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Education The Almighty Buck

The Poor Neglected Gifted Child 529

theodp writes "'Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore,' explains The Boston Globe's Amy Crawford in The Poor Neglected Gifted Child, 'have national laws requiring that children be screened for giftedness, with top scorers funneled into special programs. China is midway through a 10-year "National Talent Development Plan" to steer bright young people into science, technology, and other in-demand fields.' It seems to be working — America's tech leaders are literally going to Washington with demands for "comprehensive immigration reform that allows for the hiring of the best and brightest". But in the U.S., Crawford laments, 'we focus on steering all extra money and attention toward kids who are struggling academically, or even just to the average student' and 'risk shortchanging the country in a different way.' The problem advocates for the gifted must address, Crawford explains, is to 'find ways for us to develop our own native talent without exacerbating inequality.' And address it we must. 'How many people can become an astrophysicist or a PhD in chemistry?' asks David Lubinski, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University. We really have to look for the best — that's what we do in the Olympics, that's what we do in music, and that's what we need to with intellectual capital."
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The Poor Neglected Gifted Child

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  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @08:12AM (#46504485)
    Fast tracking higher potential students is common pretty much everywhere except the US. Here we "foster understanding and tolerance" by mainstreaming [wikipedia.org] students with special needs. We also ensure the average SAT score is below that of countries that limit who can take it to their top students.
  • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @08:39AM (#46504693)

    Oh that not so bright kid that can run and catch really good? he is a superstar!

    You've really only touched upon the disfunction in American society. I could write a Ph.d thesis on how the United States is breeding itself into obsolecense. We are a country that is more obsessed with brawny men in tight pants moving a ball from one end of a large field to another than we are with keeping our country educated and competitive.

    When I was getting my degree, our school would close off parking for academic purposes so the football spectators could park. Nevermind that we had group assignments to complete; there be a bunch of young boys moving their balls across the field!

    Our society is slitting its own throat.

  • by rebelwarlock ( 1319465 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @08:47AM (#46504757)
    When I was in primary school, it was pretty evident that I was bored in class, simply because it was too basic. You know what they did? The just pushed me forward a year. And then another, and another, and another. This meant I was 10 when I started high school. You know what sucks about being 10 in high school? Everything. Other kids are assholes - even more than usual - because you make them look bad. Teachers expect more from you, but at the same time, they don't really want to put up with you. Even PE is bullshit at that point, because 10-year-olds suck at physically keeping up with 14-year-olds.

    I'm not sure about the numbers, so I don't know if this is a worthwhile endeavor, but here's what I always thought would be a better solution: gifted students should progress at a social pace similar to other kids. This means they would be in a class with other students their age who had also been placed in the gifted student program up until the age of 17 or 18, when they would normally graduate high school anyway. The major difference would be that these students, at a time deemed fit by qualified educators, would begin earning college credits. That way, they would have a running start upon entering college, and not be socially crippled.
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @08:50AM (#46504775) Homepage Journal

    True in parts and yet horribly wrong in others.

    Disclaimer: I was a "gifted child" and yes, I was bored in school, so much that my parents sent me to a psychologist (who told them there's nothing wrong with me except that I'm bored) and then to special gifted-child after-school courses. I had my first chemistry course 5 years before I had it in school, and I had computer lessons and shortly after my own computer in 6th grade, at a time when computer stuff was an optional course in high school.

    And yet, I don't blame school for ruining my chances. On the contrary, I believe school should be much like it used to, i.e. roll back the dumbing down you've done to it just because you want better PISA scores. Schools purpose is to create a baseline, a solid level of basic education that later on in life you can expect everyone to have. As such, it has to be so that everyone can acquire it. Some easily, some will struggle, but it is a (low) standard and exactly because of that it is useful.

    What needs to change is the attitude that school covers everything. These days, not only have people largely stopped understanding that you can (*gasp*!) educate yourself out of school, in addition to whatever you get there, but you should also (*big gasp*!!) let the school do the teaching and keep things like teaching manners and basic social skills at home with the parents who desperately need to stop thinking they can outsource the raising of a child.

    If more people understood school correctly as a standardized base-level, less people would send their kids to school and think that covers their parental responsibilities and aside from that it's just feeding and housing the brat.

  • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @08:50AM (#46504777)
    I agree. But what I have to wonder if we are missing out in a different way. Some kids develop at a different pace, is it optimal to have a system where a 'late bloomer' is marked as slow or average for their first few years of school? Once that label is put on, it is part of their self image thereafter. What if there are geniuses who don't really come into their own until high school who then never get a chance since they have been 'average'? I read somewhere that when you test people at 35 years these early differences disappear, at least in most cases. Sorry no reference, so it may not be an accurate recollection. Just thinking out loud here, I am not proposing anything.
  • by ideonexus ( 1257332 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @09:12AM (#46504965) Homepage Journal

    It's interesting that no one is questioning the basic premise of this article: that the US puts more resources into remedial students than gifted. It makes for just one more thing people can complain and get self-righteous about, but my experience in Virginia schools is just the opposite. Here in Virginia, my gifted friends got to attend special highly-funded magnet schools or got to attend the #1 public high school in the country [tjhsst.edu] and the gifted classrooms at my high school got the best supplies and brightest teachers. As someone who was originally tracked in remedial everything and had to fight his way up to advanced-level courses, I can tell you that the remedial classes received no instruction whatsoever and were basically just holding-pens for students until they turned 18 and the system could kick them out.

    Maybe some states don't have a gifted program, but before we all go tilting at windmills, maybe we should realize this is a state-level problem, one that does not apply to Virginia, and may not apply to your state either.

  • by superdude72 ( 322167 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @09:12AM (#46504967)

    Let me pose a counter argument.

    In many fields, we already have more PhDs than we know what to do with. There aren't enough university positions for all of them. Their salaries end up not being commensurate with all those years spent in school, and they live miserable frustrating lives trying to raise funding for their research.

    On the other hand, in the USA the public debate still revolves around things like supply-side economics, climate change, and what God thinks about abortion. Issues that are settled among educated people who aren't demagoguing an issue for personal gain.

    I would posit that we are already doing enough for the gifted in our society. What we really need to do is *raise the average*. If that means we end up with plumbers who speak three languages and have a B.S. in chemistry, so be it. We are better off as a society when the average person is equipped with the skillset of a university graduate. If you look at the Nordic countries, they're pretty much already there, and better for it.

    This was the reason people like Thomas Jefferson supported public education. Not as job training, but as a prerequisite of citizenship. For democracy to succeed, the average person must possess the "ars liberalis"--the liberal arts--literally, the arts and skills of being a free person.

  • Re:Existing programs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @09:38AM (#46505197) Homepage

    ^^^^ Wish I had mod points to mod this up.

    In our school district, they are talking about cutting art and music in elementary school due to lack of funds. However, they are hiring 4 administrators whose job it will be to teach teachers how to implement Common Core the "right way." The "right way" in New York being EngageNY which is literally a script that teachers must read to their students. They are told what to say, how to say it, when to say it and how long to stay on each topic - broken down into 10 - 15 minute segments. They are not allowed to deviate from the script (though some teachers still do, risking getting in trouble in favor of educating their students). All students, meanwhile, are required to learn in exactly the same way at exactly the same pace. Because we all know that all kids are exactly alike, right?

  • Re:Home school (Score:4, Interesting)

    by s0nicfreak ( 615390 ) on Monday March 17, 2014 @12:04PM (#46506703) Journal
    As another homeschooler; my kids are ahead on social development, because they have the ability (and the time) to interact with a wide range of people daily. Being kept in a room all day, surrounded by people of only your own age, mostly your own race and family-income-level, that you can't even talk to for much of the day does not do well for your social skills. Sure, you'll be okay with interacting with people of your own age, race and income level, but not so good beyond that (and where, beyond school, do you see that kind of segregation?).

    Even my autistic son's social skills are thriving; I'm sure if he went to school he'd be ostracized and miserable.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"