08 September 2008

Gifted Child Epidemic

Sandra Tsing Lo has a book out Mother on Fire in which she recounts her efforts to get her 4 year old into a prestigious preschool, and after being rejected finds success in the local public school.

Especially amusing in The Juggle's story is the the Parent Magazine Poll in which 70% of the respondents believe their child is Gifted.


Mark Miller said...

That 70% figure is a disgrace. It should be 100%. What sort of parent doesn't believe his child isn't gifted in something?

Sure, the rest of the world can set their bar at some arbitrary level and allocate resources accordingly. But to me, my kid is the greatest child ever! Treating him/her as anything less instills an expectation of mediocrity before they ever get started.

I believe good parenting is all about coaching and challenging our kids to discover their own greatness, whatever it may be. A solid foundation of love is vital, but beyond that, if a kid's own parent doesn't believe in their intrinsic greatness, how's the child or anyone else supposed to?

CityKin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CityKin said...

Well said Mark, but think of it this way. I have a son that struggles in reading and writing. I would not put him in the so-called "gifted" program (they wouldn't have him anyway). That does not mean he cannot someday rule the world. His strengths are many, and I do sing his praises to anyone who will listen.

And regarding gifted kids, please don't explain away their bad manners on their genius, ..ughh.

Mark Miller said...

Einstein had teachers who said he would never amount to anything. J.K. Rowling went from single welfare mom to multi-millionaire in 5 years. Neither had a pedigree or a resume that would lead anyone to describe them as "gifted" before they overcame their circumstances to achieve planet-class success. And there are millions more just like them.

The kid who has to struggle for his successes (tortoise) usually has it all over a talented kid who coasts on his gifts (hare). They develop good work habits early and learn to trust more in their inner drive than others' opinions of them. Nearly everyone at the top is a tortoise, or a hare that adopted tortoise-like behaviors. The ones who give up the struggle are life's losers.

As for manners, I'm with you. That's a basic courtesy that everyone must be expected to master. Nobody has any excuse.

VisuaLingual said...

But isn't one fallacy of a "gifted" program that it imposes limits of what a child's gifts may be? I think the tracking that happens, especially earlier on in school, doesn't necessarily allow children to develop at their own rates or in their own ways. It runs the risk of labeling the children who don't conform to that one idea as "ungifted" [and, honestly, placement in a gifted program has a lot to do with involved or even pushy parents].

Anonymous said...

A classroom is full of children with varied needs - and something should be done to address the needs of as many of these children as possible. Just as a child who is struggling shouldn't have to be lost in a classroom, a child who is thriving shouldn't be lost either.

Many states treat "giftedness" similarly to a learning disability - because it's something that requires a special education plan.

There is a problem when a parent or status is dictating which children receive this educational opportunity. When that happens, the children all suffer.

Radarman said...

Bitter experience taught me that there are few uneasier pairings than that of an Elementary Education major (dismally low SATs, etc. as a group) and a program for smart (gifted, if you will) students.