There are also critics of gifted programs like Alfie Kohn and Mara Sapon-Shevin. My most painful memories are of school. I was depressed, bored and a social outcast both in and out of gifted programs. I noticed early on tho, who the "gifted" kids were. They were almost all either asian or jewish while the black and hispanic kids were almost all stuck in remedial.
I think there are multiple topics happening in this thread. I'm not actually advocating for gifted programs as it's not a possibility in my jurisdiction and I'm pretty sure my kids would hate one.
I concluded a long time ago that gifted is just one part of a person who is gifted, moderated by and co-existing along with temperament, self-regulation etc etc. Everyone's experience of a setting is going to be different, some people's needs are more complicated, and some are still going to struggle.
Finally, equitable access to gifted programs is clearly a problem from what I've read about jurisdictions that have them. This problem is not an argument against meeting individual learners' needs via group programming.
Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.
I think that too often the labels are more for the parents than the children. Do you really think it's challenging to reread books or plays when the rest of the class is finally getting to those things? It's not a popular opinion, I'm sure, but I think, in the long run, things do work out, with or without the labels.
From my experience, the tedium of repetition was a problem that occurred with the non-gifted classes, not the gifted program.
In elementary school, I was in a one-day-per-week pull-out program, which just learned entirely different material, NOT learning the same material that would be taught at a later time in elementary school. In junior high and high school, being in the advanced classes did mean learning things earlier, but while on that track, you would never be back with "the rest of the class" in that subject, and if you dropped out of the advanced classes, they'd just move you ahead a year.
The regular classes were repeating stuff all the time. When I was a kid, I was under the impression that the school administration was just too stupid to remember they taught us that already.
I am posting the guidelines to this forum just so that everyone is up to speed:
We will actively discourage an individual from solely posting for the purpose of disagreement, with no interest in practicing the belief or view in discussion, or who posts only to prove a gifted concept or a belief to be wrong, misguided or not based on fact. Arguing or posting to convert someone to a particular definition of giftedness will not be permitted. Controversial subjects related to giftedness can be found elsewhere on the internet, and we invite you to seek out other sites for that purpose.
A lot of my post has stemmed from a recent conversation with my sister-in-law and her worrying about whether or not she's doing ‘enough’ for her kids, considering the constraints of their current financial situation. (I say that in quotation marks because she's a wonderful, giving mother). My niece is going to be tested for the gifted program, whereas my nephew was not. She's worrying because everyone seems to be telling her that their current school district doesn't have a great gifted program, but the actual classes and teachers are really strong. So, if my niece gets in, what do they do--do they move to a different county with a better gifted program but weaker teachers overall? And will either my niece or my nephew suffer long-term effects based on that decision? (Not to mention the anxiety of the test results--if she doesn't quite make the cutoff, how will that affect her self-esteem? etc.)
We talked about it for a long, long time, and, afterward, I thought about some of the conclusions from our talk--and I just thought that there might be some other parents out there, struggling with similar dilemmas, and I wanted to share. I really like this community and have never joined or posted until now. I put myself and my experiences out there because I thought that they may be of help to someone out there. I sincerely never meant to offend anyone, and I do appreciate all the thoughtful responses from everyone.
I still believe that when two or more people come together to share views, there is always something that's gained--even if they don't perfectly align.
I really like this community and have never joined or posted until now. I put myself and my experiences out there because I thought that they may be of help to someone out there. I sincerely never meant to offend anyone, and I do appreciate all the thoughtful responses from everyone.
Thank you for sharing and for a thoughtful discussion!
This rings really true for me. Both my sister and I were in gifted programs, were tested from an early age, etc., and have gone on to lead very different lives as adults. The difference? She felt like doing her homework and I just didn't. Sure, I went off to a "good" college despite awful grades (thank you SAT scores!) but I dropped out. It's only been since I've aged a little that I've taken my education seriously and went back to school to finish my bachelor's when I was 28. I was labeled an underachiever from an early age and felt pressure from family to succeed academically because I was smart and I just... didn't care. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the different path I have taken in life, but I know that I had it in me to get into an Ivy League school, go on to a post-graduate degree, be an academic (like I wish to be now) and sometimes I wonder if the pressure of being told I was so damn intelligent all the time sort of turned me off to academia in general. Then again, my sister who did that path wishes she had the life experiences that I have had-- lots of travel, living in different cities, having kids younger because I didn't have a career, etc. I'm not sure that the gifted programs really benefited us in any way. Sure, we got college credit for our AP classes in high school, but that's the only concrete thing that comes to mind. I remember being really annoyed at receiving an extra packet of math homework in 1st grade and refusing to do it. And I remember feeling isolated when I was taken away from friends to join the advanced reading groups throughout elementary school. I think what more formed us as human beings is the family environment we grew up in-- very literate, political discussions at the dinner table, going to art shows with our mom, tagging along to theses presentations with our dad. I'm not trying to say that gifted programs are worthless. I think for a lot of kids they are necessary and will help them get to a place in life that is possibly more desirable for them. But I certainly won't be pushing it with my kids. Both DH and I have tried to create and environment very close to what I grew up in (and he as well) and we refuse to worry if our kids qualify for whatever gifted program our school offers.
Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)
There are too many variables to be able to comment fairly on this thread. OP, I think that you would have garnered more complimentary and supportive feedback, had you worded your original post from the p.o.v. of "in my experience" and "with my kids today". No parent likes to be preached to, about any parenting topic. Society in general already feels inclined to preach, frequently and loudly, to parents. It's almost a national sport.
In my experience I was in the wrong school environment for 5 years - I was teased, had few friends, in my own daydreaming fantasy land in order to make it through 7 hours a day, five days a week of boredom and stress. This had little to do with gifted or not, it was just the completely wrong environment for me to learn anything in. When I went to high school, I found I finally had access to stimulating classes, and within a semester I was making straight As and had friends.
No one should say that 7 hours a day, five days a week is not critical to their child's development. School is your child's job, and it is a full-time job. No adult would stand half the inequities in a job that we expect of children in their job, every day. I have serious issues with my child's education, and no, I am not going to relax and not worry about it. Now is the time to worry, and fix whatever problems I can. The responsible, caring thing to do is to worry, and fix problems, now, instead of looking back with huge regrets when she is in high school or university and saying "if I only had..."
", so you probably won't be able to avoid that, either. Of course, every parent must make her and his own decisions regarding their children. I hope everyone here is pleased with the outcomes.
I'm curious about those who had depression, dropped out and are struggling in their 20's. But perhaps that's for another thread. I just have questions, such as "how do you know they are gifted if they fell through the cracks?", and "in what way are the adults struggling?".
I'm thinking of 3 cases in particular within my family. My little brother tested highly gifted in 2nd grade but was not given accommodation because he wouldn't consistently do the remedial work in front of him first. Then, he became a behavioral issue and the gifted program would not touch him with a 10 foot pole. He stopped doing the classwork yet at home, he had stacks of stories he'd written, invented machine schematics, graphic novels he'd created.... all really amazing work. He eventually calmed down to the point where teachers wouldn't notice him at all. At that point, he sat in the back, staring at the walls, hiding from bullies at lunch and recess. He's in his 30's, no education, good work ethic but no confidence so doing a menial job that pays nothing. His apartment is the sort they put on TV shows because they are so gross. He had managed to get married to a girl 10 years younger but she left the state and him last year leaving him with a mountain of debt. It's just heartbreaking. I have my own issues with my brother and what his childhood did to mine but he was such a bundle of energy as a kid... so creative, so sensitive and thoughtful.
My niece and nephew. My nephew, who thrived in a GATE program until 6th grade, fell apart when it was cut and placed in a regular class. He barely graduated high school. As an adult, he has no confidence, can't hold down a job and is an alcoholic. My niece, tested gifted only to have the program cut before she could enter it. My SIL was just not equipped to advocate for her and because my niece was quiet and non-confrontational, she got nothing. She's the one who dropped out. She's 22, on anti-depressants, unhappy and working part-time at little seasonal jobs here and there.
Gifted programs and labels are the answer for some kids but not all. I'm an advocate for a flexible education that pays attention to what the individual needs. If that means labels and programs, great. If that means acceleration or specialty schools, great. If that means regular class with some differentiation, great. Problem is, individualized education isn't something that just happens.... either you provide it yourself or you hunt down the right programs for your child and tweak them when necessary. Certainly, there are some kids who will be OK no matter what. I was that sort of kid. My DS is that sort of kid. My DD, not at all.
Journeymom, I have also found this thread frustrating. There are a quite a few disparate beliefs and attitudes that have been raised but I don't have the energy to address everything that I take issue with. KimbleJ, I agree with a fair amount in your OP. Does anyone disagree with the suggestion that social skills, self-regulation and executive function are necessary for success and happiness? I'm just not sure about some unwritten implications about gifted programs that I've read in this thread. While the final statement in the OP may be personally true, it rings false if offered as general evidence that gifted programs are unnecessary:
It’s in the regular classroom that I learned how to behave appropriately (even if a class was ‘boring’) and exhibit decorum in all situations; it’s where I learned how to engage with others, how to listen, how to gauge what I should and shouldn’t say, and how to find a commonality with peers. It’s in the classroom that I learned to understand that people come from all walks of life. That type of learning doesn’t require an I.Q. test and special funding… that type of learning is integral to lifelong success.
IME, gifted classrooms offer myriad opportunities to engage with others, listen, gauge what one should and shouldn't say and find commonality with peers. Gifted students aren't sitting in the classroom working in isolation from each other without any interaction. Giftedness is not limited to a socioeconomic class or race. Thus, IME, gifted programs are often provide some of the most diverse classrooms in a school district because the students are pulled from much larger catchment areas than a neighbourhood school. Any good classroom experience will include expectations of appropriate behaviour and develop the ability to listen to others' ideas and consider different perspectives. This type of learning is not exclusive to one kind of program or school and it is not impossible or even difficult to achieve in a gifted class but your statement suggests otherwise.
For "gifted credentials", I could cite all the various forms of differentiation and gifted programs that I've experienced, either personally, through my children or family members. My children have attended gifted and regular programs in several different school districts. Does it really need to be said that some students, whether gifted and learning disabled and neurotypical, will do well in regular programs and others will do well in special interest or alternative programs? The gifted programs are often, although not always, a lifeline for many students who have not been thriving in regular classrooms for a variety of reasons.
Parents have a vested interest in finding suitable educational programs for their children. In fact, isn't it a biological imperative and part of our evolution to seek out healthy learning environments for our children and to remain involved in their development into mature adults? Some parents become too involved and too anxious, yes. That doesn't mean the inclination to build a solid educational foundation for a child is wrong or misplaced.
I don't think every parent feels sufficiently empowered to advocate for her child in these situations. That's why, in some school systems, gifted programs can be profoundly segregated by race and class, as in Eavesdrop's experience. Also, in some school systems, the gifted program just becomes an honors track--and that's not what gifted elementary schoolers need. This biological imperative idea is compelling but probably not an accurate description of how all parents interact with schools.
I get that the OP wants to reassure her sister (and parents like me, who are in a similar position!) that a gifted child can thrive with or without gifted programming. Some obviously can and some cannot, which is why her sister is stressing out. Here! Think fast! The decision you make now may affect your child for the rest of her life--but no pressure!
It seems like there is so much variation on both the individual needs of students and in the nature of what schools offer that it's not really possible to dismiss this as something that will work out as long as the parents provide unconditional love. I can provide unconditional love, but I suck at higher mathematics, so someone else is going to have to provide that, and even, to help me figure out when it's appropriate to provide that.
Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
@ollyoxenfree-- Definitely understand what you mean. Good points.
You all have offered perspectives that have merit. And you're right--blanket statements shouldn't be made willy-nilly. I didn't include in my original post anything about twice-exceptional children, and I agree that they definitely require specific environments. I think this forum has given rise to a few questions (some that I didn't know I had)--Whether any of you feel like you benefited from your programs, how much you think they're worth for children, and how to discern which children will not be okay without being apart of one. (Of course, these are questions for other threads and other days..).
I think, too, some of the emotion behind what I said would've been tempered if I had said from the get-go the reasons behind it. But I didn't want to mention my sister-in-law or my niece and nephew in an online forum (even if anonymously) without talking to her first. But the sentiment I was trying to convey was--if you're one of the many whose school districts are cutting gifted programs, or if your bright child just barely missed the cutoff (that's what happened with my brother--very upsetting for him), I was trying to say, "Don't despair!"
Anyway, thank you all for your input. Some of you have definitely opened my eyes, and I appreciate it. Thanks.
I remember a story I heard as a child. It was about a very gifted boy. He was the son of a college professor. His father knew how much potential this boy had, and made sure he was 'properly challenged'. The boy graduated high school very young, had a college degree while his peers were still in regular school, and got his PhD at sixteen. He had been top of his class, all along the way. His father was very proud, and invited relatives, friends and colleagues to the graduation ceremony, where his son was delivering a speech. A strange thing happened as the 16 year old looked out at the audience. He began to giggle. He couldn't stop! Eventually, someone came onto the stage and walked him off. All that potential! All that preparation! He ended up working at a convenience store! He granted one interview, many years after the 'breakdown', and said all he wanted was a normal life!
pek64, you are violating the forum guidelines by consistently posting in a manner that is unsupportive and introducing debate and criticism about differences in parenting gifted children.
Although part were already posted by another mod, the full forum guidelines are here: http://www.mothering.com/community/a/parenting-the-gifted-child-forum-guidelines
Please note this particular piece from the guidelines:
If you are going to continue posting in the gifted forum, please do so within the forum guidelines.
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
Dairy, soy & corn free with limited gluten... yes, really. And journeying towards peace. Blogging about both.
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices...
nak pek64, theres a world of difference in providing an education for a gifted child that meets their needs, and one that is provided despite their needs. Any child who has a nervous breakdown had some of their needs ignored. whats wrong with giggling anyway? its actually a fairly rational response to the situation. giggling is a truly wonderful antidote to stress. i myself have been known to break out into unstoppable fits of giggles in response to stress.
while the conversation has been interesting, a clear definition of what constitutes success has never been offered. Does it really matter that your example works in a convenience store? he may be doing something amazing in his spare time. maybe he feels he has nothing to prove.
when it comes to my childrens education, what matters to me is that they are happy and fulfilled 'now'. i dont have a view to how they will turn out. there are too many variables. what if they dont place any value on money, so they turn out to be poor? people rank values differently.
i practise attachment parenting for the same reason....
OK, I need to add to whatsnextmom- she's right, telling your child early on that she's gifted is a huge help, because no one told me about being gifted until seventh grade, and my school HAD a gifted program, I just wasn't in it. so all these years i wasted it being jealous that these kids were so much smarter than me and then i realized that with an IQ of 131, i was actually as smart as they were. Scary moment of epiphany- and also i got mad at my parents for awhile about not telling me. Looking back, I don't regret my education, and I was properly challenged- but without my parents knowing about it. (My parents didn't want me to be in with them because they thought that because I had previous learning problems, it would be too difficult. Well, by fifth grade, they basically faded! And I became bored in some of my classes.) I never did get enrolled in the gifted program, but eventually I attended a special program in high school which helped a lot.
Raising three crazy girls in a loving home in IL. One lil writer, Actor (not belly dancer! Please!) and of course, our lil one says . "We're all in this together"... (high school musical-- EEP!).
OOPS! Sorry- didn't see that there was 3 pages on here already. Please ignore.
Raising three crazy girls in a loving home in IL. One lil writer, Actor (not belly dancer! Please!) and of course, our lil one says . "We're all in this together"... (high school musical-- EEP!).