The article is written by Julie Rasicot and published on an education blogging website discussing the youngest age at which one can determine if a child is gifted. According to the Maryland State Board of Education, different school districts use their specific county rules to identify if a student is gifted as early as age three. As I continued reading about how school districts plan to determine whether or not a child is gifted, I came across a quote said by Maryland State Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, “We already think second grade is too early. We're trying to do away with that in Montgomery County. . . . When you label kids, you have winners and you have losers, and the losers are black, Hispanic and low-income.” She doesn’t like the idea of labelling children into different catagories, but what shocked me is the quote itself. She said that the “losers are black, Hispanic, and low-income,” which basically tells me that she believes that African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income students cannot be gifted and talented. I’m personally offended because when I first moved to America, for the first few years, my family was considered low-income and I have many friends who are low-income, African American, and Hispanic who placed into the gifted and talented programs. I don’t feel that a gifted and talented student fits a certain social category.
Lastly, the article ends with stating that giftedness can be seen in test scores or classroom performance, but as children become adults, “achievement and high levels of motivation in the domain become the primary characteristics of their giftedness.” So, I’m wondering if this quote is saying that all gifted students are high achievers and have high levels of motivation, or if you are a high achiever and have high levels of motivation, then you are gifted. The debate continues as to what giftedness really is.
This is a Lisa Conrad’s blog about why she believes in the gifted education system. Lisa Conrad is a Gifted Education advocate, and she has worked in the education system for 11 years. In her blog she bulleted several strong opinionated points as to why she supports gifted education. Her second point caught my attention, “removing gifted education from the public realm promotes elitism… only the wealthy can afford private schools, tutors, and enrichment.” I think I understood what she said, but I don’t necessarily know if I agree or disagree because I thought that a teacher always molds the teaching material to fit the students. From my cooperating teacher, she gave several students different spelling tests, different books to analyze, different homework so that they could do work that is challenging for them. So if gifted and talented happened to be removed from public education, I believe teachers will accommodate for their students to provide them work that is stimulating enough for them, the same way a teacher would accommodate for a student who is struggling by providing resources and extra support to catch up on the material. All the other reasons that she mentioned were not new to me, so for this insight I just focused on the one that stood out the most.
My opinion about gifted education as an overall is still a little fuzzy, because I think it’s great to have classes that are stimulating and exciting for “gifted” students. However, I still don’t understand how “giftedness” is measured… is this a genetic trait that only few possess? Or is this something that everyone can strive for if he or she works hard enough? The reason I’m wondering is because when I was in elementary school, I was classified as a gifted student as well. What was interesting though is that in first grade, my brother and I were originally supposed to be placed in ESOL classes because that’s where the teachers felt we would work best, but by the time I was in fourth grade, I was admitted into the gifted and talented program at my school. I don’t remember how I got in, but looking back and thinking about it, I don’t remember being necessarily smarter than everyone else. Yes, I did math problems very quickly (I love math!). But, I do remember the boy sitting next to me was reading the fourth Harry Potter book, and I remember wondering why he was not in the gifted program when he seemed fairly intelligent himself.
What are your opinions or "Gifted Education"? Do you think it has any correlation to ASD? Have you been in/ Are you in any "Gifted Education" courses? How do you feel about it overall? Sound off below!
Susan Volinski's insight:
This was a forum on WrongPlanet.net which discussed different students’ perspectives of what they thought of “gifted education.” There were many different responses, many of which included the characteristics of the type of person that would or would not be in a gifted and talented class. One student even said that after she took the exam, she placed in gifted education but was denied because she had ASD and ADHD. Due to her ADHD, the school put her in a special needs class. I thought that was unfair of the school to deny a child of being in the classroom that they want to be in. User LAlien commented on this forum discussing her experiences in a gifted and talented classroom, but seemed to contradict herself. She stated that the gifted program was “stupid” and was nothing more than just honors classes, which gave me the impression that the overall gifted and talented program at her school was a joke and not actually meant for gifted and talented students. But then she went on to say, “Students who got help at home, could afford tutors, were intellectually stimulated as young children, all got identified gifted. Those who did not have the resources were not identified gifted.” So what I’m getting from this is that as long as you have the resources to help you (pass the gifted and talented exam) then you are now considered a gifted child. It seems here that anyone can be identified as gifted, as long as they had the right resources.
Another user, thewhitrbbit discussed her experiences in the TAG (talented and gifted) program at her school. She writes a thorough complaint about how not enough money is used towards gifted education, but millions of dollars are used to help special needs students. She suggests that schools need to be equally investing in both types of students because she feels it is unfair that the gifted and talented students are getting left behind. I’ve read other articles about this exact complaint: many people feel that while we are trying to help the underachieving students rise to excellence we are neglecting the students who are already there and not letting them reach their full potential because not enough money or energy is invested in them. She ended her comment by leaving an interesting message, “For all we know, someone destined to cure cancer dropped out of school because either they didn't have a gifted program or it was a joke and he/she was just bored in regular class.” This is very true, I feel that today’s school systems should challenge all students and make sure that everyone feels welcome and has a fit somewhere in the classroom. Regardless of whether a student is gifted or not, if students are dropping out because they are not fully engaged in the classroom, there is something wrong and this needs to be changed.
"Imagine, if you can, that you are five years old, but you can think like a fourth grader. Where do you find your friends? The other five-year-olds are too immature, and the 10-year-olds don’t take you seriously. If the older kids want you around at all, it’s as a sort of mascot, not as a peer. Physically, you can’t do the things the fourth graders can: you can’t hit a ball very well; you have trouble riding a two-wheeler; you can’t run as fast. No matter how hard you try, you’ll always be behind the physical and emotional curve set by older classmates. It’s like being a person who speaks only German and travels to Italy and France. You like being there, but because the language and cultures are different, it’s hard to be understood and to get what you need.
Fitting in with neither their average-ability age peers nor their older intellectual peers, gifted children all too often are teased, put down, and ridiculed by both other children and adults. It’s no wonder, then, that they sometimes feel out of place, weird, inept, and even angry, particularly because they are generally more intense and sensitive than other children. Their emotions, already exquisitely sensitive, often are exposed, raw, and tender, and their lack of emotional maturity can make their lives—and yours—a challenge at best and a nightmare at worst.
Gifted children have many wonderful, enjoyable qualities, but when those qualities are combined with emotional and social immaturity, the flip side of those same attributes can look a lot less appealing." - Excerpt from Helping Gifted Children Soar, 2nd Edition by Carol Strip Whitney, Ph.D. and Gretchen Hirsch
This is an excerpt from Carol Strip Whitney and Gretchen Hirsch’s book called “Helping Gifted Children Soar,” discussing emotional roller coaster parents and children must endure. It discusses how gifted children do not fit in with other children because their mentality is not on the same level as their peers. For example, a gifted fourth grader might have the mentality of a 6th grader, but the 6th graders do not want to hang out with him because he is too young, and the gifted student doesn’t hang out with his fourth grade peers because they are too immature. So what friends does a gifted student have other than other gifted students? It’s so sad when a child has a hard time making friends. It’s interesting to note that gifted children have behavioral issues because and may become isolated as they get older because this is not usually an aspect people think about when they think of gifted. The qualities that a gifted child has, such as creative thinking, adult-level thinking, and advanced language abilities can easily backfire on the child. Students may think that their gifted peer is just being stuck up, rude, strange, and overly talkative, which can lead to isolation from peers. This has great effects on the child’s esteem as they get older. If they continue to be isolated by their peers, they may develop depression and other mental problems. This ties in with the other article about how there is a high rate of gifted student dropouts because those students were too smart for the system and they weren’t stimulated enough. On a similar note, gifted students might also drop out because they are not socially accepted by their peers, and at a young age, from what I remember, feeling accepted is really important. Students who are gifted and talented should not be criticized for their abilities and should be accepted by all.
Examiner.com Montgomery County Public Schools eliminate honors math courses Examiner.com Gifted and Talented Education in Montgomery County Public Schools · academic achievement gap · standardized testing · Joshua Starr.
This article was posted by The Examiner and it discussed the changes that Montgomery County Public Schools had implemented on January 2013 into their new math curriculum. One of the changes being that honors level math courses will cease to exist and instead students will just take the next highest-level math course. Honors classes allow students to learn the same material as the regular classes but at a faster pace, giving an opportunity for students who can grasp the material to quickly obtain a higher level of academic stimulation. By removing those classes, teachers now face challenges to ensure that all students are engaged in the classroom. The teacher must teach at a pace where all the students can keep up, but the ones that go at a faster pace will have something to do. Also, by removing honors classes, the county suggests that if the student finds the class too easy, they can move to the next level up, but that doesn’t make sense to me because how can you just skip a whole math subject and move onto the next one. Additionally, another change is changing the Algebra I requirement, which now states that students must be ready for Algebra I by grade 8. Putting a requirement for when a student must take a math class by is unfair because if they do not meet this requirement they will be forced to be held back, whereas before students can proceed to high school and take Algebra I in high school if they needed to. If students move to this school system from a different state or country and are supposed to go into high school, would they not be able to enroll if their Algebra I requirement is not met? A student should not have to retake a whole year’s worth of information just to pass a math class.
Every January, thousands of New York preschoolers vie for scarce gifted and talented seats.
Susan Volinski's insight:
This article was found on DNAinfo New York, an online newspaper, discussing how parents prepare their children for the gifted and talented tests. From the title itself, isn’t this concept a little contradictory because aren’t you either supposed to be gifted or not. I didn’t think this was something you could “study” for, because that goes back to the idea of what you are measuring: how well a student can take a test, how well the student prepared for the test, or if the student is actually gifted. As I began reading the article, the second paragraph shocked me as I read “The preschooler's parents have poured dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars into private tutoring and practice tests — all in the hope that the Annabelle will win a coveted spot in one of the city's exclusive gifted and talented public elementary schools.” I understand the importance of a child’s future and ensuring that he or she gets a good education, but I think this has gone too far. A student doesn’t have to get the very best education to get the best future, there are plenty of exceptional students that graduate out of mediocre schools districts. On top of that, their child is four years old. Apparently last year, around 14000 four year olds took the gifted and talented exam in Manhattan. Personally, I feel a little bad for these children who are having to spend their time studying for an exam when at the age of four they are not even attending school. The parents are making the students take an exam before they have ever stepped foot into a classroom. Another thing, this is too much pressure for the children and the parents. Children should not be worried about getting a high quality education at that age.
Another quote that stood out to me was a quote that a parent said, “I always feel like I’m behind… the whole process and trying to keep up with other parents – I feel like it doesn’t matter how much I do, there will always be a parent who does more.” It was a perspective of the whole process that I didn’t even realize. Throughout the whole article I was blaming the parents for being so controlling over their child’s future, but this quote made me feel bad for the parent because she was trying so hard to get her child into a good school, but it seems that it’s not only the child that has to do well, but the parent. Parents do have a big influence over their child’s learning development, and some parents invest more time and effort than others. It’s sad that everyone in this whole process are stressed out, is this what gifted education was intended to be? Figuring out the best way to prepare a child for a one hour test. A test should not be the determining factor of a child’s future.
Lastly, these tests can ruin children’s self-esteem because if they don’t get accepted into this limited enrollment program, they may start to question what they did wrong or why the school didn’t want to pick them. A director childhood education shared that one of the parents’ son was devastated, “He kept asking his parents, ‘Why didn’t anyone want me?’” It broke my heart reading that line because I totally felt for the child and it’s disappointing when you spend so many months studying for something, and then you still don’t get selected. I feel this is too much stress for a child at age four to have to deal with and may negatively impact their future because these children may develop emotional problems.
Why Are Minority Language Students Underrepresented in Programs for Gifted and Talented Students? What Are Some Commonly Used Techniques for the Identification of Gifted and Talented Minority Language Students? and What Types of Programs Are Available for Gifted and Talented Students, and Are They Suitable for Minority Language Students Who Are Selected to Participate?
This is a digest posted by the National Association for Gifted Children discussing how to meet the needs of gifted and talented children who are minority students. Many minority students are gifted and talented, but the way the test was formulated causes middle class children to pass, leaving the minority students behind. The digest mentions that cultural differences can be a factor for why some students are underrepresented by these exams: “Mexican-American child who respects elders, the law, and authority becomes vulnerable in a school system that values individual competition, initiative, and self-direction.” Coming from a culture where the child puts his trust into the elders, I can imagine how different it must be to change from that form of culture to suddenly relying on yourself to do well and become successful.
The article then provides recommendations for changing the system of gifted and talented to ensure that the system is fair by “broadening the concept of giftedness.” I definitely agree with this because I feel that right now giftedness is measured by how well you perform on an exam. Rather, there should be multiple factors that determine giftedness, and one of them should not be able to be measured through test preparation. Also, is a child that is an exceptional dancer but a terrible test taker not gifted? I believe the whole idea of gifted education is flawed in the idea that we are excluding many forms of giftedness and are focusing on the standard IQ method, which only represents a small number of people who may happen to be gifted, or may just be lucky test takers.
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