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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Default Do Gifted And Talented Programs Really Work?

    Do gifted and talented programs in school work? I'm torn on the idea. On the one hand, it seems like you are segregating people into categories that they then self-identify with and these programs foster less than equal opportunity. On the other hand, it seems like there is a benefit to having groups of students with similar ability together because you can teach the class at a higher level. I recall being put in the "middle group" for english in the 7th and 8th grade presumably due to some standardized test scores. The thing is, I probably have some ability with that stuff so I'm not sure it was the right group. It took me a very long time to realize this. I think of the kids that are in the bottom group - it seems like that's the worst situation. They are pigeonholed and create potentially a negative self image because of it. This article on gifted and talented programs has some interesting discussion on it.

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    Senior Member Opal's Avatar
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    In my opinion dividing students into different learning tracks based on ability is fruitful, but the approach is tactless. Different terminology might solve the problem (audio-sequential and visuospatial are two obvious options). I think video games that measure aptitude and sort students into arbitrarily-named groups would be ideal.

  3. #3
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
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    I don't think you need to worry about equal opportunity. Studies show that earning potential doesn't correlate with acceptance into prestigious academic institutions when adjusted for SAT scores and GPA. In other words, it doesn't matter where you go to school (I'm sure there are exceptions, though.);people with similar SAT and school records earned the same money later on in life.

    The Israelis have a training program called Talpiot program which accepts the top 0.25% of graduates. These people are given the most advanced technical, engineering, IT, military training and they're set for life once they graduate because many leaders of indusry in Israel are Talpiot graduates. This is a special case scenario given Israel's security and survival situation. It'd be pointless to have such a program in other nations.

    Overall, I'd say that G/T programs only matter in bad schools; removing dedicated students from disruptive elements can only help them. I was in a program called GATE in the early 80s but we never did anything differently; we attended meetings bimonthly and got handouts.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member paisley1's Avatar
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    The following quote from the article sums up my thoughts:

    “Perhaps we should stop describing people as gifted or ungifted and start describing a wide range of personal characteristics and environmental factors as potential gifts — and promote an educational culture that develops them.”

    What is the purpose of a Gifted/Talented program anyway? Gifted/Talented people don't need a program, stupid people do. This whole system for talented people fails on rational grounds, so I think they need to go in the opposite direction. They should make "School for the Stupid Lazy Economically Disenfranchised Underachiever" so they can finally reach their potential, not a gifted school! Public school should just naturally BE the Gifted and Talented program, and force all the lazy kids who don't want to study, down to the SSLEDU.

    There was no option for Gifted/Talented education where I'm from, however, in grades 11 and 12, just like yourself Highlander, there was clearly a dummy class! I ended up in dummy class once because I switched schools and needed a specific class to graduate, and I ended up as more of a T.A. than a student; the grade gap between me and my peers was ridiculous as I was being spoon fed far more than I was used to. You're right that these programs may not accomplish anything, but they can certainly work in your favor! I don't think any of those kids felt any more or less stupid, lazy or pigeonholed than they already knew they were, going into dummy class (or about life in general) than if they were combined. Interest and personality are indivisible, and it wouldn't matter what program you threw at them, they were never going to be interested in the subject, ever! What adult ever had a negative self image because they didn't like science? More negative self image problems by a lack of acceptance, than failure at what you hate. (Unless social acceptance is based on liking the thing you hate) All schools should be facilitating educational programs geared more exclusive to the strengths and talents of EVERY student, as opposed to the standard academic model of "One size fits all". More career/guidance counselors at an early age would've made a huge difference in my academic growth, and not just more, but counselors that were thorough and trustworthy; of a higher caliber and understood the uniqueness of every person.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Opal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paisley1 View Post
    What is the purpose of a Gifted/Talented program anyway? Gifted/Talented people don't need a program, stupid people do.
    I disagree; "gifted" students can lose focus and motivation out of boredom with a curriculum tailored for the lowest common denominator.

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    Senior Member paisley1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Opal View Post
    I disagree; "gifted" students can lose focus and motivation out of boredom with a curriculum tailored for the lowest common denominator.
    Everyone will still get bored from time to time, guaranteed, no matter how specialized or advanced the program. Gifted people are not at a disadvantage if they're already advantaged. Tailoring all high school curriculum for the purposes of post-secondary for each student would be ideal, which would have a form of advanced program imbedded within it; from the trades to academics, everything specialized. Then everyone could focus.

    Sort of besides the point, when that comment was supposed to make you laugh.
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    I was in the program.

    What seemed to separate us from the rest was that we weren't necessarily smarter (though that was generally the case, one buddy got a 1600 out of 1600 on his SAT) but more that we were perceived as wildly imaginative and creative.

    I recall in elementary school (which was when I started) the GT teacher whipped out one of these:



    And we talked about how such a simple little piece of plastic made some people a LOT of money.

    Those were the kind of exercises we did and the kind of thinking we were coached on. Innovation, I guess.

    But if I recall, it was only like 1 or 2 hours a week. So, it would have been cooler to have more. I really didn't like most of the standard curriculum classes. Boring.

    But yes, I think it's great to put like minded people together.

    I don't know how the non-gifted and non-talented kids felt, haha, but I definitely didn't think I was better than them. I actually wanted to be one of the cool kids that could play basketball and that the girls paid more attention to.

    Strange though, I remain very close to probably 4 or 5 of the kids in the program. And that was like 200 years ago.

    I think it's a bit silly for folks to get bent out of shape over the name. There's PLENTY of more gifted people than me when it comes to say, business savvy, but I bet I could smoke them in an argument. Like I said they just define it as high creative potential.

    I mean, also the "wood shop" kids were generally perceived as coming from rough families or neighborhoods. I substitute taught one and like 5 of the kids were chewing tobacco, haha. But they were damn more gifted than me with wood work, and even engine maintenance.

    Point is, we're all a special and unique snowflake.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member RedAmazoneFriendZone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyyukon View Post
    I was in the program.

    -wildly imaginative and creative.

    I recall in elementary school (which was when I started) the GT teacher whipped out one of these:





    Point is, we're all a special and unique snowflake.

    God ! I thought this was some cheese Am I being creative ?

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  9. #9
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    my school's gifted program kind of sucked... I was in it from elementary school through taking all of the advanced programs in high school.

    our teachers received no special training for teaching the class, so there really weren't very many differences in curriculum from the normal classes in what we learned and at what pace. the biggest difference was that they combined the second and third grade classes and the fourth and fifth grade classes so when the other grade was off learning about something either more advanced or the grade level behind you were left to your own devices... I learned the higher grade stuff early by eavesdropping and then got bored and would either escape to the coat closet to read or run away from school

    of course there was also a stigma to being in the program by the kids in the other classes and you'd get picked on and made fun of any time you were in contact with the kids from the rest of the school, so you either got beat up a lot or you learned to fight back... which is why I can accurately kick someone standing behind me in the nuts without even turning around

    overall it might be nice if they did it right, but most school districts don't have the funding or staff who are trained in such things so it mostly just serves to divide out the kids who test well (or who's parents help with all of their homework) so that they can be made fun of more easily
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  10. #10
    Temporal Mechanic. Lexicon's Avatar
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    My experiences in gifted student programs were always positive. The class size was smaller, which was less hyper-stimulating for me. I felt constantly challenged/motivated. A few kids would jeer at students in either the accelerated or the slow classes, but kids find any reason to pick on one another. Having a combination of 'blended' courses (P.E., music, art, health, etc) - gave us an opportunity to interact & work together with everyone on the same level. Overall, I feel like the experience benefited my education (& my psychological development) more than anything else.
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