I have recently finished reading “Outliers”, by Malcolm Gladwell. By page 30, I had an “I told you so moment.” Here goes, since my first AP job, I have not been a proponent of primary grade Gifted and Talented programs and classes. When I tell people this, most just chalk it up to the idea that I am being contrary. However, that is not the case. My opinion is based on four critical points.
Point 1: There is research that shows that there is little correlation between early childhood IQ and adolescent IQ. So who exactly are we identifying?
Point 2: Primary gifted classes are predominantly made up middle and high SES students. I have a hard time believing that poor and minority children are not gifted.
Point 3: The biggest proponents for primary gifted programs seem to always be the parents of high SES students and GT teachers. I have noticed that these people generally have an agenda that is not exactly inclusionary.
Point 4: I believe that all students should have access to high quality instruction, engaging lessons and enriching activities. Call me crazy.
So up until last night, in GT discussions, I generally serve as the counter point.
But to channel Gladwell’s train of thought, primary GT programs may be causing more harm than good. By creating a program based on arbitrary criteria (essentially life experiences and relative maturity), you end up creating a self fulfilling prophesy. The “gifted” stay gifted due to accumulated better instruction, experiences and access. This is bad because we end up squandering the unrecognized talents and skills that are prevalent in the larger group.
So the “I told you so” moment is this, teach all students at high levels with high expectations and the “gifted” population could increase dramatically across the entire population.
Think. Work. Achieve.
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