Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dissing the Gifted

For too long, the nation’s education system has neglected the needs of its high-potential students.

Ann Robinson, president of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) is right. One indication of the neglect is the lack of monetary investment in the gifted.
The federal government’s investment in gifted and talented learners now stands at 2 cents of every $100 education dollars...

Another indication is the test scores of gifted students.
Over the past decade, despite impressive gains by students at the low end of the performance spectrum, the scores of students in the top 10 percent have remained largely flat.

Forget the test scores. Some of these students are already bumping their heads against the ceiling and ceilings tend to be flat. There's nowhere for their scores to go. Worse, in our society, there is no good reason for the gifted to raise their scores, and lots of reasons to at least look like they aren't so smart.

America will pay the price for neglecting its gifted students.

By focusing an outsized amount of attention and resources on helping failing students attain proficiency, our nation has fostered a troublesome underinvestment in the very student population most likely to be its next generation of innovators, discoverers, and pioneers.

The reason our nation “has fostered a troublesome underinvestment” in our gifted kids is because our nation fundamentally does not value what these kids offer. Just check out the comments below the original EdWeek article to see what I mean. Society winks at the dissing of the gifted. Psychologists advise the friendless gifted that they are the ones with the social problems. Psychologists offer to “facilitate” exercises in “self discovery” designed to teach the gifted better “social skills.” I have tried to point out to some of these well-meaning professionals that the gifted are not the ones with the bad attitudes and poor coping skills. I get vacant looks.

The biggest problem our gifted students face everyday is not boring classes. The biggest problem is that our society surrounds the gifted with messages that they are somehow deficient human beings, and then wonders why the gifted have such low self-esteem even as they ace tests.

As “Anna” wrote:
A child with an IQ of 130 is as far from average as a child with an IQ of 70. They both need specialized instruction and guidance that allows them to develop to their full potential. Right now, only the child with the cognitive impairment is entitled by law to this support.

As far as the schools are concerned, no extra money, no extra support.

What about the work world? It will be different there, right? No, we have all seen or lived situations where excellence, initiative and professionalism take a back seat to mediocrity.

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