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Thread: Giftedness in school

  1. #21
    Strongly Ambivalent Array Ivy's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by ptgatsby View Post
    This was a seperate school - and speaking of special advantages, they got trips, lectures and the whole shebang... stuff I didn't get.
    This is where I have a problem with pull-out programs and special schools. Why are the trips and lectures not available to all students? Any child would benefit from more opportunities for hands-on learning and enrichment.
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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMWarner View Post
    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.
    I was in gifted classes in high school too, and I completely agree with this.

    "Gifted" didn't seem to mean much in my school though...I didn't get the sense that anyone was more intelligent than usual, and I don't think we were treated any differently by teachers or just weeded out the complete idiots, which was nice.

    For the record, I don't know my IQ and I have no desire to learn it.

    As far as a solution, I think individual, supplemental lessons would help, as well as having the option to move ahead grades if necessary.

  3. #23
    Wannabe genius Array Splittet's Avatar
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    Jun 2007


    This is a very delicate subject, and any kind of special program for gifted children, has to be very thought out to succeed. What don’t work are special classes or skipping grades. Some special schools have very good results though, and if done properly, it could work on a larger scale. Most special programs for gifted children are awful, which makes it important that you understand me right, if not you will think I am for one of those many awful ideas. This is a quote from the site of the Switzerland school:

    Abstract "School Talenta Zurich"

    Below you find a survey of all activities under the heading of TALENTA, but feel free (and feel encouraged) to look at the German parts of the website, too. You will easily understand many of them ...and find more English texts, graphics and abstracts.

    Since August 1998, the Talenta Schule Zurich offers a dedicated educational solution for highly gifted children, since 2007 between 4 and 12 years of age (“Primary school” & "Kindergarten" in Switzerland).

    The founders of the school expect learning to proceed at an accelerated rate in comparison with the regular school. Furthermore, the psychological pressure on these children has proved to ease since they are taught in an environment suited to their particular needs and temperament.

    One particularly motivating result of the school is the fact that pupils having had severe psychological problems in the regular school now are happy again, love going to school, and work zealously.

    At present (since August 2007), there are some 40 pupils from the Greater Zurich Area working mostly in three different groups, with classes at Talenta not being separated strictly by age.

    The curriculum is basically the same as for the regular state school of the Canton of Zurich. However, the Talenta school offers a range of projects, as well as enrichment, accelaration and in-depth programs.

    Talenta has five part-time teachers, the sum of the part-times adding up to 3 full posts and resulting in an average of more than "10%" teacher per child. Two of the teachers hold a qualification as Gymnasium teachers, the others are - as everybody among staff - qualified primary school teachers.

  4. #24
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    From the start, Talenta has had a scientific evaluation by Professor Ursula Hoyningen-Süess from the Institute for Special Education of the University of Zurich.

    With Talenta being a pioneering school, the board and management feel that the pedagogical and methodological approach must be open for permanent refinement, taking into account the current needs and ways of this particular group of children.

    From the start, Talenta has been able to take a number of children from underprivileged backgrounds free of charge.


    Talenta has been conceived for the two percentiles of children highly gifted in the field of cognitive intelligence (“western” or “academic” intelligence, i.e. linguistics, maths, spatial thinking). However, strong emphasis also is laid on the development of “hand and heart”, with Zurich standing in the tradition of Pestalozzi and his philosophy of developing the children to their intellectual, emotional and artistic potential.

    To apply for the placement of a child, the parents must forward a professional report demonstrating the child´s potential. In Switzerland, state institutions accessible to all the population are in a position to provide this service for free or at a nominal fee.

    Furthermore, the school management assesses the mutual suitability of the school and the child with a number of interviews. Natually, the view of the current teacher and individual elements of the child’s personal history are taken into account as well.


    The initial capital was sponsored by public companies resident in Switzerland (Credit Suisse, UBS, IBM, Novartis, Zehnder, Zurich, Winterthur, Swiss Re, AMAG). While the Talenta school has been founded and is run on a strictly private basis by a benevolent non-profit oriented association (“Verein” in German), Talenta is let rooms at a favourable rate in an existing high school of the town of Zurich and therefore can concentrate its efforts on the educational task.

  5. #25
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    for another note- most of the kids in the gifted class in my school were there because their parents were really involved, not because they were all that bright! Most of them ended up scoring low on things like the SAT and didn't get into very good colleges- thier parents couldn't take thier tests for them, so they were screwed!
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  6. #26
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    TheTalenta school has sparked off a number of projects and pilots all over Switzerland, one of them being the complementary project of Universikum, which focuses on the enrichment within the regular primary school.

    Separation verus Integration

    The position of Talenta is open. The founders believe that in some cases highly gifted children need an education among peers. This however does not preclude other solutions. Talenta welcomes every initiative fostering human intelligence for the better of the community and of the children concerned. Also, Talenta is happy to exchange insight and experience with organisations using different approaches to the common goal.

    The name of Talenta

    The name was chosen for its strong metaphorical content. Talents can be buried or used with little consideration, or they can be fostered for the better of all of us. The responsibility lies both with the talented person and with the community enabling the talents’ full use. Have you read the bible regarding this point?

    Something along these lines would be great. Their learning philosophy is great.

    I really don't want my ideas associated with awful gifted programs that I am completely against. Just because most gifted programs suck, doesn't mean all have to.

  7. #27


    I was in the "gifted" program my whole childhood. Till high-school, it consisted of special classes and pull out sessions (think Malcolm in the Middle).
    The high-school was a seperate high-school, but more selective than te gifted program (which still existed individually in high-schools). I definitely found the high-school experience much more pleasant.

    I just attended a 10 year reunion for such a school just 2 weeks ago. I would say, on the whole, there is a higher level of educational attainment and achievements of early life goals than I generally find among people my own age.

    The exception, perhaps, is that far fewer women were married than I would have expected. I know it is a stereotype, but women tend to get married younger. I think this particular group was more focused on career.

    I certainly appreciate the advantages it gave me. However, it did seem rather unfair, I would have been foolish not to take advantage of it.

    Compared to what we call our "base school" (we were pulled from 3 counties, so each of us may have gone to a different school, otherwise) the environment was a lot safer and more free.

    Although, we got our share of hazing in public places. Inside the walls of the school, we were quite supportive of each other. The school violence and drug problems in the other schools were minimal I don't remember one fight, while in middle-school we had one each day, with several leading to kids being sent to hospitals, one even in the ICU for being knifed. We could count the people who did drugs in our high-school on one hand and most of them were still doing well in coursework.

    A distinct lack of partying was noted by everyone at the reunion. Though many "made up" for it in college.

    FWIW, ours is a public high-school that relies on private donations from alumni, etc. It has only been around only 20 years (give or take a few years), but it already beats out all the private college prep. schools in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

    We learned an awful lot from each other (and yes, I am talking about course material too). That was part of what made it fun.

    The selection process involved taking a test, but teacher recommendations as well. My confidence in IQ beyound seperating below average, average, and above average is very low. But whatever system they used seemed to have created a good environment for learning.

    We were also sometimes guinnea pigs for programs that they then exported to all the high-schools in the main county. Integration of multiple subjects, and "block" scheduling were the main experiments while I was there.

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  8. #28
    Free-Rangin' Librarian Array Jae Rae's Avatar
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    Nov 2007


    Our district used to have a pull-out program where kids got together with other gifted students to participate in projects like the Model UN. Then the budget was cut, and the district decided to devote the small amount of money available to on-site after-school classes. At first kids tested into them, but soon they were open to all. Great courses were offered - Maskmaking, Electric Cars, Green Science, etc. Did all kids benefit from them? Sure. Did it address the problem of engaging kids who are bored by their daily classwork? No. Eventually the district implemented differentiated teaching, which means each kid is taught at his or her level, but you can imagine how often that's done successfully.

    When my son hit high school he was told by his advisor not to sign up for a science course until 10th grade. He sat through Freshman Lit. and the rest, but he was bored by most of the work. Halfway through the year he heard about a trip to the Galapagos which required his missing three weeks of school. We did whatever we could to get him there. He loved it and two problems were solved: 1) he got his science class for the year; 2) he got away from unchallenging classwork. Once he was able to take AP and Honors classes, things went much better.

    I'm not sure special schools would solve all problems without causing others, although I have a friend who attended a gifted public high school in the early 80s who loved it. For our own kids we've arranged summer programs, trips, and after school classes. And most importantly, we encouraged them to take courses in school that would challenge them - my daughter's in Latin and loving it, and she's part of the IB program.

    Jae Rae

  9. #29
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    Sep 2007


    I can actually understand why a philosophy like that dominates in Norway, a very egalitarian country with socialist roots (and correct me if I'm wrong). Is it because giftedness is seen as flaunting other people's inferiority or rocking the boat?

    In America there are currently 2 competing schools of thought. 1 is the traditional where students who score highly on standardized exams are (supposed to be) sent to special programs, either in their school or sent to another campus location for part of the week for special sessions. There are also magnet schools that pull students in a geographic area out to 1 gifted school, but this is mostly to address the problem of economic inequality in school systems that effect their resources and ability to serve special needs.

    The other tactic is to call all students gifted or to make traditionally challenging programs like gifted extarcurricular sessions, AP classes, and IB available to all students to encourage everyone to succeed. This is actually a newer philosophy in terms of the mainstream.

    I went to a relatively poor public school in elementary where the student body was made up mostly of students of color, immigrants, children of immigrants, and the white working class. Most of my sixth grade class failed their state exams and had to retake it. Only 2 of us qualified for the state 'gifted' extracurricular program where you get bussed to a different campus. The program was filled mostly with students from another school, I discovered later this was because that school deemed all their students 'gifted' so everyone participated. It kind of pisses me off in retrospect because if that's the thinking, my classmates deserved just as much access to those resources.

    Honestly, it's not a bad philosophy, it's basically saying educators and adults are not giving up on students or labelling them 'unexceptional' or unable to excel intellectually. Especially for low-income school districts, students are already given lower expectations for life. Intellectual pursuits are seen as inappropriate so students are steered to vocational schools instead or otherwise guided to aim lower.

    Of course, the 'everyone is gifted' philosophy is also controversial.

    In highschool, I went to an expensive private school with a lot of spoiled bastards. Everyone was considered exceptional and grades were inflated like crazy. I was one of 2 people out of 70 in my AP US History class who even passed the AP exam. Needless to say, A LOT of my classmates failed out from their precious Ivy and pseudo-Ivy league colleges because they were ABYSMALLY unprepared for a real academically rigorous environment and the real world.

    So I guess there are pros and cons to both philosophies.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splittet View Post
    I have a thing for gifted and ingenious people, and they never seize to amaze me. On my Norwegian blog I wrote on the topic of gifted children in schools, and how bad the situation is in Norway, and I was wondering some things. First of all just let me say I mean gifted in the IQ sense, and not gifted in the sense of students who do well in school. I mean in the talent sense, not in the results sense.

    My questions are then... How is the situation for gifted children in your country in school? How should school for these children be? If you are gifted yourself (especially interested in 140+ IQ responses, and please mention your IQ), how did you experience school?

    As I mentioned the situation in Norway is terrible. Gifted children have absolutely no rights, and no extra considerations are made. Actually they will quite often get negative responses from their teachers for being too quick, and are being told they should keep the same tempo as the rest of the class. Of course many, if not most, will experience social problems as well, and feel utterly alone. The school is not a good place for these children. They love to learn, but because they are not challenged, many will become highly unfocused and retreat to their own world, will develop awful working habits and never realize even half of their potential. Learning in a school environment will in general become very difficult.

    I think the idea of special schools for students with an IQ of for example 140 or more is excellent. Both learning and social environment would improve dramatically. Of course in my country, such ideas are looked down upon, because one doesn't want any difference in treatment. What they fail to realize is that these children have very special needs, and that is why special schools are needed. In Norway 0,5-1 % of students are likely to have serious learning or environment problems because of high intelligence. Nothing is done, and we are probably one of the worst countries in the western world at taking care of these children. It's bloody provoking!
    We do have schools here where kids are separated by intelligence based on standardised exams, or talents e.g. in music, sports, arts etc. The issue isn't so much as catering for special learning needs, but how would it work overall for the society too. Integration is key. By that I mean an acceptance of all levels and folks having the same goal of working together.

    The original point of these schools were much as you've stated. A safe place for kids to grow up with their own kind. But what society does a ring-fenced homogeny in a sub-population create?

    I'm wary of separating people by intelligence levels - elitism for one, and intelligence as measured by IQ is but one factor of an overall sentience. And IQ is just another exam and result at the end of it, isn't it? What talent does it measure?

    It does create a culture of elitism, whether you like it or not. Over here, kids love to say they come from xxx school, while those from lower-ranked "dumber" schools are made to feel ashamed. The pressure to come from the "right" school is enormous. We have child suicides from kids who do not "make the grade" at the decision entry points, or kids in special schools who fall behind. Some who killed themselves were not even 12.

    Perhaps it is a different culture here - or media sensationalisation, but sometimes I get the sense the West celebrates gross ignorance a wee bit too much. Over here I think we place too much emphasis on intelligence/results.

    I was tested as gifted at ages 8, 12, 14, 16. Each time I resisted moving to special schools, rejected Mensa admissions. All I wanted was to be normal.

    In classrooms, I usually understood most of what was taught by reading it once. I never studied for my exams till the night before, but made perfect grades. Yes, it was disconcerting when as you spoke, other kids would take down what you said as gospel truth. Yes, I did not like having to be the teacher's helper to explain things when others didn't understand. I skipped half my classes in college. I attended the rest only because if I didn't, I'd be kicked out. But I had the leeway to do whatever I wanted as long as I produced the results for the school.

    But I preferred to be with regular kids vs with the special kids. Simply because the special kids came with a sense of entitlement. To explain:

    The elite kids here grow up believing they're better than everyone else. And most have a hard time adjusting when they start working. They are not able, and/or do not wish to, communicate in a manner others can understand, and expect things to fall into place for them, by virtue of them having been so pampered while growing up in hothouse schools, and always being told that you're brilliant/smart/successful.

    So they're not able to adapt and failure is death to them. They lack resilence while hiding behind their IQs. The schools become cocoons. But reality isn't usually as kind. However, by virtue of their having came from the right schools, and having said IQ, they become leaders in politics and businesses. The question is how representative are they of the general population. And do they really understand how others think, in order to lead them, in order to face the world? Tellingly, most fail at a world stage, when success requires more than IQ?

    For me, I think I made the right move in rejecting the pressure to shift to gifted schools. When I look at my peers who did shift. Not many are happy. Most are in stable careers yes. But they're dissatisfied. They feel in a sense that the start they had, did not materialise into a different life, and they are not so special after all. They're handicapped by a lack of social, emotional intelligence.

    Simply put, intelligence is but one factor to success. Separate schools will work if you can remove the stigma associated with intelligence or the lack thereof (depending on your country here I think), but at the same time facilitate other areas of growth, to create a rounded person, vs focus on intelligence only and raising a cult of brains walking in ivory towers.

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