A School Year in the Life of a Gifted Child
by Lee Anderson
Every year you have a child who can't wait to start the school year, anxious in anticipation that this year will be different. This year "I will learn something!"
The year starts out with review of the previous year, whether they need it or not, and re-evaluation of all the student's strengths and weaknesses. In mid-October you call the teacher and she asks you to wait until conferences in November. "They are not done with their reviews." At the conference you bring up how your child is becoming increasingly frustrated with the curriculum. They nod their head and say "yes you have one of the brightest ones. I'll see what I can do. However you know we have 6 days of conferences and then only a week or so before the Thanksgiving break." By the end of November nothing is really happening. So you call again. "Oh yes, this a crazy week with Thanksgiving and all. Let's touch base after the holiday".
Around the first of December you call again. You are told to "hang in there, new stuff is coming. However, considering the l-o-n-g holiday we really don't want to bring in too much new stuff because they will forget it and we just have to repeat in January when we get back. Plus as you know the week before Christmas is a lost week. The kids are so excited about the holidays they really can't concentrate."
Now January rolls around and after the first week of the adjustment of being back in school after the l-o-n-g holiday, they're ready for some new material. Except your child already knows the "new" material. You call again. "Hang in there we've got some exciting stuff coming up." More weeks go by. You call again. Your child is becoming intolerable. "Well, you know we're sensing that, but we have a week long mid-winter break coming up and the yearly testing which is a week long event coming up, and we need to review a little bit for that. So call me in three weeks when this is behind us."
Lo and behold we're up to March. 5 long months have gone by with nothing new really taught. Now the headaches and surly behavior are daily events. Any new material is met with the lousiest attitude. You have a child who is so angry and doesn't even know why she's mad. So from March until May we have new material. June is, of course, a winding down month.
You look your child in the eye and say "Maybe next year will be better." Then you get to start the whole thing again... spending three to four months reviewing what they learned in the last three months of the prior year.
As a perfect example: this month in the 3rd grade full time GT class they are "learning" (most of the kids know it hands down) double digit multiplication. This is exactly what the "high ability" 3/4 split GT kids started out with last September and were still reviewing by the time we left in November.
I just finished reading Mike Thompson's article in the September 1999 issue of "Our Gifted Children" (see Magazines). The article is titled a "A Different Education." Mike says "We want highly gifted children to be highly educated." It's a great article on the type of different education these kids truly need and are not experiencing. He sums up his analysis of the ideal education with, "He needs a rigorous academic education of true knowledge, regarded as years above his grade level, consisting of permanent, classical, globally recognized information, enlightening and counter-ignorant."
Copyright ©2000 Lee Anderson