Sunday, September 16, 2007

the state of gifted education

Yes this is considered a sometimes politically incorrect topic, but it has been on my mind a lot lately. Every child is an individual with diverse abilities, interests, and talents that doesn't make one child more or less valuable. We need everyones unique abilities to make this world a great place, but I am frustrated with the lack of options and accommodation for bright kids. This sector of education has sharply declined in the 20-25 yrs since I was child. It was far easier for me to get services in rural florida school in the 1980s or in a tiny DOD school in Turkey, then it is now. Seriously, at my sons current school there is no program in place to meet the needs of gifted children. It is a small but nice school with many great things (specials every day, small class sizes, good staff, very supportive parents)- but to me this is a travesty. It is a lonely road to be the sole parent in the principals office advocating for this under served population and demanding something be done. I guess part of it is I know to much, I used to teach education classes at the college and university level- I am not okay with mediocre education, I am not okay with boring children to death, I am not okay will skill and drill ad naseum, I am not okay with pointless dribble worksheets. These children need a faster paced curriculum, for creative enriching projects, not more work but different work, etc. One of the great myths is kids with bright kids will do fine in a normal setting because they aren't failing in anything-- but what angers me the most is they are not learning either. I respect children and I respect them enough to believe their time and energy is valuable. Why can't people just understand that different brains work differently, without judgement and stigma, why is it I feel like I have have to deal with "gifted issues" in silence- for fear of being the mom who says "my kid is so smart". We do we place a judgement on the rate or style in which a child learns as if it is some sort of a race. I think my son is special in the same way every other mom on the planet thinks her child is special. IQ tests don't mean everything, they are not the only measure of intelligence, most intelligences cannot be measure in a test. When it comes to my sons life accomplishments I would far rather have a son that is good, kind, and makes a difference in the world than one who is "smart"- but I can tell you if you score 50 on an IQ test (average score is 100) you are going to need some help significant intervention to navigate our current educational system, in fact it would be against the law to fail to provide services, why is there no law (okay not in my state some states have them) serving a child who scores in the 150s. I guess I think of some of the great experiences I had in education- I wish i could sit back and let my child just enjoy the ride and trust it was giving him what it should, but the ride is changing and not for the better and I can't in any moral conscience not speak up. I worry about the future of some of our kids because our current systems are failing them. So yes I have lost a lot of sleep, money, time over this in the past year, we have been through hours of testing, assessment, meetings, I have spent hours researching trying to come up with creative solutions, meeting with teachers and administrators and we are starting to work out some accommodations. The thing is in know this isn't the end, it will be battle I will have to continue to fight and sometimes that is exhausting and sometimes I wish more people would stand up for their kids and what they need.

6 comments:

Alissa said...

o my gosh... thank you for posting this. it's so encouraging to know that i'm not the only parent with a child who is bored to death. and i have no clue where to turn!

smart mama said...

alissa- drop me a line any time!!! i am happy to give suggestions of things to approach your school with in terms of adaptations, etc- It is so frustrating to seem them bored!!

Nettie said...

I just want to wish you good luck! It sounds like you have once again found a crusade that will end up in your blessing the lives of others.

And I had no idea there were no special services available in some places. I assumed it was as illegal to not meet the special educational needs of ALL children, gifted or otherwise.

The said...

AMEN! Just came across your post. I took my middle son out of school last week.(fifth grade) He has been bored to tears for the last two years...and it started all over again.
I will be homeschooling him with the help of Connections Academy. He is already starting to "come back to life". He is eager to learn...We tried to get the school to help, but they just wanted to give him extra work. My husband and I are both in Education, so this was very hard for us to abandon the school.
I am a work at home Mom now for the past 13 years with a baby gift basket business. I taught school before this and we did attempt to get creative with TAG students more then. It seems more and more teachers are teaching to the middle of the pack and forgetting the rest. Good Luck with your children! Do the right thing for each Kid!

Tiff said...

I am one of the parents that has a child in those state mandated services. I have noticed that even though she attends a school of math and science there are no glasses for the gifted children. Why is that? There are tons of parents who can't afford to feed there children's brain. They need help too!

Goslyn said...

Have you thought about homeschooling? That's the most popular route for the extremely gifted in our area.