the development of excellence within the frame work of the study.
As defined by Ziegler, Vialle, and Wimmer (2013) : an actiotope includes an individual and the material, social and informational environment with which that individual actively interacts.
This systemic model focuses on goal-directed actions that lead toward skill development. When extraordinary achievements are reached through talent development it is regarded as intelligent adaption to the environmental stimuli (Ziegler, 2005). There are three perspectives on actiotopes to be distinguished in the model: The component perspective, the dynamic perspective, and the systemic perspective (Ziegler et al., 2013).
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