Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You Cannot Reach Them All...So Sacrifice the Smart Ones.

They will be fine, right? This is the theory of gifted kids anyway. Gifted kids don't really need much to motivate them; they come with a built-in desire for learning and a penchant for difficult tasks. They never shrink from a challenge, and they enthusiastically jump at the chance to challenge themselves.

Not quite. See here for more myths of the gifted.

As public school continues its dramatic slide, I am encouraged to see that more attention (lip service?)  is being paid to students at the upper end of the spectrum. The New York Times ran an opinion piece a couple days ago regarding the sacrificial gifted kids who have suffered due to NCLB; teachers are not trained or skilled in differentiation, plus, as the article points out, differentiation is extraordinarily difficult to do correctly. It requires time to plan, deliver, assess and modify instruction. It requires an administrator who supports something other than worksheets, and parents who are okay with students in the same class doing different things. It requires a teacher who does not mind consistent 10-hour days.

Differentiation can work, and it is a good, temporary solution to budget cuts and shortages. It can't be slapped together, though, without leaving someone out. It appears that gifted students are the ones left behind.

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