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  1. #11
    Wannabe genius Splittet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Under the old school system in the UK a test was taken at age 11 which, if you passed it, you went to a 'grammar school' (higher ability), and if you failed it you'd go to a comprehensive school (all other abilities except actual disabled people). If you failed the exam, it was still possible to be 'promoted' to the grammar school if you could work hard and prove yourself to have high ability at the comprehensive school.

    I see nothing wrong with that system and I always felt annoyed that it was abandoned, although I would theorize that the environment of the comprehensive school was never condusive to motivating someone to do their best. Many bright kids I knew at the time (I was one of the kids that passed (my generation was the last to have some areas still operating under this system) and was instantly ostracized by the other kids on my block) were of the opinion that the system was dismantled because it was no longer politically correct to be gifted.
    Honestly I don't think it's a good concept, only mine is. :P It stirs up way too much conflict. Children are marked as either A class or B class. If only 1/200 went to special schools for gifted, you wouldn't have that. It would just be an extraordinary child, but not something one would compare oneself to. One couldn't seriously feel bad because one is not 1/200. And I want to stress this, the only reason such schools are needed, is because of special needs, because normal school doesn't work for them, not because I want to make an intellectual elite, because I think they deserves better treatment than other children.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    I guess I'll also be the one to point out that any division of gifted children would have to show a carry through to later years. From what i've seen, it isn't the guided gifted (say, the top 1&#37, but the the top 25%/10% that are hard workers and diligent that really deserve any kind of break. Most of the kids can't even be identified at a young age.
    Again, this is not about giving top students a bonus, it is about children with special needs. Children who do well in school don't need any special offer. But highly gifted children do, because otherwise they are likely not to do well at all in school.

    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    This came to mind when I went out for lunch with one of the students at a gifted school (this'd be the top 2%). His class reunion was pretty much the same as any other. No particular brilliance or successes there, no real advantage and not any better adjusted adults.
    I hate the concept of special classes, it doesn't work, it is stigmatising. I am for special schools, that is something quite different.

  2. #12

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    My elementary school didn't have any special teaching for gifted students, but in high school I was in the gifted classes. I don't think being in the gifted classes added any more of a social problem than just being different does to begin with. After all, the gifted classes included some popular students and jocks, too.

    I would be very opposed to special schools for the top students. I think that would severly hinder the socialization aspect of school. Part of school is learning to get along and understand people of diverse talents and backgrounds. I think putting these kids in an ivory tower would make them even more different and make it harder for them to adjust than if they were in school with everyone else. In addition, the whole debate about who gets to go and how the students are chosen would be a nightmare because parents with children close to the threshhold would throw justified fits about the relative quality of education.

    I would have met your standards for this kind of school, but I don't think it's a good idea. I feel like my education did not lack by going to a regular high school.

  3. #13
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    The grammar school in reality (at least, the one I went to for a short time) was more for that class of kids that pt mentioned - the ones who are able but not necessarily amazing, and who work hard and can achieve highly, if not fabulously. That was by far the majority. However, because of the atmosphere there of people being willing and able to work, the truly gifted kids felt more able to excel without being self-conscious about it, and the extra work that was available to them there was of a far higher quality than that for which the ordinary schools had the resources.

    When I went to the comprehensive after leaving the grammar school (because I moved out of the last area to use the system), I was absolutely SHOCKED by the difference in culture amongst the kids there, where getting a good grade was tantamount to painting a KICK ME sign on your back, and bright kids had to dumb themselves down just to survive socially.

    At least in the schools where I saw that system in action, it seemed to work like this:

    grammar school: top 5% plus top 20% hard workers, with option for top 1% standard education
    comprehensive school: everyone except actual retards; hard workers of average ability; slackers of all abilities, including high (sometimes 'demoted' from grammar schools), very few hard workers of lower ability.

    In general, the people who probably had it the hardest were the hard workers of average ability, who were neither bright enough to get into the grammar school, but too hard working to avoid bullying at the comprehensive. Under the new system, I think those people have it easier, because they're free to work hard but without the stigma because with the genuinely bright kids in the same class, they'll never be top, and so avoid the stigma of being seen to be brighter than others and the bullying due to the inferiority complexes and general fears that some of the more malicious duller people have triggered by seeing someone do better than they ever could.

    But it is somewhat politically incorrect, if not actually provocative, to openly say "I have special needs because I'm more intelligent than most people". It's very difficult to say that or be open about that without it automatically being interpreted as egotism or a desire to put others down or whatever. People tend to be very dismissive of the idea, saying things like "Oh poor diddums, are we not good enough for you? You must find it so hard to put up with us dumb people, I feel soooo sorry for you" and other such sarcastic and generally misinterpretative comments.

    There is a general double standard, whereby if someone owns up to having low ability and needing help, they're applauded for their effort and determination, whilst owning up openly to being of high ability and demanding greater challenges gets one seen as snobbish and elitist.

    My experiences of being ostracized for passing the grammar school exam by kids who instantly decided that I was now classed as a 'snob' gave me an impression that people who are not of high ability tend to project their own fears of intelligent people onto the intelligent people themselves. I thought it was ironic that I was accused of being the snob, when nothing had changed for me - it was they who refused to play with me any more. Inverse snobbery?

    Perhaps it's related to the same thing wherein someone can freely and openly say that they have good skills with say, mechanics or computers or cooking, and offer their services to others and only be welcomed and applauded. But if someone has a particular skill at simply intelligent thinking, how many people would welcome it if the person said to them "Look, you're screwing up because you're just not good enough at thinking to figure that out for yourself. I'm a better thinker than you, so take my advice..." ???

    It is a curious double standard, IMO.
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  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    I would be very opposed to special schools for the top students. I think that would severly hinder the socialization aspect of school. Part of school is learning to get along and understand people of diverse talents and backgrounds. I think putting these kids in an ivory tower would make them even more different and make it harder for them to adjust than if they were in school with everyone else. In addition, the whole debate about who gets to go and how the students are chosen would be a nightmare because parents with children close to the threshhold would throw justified fits about the relative quality of education.
    First of all I don't want special schools for top students, I want special schools for students with the highest IQs. It is these students that have learning problems connected to high IQ. Students that do well in school have no need for special schools, they already do fine the way things are.

    What you point out about socialisation is a very common doubt. As far as socialisation goes I don't think things can become any worse than they already are, but I would want special focus on this in these special schools, so that your fears would not become true. What kind of concrete measurements should be taken, I don't know, but I am sure tons could be done.

    Take a look at the pages of this school for gifted children: School Talenta Zurich Click on the American flag. It is something along these lines I imagine.

  5. #15
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    And that makes me think of the choices of subjects taught in schools and how, in the UK, they are ENORMOUSLY biased towards academia with nothing or almost nothing (the latter if you're very lucky) on offer for kids who might not have much academic ability, but could be great sculptors or craftsmen/women one day.

    I think that at present, the range of subjects and abilities that are taught and assessed in the majority of UK schools is far too narrow and limited, not to mention virtually irrelevant to the job market they'll enter one day.

    I know a guy for example, who did poorly throughout school and was thrown on the scrap-heap, only to discover 20 years later, whilst in prison, an amazing talent for carpentry. If he had been given an opportunity to identify and develop his talent at a much earlier age, who knows? Maybe he wouldn't have ended up in prison.

    In the past I've argued not only for special schools for the top gifted kids, but also for special schools that cater for kids whose abilities do not lie in the area of academia and all those literacy-based subjects. I don't see why a kid whose best bet is the field of carpentry (but who doesn't know it yet) should have to waste 10 years of their life sucking at math and English at levels well beyond anything that'd be useful for him, when he could simply quit after passing basic certificates of literacy and numeracy and then concentrate on developing the non-academic skills and talents he has into something he can make a living out of.

    As it currently stands, most kids in the UK nowadays who are currently at school, if they have a non-academic gift, probably don't even know it. If they do discover it, they won't be able to start developing it seriously until they leave compulsory schooling, but by that time they might already have resigned to thinking of themselves as 'stupid' due to their inability with the subjects on offer to that point, and therefore they may never try.

    I find that quite tragic - the idea of all these potential skilled artisans who are going to spend their lives passing things over the barcode reader at the supermarkets.

    Do you have any ideas then Splittet, about what to do with/about these kids? Would you say that a kid who can build a replica Chippendale table at the age of 12 without help, has a place in the gifted school? Or is it mainly the kids who can write quantum physics papers and counterargue Nietzsche that you're thinking of? Only, my experience of IQ tests seems to be that they fall woefully short when it comes to measuring non-academic type aptitudes.
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  6. #16
    Wannabe genius Splittet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Do you have any ideas then Splittet, about what to do with/about these kids? Would you say that a kid who can build a replica Chippendale table at the age of 12 without help, has a place in the gifted school? Or is it mainly the kids who can write quantum physics papers and counterargue Nietzsche that you're thinking of? Only, my experience of IQ tests seems to be that they fall woefully short when it comes to measuring non-academic type aptitudes.
    That's kind of a different debate. I am only talking about academically gifted children because school is about academics. If you want to redefine school, that's fine by me, although I don't see the big need. These other talents can be pursued in the spare-time, it is what everybody does. Perhaps there should be left room for lessons in special talents in schools or something, but I am not very interested in the topic.

  7. #17
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splittet View Post
    Again, this is not about giving top students a bonus, it is about children with special needs. Children who do well in school don't need any special offer. But highly gifted children do, because otherwise they are likely not to do well at all in school.
    Define special needs? Just about any horror you can mention going through school would fit my experience going through school. I don't consider myself "gifted" in that way, either, but my parents stepped up to the challenge to make sure I was challenged outside of school. No amount of testing showed me differently... actually, quite the opposite. It only changed later in life - the same time when the "gifted" students (in reality, early developpers, not "high intelligence") were becoming average students (and hammered in university, just like I was, because of a lack of discipline).

    If there was one thing I could change in my life, it'd be something to do with discipline. I know a whole lot of creative free thinkers that'd disagree... but no amount of intelligence means much without the discipline to apply it. It might make the child's life easier to be in special schools... maybe, since I haven't seen that it does... but it doesn't seem to translate to much in the long run.

    I hate the concept of special classes, it doesn't work, it is stigmatising. I am for special schools, that is something quite different.
    This was a seperate school - and speaking of special advantages, they got trips, lectures and the whole shebang... stuff I didn't get.

    The point here is that they ended up with the same as... how do you say... under achievers, like me... If you took them and mixed them in with another group of students, you'd be unable to tell the difference or pick them out. Maybe they do better on IQ tests, but in reality that "intelligent" stuff doesn't mean much in the end. Not in terms of how they ended up developing, not in terms of carreers, relationships.

  8. #18
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    I don't think special schools for gifted kids is a good idea. Treating them as hothouse flowers and removing them from the rabble doesn't help them develop as whole people. It also removes the gifted children from the normal classrooms, where they have a lot to offer students with average and below-average IQs. IMO what we need is a rehaul of the educational system to make it more whole-child oriented, ideally with small schools and classes. I did just fine as a gifted kid in a small elementary school. It was when I moved to the public middle school with about 5 times as many students that I think I got lost in the shuffle. If I hadn't had a parent who was truly my advocate instead of simply signing me over to the public school system between 8 and 3, I don't think I would have done well. She took me out, though, and I went to a very small private school which had no gifted program at all, but the approach was such that each student could reach his or her potential instead of struggling to keep up, or being bored.
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  9. #19
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    The accommodation of gifted students differs according to state and municipality. Some form of recognition and concentration is, I argue, irreproachable. There is an appreciable difference between a responsible but normal student and a restive but gifted student -- my sister and I would be respective examples. She was bright, but did not have the same educational needs as I did in elementary school. This dichotomy is removed again from an undisciplined child with low intelligence, whose accommodation is a legitimate matter but another one entirely.

    I was moved at age eight from my neighborhood elementary school to another where a gifted program, "Advanced Student Placement," was located and three teachers taught classes composed of students with above-average intelligence. Ironically, the growing system needed an additional teacher and more space, so was moved back to the first school.

    The categorization was sound: I went to class with conspicuously intelligent students, and was finally competing in appropriate lessons. The year before I had skipped entire sections of classwork and worked on separate assignments in a group consisting of myself and two others -- even then, I completed tasks quickly, became bored and was tempted into horseplay.

    Certainly, there were social consequences by visibly sequestering children on a basis of intelligence. The first two years (at the different school), students in the gifted program spent every period but recess apart from other classes. The third year, my fifth grade year, special classes (gym, music, art) were mixed. Gifted students were, by my memory, indifferent to other students. Students outside the program, however, could be suspicious or standoffish. Problems were significantly greater the third year, likely for a variety of reasons including the program's establishment at a new school and the appearance of intrusion, as well as a uniquely high number of aggressive and emotionally unstable students in the increasingly socially conscious fifth grade.

    Sixth grade, then located at a middle school, was the last year in which gifted students were in an exclusive homeroom class. From seventh to twelfth grade, students in a graduation class were assigned to two or three tiers of academic classes (or were sent to advanced classes with upperclassmen) based on ability.

    Although this latter form of organization mitigated social disruption, it doesn't minimize the value of grouping together -- for solidarity and cooperation -- children theretofore considered an oddity.

  10. #20
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splittet View Post
    That's kind of a different debate. I am only talking about academically gifted children because school is about academics. If you want to redefine school, that's fine by me, although I don't see the big need. These other talents can be pursued in the spare-time, it is what everybody does. Perhaps there should be left room for lessons in special talents in schools or something, but I am not very interested in the topic.
    Thing is, most kids only discover an academic talent because they're put into an environment where they can discover, devop and use it - if outside of that environment, it's unlikely that the majority would ever pick up a philosophy or physics book, or whatever. At least, not until much later in life. Indeed, before free education, most people never learned to read at all, though I'm sure there were many intelligent people who could've discovered great academic talents if they'd been given an opportunity.

    But the same thing applies to non-academic talents. How many city-dwelling kids with office working parents are likely to get the opportunity to discover a gift for manual skills, never mind develop it? To rely on these things being home hobbies is to rely on all parents both having the resources and the inclination to encourage and support a kid with a variety of extra curricular activities.

    Not only that, but in the world of careers, only certified skills count. Plumbers, carpenters, actors, musicians etc, who don't get their skills certified, find it very difficult to find employment at all, never mind anything that pays well. And most of them won't have that opportunity, unless they have either wealthy and supportive parents, and/or are fortunate enough not to let the academically-biased school system crush any self-esteem out of them so that they still have enough drive to both discover the abilities and pursue certification through adult education, thereby putting them at an unfair disadvantage on the age/pay scale to those kids who leave compulsory education with their direction in life already decided and the foundation skills necessary to pursue it already in place.

    Okay, so maybe I am redefining school and maybe that is veering slightly away from topic, though I don't think it is because we're still talking about people who have high abilities that are not catered for in the normal school system. And I don't personally think that non-academic intelligence is lower in worthiness of state encouragement and funding, than academic; though I know there is a double-standard sorta hierarchy in the West generally, whereby the intelligence of someone who can build a maginficent piano is generally less acknowledged than that of someone who can explain black holes. But it's your thread, so I'll STFU now
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