The other day I read the article from NPR, How The U.S. Is Neglecting Its Smartest Kids like many of you did. The article is about the findings of author Chester Finn who wrote the book Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Educating High-Ability Students, which comes out next month. I agree with what Chester Finn found during his research. I am sure his research is sound, and through. I will probably go out and spend the money and buy his book.
What I missed in his article are some of the intangibles that comes with Education; such as teacher and student relationships, teacher and parent relationships, how parents view the school system, and how much the political tide has turned on teachers and educators to make education such a negative profession.
There are a few things that other countries may do better than the US when it comes to teacher preparedness, adequate Gifted Education training, and helping pre-serivce teachers be successful in the classroom, and stay in teaching in those tough beginning years. I am also sure that in many counties teachers and educators aren’t seen as villians, and instead seen as pillars of their community.
We can focus on a lot of negatives when it comes to Education such as testing, not enough finding, the failing schools, school voucher program, and teacher turnover, but in all of this there are some positives. We should be looking at Education not as the negative Nelly, but as a wheel that needs to move in a faster, and new direction.
Here are some aspects of Gifted Education that need to change in my opinion. We need to see Gifted Education as a necessity rather than an option. We need to give gifted students the appropriate education they need and deserve. Gifted students need the chance to be challenged, be motivated, and exposed to real world activities. Gifted students need to have an outlet to explore their passions, and time during the school day to do that. We need show the world that Gifted Education isn’t an elitist idea, but rather an educational tool to keep those high ability students from becoming high probability issues in the classroom because of boredom. Finally, we need our higher educational institutions to begin to place more emphasis on Gifted Education. Colleges and universities need to begin to teach pre-service teachers about how to teach gifted students. They need to know characteristics of gifted children, teaching strategies that work with gifted children, and most importantly they need to see that using gifted educational strategies will work with and benefit all students in the educational spectrum.
Gifted Education isn’t going to change until we have full funding of gifted educational programs. We need to have the support of national, state, and local educational associations to promote gifted education as a necessity, not a choice. Just as in the 1970’s Special Education supporters got IDEA passed, we in Gifted Education need to have our own federal law passed.
If you don’t know what IDEA is here is a short synopsis:
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth-2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.
The equivalent of IDEA is the Talent Act of 2015: Which states in part:
To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers (TALENT) Act has four key emphases:
- Support Educator Development to Ensure Academic Growth for High-Ability Students
- Confront and Address Excellence Gaps
- Provide Public Transparency of Student Achievement Data
- Continue Research and Dissemination on Best Practices in Gifted Education
We need to support this Act, and lobby for it to be passed, and help put into place those key components that gifted children need, and deserve.
We talk about how are students are falling behind in math, science, and innovation, but we don’t push our high ability students to go into those areas with valuable resources. Our education system is falling behind because there is no real vision of where we are going. I think the Common Core standards is a good start. We need to continue to move our educational view past the idea that gifted students can succeed with less because they are smart, to gifted students are valuable and they need are help and resources to be successful.
Here are a few facts from the Ohio Association for Gifted Children.