Summary and Op-Ed of Genius Denied
“Theeducation of gifted children is a special form of education.” Theeducation system of gifted children should focus on their currenteducational needs and not the prospects of future eminence. No singleprogram can accommodate all gifted children, hence the need to varytheir education from one district to another.
Theword ‘intelligence’ has several meanings that create a broadmeaning to it. “In the past, the definition of gifted childrenrevolved around academic achievements and IQ tests”. The formaldefinition of gifted specifies that these children are all round interms of leadership, psychomotor activities, aptitude tests andcreativity.
“Schoolpersonnel could either adopt the packaged-program approach or try toreplicate locally, a program that is working in another locality.”A system based approach of the gifted children program is designed bythe school personnel. The team considers a number of factors to comeup with a personalized program.
Amonggeneral assumptions held by parents are that the normal schoolcurricular is not appropriate for the gifted children. A curriculumfor the gifted children affects many generations to come and shouldtherefore be selected carefully. “A curriculum plan for the giftedmust be written down and communicated appropriately within a schooldistrict” (Borland 55). Curriculum alignment in gifted childrenprograms is a major problem.
Beforeinstituting any gifted children program, there is need for a needassessment. The school should look at many factors before takingstarting the program. “A school with many faculties can take asmany gifted children as possible”.
“Theschool district should recognize and accept the centrality of thecurriculum and its overall enterprise of schooling.” Parent supportis important in curriculum development.
Choosingthe mode of instruction should be in line with the curriculum andobjectives of the program. “The instruction strategy should meshwith the cognitive style of both learner and student”. The pacingof the program should be comfortable for the learner.
Borland, James H. "IQ tests: Throwing out the bathwater, savingthe baby." Roeper Review 8.3 (1986): 163-167.
Op-ed: The gifted Children Program is skewed
Whatis the criterion for separating gifted children from the rest? Thisquestion has been on the minds of many parents and teachers alike. AsBorland wrote, when a certain school wanted to introduce a newselection criterion for the gifted children, almost all the parentsobjected because they were afraid that their children could fail tomake the cut. Currently, the tests for determining whether someone’seight-year-old is “gifted” enough for his age include aptitude,creativity, problem solving, and art. What the criterion does nottell us is that some children were born into families that exposedthem to these main determinants of the test.
Let’stake the example of an eight-year-old growing in a war torn countryin the Middle East. The child has never been exposedto art, hiscreativity is low, and the only problem-solving skill he has is toavoid areas with landmines. A “gifted” kid from such a communitywill only be able to pass the aptitude test. The question thatcreates much controversy regarding the issue is, “Are thesechildren really gifted, or simply coming from privilegedbackgrounds?”
Theidea that these children could be coming from a privileged backgroundthat has exposed them to various aspect of the test, cannot beignored. Some children are raised in homes that are artistic- theparents, older siblings and extended family are all into art. By theage of five, such a child will already have developed interest inart. When they come to the test for the gifted children, the alreadyartistic child will appear gifted in the eyes of the examiner. Inessence, we know that if the child had not been born into an artistichome, he would never have been such a genius in art.
This scenario begs the question aredeveloped skills consideredgifts?In the context of education, a gift usually implies an advantage,over the rest, that the child is born with. The term ‘giftedchildren’ is an alternative to what we colloquially call theneighborhood geniuses. The general assumption is that geniuses areborn, not made. Our “genius” above, who was exposed top art at anearly age, is an example of a mad genius.
The fact that every parent thinks their child is gifted does not dothe selection process any favors. Parents always complain how theirchildren were left out of the program through unorthodox means. Noparent wants to believe that his or her child is not gifted enough.This resistance creates more pressure on the selection committee andit may lead to the wrongful inclusion of the child belonging to thatoverly noisy parent who sits at the back during parents’ meetings.
The selection criteria aside, the gifted children program has anegative impact on the so called gifted children and those who do notget selected. The problem is particularly worse when one siblingqualifies for the program while the other maintains a strong positionat the bottom of his class. The not so gifted sibling is bound tofeel inferior- especially if they are elder- and that marks the onsetof sibling rivalry and hatred. These effects could advance toadulthood.
Carving the career path for eight-year-olds could be detrimental inthe end. Has anyone in the school district ever thought that maybethe program is forcing children to do what they do not like? Justbecause I am gifted in running does not necessarily mean I will enjoybeing Usain Bolt when I grow up. Besides, dreams and interests dochange as the child grows up. I remember when growing up I alwaysdreamt of being an ice-cream man. As I advanced in age, I slowlyrealized that that was not the career I wanted for myself. Now backto the gifted children, what will happen when a child that was forcedto pursue art at the age of eight, finally realizes that he his heartis in the sciences? The individual will be stuck in the wrong careerfor the rest of his life.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do not dispute the fact that we havegifted individuals amongst ourselves. What I dispute is the criteriaused to identify the gifted individuals. Some children are gifted inmeans that cannot be captured by the school district curriculum forthe gifted children. I believe that every child is gifted in one wayor the other. All gifts are important irrespective of theircommercial value. It is therefore wrong to belittle other childrenbecause their gifts cannot be commercialized.