Every Child is Gifted? Nonsense!Sep 11, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
[originally written as a comment to SurveyPaid's Epinion entitled "Every Child"]
As a former 5th grade teacher in a mainstreaming school which operated according to the philosophy which you outline, I cannot agree with the review Every Child written by SurveyPaid. Certainly, a three-year old is too young to be identified as intellectually gifted for sure, and most teachers and doctors tell parents that their babies and toddlers are exceptional just as a matter of good public relations.
Nonetheless, 6, 7 and 8 year olds absolutely are old enough to be categorized according to intellectual development, and it is to the benefit of these children to be placed in an environment which addresses their needs. When I taught 5th grade, I had one student in the 99th percentile who could have been anything that she wanted to be. The problem was that I could hardly ever give her the attention she needed because I had to spend so much time teaching the rest of my class skills that they should have learned in the 2nd grade.
A full 50 percent of my students were classified as part of the school's special education (meaning FAR below average) program. The school's administration and special education staff kept telling us that "every child is able to learn" and "every child is gifted". Well sure, every child is able to learn SOMETHING, but some children are able to learn much more than other children. NOT every child is truly gifted. Most are average -- that's what average means -- and many are below average. It doesn't serve the needs of children with intellectual deficits to pretend that they are geniuses, and it doesn't serve the needs of truly gifted children to pretend that they are just like their classmates. They know better, and so do their classmates.
The one gifted child I had in my classroom had no one at her intellectual level to interact with. The special education zealots tell us that it is socially beneficial for intelligent children to be forced to study with the mentally retarded, but I never observed any benefit for this student. She was ready to learn algebra, but was forced to spend her time helping her classmates learn single-digit addition.
The bottom line is this: as long as all children are grouped together regardless of intellectual ability, teachers will be forced to teach to the students of lowest ability while the rest of the class waits for them to catch up. Read all the educational theory that you want, but this is what happens. In such an environment, gifted students get bored and turned off to school. They become restless and start causing problems for their teachers just in order to stimulate their active minds.
Face the facts: intellectually gifted children are different, and pretending that it isn't so won't make any difference. When we defund programs for gifted and talented students, we fail to invest in the children which have the greatest potential to improve the lives of the next generation.
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