Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gifted 101

 How much misunderstanding can one group of kids be the victim of? See below. This scratches the surface.

Truly gifted kids are quite frequently bored in our schools. Just because they test into a gifted class doesn't mean the gifted teacher has a CLUE what "gifted" means. Gifted doesn't mean more; it is truly a different way of thinking, and it has nothing to do with color or culture. Georgia Tech has a little helmet you can plop on your head to measure brain activity, and the brains of gifted people make connections faster and with less stops along the way (that's the simplistic explanation, but you get the picture). The question of who gets identified as gifted is as simple as looking in a classroom: upper SES students, regardless of color but generally white or Asian. This is from both experience and research. It is simply a fact.

Gifted DOES NOT EQUAL MOTIVATED. They are not the same thing. This is why you have gifted kids who fail. Please click here for more myths about the gifted.

Contrary to popular belief, not every mother wants a gifted child. Gifted kids often come with hypersensitivity, and an inordinate number of them have undiagnosed AD(H)D (see info and stats here).  They are often defiant and utterly unmotivated by tasks they find useless or repetitive (which is much of public school these days). Profoundly gifted kids, those with a tested IQ of over 145, are a whole other ball of wax. They have a greater capacity for thinking much earlier than the adults in their lives. Our public school systems, and most private schools, are utterly incapable of properly educating these kids. What do you do with a ten-year-old who is writing and publishing papers at the doctoral level (Gabriel See in Seattle)?

Criteria to identify gifted students are set as law across each state, but if you have teachers who are not trained in identifying gifted kids, they will not recommend for testing, especially those kids who are twice-exceptional (or thrice; I had a profoundly gifted kid with Asperger's and Tourette's, plus a seizure disorder. I have taught several highly gifted kids with Asperger's and a solid 40% of my gifted classes had ADD/ADHD (most undiagnosed). When I taught the gifted endorsement, it was astonishing at the level of ignorance of teachers who would not know a gifted kid if they ran over one.
Gifted programs are underfunded and seen as superfluous. Teachers are untrained and lack the time (interest? wherewithal?) to get trained. Most teacher training programs spend an hour or two of gifted kids and move on.

"Gifted" programs are watered down in many schools so they receive more funding. Simplistically, a regular kid is worth 1 block of funding, but a student in a "gifted" class recieves 1.5 blocks of funding, and even more if they are ELL or also in SpEd.  It behooves the school to put more kids in gifted programs (although there are rules about who counts, and not all schools are strictly aboveboard in their accounting). "Gifted" programs are thus moving towards the middle as well, and gifted kids are once again being given short shrift.

I could go on. Gifted kids are my specialty; there is a lot of misinformation in the world about who they are and what they need. It has nothing to do with color, culture, language or age. Anyone who says differently is displaying ignored which can be ameliorated with some research. Hopefully this is a start.

1 comment:

  1. Yes... there are so many teachers that do not recognize the "giftness" that exists in their most difficult students. I'm not blaming them, there is so little time in the school day to meet the needs of all students when the ratio is so high. Enjoyed your article.