Saturday, March 15, 2014

We Ignore Gifted Students at Our Own Peril: Who Else Will Light the Way to the Future?

Photo courtesy of Mauro Barsi
     An article came across my desk this morning that made me want to shout out the window.
     Why was I so excited? Because every time someone writes an article that shares the futility I feel when I consider the squandering of limited academic support resources on the least capable of our students, while the most capable languish in the back of classrooms across the country because "they're smart enough to figure out everything on their own," I experience a warm hope. My hope, my dream, is that somehow our society will transform itself into a culture of abetting the best and the brightest, instead of hobbling them while dunderheadedly insisting on offering support to the least capable, where the returns on the investment of the already meager resources are inevitably bound to be limited. This kind of thinking is absolutely backwards. Any cost/benefit analyst of any stripe should be able to figure this out.
     Universities don't offer full-ride scholarships to athletes who can't perform. High schools don't put extra effort into fueling unwarranted dreams of the least physically coordinated students to become excellent soccer players. Yet this is the logic our schools apply to allocating resources for students based on their native intellectual capabilities. People are afraid of being called elitist if they advocate for supporting the gifted. The paradox of over-supporting the least competent arises and this posture and practice are somehow held as being kind and generous and appropriate. This is nonsense.
     Please do not misconstrue my point. I am not saying that less intelligent children should be ignored in favor of their more intelligent classmates. No child should be ignored.
     My point is, and the authors of this linked article agree, that we ignore the special needs of our most highly capable students for support and stimulation at our own peril: where else will the bright lights come from for leading us into the future, if not from the most intelligent among younger generations?
     You can find the article here:  http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/01/gifted-children-get-ignored-in-school-despite-huge-future-contribution-to-society.php

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