Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gifted Education published July 10 2008

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

Gifted Education

July 10, 2008 – 4:07 am by Brendan

I’m a strong advocate of gifted education. I don’t think we do enough to support gifted education. I don’t think there is enough money or time spent on gifted education. If you have read some of my other articles you will probably have guessed that by now. If not here is a quick review: Quality Education: Government Non-influence, Differentiated Education, Introduction.

Now we have MSN telling us that being gifted isn’t everything. The article goes on to tell us that there is statistical and anecdotal evidence that people of high IQ don’t always succeed. Furthermore they tell us that many outstanding individuals were actually mediocre students. The truth of the matter is they are absolutely correct.

As Dr. Brodkin mentions in the article, traits such as good executive function, social skills, empathy, self-understanding, and passion are better predictors of success after school. She also mentions that students lacking in these areas are less likely to succeed no matter what their IQ.

Of course this could just simply be thought of as conventional wisdom. After all consider these quotes:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Thomas A. Edison (1847 - 1931), Harper’s Monthly, 1932

A gifted student, or what is sometimes called “truly gifted” can be the student up front who gets straight A’s, the student in the back of the room who slides by with C’s, the rebel without a cause, or anything in between. Note that every student who gets straight A’s is not gifted, though they are often shuttled into gifted programs, hence the term “truly gifted”.

Those students who get straight A’s and are not gifted usually have high skills in those previously mentioned predictors of success: good executive function, social skills, empathy, self-understanding, and passion. On the other hand a gifted student with strong talent in these predictors will often go very far, think Bill Gates for example.

The truly gifted student, as I have said before, is as different from the average student as the student with special needs is different. Or you might say that all students with special needs deserve the same treatment. So the question is why don’t we support our gifted students as much as we support other students with special needs?

Sure the majority of gifted student are also blessed with many other predictors of success and they can probably get by in school without causing too much distraction. He or she may even find going to school to be helpful in certain aspects, but what about the gifted student who doesn’t have these predictors of success? What about the gifted student who spends the first 15 or so years of school without learning or using those executive functions skills? (You know study skills, organizational skills, listening skills.) These students need as much support to survive and gain useful skills from school as any other student. It is not true that being gifted automatically gives a student the ability to overcome obstacles to learning.

So today let’s stop wasting the best and brightest brains and start educating them. Today let’s stop “just getting by” and actually do our best.

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