Educating the Gifted and Talented

“People should be free to find or make for themselves the kinds of educational experience they want their children to have.” -John Holt-

Friday, June 22, 2007

What Gifted Students Need

By listening to many gifted high school students I have come to the following beliefs:

--There's still a strong need for staff development so that regular classroom teachers get an understanding of the needs of, and an appreciation for, GT students as a whole but in particular for those who do not excel or who are at risk of failing and dropping out of school.

--It's important to promote cluster grouping of GT students at all levels and place such clusters only with those teachers who are knowledgeable about GT needs, who like these students or who are actively showing interest in learning about GT issues.

--Many GT students do not possess an appreciation for their talents, strengths and interests and often feel insecure about themselves. Although many do remember participating in pullout programs at the elementary level, they do not know they were identified as GT or what that implies. Some believe that they are not gifted anymore when they enter middle and/or high school if no GT program/guidance is visible or available.
As a result, many GT students do not receive guidance to choose appropriate courses when they start high school. A majority do not realize that they may be able to skip introductory courses such as Composition I or Integrated Science I, etc., in order to be challenged at a level that is better suited to their needs.

--Often GT students believe that accelerated classes or AP courses are too difficult and they'd rather not take those out of fear it may lower their GPA. Many feel they have to get straight A's and often their parents expect them to get A's as well. There's a need for appropriate counseling of these students (and their parents) regarding this drive to “succeed” at all costs.

-For some students alternative schooling ( the Aims Diploma Program or the GED exam) is and should remain an option which should be presented to them, their parents and also to our community in a positive manner so that students feel comfortable to pursue such option without shame or loss of self-confidence.

--In middle and high school a lack of socializing with intellectual peers may make these students feel different from the norm and can cause disfranchisement from school. Promoting discussion groups or a "mandatory" elective in "GT 100" where students can learn about characteristics related to their giftedness, where they can meet others like themselves and where they can learn self advocacy for their needs would be a way to instill and nurture self esteem in GT students.

--At the very minimum schools should create an electronic discussion board for their GT students as a means to get in touch with others like themselves, to inform them more easily about issues that pertain to them and to give them an opportunity to hone their reasoning and discussion skills.

--Schools should also promote a GT area on their websites with information regarding giftedness, identification, and available services and books for students and parents.


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