America Hates its Gifted Kids?
Last week Newsweek published an article called “America Hates its Gifted Kids.” The title is meant to be attention-grabbing. The real message is that the public school system just isn’t spending enough time on gifted students, and that the teaching to the middle and the focus on getting all students to a minimum level of competency is doing a real disservice to often bored and ignored gifted students.
We hear this complaint all the time. And not just from our gifted students. We hear it from struggling students. We hear it from successful students. Students just don’t feel like they are getting what they need, as individuals. And they aren’t. Public and traditional private schools aren’t designed for that. They’ve done their best to group students according to something they think will make it more efficient to educate – age – but it just isn’t working. Not all 7 year olds know, are interested in, can do the same things. Grouping by ability, while solving some issues, just raises different ones.
We think there is more great education than just letting a 10 year old take a high school level geometry course if they’re ready.
The goal of school should be to make sure we don’t extinguish in our students what they are born with – a natural curiosity and excitement to explore, test, tinker and learn about the world around them – exposing them to as many different things as possible at the same time that we let them travel down the paths that excite them.
Yes, we agree we should get rid of traditional single age groupings (and we have). Yes, we agree that students should be given access to material when they are ready, not only when they are in a certain grade (and we do). But thinking that merely taking these two small steps in reconfiguring education (I know, I know, they are huge and monumental for such a bureaucratic system like a public school district) is going to fix things is way off the mark.
We need to stop creating students that merely do the minimum necessary to get by. Gifted or not. We need students who are intrinsically motivated, who are not just learning how to game the system to get by.
At Ampersand we’re excited about the different educational experience we’re able to give our students – an experience that is truly individualized, an experience that provides for gifted students, and all our students, access to interesting and challenging learning experiences, but most importantly, a place where they simply can’t be ignored.