Lately there’s been a lot of talk on truu mom about gifted children. Many users doubt the likelihood of there being as many gifted children as truu seems to have. While I agree with them that it is statistically unlikely, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when dealing with parents of exceptional children, including parents of gifted children and parents of children with special needs.
Parents who have to make special accommodations for their child are parents who need to do research. These are parents who are online looking up information from IEP meetings with their school, and trying to find either treatment plans, accommodations, or ways to keep their children entertained because the mainstream solutions don’t work for these kids. So yes, these are the very mothers who are likely to join online mom boards for support. Think about what led you to this website. For nine out of ten of you, you were googling a problem and found a confession as a solution. For me, I was concerned with preeclampsia, which led me to Motherhood Uncensored, which led me here. Had I not googled a problem, I would have never found this site.
Another poster noted that if only one to two percent of the population are gifted then how are there entire gifted classes? That statistic is an old way of looking at things. First of all, there are many types of gifted intelligences. Some children are academically gifted in all subjects, some only one, some are exceptional musicians, or athletes, or artists. For the purpose of school testing, we stick to academic intelligence. When that statistic was generated the test looked a lot different. You had to be gifted in every subject to end up in the special classes.
In addition to the way the old test was performed, that number was based on the number of students tested. Now some of the tests will allow you to only be in gifted math, or literature, or whatever subject you excel at. At the moment only two states have a fully funded gifted program. And even in these states the test is only administered at the parents request and recommendation for the teacher. The remainder of the states that have partially funded gifted programs are a bit stingier with their tests. What this means is that only a very small percentage of the population has been tested. The actual estimate for gifted students is much higher than 2 percent.
There are of course different degrees of gifted students. Some students are just advanced students, others know five languages by age two and can do precalculus before they get out of diapers. But that’s a much, much smaller percentage of the population, and funding wise, it just doesn’t make sense to put aside an entire classroom for a student or two in an entire school.
Right now the gifted system is a bit classist. Children with the most involved parents get tracked into the gifted programs because their parents requested the test. When you’re working three jobs and barely getting food on the table education falls a bit to the wayside, and even if you fully value the education the school is providing you may not have time to go pester the school into getting your child into the right program.
Gifted programs range anywhere from entire gifted schools, pull out programs, random busy work, or AP classes. The largest criticism of the gifted program other than the uneven representation of students due to the current testing system, is that the gifted system encourages tracking. You were tracked if you were every put in an advanced class (or not put in an advanced class), an AP class, a College prep curriculum, or any class you had to test or maintain a grade point average to get into.
The con is that tracking introduces a system of haves and have nots. Some students get a better curriculum, more one on one attention, better resources, and others don’t. The pro to tracking is that the teacher can better teach to the needs of her classroom if the entire classroom is at one level. Not to mention that every standard and educational issue being raised in this country right now is based on the complaint that other countries are performing better than us. What do many of those countries have in common? They all use tracking to the excess, but I digress.
I think one of the biggest issues with the gifted program is the value we place on our kids being exceptional. Average students are the norm, but we put so much pressure on our kids to excel that sometimes as parents we want our kids in the gifted program, even if they don’t belong there. After all, we all want what’s best for our kids, not whats normal.
What do you think?