on education

thoughts from a graduate student at the university of mary washington

Reflections: Gifted Education – 14 January

January21

I have had such  limited experience with gifted education. Truly, I’ve never been exposed to it. I had friends growing up that were in “GT” or “TAG” pull-out classes, but we never talked about what they did there. In middle and high school, I got onto the “Honors” and “AP/IB” track and to my knowledge, there were no more gifted and talented programs. They were mixed in with us common folk.

Something that sticks with me that one of my AP English teachers said in high school was this: This class, anyone can do. Anyone can be here. You don’t have to be insanely bright or have breakthrough ideas. You just have to be motivated to do the work. And it hit me at that moment. It was SO true. After all, I had never been identified as gifted, and there I was, sitting next to a couple of brainiacs doing the same work. Being in those kinds of classes is only about motivation. Do you want to read four books each semester? Do you want to spend your summer working on dialectical journals? Or would you rather sit glassy-eyed in a classroom staring at a teacher diagramming sentences for the fourth straight year? Of course the gifted kids would pick the former.

I guess it never occurred to me that their academic needs weren’t being met. I mean, if they were doing the same work I was, maybe they were insanely bored where I felt challenged. I remember one run-in in that same AP English class where a kid named Justin was just belligerent with the teacher. We were discussing Paradise Lost and he was thinking about it on a level so different than the rest of us (including the teacher) that she was writing him up for being a distraction. After the talk we had in class about how gifted students can sometimes be seen as behavior issues, I look back and wonder: was that him? I don’t think that teacher was overly concerned with meeting his needs. She was more concerned with him meeting hers.

In chapter one of Fundamentals of Gifted Education, I put a star by the paragraph that talked about the “Would, Could, Should” test: would all students want to do it, could all students do it, and should all students do it? If the answer is yes to any of them, then what you’re doing isn’t appropriate for gifted students. So, you can’t shove them in a class that differs only in motivation level of the students from the “regular” curriculum and expect that to satisfy their needs. We talked in class about how some schools will label these AP/IB courses as their gifted curriculum and not offer any additional support to students identified as gifted/talented. How is this okay? When we were told that only two cents are spent on each gifted child’s education, I was a little shocked. Surely that’s doing them and their talents a disservice.

On the top of my notes page for our first class, I wrote a question to remember for my own someday students: How do I meet your needs? How do I make sure that you aren’t being written up for divergent, higher-level opinions and outbursts of creativity? How do I challenge you? I need to learn a lot more about you, that’s for sure.

posted under EDCI 540
One Comment to

“Reflections: Gifted Education – 14 January”

  1. Avatar March 5th, 2014 at 4:18 pm Laurie Abeel Says:

    “We were discussing Paradise Lost and he was thinking about it on a level so different than the rest of us (including the teacher) that she was writing him up for being a distraction. After the talk we had in class about how gifted students can sometimes be seen as behavior issues, I look back and wonder: was that him? I don’t think that teacher was overly concerned with meeting his needs. She was more concerned with him meeting hers.”
    — Wow.. What a great example of what NOT to with a student! I really like your insight though.. she was more concerned with him meeting hers.. SMH!!

    “When we were told that only two cents are spent on each gifted child’s education, I was a little shocked. Surely that’s doing them and their talents a disservice.”
    — Absolutely.. we really don’t do what is right by these students – but we should! They have every right to learn new concepts and grow.

    Love the questions you wrote down! 🙂


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