Article about education for the gifted

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Registered: 05-18-2005
Article about education for the gifted
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Tue, 09-25-2012 - 7:28am

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Registered: 05-18-2005
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 7:36am

I've seen schools go both ways.  When I was in elementary school, gifted education was out of fashion as "elitist".  My friends and I largely grew up as underachievers who were first challenged in graduate school, and had to scramble to learn study skills at that time after spending years coasting to A's.  My son is in a system with separate gifted classes, but most of these classes are within general schools rather than totally segregated.  He's having a much better learning experience, and is more comfortable socially (no bullying for "nerdiness").  The overall school seems to benefit, as the tracks are together for extracurriculars and recess, and the G&T parents are disproportionately involved in the PA.  Average test scores also rise, which helps the school get government funding and grants for extras like music.   Prior to the gifted program era, a lot of those families would have fled to private schools or the suburbs. 

Gwen

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2010
Tue, 09-25-2012 - 10:15am
I think it depends what the criteria for gifted and the goals of education are. If it's standardized testing and grades, I guess the school will end up with a goodish number of high achieving, smart kids who may or may not be gifted.

Mom_ladybug, I completely understand your frustration. Last year my fourth-grader was offered a place in the high school orchestra on the condition that she additionally perform in the elementary orchestra, a deal which resulted in my child bring required to sit through three and a half hours of orchestra a week, doing pieces which were laughably easy. This year she was kept in second violin in the HS group because "what'll we do with her all the next years?" She decided to quit both and join newspaper. Busywork is worse than no accommodations whatsoever because your child ends up getting punished for being out of his/her league.
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Registered: 04-09-2006
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 10:05am
As a violist/violinist who has played a lot of orchestra and chamber music, I must say that although "second" violin is not necessarily as demanding as "first" violin, the inner/lower voices are equally important. In orchestras without enough competent musicians, second violin can be a dumping ground where the weaker players are hidden...but many pros would love to be able to snag even the last second violin chair of a symphony. I agreed to shift from viola to second violin for one concert in the last orchestra I played in (this right before I was made principal viola) and it was by far the most challenging concert of the ten years I played in that ensemble because of the wider range of abilities...the first stand were pros, the last stand gifted high school students who were used to being first stand in their orchestra but finding it hard to fit in a situation where they were not the "leaders"...somewhat contemptuous of their section and not understanding that the hard spots were important enough to practice, although they were no slouches when it came to violin recital time. (And I was last chair, which they assumed was based on my merit, so being in a section with them was like a return to junior high with its jockeying for status. Grin and bear it and wait for them to grow up, right?) BTW, as viola section leader, I shifted the chair assignments around depending on the needs of the piece and the players ... the concertmaster once remarked that violas were "a cut above" the other sections (definitely not because there was more talent there). As in other things, strict ranking in music does not always lead to the best results.
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Registered: 12-06-2010
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 12:36pm
I'm well aware of that argument and do agree, Deborah. The problem comes in when in an already unchallenging environment the better players are automatically put in first violin, and everyone ( including the kids) knows it, and the second violin part is clearly set up to play simple pieces.

It's a question of management. In the above situation, gifted players who are intentionally held back ultimately lose motivation, especially if they're younger. If my kid had been a couple of years older, she could have rationalized the situation and things would have been fine. As it was, she felt caught up in a never-ending slog and felt like her work was not recognized - and she may have been right.
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Registered: 12-06-2010
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 12:38pm
Also (can't edit from my phone) did I mention that all the other players "graduate" to first after one year in orchestra? That's essentially the problem, in a nutshell.
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Registered: 12-06-2010
Wed, 09-26-2012 - 2:06pm
Yes! Exactly. And DD was in a situation where she felt increasingly frustrated. If she had been a year or two older, maybe it would've been okay, but at nine life is still very concrete. Good players play 1st violin, the best one of all gets and always keeps the first seat once he/she is at the right age.
Now she's just playing in a small ensemble during music elective with eight other "advanced" fifth graders. It's not at all a challenge, but at one hour a week is much, much less taxing on her time and patience than the double-duty orchestra. She's enjoying it. Lesson learned, I guess.
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Registered: 05-18-2005
Fri, 09-28-2012 - 10:54am

Ladybug, I love your comment about dc who "has to be met all over the place"!  Our 2nd grader is a 2E also, and sounds like for similar reasons (IEP for fine motor and hand/eye coordination.  Handwriting and drawing are big problems.)  We've been lucky to have teachers so far who really get and practice differentiation.  They get a lot of special projects where they can go as simple or deep as they like, and they get to choose their own books for reading, their own topics for current events, etc.  They just started having a special cluster teacher for math.

Gwen

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Registered: 05-13-1998
Sun, 09-30-2012 - 12:32pm

The further we get in our children's education, the less I'm sold on specialty gifted programs and schools. I'm not saying they don't work for some kids. I just wonder if it really is the best use of limited school funding. My kids have had pretty much everything.... pull-outs, gifted clusters, stand-alone gifted classes, highly gifted tracks, you name it. In the end, what made the difference was quality teachers, flexibility, open-ended  curriculum and opportunities to accelerate (grade or subject acceleration.) These were things that benefited ALL the kids and didn't cost the school anything. 

Personally, I think high school is messed up in general. AP's aren't working. They take a semester college class, spread it out over a year and then make-up a ridiculous amount of busy work to justify it being twice as long. They are still in that "we don't trust you to learn this how you learn best so we're going to have you learn it EVERY way in hopes that something sticks." Then, kids pay for test scores many colleges won't even accept for units anymore. My 15-year-old is taking her courses at the community college now for actual, transferable units and she doesn't have a fraction of the work load she did in AP's.... and she feels like she's learning more. I feel the pressure creates self-centeredness at an age where they don't need any help in that department lol. It also wastes their experimental years. 

I'd never send my kids to a pressure cooker high school. I don't care about the reputation. Those schools in our area graduate impressive kids on paper but they graduate kids who are all look very much the SAME on paper. We know too many kids in these schools that give up on the quirly little things they are passionate about so they can add their resume to the pile of "4.5 GPA, violin playing, president of the Key club." It's our quirky differences and how we develop them than make us interesting isn't it?

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Registered: 12-06-2010
Sun, 09-30-2012 - 4:09pm
"In the end, what made the difference was quality teachers, flexibility, open-ended  curriculum and opportunities to accelerate (grade or subject acceleration.) These were things that benefited ALL the kids and didn't cost the school anything."
I agree. Too bad most schools don't, at least not around here! I don't think we'll see any real change until the kids now entering school have finished. Or until the old-school administrators give way to a new generation of educators.

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