Monday, January 23, 2012

Should Your Gifted Kid Take All AP Classes?

Not according to this article, and I have to say I agree.

AP classes are not targeted to gifted students; they are targeted to MOTIVATED students, and this excludes a large number of high-IQ kids. One of the great myths of gifted kids is that they are all super-motivated, enthusiastic learners who dive into every learning task.

Not so, my friend.

Gifted students are a motley bunch, all regular kids (except for the minor issue of the fact that their brains process and integrate facts much more efficiently than their non-gifted peers). I strongly disagree with the quote in this article, and all the burden it lays on these kids:

A gifted student, not atypically, is intrinsically motivated to tackle the hardest, most rigorous option of, well nearly anything!

Not even close, in my experience (thirteen years with the gifted). The only time intrinsic motivation is present for all gifted kids is when the subject is something interesting to the student. Full stop. I find intrisically motivated gifted kids to be very atypical, and I find the most intrinsically motivated kids are on the lower end of the gifted spectrum; they are smart enough to know that hard work and persistence can beat apathetic, procrastinating smarts.

AP classes (of which I teach four) are college-level classes with massive amounts of reading and information. Only the most motivated and self-directed of kids should consider them, and these are generally not students who are identified as gifted (again, in my experience) unless the subject is something they are passionate about (i.e., don't stick a brilliant math student who is apathetic about writing into an AP Language and Comp class.). A motivated gifted kid would be incredible in an AP class, though, especially if it was in their area of interest.

If you are really looking at what is best for your gifted student, drop the notion of appearance, that since they are gifted, they should be gifted in all things. Yes, a "B" in an AP class is the same weight as an "A" in a regular class, but at what price? How much stress can your kid handle before they shut down, and is it in their best interest to make them take these classes in high school?

I don't think so. Let them follow their passions and guide their learning, and watch them grow into the brilliant people they can be. AP classes are not for everyone; evaluate what it best for your kid, regardless of their label. You will all be better off!

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