Saturday, August 04, 2007

Calling You Out

It's a new meme by Johnny who is supposed to be studying, but instead is taking frequent breaks to comment on people's blogs and bother those who should be packing.

Here are the rules:

(1) Explain an issue that you are most passionate about.

(2) Why should all others (ignoramuses that disagree with you) accept your position?

(3) Why do the rest of us (ignoramuses who disagree with you) just not get it?

Well, everyone who blogs knows that I am passionate about pacifism and Mormon feminism. But I think I'll respond on a different issue today. I am passionate about gifted education. Because of all our moves, my children have attended a combined total of 15 different schools plus about 5 years of home schooling. We have seen a wide range of programs for gifted children. (BTW all 8 of my children have tested gifted, no big surprise with their family background.) We've encountered four different types of gifted education:

1. The children are divided according to ability and the gifted classes work ahead of their grade level.
2. The gifted children are identified and placed in magnet schools
3. The children attend regular classes and are pulled out of class a few hours a week to attend supplementary programs.
4. There is no gifted program--the children are mainstreamed and enjoy a maximum interaction with their peers of all abilities.

For some reason there are ignoramuses who believe that the gifted children should remain in the regular classroom as examples for the rest of the students, helping them with their homework, tutoring them, running errands for the teacher and otherwise frittering away their public education time. These children learn to do the work, which is way too easy for them, quickly and with a minimum of effort. They seldom have homework or work up to their potential.

My position is that children should be allowed to work at the highest level they are capable of attaining. In a public school situation this is best achieved by putting them with others of the same capabilities, either in a self-contained classroom or a magnet school. Yes, this is segregation according to ability. I have seen amazing results with such classes.

You should accept this position because if Americans wish to be competitive in the worldwide arena we need to give our gifted students every opportunity to advance in their studies. This is not possible in a crowded classroom of 30 students at different levels. The teacher must spend most of the time on those who do not understand and need to be brought up to grade level.

Many of you just do not get it. You want the money spent on education to go to your mediocre or special needs student. You want my well-behaved child in the classroom to influence others for good. The gifted children have parents who disproportionately help in the schools and in the classrooms. You would like to spread this assistance around.

My focus is the best education for the gifted child because my children are gifted. Would my ideas change if my children were not in this demographic? Probably not. Separating the children by ability makes better teaching possible for all.

I tag J G-W, JohnR, M&M, Téa , and Amelia.

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7 Comments:

At 8/4/07, 9:09 PM, Blogger Texas said...

Thanks for responding! I'm glad I could take you away from packing for a moment ;-)

I'm with you on this one. I think gifted students deserve a great deal of our educational resources.

Out of the three types of gifted education, which do you like the best?

 
At 8/4/07, 10:29 PM, Blogger Bored in Vernal said...

I think if the school is large enough, a self-contained classroom within the school is ideal. This way, there is some integration within the athletics and fine arts programs. I saw the most progress in my childrens' education through programs such as this in Indiana and Texas.

 
At 8/5/07, 8:11 AM, Blogger woundedhart said...

I'm taking a break from packing, too, but I don't think we're moving as far as you.

Here's my experience with Gifted Education. In 3rd and 4th grades, we were pulled out of class for an hour or so, a few times a week. The only thing I remember from this time is trying to read "The Odyssey" in 3rd grade, and the teacher had hair in his ears.

In 5th and 6th grades, we were self-contained, in a high school.So I loved telling people I went to high-school when I was 10. We had 3 teachers the rotated around, and all the kids seemed to be pretty much of a level, so there was no lagging, and no-one teased for being slow.

In 7th and 8th grades, we moved to a different high school, and had some classes by ourselves, such as English, PE, and other grade specific ones, but for everything else we just went to the regular high-school classes with the older kids. They made fun of us. We didn't care.

By 9th grade, the school had to start inventing new classes for us. They did a good job, for the most part. They got more AP classes, and joined the IB program, so that, by the time I was a senior, we had 6th year languages, lots of new AP, and a graduating class with about 50 kids who thought they were as smart as they come. Most of the kids in our program took up the top 50 slots in the ranking, of about 550.

I was not one of those, because I am lazy. I never did the homework. I consistently did well on the tests but never turned in the work, so I got poor (I guess average) grades. My MIL is still scandalized when I talk about how little I care about my grades. My husband is a consistent 4.0, all the way through his PhD (which he got last week!)

I can't imagine how bored I would have been if I hadn't been in the program. I took a "regular" English class once, and I felt like the teacher thought all the kids were morons. He brought in a handwriting expert to lecture us. In 11th grade! I don't think he could have recognized a gifted kid if it were his own.

I guess I think that people who are of average intelligence don't know what it's like, so they really don't think there's any difference in learning, and there should be no need for segregation.

My oldest child is starting kindergarten this year, and he is clearly gifted, but I have no idea how he will be treated. He manifests as willfull, and very Know-it-all.

I've always taken it for granted that my kids would be taken care of, since I was. But I have no idea. I guess I'll have to do some research.

 
At 8/5/07, 9:37 AM, Blogger Bored in Vernal said...

Wounded hart, This brings in another point. It is essential to provide a gifted child with challenge in education. If these children become bored, they can be restless and disruptive or apathetic. When their energies are channeled, the sky is the limit!

It's true that elitism can be an issue with gifted students. But if this is addressed in the program, it will be less of a problem.

Good luck with your move!

 
At 8/7/07, 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post upset me. Partially because my husband and I are both quite well educated and fairly intelligent but still managed to produce two children with special needs. It is great that you have such smart gifted kids, you must be very happy. To imply that "mediocre" or special needs children don't deserve education funding because they will never be as smart as "gifted" students is really horrible. Without early intervention and special programs many children have little chance of success in school at all. I truly appreciate those parents who enroll their children in my son's special ed preschool so that they can serve as "mentor children". With their help my son may overcome his delays and someday be capable of teaching others. I think teaching to a child’s abilities is great but hopefully that doesn’t mean abandoning the “stupid” kids.

On a related subject I found this interesting: How Not to Talk to Your Kids
The Inverse Power of Praise.
http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

 
At 8/7/07, 9:20 PM, Blogger Bored in Vernal said...

Sally, I'm glad you commented, because I want to point out that nowhere in this post did I say that special needs chidren should not receive intervention, funding, or programs. However, I believe programs should be tailored to the children's needs.

How would you feel if your child was placed in a classroom full of gifted children and his/her needs were ignored while the teacher directed all learning activities to the others? Of course this would be a less than ideal situation. That is why I believe in separate programs where gifted children can receive the "intervention" that they need. In communities that provide this option for gifted children, it is interesting to note that a lot of extra funding is not needed, as it is for many special needs programs. All that is necessary is that the teacher is not held back from teaching them more advanced concepts by the needs of the other children in the class!

 
At 8/8/07, 2:59 PM, Blogger Téa said...

I finally answered your call, BiV =)

 

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