Schools, Facing Tight Budgets, Leave Gifted Programs Behind

By | June 15, 2008

Schools Facing Tight Budgets Leave Gifted Programs Behind

Before her second birthday, Audrey Walker recognized sequences of five colors. When she was 6, her father, Michael, overheard her telling a little boy: ”No, no, no, Hunter, you don’t understand. What you were seeing was a flashback.”

At school, Audrey quickly grew bored as the teacher drilled letters and syllables until her classmates caught on. She flourished, instead, in a once-a-week class for gifted and talented children where she could learn as fast as her nimble brain could take her.

But in September, Mountain Grove, a remote rural community in the Ozarks where nearly three in four students live in poverty, eliminated all of its programs for the district’s 50 or so gifted children like Audrey, who is 8 now. Struggling with shrinking revenues and new federal mandates that focus on improving the test scores of the lowest-achieving pupils, Mountain Grove and many other school districts across the country have turned to cutting programs for their most promising students.

A comment on a related article caught my attention. Amen to this:

If you are in the 99.9th percentile in intelligence, you ARE a wierdo. At best, one in 1000 people will be in your intellectual peer group. This becomes a serious challenge for one’s psyche. Do you become arrogant and aloof because most everyone around you is an idiot? Do you dumb yourself down to fit in? Both? Remember, to these people, the vast majority of their peer group seems to be retarded. (Hellfire, make that the vast majority of all people.) Image being living your life amongst people who are mentally deficient – THAT is what life is for these people. –ah

The NY Times article gives some suggestions for helping gifted kids.

… Carolyn Groves, who taught gifted education here for seven years, fashioned creative projects intended to stretch the critical thinking of her students. One unit put ”Nursery Rhymes on Trial,” while in another, middle-school students created the government of Utopia. ”Mind benders” gave students systematic rules for deconstructing challenging mathematical questions.

”People say, ‘These kids are smart. They’re going to make it anyway,’ ” Ms. Groves said. But experts say that gifted children can easily grow bored and alienated.

”These are the kids who are either going to turn out to be nuclear scientists or Unabombers,” said Ms. Groves, who now teaches high school remedial students at the vocational school. ”It all depends on which way they’re led.” … Mr. Walker and his wife, Marilyn, shuttle Audrey to dance and Spanish lessons. They encourage her interest in filmmaking by helping her develop ideas for movies she shoots on the family’s video camera….

In small towns like Mountain Grove, Mr. Walker said, ”a tremendous amount of frustration can build up in these kids, because they’re different, but they don’t know why.” – nytimes

Yes, yes, yes! Gifted kids feel like freaks their whole lives because the world moves in slow motion around them. If you felt this way, why would you want to have kids and pass this experience on to someone else? I wouldn’t.

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