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In case no one noticed the children already know that they are gifted. They are the ones that have the brains. The ones that are not also know they are not gifted. How ever you handle the "gifted" label, the ones that count already know the score.
Thankyou Michelle - Your comments reflect how I feel about labelling. To my mind labelling is a necessary shorthand we use to simplify our communications - "that is a tree" rather than "that is a Brush Turpentine (or Choricarpia leptoperala)" - can you imagine how tedious that would be... However when it comes to children we should take the time to treat each child as an individual - Montessori education gives a practical way in which this can be done.
Labelling works to disadvantage high achievers as well - as a counsellor I have many clients with PhDs, Mensa IQs and successful businesses who have been rendered incompetent by panic which can be traced back to performance anxiety - in essence they fear that people they work with will recognise that they cannot continue to live up to the labels the were given as young high achieving children. They fear exposure as somehow being a fraud.
Labels are vital and we could not live in our complex world without them. However we can and should choose where that usefulness ends.
At least, until they get beaten down by public education. It's not the student's fault that we don't know how to successfully address multimodal styles of learning. With the right prerequisites, technology would hold great promise for addressing this issue, but unfortunately, most IT departments at school like to forbid students to use the devices that really engage them (iPods, cell phones) and forbid them to go to sites that really engage them (iTunes, any social networking, etc.). So until we recognize that networks are for the benefit of the students and not the IT department, we're going to continue thinking that some kids are gifted and the rest are not.
Gifted? Says who? Compared to what?
The criteria for sorting students into types is driven by a cognitive paradigm held by the academic world. And a gross misunderstanding of what learning is for (not to produce scientists, math wizards, business persons or writers.).
Truth is, not all brains work the way academic brains do. Not all humans view the world the same way academics do.
Not all humans learn the same way, look the same, speak the same, etc., etc.
So why do we insist that all children demonstrate the same patterns?
Because those who are running the show are exceptionally good academics (or like thinkers), absolutely essential to education but not the only show in town.
I voted no in your recent poll to determine whether or not schools should use the label "gifted" to describe children with different or accelerated learning capabilities than their same-age peers. However my reason was not only because it is demoralizing to other students, but also demoralizing often to the ones who are being labeled as "gifted."
Before everyone goes on saying, "Oh yeah, tough to be the smart kid!" Please believe me when I say that often it can be hard. As a "gifted" child who's parents could not afford to send her to the private school for "gifted" children, my parents sent me to public school, only to be shuffled around in classes back and forth between different teachers, different grades and then to be ultimately "accelerated" into a grade higher than my same-aged peers. Did my same-aged peers or those in the higher grade understand this? No. Did this make me a social outcast? Yes.
Now, as an educational specialist I understand why it was done at the time (they didn't know what to do with me), but I wonder why is it still so difficult to understand what to do?
It seems like common sense to me that as a teacher and if an administrator, it should be in the child's best interest to call them what they and every child are--a unique being. Similar to what should be done in other exceptional cases (special needs children, etc.), teachers and administrators should pair with specialists (special education teachers/"gifted" teachers)who understand how to scaffold work and questions for these children so they can continue to be a part of their "typical" classrooms and not labeled anything different. I've seen it work in many districts here and it works. The regular education teachers can use the specialists for support so they aren't overwhelmed and the children are still participating in an inclusive classroom environment, not segregated by need.
Ultimately, maybe one day we can have teacher education programs that makes every teacher a "specialist" in providing individualized care for every student. While this may not be possible right now, it would help in the future.
Taking away the labels won't change anything. The second you pull a student out of a classroom they are different from the rest of the class whether it's for special ed or gifted ed.
If the school district feels that it's minority students are not being properly identified then I'd say the problem is really with the way in which they identify their gifted students.
As both a teacher and a parent, I feel constantly frustrated by the attitude that children who are high achievers will somehow stigmatize those who are less so if they are labelled "gifted" and given special programming. Gifted children NEED special attention, just as much as children who have learning disabilities or behavioral problems. Plus, such children also have differences in development and socialization; grouping them together can make it easier to assist them in finding the pieces they need.
A special learning ABILITY is worthy of attention and help. What we call it is unimportant--what we do with it IS important.
I voted "no" and would add that we should also remove the Special Ed. label. Students take cues from the expectations aimed at them. These labels alter expectations, and thereby alter students' performance and behavior. Seeing as the "gifted" label becomes worthless if used for everyone, the only valuable option is to remove the label altogether and make an effort to teach each child as though they had been designated as gifted.