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  1. #1
    Wannabe genius Splittet's Avatar
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    Default Giftedness in school

    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!

  2. #2
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splittet View Post
    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?!
    In the United States we are currently operating under the "No Child Left Behind" policy in our schools. The emphasis is ensuring that all kids can pass standardized tests to meet national standards so the schools can get federal funding. So obviously, gifted kids take a back seat to those students who would pull down the school's average and to pushing up the bottom portion of the curve. The pro to this policy is it makes teachers and administrators accountable for results. The con is that bad schools aren't getting the necessary funding to improve and there is little resources being dedicated to the upper portion of the curve and gifted students.

    I was actually in special education in first and second grade because I was deemed as learning disabled. I remember in third grade, I met with a man who had me play with blocks and repeat hand signs he made. Apparantly it was an IQ test and I tested as gifted. From then on, I had a tutor and I graduated at the top of my class in sixth grade. Although I never really lived down the stigma of being in special ed for two years, and it didn't do much to help with my social development. I'm certainly not gifted now. The last time I had my IQ tested it was barely over 120.

    I believe a fairly recent study has even indicated that gifted kids initially develop slower than average kids. So I wasn't all that atypical.

    I'm actually kind of disappointed to hear that Norway isn't the utopia that people make it out to be. I mean, prisons like college dorms, geothermal energy, and universal health care. It can't be all that bad.

  3. #3
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    Oh dear lord don't get me started on No Child Left Behind!!! :steam: I come from a family laden with educators!

    In my school gifted children were put in a special class- it was 2nd and 3rd grade gifted together and 4th and 5th together. We did some extra field trips and a few extra units of study in school but nothing special. We didn't learn anything advanced- it was pretty much just extra busy work!

    I'm from a poor rural school, so our entire school was pretty far behind some of the better off schools in the area- what we learned in the honors classes had been taught in the regular classes at some of these other schools at least a grade earlier! :sad: We were rather severely underfunded, so I don't think that my school would be a good example of the normal experience!

    I'm not comfortable sharing my IQ here on the forum, so I'll rep it to you
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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    There were a few programs for gifted children here, but nothing special.

    I think that school = time is the inherent problem right now, where if you can do the course material you should be moved up regardless of age. I'm a huge believer in open learning, so long as you are able to learn. But this comes down to a lot of standardized tests, and you get the exact same complaints with them.

    I don't think there is a good solution. It's known that people perform up to their expected level of achievement... so if you stratify people, you are selecting their future position in life... and if you don't, you are limiting some.

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    Wannabe genius Splittet's Avatar
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    I have no belief in gifted classes at all. It quite easily becomes stigmatising in an environment mixed with normal students. That's why I want special schools, that wouldn't be stigmatising, there would be no conflict between children in normal classes and gifted classes. What I imagine is IQ testing children before school. 199/200 goes into normal school, while 1/200 will go to a special school for gifted children. Not to create elite schools, but because these children are very vulnerable and has special needs that normal schools can't meet. I possibly want IQ test results to be confidential, and only to be used to find out if a child has special needs because of giftedness. I don't want much focus on IQ in schools, it's not healthy.

  6. #6
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    My experiences are quite mixed because I went to many different schools of different types. So this'll be a long post. Feel free to skip/ignore/whatever, but I think it's all on topic.

    The first school I went to was in France when I was very little, where I was generally above average. The school offered to allow me to 'skip a grade' as they say in the US, but my parents declined on my behalf, saying they weren't sure how I'd cope socially in a class of older children. I felt annoyed about that because being with kids the same age as me as always my biggest stress: they wanted to play dolls and stuff, whilst I wanted to play chess and Scrabble. At the time I didn't realize that I'd have to skip more than one grade to find kids who'd play Scrabble... but hey, I was only 7! I found at this school that my educational needs were generally met, though I occasionally felt a bit bored by things, and sometimes quite confused about why certain work was set. It seemed too obvious and easy to me, so I felt it was pointless, and just didn't understand at first that being able to do that stuff already wasn't normal.

    The next school I went to was (at age 8 1/2) a private (fee paying) boarding school in England. To begin with I struggled a bit because of having to learn the language, but after about six months I was pwning most of my class except one kid. We were both assessed as being gifted after a bunch of tests (one of which was an IQ test in which I scored 142 - I remember the number because my mom went around boasting about it to everyone who'd listen). Me and the other kid were taken out of normal classes for two, and then three afternoons per week, and generally hot-housed. I began by doing very well, but gradually lost motivation and interest in the whole thing, partly because I lost interest in school generally due to pretty bad bullying (which was partly due to the extra classes - the other kid got it as well), but also because I became increasingly uninterested in academia. I began skipping classes at about 12 and started smoking and generally became a rebel at 13.

    Then I was taken out of the boarding school because my parents could no longer afford the fee (at age 14) - well, they said they might've at a stretch, but because I wasn't applying myself, they weren't gonna bust their guts to pay for it. I was sent to three consecutive state comprehensive schools, at which I can honestly say I learned NOTHING for the rest of my school career, as not one lesson contained any material that was new to me. I felt school had very little to offer me - I looked at the job market and saw that there was almost no correlation between the things you were taught at school and the things you needed to know for the majority of jobs. And I decided that I never wanted to work for an employer anyway, but would rather be self-employed.

    I completely lost all interest in school and became more interested in experimenting with drugs, alcohol, law breaking, and the idea of business. I didn't turn up to most classes and had to sit through occasional lectures about how I was underachieving and betraying myself, not living up to my potential etc, etc, but I just rolled my eyes through them and went back to my forging enterprises that were raking in the profits nicely. They kept on telling me I had such great potential, but they offered me no avenues through which I could fulfil or achieve that potential - only class after class of boring, repetitive and unchallenging material, interspersed with recesses characterized by bullying and/or isolation.

    When I was 16 I carried on in school after it was no longer compulsory because, basically, it was easier than having to go out and get a proper job, and I was busy setting up business ideas and stuff with various friends, which I knew I wouldn't have the freedom to pursue if I had to work full time (which I'd have had to do, as I left home at 15 and was entitled to state support as long as I was in full time education). I rarely attended any classes - just enough to keep my name on the registers, and devoted most of my energy to external projects (always had many on the go which were far more satisfying, if not always legal).

    My youngest daughter is also classed as "gifted", but as she has Asperger Syndrome it's difficult to balance her higher academic ability against her lack of social skills. Her therapist and I both agree that she could probably handle the curriculum that's offered to kids of about 13 or 14 (she's 8), but obviously there's no way she'd be allowed to skip that many grades. She is taken out of normal classes for one afternoon a week and taken to a local college where they have a group called "G&T Rangers", but she often complains about the work there being boring and too easy.

    I personally believe that a lot of gifted children don't achieve their potential purely because they're not supported or catered for in normal schools, and when they are, they get bullied for it. So they lose interest in school and often end up going off the rails like I did. If they're lucky enough to have supportive parents they could probably still make it, but in my case I had no such luck, and I know quite a few other people like me, whose actual ability far outstrips any formal achievements, for the same reasons.

    Also, even when schools do notice a child's high ability and cater for it, they tend to get obsessed with just that, and to see the child as just a brain on legs... they do very little (i.e. nothing) to support the kid's other needs, and they don't factor in any of the kid's environmental/familial concerns. In my case, even when I was applying myself to the extra classes and being a good student, how much I could achieve was limited because of the abuse and neglect I received at home, which the school didn't catch onto.

    I do think that the school system in the UK is very driven by targets and quotas and league tables, and bright kids are generally sorta seized upon by the school, which generally tends to just see them as 'ratings machines' to wheel out on open evenings and impress funders, even though the kid's achievements are usually mostly independent and not to the school's credit at all. Some of them, including one that I went to, just heave a sigh of relief that it's not a "special needs" kid, and treat the gifted kid as a classroom assistant, roping them in to support and help the less able kids rather than actually pushing them to the level they're capable of. I know I spent many a German/French class painstakingly pointing out and explaining basic grammar and pronunciation to less able kids when I could've been taking a degree.

    I also think that, although it's commendable that schools put more effort into supporting kids with special needs in the other direction, it's gone too far now, so that bright kids are afraid to even own up to their ability for fear of it making others feel stupid. My kids often complain about how their teachers spend by far most of their time coaching the duller kids, whilst they're ignored and left alone to just fill out sheets of questions, which they complete in no time before getting bored, shortly before they're given detentions for the things they resort to simply to amuse themselves!!
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  7. #7
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splittet View Post
    I have no belief in gifted classes at all. It quite easily becomes stigmatising in an environment mixed with normal students. That's why I want special schools, that wouldn't be stigmatising, there would be no conflict between children in normal classes and gifted classes. What I imagine is IQ testing children before school. 199/200 goes into normal school, while 1/200 will go to a special school for gifted children. Not to create elite schools, but because these children are very vulnerable and has special needs that normal schools can't meet. I possibly want IQ test results to be confidential, and only to be used to find out if a child has special needs because of giftedness. I don't want much focus on IQ in schools, it's not healthy.
    i don't think having that specific of a threshold would be practical. people who get 99.5th percentile on a test go, and those who get 99.4th don't? there are people that are 1/200 that can function fine in normal school and other people -- 1/20 even -- that couldn't. it would have to be a much more comprehensive selection process.

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    Wannabe genius Splittet's Avatar
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    I loved your post, substitute. You seem to have a lot of first-hand experience on this, and obviously school didn't work out at all for you. You have tried and have experience with special classes, but it didn't work. You point out exactly why I have no belief in it. You was bullied for it, at the special classes were few and too easy. It doesn't help. More radical measurements are needed. Special schools are absolutely needed. First of all there would be no social conflict, the social environment would be very safe and the gifted children would only be surrounded by children like themselves. Secondly a school specialising in only gifted children would be much more focused than any school with only special classes for the gifted, and the teaching would be much better therefore. As for skipping grades, it is just devastating socially, and even then the lessons will not be challenging enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    i don't think having that specific of a threshold would be practical. people who get 99.5th percentile on a test go, and those who get 99.4th don't? there are people that are 1/200 that can function fine in normal school and other people -- 1/20 even -- that couldn't. it would have to be a much more comprehensive selection process.
    Sure, that's details. The important thing is that it happens early, and that it should not be for anything more than 1/100. Then it becomes too common, which will lead to conflict. But I haven't figured out an exact percentage, again, it's details.

  9. #9
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    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.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    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.

    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.

    Suffice to say I would not have been selected based on academic performance, although I suppose I got into a couple of advanced classes based on my 'free thinking' - I'd now call it lazyness and an attempt to get out of more intensive courses. It is, however, comforting that Einstein would not of either. I'm not sure there is a particular advantage to be putting "IQ" gifted students in seperate classes.

    I'd actually think putting dilligent workers with moderate IQs in special schools would make more sense.

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