Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bright Kids in Public Schools

From Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind, by Deborah L. Ruf:

In order to deal with the wide array of learners in a classroom, teachers generally teach to the top of the lowest one-third of their mixed-ability class. By doing this, they don't immediately lose those at the bottom, and yet they still manage to hold some attention from the average group in the middle ... When teachers refine their instruction to a lower, more repetitive level in order to increase the chances of a higher overall passing rate and higher composite scores for the class as a whole, the brightest students must sit through additional repeated instruction while gaining nothing from it. These children can frequently pass tests without having any instruction in the material, and they score high despite the lack of attention. Teachers think they don't have to worry about these children. The teachers' attention is entirely consumed by those whose failure would be noticed and by which they are judged. Who can blame them?

... Throughout the intellectual range, children face learning challenges; a variety of learning disabilities are recognized and accommodated in our schools. Parents who have two special-needs children -- one a learning-disabled child and one a gifted child -- are often amazed at how much easier it is to get help for their disabled child while their gifted child loses interest in school.

Children with learning disabilities are by law provided specialists to work with them on a regular basis ... By comparison, intellectually gifted children almost never receive such consideration and accommodation and are seldom given instruction at their own level and pace. In districts that do provide something for gifted children, the programs are minimal, usually part-time -- one hour a week in a class with other gifted children -- with a specialist teacher traveling between two or more schools.

... Unfortunately, while mainstreaming helps disabled children, this practice has negative consequences for gifted children. Although it can help to motivate slow learners, it discourages rapid learners by holding them back; they aren't allowed to learn as fast or as far as they might. Many times, gifted children are placed in cooperative learning groups with other children in which the gifted children do the majority of the work and help others in the group rather than learn at the level that would fit their intellect.

No comments:

Post a Comment