Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Giftedness

Mrs. Chew said it better than I could (as so often happens!)... Oftentimes giftedness is described as something innate, in much the same way that certain learning disabilities are described as genetic or something you're born with. So I was surprised to see that Suzie's list was mostly stuff that is under someone's control, and generally correlates with being middle class. Thus, my question in her comments about whether it was causal or correlative... It seems to me that if the idea of giftedness as inborn is valid, then a school should worry if all their "gifted" kids come from stable, middle class families with talented parents. Her follow-up post gets into this a bit, that many kids from minority or low-income backgrounds, or with non-verbal forms of giftedness, get overlooked. She goes on to defend the idea of innate giftedness as a valid reason for kids getting additional education resources. I'm not taking that one on right here. In general, I believe that there are a few - very few - kids who are so unusually intelligent that they need a whole different approach to education. Then, most of the kids in GT classes are very intelligent but mostly lucky (as Mrs. Chew proposes). Their parents are smart enough to realize that GT classes offer them a more rigorous, interest-driven, individualized education than the regular tracks. True, but I would argue that nearly all children would benefit from approaches such as Suzie describes! Finally, a few kids need special education services. I think the special ed situation could use a major overhaul; some kids desperately need different approaches, while many others in those classes would be fine if the regular track teachers had the resources & training to provide ALL the kids with the kind of individualized instruction they would get in special ed or GT classes. These special approaches are often just the kind of education we should want for all our children - and I say that as someone who is not particularly talented at differentiated instruction or any of the rest of it.

Anyway, this is a sensitive topic and I may not have made myself absolutely clear, so I hope I don't get flamed! It's off to bed for now and perhaps a revision to clarify what I'm trying to say tomorrow.

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