Gifted Classrooms and the Big Debate Discussed

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Are we making a mistake when we allow marginally gifted kids to enter a class with super intelligent kids in a gifted program? This often occurs when parents demand that their kids are allowed to take classes at a higher level than they’ve actually tested for, but the school administrators okay it, because it is easier than dealing with the conflict of denying entry and having irate parents.

There was an interesting article recently in the Wall Street Journal titled’ “Do ‘Gifted’ Classes Work” which was published on June 4, 2011 in the “education category” which discussed a research paper by Sa A. Bui, Steven G. Craig, and Scott A. Imberman titled; “Is Gifted Education a Bright Idea? Accessing the Impact of Gifted and Talented Program Sustainability” – an NBER Working Paper.

In the article it noted a couple of studies, one where 2500 students were put into a gifted classroom, and due to being “barely” or “almost” certified brilliant in grade 5, then given really a tough teaching curriculum, and by grade 7 were at the same level as the other kids not in the program, also in grade 7. Another program had 550 students selected by lottery for the elite gifted classes which had extra space; “those student had done better in science than their peers not in the program but the same in math, reading, language, or social studies.”

The researchers “speculated” that the increased competition from super talented peers may have been a self-esteem challenge due to substandard grades in the tougher classes, as these kids were no longer amongst the smartest in the average classrooms. That is interesting because over the years, yes, we’ve heard a lot about fostering self-esteem and trying to keep everyone equal, but it gets pretty impossible when the levels of academic achievement and IQ are so vast.

Of course, if the marginally gifted student is in a regular class wouldn’t it also cause the below average students in that class to feel the lesser? Yes, but then where does it all end, that is to say we can’t keep everyone puffed up with happiness and high self-esteem, and to do so defeats the purpose of training and educating our children to compete in the real world, because the real-world does indeed have winners, and losers.

So, with regards to the above research, one should be asking if the challenge is with motivation and self-esteem, and actual “gifted-ness” or with the student’s lack academic discipline, perseverance, and application of self in the learning process. Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this.

Lance Winslow is the Founder of the Online Think Tank, a diverse group of achievers, experts, innovators, entrepreneurs, thinkers, futurists, academics, dreamers, leaders, and general all around brilliant minds. Lance Winslow hopes you’ve enjoyed today’s discussion and topic. http://www.WorldThinkTank.net – Have an important subject to discuss, contact Lance Winslow.

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