REVIEWED BY: Marguerite Zelle
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BLOG DESCRIPTION: Science 2.0 is composed of world renowned researchers, science book authors, post-docs and science journalists writing on the latest topics in physics, biology, medicine, neuroscience, space, astronomy, geology and technology.
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Myths of Gifted Education
by Alex Antunes
Dr. Paynter of the MD Dept of Ed noted that "all students have gifts, but there are some students who are ready, right now, to play varsity." In America, we easily accept that some kids are just more athletic than others, and we support that. In fact, we're pretty happy accepting that some kids are just naturals at art, math, acting, being charismatic, being beautiful, or doing sports.
But suggest some kids are more gifted at learning, and you get the retort "but all children are gifted." Ask for better learners to get special teaching and now, you're elitist.
Funny thing is, make it an analogy to athletics and no one argues. No one suggests the top swimmer be put in the kiddy pool to "inspire the others". No one puts the fastest runner with the pack because "he'll prosper no matter where he is." No one gives the tennis star a badmitton racket and a coach that doesn't know tennis rules and says "she'll do fine, she's got natural talent."
Funny thing is, Dr. Paynter's comments were about the academically gifted. Talented&Gifted (TAG), Gifted&Talented (G&T), yeah, they're a poor choice of name for the academically gifted, but this is a population whose needs are real.
About 10% of the population, according to PG County MD, who tests every 1st grader in the county (private or public) to find out. Funny thing is, that 10% stays the same across income level, socio-economic status, language barriers, race, color, creed. It's real, it's not elitist, and it's testable.
Won't gifted students do just fine on their own? Sure, if "bored, frustrated, and tuning out" means 'fine'.
Don't teachers challenge every student? Not unless they change the curricula for 27 students to account for the 3 gifties. But teachers don't have the time and, often, the training to do that sort of differentiated education. It's better and cheaper to put a gifted-trained teacher with gifties, a comprehensive trained with the regular classroom. That's just smart management.
Don't gifted children provide a role model, a challenge to the others? I'm sure Peter Parker would agree. The best challenge is what's within your grasp, not "it's easy for you because you're smart."
But in these tough economic times... no, wait, stop there. Gifted education doesn't cost more than regular education, any more than teaching English costs more than teaching Social Studies. It's an approach to teaching, not more gear or books. In fact, under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools with all-gifted classrooms get less funding than an underperforming school by not needing specialists.
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