Do you buy into the gifted label? - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-15-2008, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Nephew was recently tested in his school as "gifted"- My MIL made a big deal out of this in front of DD who is the same age but attends a MOntessori school that has no "gifted" distinction. She asked me to explain what gifted was and I told her its something that he is doing at his school deal and left it at that. I struggled with my answer because I did not want her to think that she is not "gifted" when gifted seems to be such a big deal( to MIL)

My dn was tested at school- not an Iq test, but a teacher evaluation. Both dn and dd read at a second or third grade level, can add and subtract (dd very large numbers with montessori manipulatives) and are generally smart kids, but gifted???? Of course, there are gifted 5 year olds, but the type of profound giftedness that I think of as "gifted" just isn't here. The trend in our community is to test lots of kids into the gifted program- which is great but the fact that the kids are smart and maybe performing above grade level is not the same as a profound gift. For example, I was a good lawyer with a good record of court wins and appeals- does this make me a "gifted" lawyer, or simply slightly better at my job (or a harder worker) than other lawyers in my area? kwim?

My husband is a bona fide genius (no kidding)- he read at three, skipped one grade and was asked to skip a second in high school, graduated from UVA with honors in engineering and from UC Boulder with a masters in environmental engineering. He can build and fix almost anything. He by every definition was termed "gifted" in school, however, he still struggles with his writing and while he loves music, has been unable to catch on the the piano or guitar despite lessons. I graduated near the top of my class in law school, but cannot balance my checkbook or perform simple division to save my life. Not everyone is gifted in the same way kwim???

I HATE the term gifted for the reason that when kids are tested and labeled as gifted, it places a lot of value on ONE type of giftedness, while ignoring other kinds. Sure, some of us may be good at academics and have gifts in math or writing, but others, like my brother were not in the "gifted" class and he really felt not as smart or successful- and it took him a long time to uncover his very wonderful gift for music.

So, how can I reconcile my distain for the label and my ILs value of it? How can I make sure that dd knows that she is every bit as smart as dn, although they may have been given different gifts??
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Old 06-15-2008, 11:46 PM
 
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I would step back and not get competative about this.

For one thing, you *don't* know if your daughter is "every bit as smart" as her cousin. She might be more, might be less. Unless you're privvy to all the test results, you don't know. And assuring your daughter this is pretty much "buying into" competition.

I would just tell MIL that you'd prefer there not to be competition between the cousins, so to please not denigrate your DD's school or accomplishments. And by the same token, you shouldn't denigrate DN's lable either.

Gifted parents do not guarantee gifted or "genius" children, nor do non-gifted parents rule out gifted kids.

I would nip this competativeness you seem to be feeling in the bud.

Instead of building up or individually appreciating your daughter and her cousin as their own people, you're doing something very similar to what you're saying MIL is doing--except for you're being dismissive of the *other* child. Please don't do that.

If you are concerned that your DD isn't getting the services she needs, then by all means, have her tested too. There's really no need to break down the how/whys of how your DN was tested.

Either that, or if you don't believe that being labeled gifted makes a difference, then don't denigrate people with that label. It shouldn't matter to you either way.
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Old 06-15-2008, 11:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you misread my post. Both kids are smart and I am sure "gifted" in their own way. I am very happy with the education that my kid is gettting and I assume that dns mom is too. The post isn't about whether or not dn is gifted or not, but the label gifted being given to kids- how it tends to ignore kids with gifts that may not fit into the academic box to their detriment.

I just finished the book Guerilla Learning and it talks about making sure kids know that grades, test results and yes, "gifted" labels are just one point of view, one opinion of one very specific snapshot in time. They have no bearing in reality. A child who values learning for its own sake will have a more fufilling and self directed life of learning and define for themselves what their gifts may be.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:00 AM
 
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I have to agree that you do seem a little upset about his being labeled as "gifted." Could it be that you don't feel that your daughter is getting the credit that she would get if she were in a mainstream school? Sometimes kids get labeled as gifted and put into more challenging classes because that's what will keep them motivated and not bored in normal classes. It's not about them being generally better at everything than other kids.

You're raising your daughter and she's obviously bright and challenged appropriately. Just feel secure in that and not threatened by your MIL's bragging about her other granchild. I completely understand how that can happen. Sometimes, when my Mom or MIL talk about thier other grandchildren, I get a little jealous. It's not that I would want to do anything different than what I'm doing, but I want to feel that my Mom, MIL also think that my kids are awesome and that I'm doing a great job.

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Old 06-16-2008, 12:04 AM
 
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The post isn't about whether or not dn is gifted or not, but the label gifted being given to kids- how it tends to ignore kids with gifts that may not fit into the academic box to their detriment.
So are you against this label because of the way it may make other children, who are not given this label, feel badly? What about using the phrase "varsity athlete" to describe the school's most competent sports players? Should this phrase be abandoned because it would make my unathletic child feel inferior and may not acknowlege his other gifts? In the realm of education,"gifted" refers specifically to a special intellectual/academic ability. If your child has other "gifts," he or she should be acknowledged for those with whatever language is relevant to those special talents.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:09 AM
 
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I started a discussion along similar lines that went on for a long time. This is a very hot topic believe it or not. For what it's worth, I tend to agree with your line of thinking. Could you say to your DD something like 'Grandma is excited because DN gets to join a class called G&T (or whatever) and they do cool things in that class. Your school doesn't have that kind of class but you get to do other really cool stuff at school like xyz. Grandma would love to hear about that'. And to Grandma 'It's great that DN tested as gifted. Cup of tea?'.

I don't know how to post a link to an old discussion but I will try.


http://www.mothering.com/discussions...american+trend
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:11 AM
 
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I can see why you would have some baggage with the term. But I find with myself whenever I am reacting strongly to how someone else is labelling themselves or others, it's a sign that I myself have something unresolved going on.

All of which is to say that your niece is not your husband or your child. Maybe it's a great label for her. It does NOT relate to the value or "appreciatedness" of other people. Labelling one child gifted doesn't mean the rest are stupid or unskilled.

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Old 06-16-2008, 12:32 AM
 
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Do I buy into the label for whom and under what circumstances? For your nephew? I've never met him. Generally? Within schools? You've posted something very personal, and it sounds more like you are asking about managing your appearance of disdain more than others' opinions about the label.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:37 AM
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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The gifted label doesn't mean that the kids get better or more appropriate education, actually. The onus for that is on the parents. From what I have seen, parents of "gifted" kids often have to keep on fighting to get their kids the education they need, rather than just extra busywork.

So I'm not sure what it is that you're so upset about, on the behalf of all kids. Getting the label isn't the end of the story. It's just the beginning. Same thing with special ed kids, or any other child that has special needs.

As for how you deal with your disdain, well...I think you just be mature and composed about it. Don't argue about it, don't make snotty comments, don't get competative, don't look down on your DN's parents. It seems to me, again, just from your presentation, that perhaps you already have a tense relationship with MIL and this is yet another way she's annoying you. Fair enough. How do you normally handle her when she's being obnoxious? This isn't any different from any other silly thing she might say.

Is there some other dynamic at work here?

Because honestly, in most school districts, gifted kids do NOT get all the focus. Giftedness is often as individual as other special needs, but most of the time the "gifted kids" are all lumped together, there's no individual plan. I have to disagree that somehow in general gifted kids get better or more appropriate education than anyone else in the public schools. They don't. Your DN is not taking away education from someone else, any more than you putting your child in a Montessori program is your attempt to hothouse flower her (because there are plenty of rich people who latch on to Montessori as a way to grow geniuses too, as misguided as that is. Anything can be abused).

Do you feel that MIL already favors your nephew? If so, surely this isn't the first time that it's come up. How do you normally handle it, aside from the gifted thing?

Because really, this doesn't appear to be about gifted at all. It's you worrying about the difference in treatment and what your MIL said, which is a very valid concern. Most of the time people don't start behaving like that out of the blue. So has something like this happened before?
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really don;t think that MIL meant to be inappropriate- in fact, I am sure that she had not idea that having that discussion in front of dd could make her feel inferior. you are right, she does bug me and maybe that is why this bugged me so much. She is always saying things that make me cringe because she doesn't thin kof how it may make someone else feel. If SIL had said it, i mam sure she would not have said it in that way in front of dd.

I did not mean to imply that schools steal education from regular kids for the gifted kids- I honestly have no idea how the gifted program works and I am sure it works well for many people. I had no idea that this was such a hot issue with such heated responses.

Again, I recommend Guerilla Learning- its a great resource to use even if your kid is not gifted and you want to avoid busywork in school.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:59 AM
 
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OP.

I totally agree with you.

I think that the term gifted should be reserved for the truely highly gifted students - like IQs of 150 or higher. I think that the 'gifted' label is WAY too widely used.

To the poster who compared it to 'varsity athlete' - it's not like that. It's like giving EVERYONE who does any kind of physical activity at school an "athlete" label - regardless of their competence. And then treating them differently from the kids who choose to spend their recess reading a book or chatting with their friends.
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Old 06-16-2008, 02:34 AM
 
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I think that the term gifted should be reserved for the truely highly gifted students - like IQs of 150 or higher. I think that the 'gifted' label is WAY too widely used.
FYI, the IQ scales on the latest generation of tests have shifted such that 140 now represents the 1/1000 kids (i.e. 99.9th percentile).
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Old 06-16-2008, 02:38 AM
 
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FYI, the IQ scales on the latest generation of tests have shifted such that 140 now represents the 1/1000 kids (i.e. 99.9th percentile).
Are you serious? I remember when 160 was the 'magic' number...

Well then - over 140...

Below that I think that it's silly.

Then again - the city I live in used to 'stream' kids very aggressively stream students based on their performance and IQ (in my parent's time) and the new liberal application of the gifted label seems to be a move back towards that.
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Old 06-16-2008, 02:52 AM
 
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Are you serious? I remember when 160 was the 'magic' number...

Well then - over 140...

Below that I think that it's silly.

Then again - the city I live in used to 'stream' kids very aggressively stream students based on their performance and IQ (in my parent's time) and the new liberal application of the gifted label seems to be a move back towards that.

I think it's a shift in how the tests are scored and not that they are lowering the bar. You know, sort of like 140 is the new 160. LOL

I don't have issue with kids being labeled gifted, I have two of them. What I have issue with is how the schools go about 'helping' these gifted kids. I'm sure some schools can challenge each child where they need it, but most I've seen just dole out more busy work.

OP, if I were in your situation I'd just explain to my child that her school didn't have separate classes for gifted kids, because all kids are gifted in one way or another and that each school handles this type of situation differently.
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Old 06-16-2008, 02:53 AM
 
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Are you serious? I remember when 160 was the 'magic' number...
You can see the comparisons of the old and new tests here. There are also all sorts of issues in measuring IQ at the extreme upper end. The real story, however, is usually in the subtests, as one way to define giftedness is as asynchronous development. So you could have a child whose overall test score wouldn't qualify him for the gifted program, but whose mathematical ability is on the higher end of the scale. Here's Hoagie's testing page.
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Old 06-16-2008, 03:10 AM
 
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The gifted label doesn't mean that the kids get better or more appropriate education, actually. The onus for that is on the parents. From what I have seen, parents of "gifted" kids often have to keep on fighting to get their kids the education they need, rather than just extra busywork.
I have lots of thoughts, but it's late. This statement, though, bears repeating. Gifted children - which does not include all high-IQ kids - do not get significant services in most school districts.

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Old 06-16-2008, 03:12 AM
 
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I think that the term gifted should be reserved for the truely highly gifted students - like IQs of 150 or higher. I think that the 'gifted' label is WAY too widely used.
You're talking about genius, and most schools don't define gifted in that way. Very few schools use real IQ tests. An IQ of 145 is 3 standard deviations above normal, and it fits about .2-.5% of the population.

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Old 06-16-2008, 03:20 AM
 
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I think the underlying issue here has nothing to do with the term gifted. I would be very ticked off by the interaction you described, and I am fine with the term gifted.

It sounds like the issue is that grandma is competitive and implying that your nephew is somehow superior because he is gifted.

That would be highly annoying, especially if this is not the first time.

You didn't mention your kids' ages, or maybe I missed it. How old are they?
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Old 06-16-2008, 03:52 AM
 
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May be slightly off tangent here, but I've always had some issues with the term gifted. My reasons are that I was labeled gifted in school and we got to do really cool stuff like huge independent projects on things that interested us and tons of creative based learning. Overall, I've always felt it was a curriculum that ALL kids would have benefitted from(granted I have no educational background, so perhaps there is something I'm missing) and thought it was really silly it was being saved for certain kids who scored well on some tests.

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Old 06-16-2008, 03:53 AM
 
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Oh! And also, all the kids in the gifted program were from the wealthiest families in the area. I think there was one kid from a lower income family...it just smacked of something wrong. Perhaps this has changed...

S, mama to boy M(6/07) and baby girl R(7/10). We do all the good natural family living stuff!
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Old 06-16-2008, 04:33 AM
 
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May be slightly off tangent here, but I've always had some issues with the term gifted. My reasons are that I was labeled gifted in school and we got to do really cool stuff like huge independent projects on things that interested us and tons of creative based learning. Overall, I've always felt it was a curriculum that ALL kids would have benefitted from(granted I have no educational background, so perhaps there is something I'm missing) and thought it was really silly it was being saved for certain kids who scored well on some tests.
: I been watching this thread all day as the posts continue to quickly increase. WOW, this does seem to be a hot topic!! However, this post convinced me I need to throw my : out there and get some feedback.

sharr610 you are absolutely RIGHT. ALL students should be offered the benefit of independent study based on their interests and abilities. This shouldn't be reserved for just the gifted. The strategies and thinking skills that gifted students are exposed to through indep. study are good for ALL students. As an administrator, this is one area that I am very passionate about.

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Old 06-16-2008, 05:03 AM
 
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I think it's a public school (or similar type school) thing, for the most part. Your DN is probably bright and ahead of most in his class. Put him in the G&T program and it keeps his parents happy, hopefully his needs are better met and maybe the school benefits by keeping a few kids who would have been otherwise sent to private school or homeschooled.

It doesn't mean anything as far as your DD is concerned as she is not in that same environment. You are right when you say it's something your DN is doing at his school. Let yourself be genuinely happy for him (as it sounds like you want to be you are just worried about your DD) and you can let your DD know that it's a good thing for DN so he's not bored at school and that her school doesn't do that because...(here you can say a few great things about her Montessori school).

ETA: I don't mean to say that your DN isn't gifted (how would I know?), or that giftedness doesn't exist.
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Old 06-16-2008, 11:31 AM
 
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ALL students should be offered the benefit of independent study based on their interests and abilities. This shouldn't be reserved for just the gifted. The strategies and thinking skills that gifted students are exposed to through indep. study are good for ALL students. As an administrator, this is one area that I am very passionate about.
Absolutely, but conversely too often pullout programs with "cool" projects masquerade as a meaningful gifted program or acceleration policy. It's heartbreaking hearing about kids who are reading, say, The Chronicles of Narnia at home, but who are forced to do phonics worksheets and "learn to read" along with their classmates. We homeschool and don't have to fight this battle, but my oldest would have been bored silly in a regular classroom, even with TAG pullouts. There is a highly gifted magnet school in our district, but it has a waiting list and doesn't take kids before 1st grade (and it doesn't have much in the way of P.E. or arts).
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Old 06-16-2008, 11:36 AM
 
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Absolutely, but conversely too often pullout programs with "cool" projects masquerade as a meaningful gifted program or acceleration policy.
Yes, this. We woefully underserve the brightest minds in this country. It sickens me to know how little we provide for really smart kids - mostly under the guide that other children will feel badly or that other children deserve the same things. Parents of gifted children have to fight for quality services for their children, and it's often a losing battle. We as a nation spend 10 times more money on services with special needs than on gifted children.

When we looked at places to move, we specifically sought out a place with an excellent acceleration program for gifted children. Just to know that there's a clear policy for grade-skipping made me happy because it indicates a district where administrators understand the issues related to the education of gifted children.

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Old 06-16-2008, 12:14 PM
 
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Absolutely, but conversely too often pullout programs with "cool" projects masquerade as a meaningful gifted program or acceleration policy. It's heartbreaking hearing about kids who are reading, say, The Chronicles of Narnia at home, but who are forced to do phonics worksheets and "learn to read" along with their classmates. We homeschool and don't have to fight this battle, but my oldest would have been bored silly in a regular classroom, even with TAG pullouts. There is a highly gifted magnet school in our district, but it has a waiting list and doesn't take kids before 1st grade (and it doesn't have much in the way of P.E. or arts).
I think that there is NOTHING wrong with this at all...

Maybe I'm coming at this from a different angle. The school I went to had being able to read as a requirement for entry into grade 1. They didn't have an IQ requirement. But you had to read to the principal as part of the 'interview'.

Then - we spent the first half of grade 1 really 'learning' phonics. Going into FAR more depth than any other phonics program I have ever seen. And at the same time - reading books and memorizing poems. (they did 1 poem each week that we recited on Fridays... This started on the second week of school).

As an adult I am constantly required to do 'learn' things that I already know how to do. I have gone to 3 training courses this year alone where I read the 'manual' before I got there - and was bored silly by the actual course. But the coping skills that I developed over my course of school are REALLY useful. Because I've learned that there is nothing wrong with 'practicing' skills I already have. There is also always something 'knew' to learn.

I just don't understand what's 'wrong' with a kid practicing their phonics skills even when they can read. Isn't that the point of school - to practice these things? You do repetitive math problems until it's second nature to add, subtract, differentiate....
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:14 PM
 
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As someone who had (has?) this label, no, I absolutely don't buy it.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:32 PM
 
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I think that there is NOTHING wrong with this at all...
I've heard rumours that you go to school to learn. You think it's OK for a child to go to school for a year and learn nothing? It happens, and there are plenty of school districts with a no acceleration policy.

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I just don't understand what's 'wrong' with a kid practicing their phonics skills even when they can read. Isn't that the point of school - to practice these things? You do repetitive math problems until it's second nature to add, subtract, differentiate....
Because we're not talking about a little "practice," we're talking about day after day of phonics and reading drills and it's a waste of their time. Phonics to learn spelling, great. Phonics to read the goat book in unison with their class? No. And that was just one example. What about math? My DD would have started school being able to do multiple digit addition and subtraction in her head. I hope you're not suggesting that it would have been good use of her time to do worksheet after worksheet of single digit problems to hone her skills?
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:40 PM
 
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I think that there is NOTHING wrong with this at all...

Maybe I'm coming at this from a different angle. The school I went to had being able to read as a requirement for entry into grade 1. They didn't have an IQ requirement. But you had to read to the principal as part of the 'interview'.

Then - we spent the first half of grade 1 really 'learning' phonics. Going into FAR more depth than any other phonics program I have ever seen. And at the same time - reading books and memorizing poems. (they did 1 poem each week that we recited on Fridays... This started on the second week of school).

As an adult I am constantly required to do 'learn' things that I already know how to do. I have gone to 3 training courses this year alone where I read the 'manual' before I got there - and was bored silly by the actual course. But the coping skills that I developed over my course of school are REALLY useful. Because I've learned that there is nothing wrong with 'practicing' skills I already have. There is also always something 'knew' to learn.

I just don't understand what's 'wrong' with a kid practicing their phonics skills even when they can read. Isn't that the point of school - to practice these things? You do repetitive math problems until it's second nature to add, subtract, differentiate....
Um, yeah, because kids respond to being bored by learning that it's good for them and just complying...

... or, out here in the real world, they become disruptive, discouraged, and turn off school for life.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NoHiddenFees View Post
I've heard rumours that you go to school to learn. You think it's OK for a child to go to school for a year and learn nothing? It happens, and there are plenty of school districts with a no acceleration policy.
I learned 'nothing' my first year at university because the school I went to covered a bunch of university material in grade 12.

I think that there's SO MUCH MORE for a child to learn in grade 1 beyond simple academics.... If I just wanted my child to learn to read and do math - I would homeschool. I want my child to get the 'other' benefits. I want her to learn how to sit still, how to do what her 'boss' says even though she thinks it's dumb. I want her to learn skills she won't learn at home.

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Because we're not talking about a little "practice," we're talking about day after day of phonics and reading drills and it's a waste of their time. Phonics to learn spelling, great. Phonics to read the goat book in unison with their class? No. And that was just one example. What about math? My DD would have started school being able to do multiple digit addition and subtraction. I hope you're not suggesting that it would have been good use of her time to do worksheet after worksheet of single digit problems to hone her skills?
I do think that's useful. The school I went to was a private school with a very long waiting list. And has historically ended up in the top 5 rankings for grade 6 and 9 in my province....

And having been through a system where repetitive practice for gifted (by grade 4 or 5 everyone was 'gifted) was what happened - I think it's incredibly useful. I saw how I did in university VS how my classmates (just as smart) who went through the public system did. In my 1st year linear algebra class the prof had to devote a lecture to teaching how to do algebraic long division?????? Seriously. Even though my classmates had "learned" to do it - they'd forgotten. Examples like that were all over the place.

To use your example of doing single digit addition. Of course there's something to it.

But here's my question for you - what's the harm? What's the worst that happens? The kid already know the answers by sight - and quickly writes them down and moves onto something else? That doesn't sound to bad.

I know how to wash dishes.... But I still have to do it everyday. I know how to write my timesheet for work - but I still have to do it at the end of the month if I want to get paid. I see incredible value for students, ESPECIALLY 'gifted' ones, to learn how to do things they find boring or that they already know how to do.
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