Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quality Education Government Non-infl...

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

Education Government Non-influence

18, 2008 – 5:26 am by

I usually like to
keep these

pieces to Monday, but the reduction of gifted education is one of my
pet peeves.

No Child Left
Behind is silent on the education of gifted children. Under the law,
schools must test students annually in reading and math from third
grade to eighth grade, and once in high school.”

All italic quotes are from a
York Times

Facing Tight Budgets, Leave Gifted Programs Behind

Do you remember the
Bell Curve? Intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, we won’t discuss the
validity of IQ scores today, are based on the Bell curve. On the Bell
Curve there should be about 68% of the world with an IQ between 85
and 115, or average. Then 27% of people are either between 70 to 85
or 115 to 130, either slow or smart. Then there are the two
percenters, people above 130 or below 70. These were traditionally
the cut off for being considered gifted or retarded. Though neither
word holds such a strong and fast clinical definition anymore.

People say,
‘These kids are smart. They’re going to make it anyway,’ ”
Ms. Groves said. But experts say that gifted children can easily grow
bored and alienated.

I think No Child
Left Behind (NCLB) has done a good job of focusing attention on
students who are average or below. NCLB is all about getting everyone
at or above a minimum standard. Even though the two percent of people
at the bottom of the Bell Curve can’t by definition meet the
minimum standards, this is still the expectation. The bigger problem,
at least for future generations, is the top two percent.

Others contend
that cutting programs for such students threatens the nation’s
future by stunting the intellectual growth of the next generation of
innovators. Not only do gifted children learn faster, but often they
learn in a different way, experts say.”

Take a minute to
consider a person with an IQ below 70. How different is that person
from the average? Now think for one second about the other two
percent. They are just as different from the average.

In small towns
like Mountain Grove, Mr. Walker said, ”a tremendous amount of
frustration can build up in these kids, because they’re different,
but they don’t know why.” When she participated in the classes
for the gifted, Audrey felt less isolated for her bookishness and
learned to manage frustration that used to crush her, when her
efforts did not live up to her vision.”

For most people
education in the basics is a great and wonderful thing. For most
people all they really need are Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic from
school and they will have a good chance of being successful in the
world. For some though education must be different. For some Reading,
Writing, and Arithmetic is just the beginning.

These are the
kids who are either going to turn out to be nuclear scientists or
Unabombers,” said Ms. Groves, who now teaches high school remedial
students at the vocational school. ”It all depends on which way
they’re led.”

If you are tempted
to not worry about the two percent think about how many that is: in
Chicago 2% is almost 60,000: in the U.S. 2% is over 6,000,000: in the
world 2% is 132,044,483 people.

It is my view that
gifted education needs to be supported as much as special education.
I also think it can be easier to support. Many schools may only have
8 or 10 gifted students spread across several grade levels so hiring
a special administrator may not be cost effective. However new
technology can help. Companies like

are already set up to host virtual lessons. Why not send gifted
students to take a math or art course online, funded by the district?

Yes, most of the
time having a teacher actually in the room is preferable, if only to
know when students are and are not paying attention. However, when a
student is motivated the teacher becomes less important as an
authority figure and more important as a mentor. Believe it or not
students are most motivated to learn, and learn more, when they are
learning at an appropriate level.

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