#Giftedhubby and I were watching Independent Len’s Between the Folds together. This film had beautiful and amazing paper creations by individuals from the artistic field, movement, physics, mathematics, and science all together in one show. Afterwards, my husband and I discuss what we just saw. We ask each other questions like: Did we agree with the show’s intent, did they present their ideas well, how does affect or change the way we think about the ideas discussed, etc.
I wanted to talk about the last segment which was about a young mathematician who was home schooled. He attended college early and who received his doctorate at something 20 years old. The focus of the segment was how he solved a long stand problem about something called Cut and Fold in the paper folding world. He told the interviewer that he does things because “they are fun.” He had about four very complex hobbies one of which was paper folding.
Here’s the question that inspired me to write this blog: “Can you tell the difference between the individual who was fully encouraged to use his gifts and talents (totally educated from his/her gifts point of view) from the person who was erratically encouraged (i,e. art 45 min once a week, gifted & talented services 90 min once a week if you met them on the street? This young man was given every opportunity to build and learn based on his interests and do things that he found fun. Compare this to the gifted student who must do…the…test….strategies…just…a…certain…way or get a bad grade on a practice test assignment (which was a discussion I had with one of my past gifted parents today.)
Is there a perceived loss of talent and skill? Aside from the “Wow” we get when we learn that Mozart was 5 years old when composed his first song to play for an audience, most people (and governments) largely ignore the needs of these talented individuals. Some parents take matters in their own hands and home school their child in order to nurture them.
If there is no perceived loss of a potential talent, then no wonder our society has such as hard time funding education for those gifted with tendencies towards logical or critical thinking, creativity or leadership. What do you think?
Society right now is in survivalist mode. Things that enhance our well being are not perceived as being a priority. Basically, politicians are only responding to things that threaten us. In a threat response mode, things like abstraction go out the window. To get gifted education funded at this moment in time, one must talk about the negative side of not funding it, “the threat”. There are plenty of statistics to back up the negative side. I think I saw somewhere that 20% of the prison inmate population are gifted. You could save 20% off of future prison costs by simply making sure all gifted students have a program. I bet that program would be whole lots cheaper than prison costs. Another threat: High school dropouts are so high right now, that they are embarrassingly bad. In fact the US is becoming extremely embarrassed on the world stage. This embarrassment causes us to loose prestige and the ability to influence other countries. Many high school dropouts are gifted. A gifted program would make simultaneous impact on that. Lost productivity right now: At a time when the world is pouring out tons of highly skilled people (engineers,etc.) our skilled force is declining. How many additional engineers, etc, would be generated if all gifted people went through a program. Compare the proportions of successfully college degrees of gifted in a program verses those who have no program. These are all threats that must be responded to immediately as opposed to we would be a better culture if we educated the gifted.
Yes, sad but true; I work with gifted in a challenge centre program for usually 4 days out of the school year; we have long wait lists and often students will only get this opportunity once per year.
I see incredible talent, but I am always sad that I can’t work with these students more to develop their interests in a small group environment. Many parents take up the slack, having their children being mentored in areas of interest and talent.
Parents ask me what other programs like this are out there, and sadly, in our district, not many. I wonder about home schooling for these children, but home schoolers rarely access our programs, so I do not have a direct link with this community.
I think in our schools we give students lots of broad based enrichment, via activities, but we ignore the higher level thinking skills and we rarely give them the opportunity to think, to create, to be nurtured in a small environment with like minded students.
The students realize this; they love this opportunity. I wish that it could be longer than 4 days and be organized in a more intense and worthwhile manner.
I see terminology as part of the problem (though it’s a necessary evil. How can you discuss/act on anything you don’t have language for?). As soon as you label anyone “gifted” or even as having “more potential” you’ve essentially said they’re “better.” And even those who secretly believe this is true generally recognize this is not a socially acceptable way to communicate.
The truth is (I’ve been told infinitely) that all children benefit from individualized instruction. As soon as we say this is more necessary for this population (e.g. because of their higher potential) we have both affirmed that they’re worth more (hence the greater allocation of resources) and put that icky pressure on them to prove that they are worth the investment (Something that gifted kids already seem to have in spades– whether or not it was on purpose).
That said, I agree that these students have different needs, but I wonder if any “perceived loss” is a calculated loss in a society that is so opposed to class-distinction that it might hold people back rather than agree any are “superior.”
(*Really* not trying to start a fight, and maybe you’ve already discussed these thought that for me are embryonic; but in the discussion for more funds the issue of value seem inevitable, and ideologies are going to collide. Always messy.)
Amy, All you say is true and an unfortunate part of labeling any student on the spectrum of learning. Once we label a student as Special Ed, or Tier 3 or Deslexic, we have begun to allocate resources to educating them to bring them up to level with their peers. With that being said, I don’t think that we should treat those who have the potential differently from those who need a boost to reach their potential.
I am encouraged to see all the discussion related to the TALENT Act now in committee in our congressional system. It’s based on solid research and will bring forward the needs of our teachers and students who work with the populations of students on the other end of the spectrum. These students have been ignored through the NCLB program.
It is well said. Many have hidden talent in them, that if they given any opportunity, they can explore it well, only a little push up is needed to explore it. Many have talent & skills that they explore in a very creative way by their own. We must consider both prospectives in a serious manner.
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