Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Do You Do With Genius Kids?

Some teachers ignore them, thinking that "those kids" can take care of themselves while the teachers have to look after "the rest of the class". Some teachers give them more work to do, as if being bored with 20 math problems is cured by being bored with 30 math problems. Some teachers try to see what they can do with that spark.

I've taught a couple of these kids. My school does a fairly good job with them, but there's really no plan involved in doing so. There are so few of them, can we afford to devote more resources to them? And let's not bring up the NCLB canard; we weren't really paying attention to such kids pre-NCLB, either. Is there something better we as a state or country can do? Where's Professor Xavier?
Andrew Almazán, the 16-year-old Mexican who has just received his psychology degree and is scheduled to finish medical school in two years, told me something in an interview last week that I wasn’t aware of: Millions of exceptionally talented youngsters in Latin America are being pushed out of public schools for lack of gifted-student programs.

In an interview from his home in Mexico City, Andrew told me that when he was in elementary school, he was bored in the classroom, and got into trouble with teachers for challenging what they were saying in class. His teachers saw him as a troublemaker, and diagnosed him with attention-deficit disorder, although he had an IQ of 162, higher than Albert Einstein’s...

Citing World Health Organization estimates, Andrew told me that an estimated 2.3 percent of the youth population of every country is highly gifted. That would amount to nearly 800,000 youths in Mexico alone, he said.

“But here in Mexico, about 95 percent of highly gifted minds are wasted because they are not identified as such,” Andrew said. “We are losing that intellectual capacity, because of a tendency to adjust everybody [downward] to the average.”


scott mccall said...

believe it or not...i had the same problem growing up. i had teachers telling me i was misbehaving and causing problems, when the problem was that i was finishing my work faster than other students and had nothing to keep me busy. teachers later tried to tell my parents, and tried to diagnose me, with ADHD. they even went as far to tell my parents i'll never make it to college because i was such a trouble maker. here i am years later, a graduate of one of the nations most highly ranked research institutes. not even that, i graduated near top of my class with 4 degrees.....on time in 4 years.

....i definitely believe that some teachers don't know what to do with students who succeed more than others

Darren said...

4 degrees? Damn, impressive.

Anonymous said...

... if they are within driving distance... send them to GECA.

(Especially download and check out their SARC. You will be impressed!)

Ellen K said...

In what I have read about gifted kids, they deserve an IEP in much the same way children with disabilities get special consideration for their abilities. Instead teachers use these kids as teaching surrogates or they simply assign them more of the same work the other kids are doing. There's no real urgency to accommodate these kids. I should know-all three of my kids were tested out as gifted. My daughter ended up always paired with the troublemaker which made her unpopular. My sons were ignored or in one case labeled as ADHD simply because they dared to finish work early and didn't behave in conventional ways. I think boys who are gifted are especially likely to get into trouble.

PeggyU said...

This is where parents make all the difference. They recognize that their kids are not receiving the appropriate instruction and they find the resources they need. Certainly they are aided by sympathetic teachers who don't want to see these kids' talents wasted.

I wish I could share the adventures of a student I worked with in navigating the education system - but there is so much there that I'd have to do it in installments! I am pleased to say that in the end he is where he belongs and fulfilling his calling. I am so happy for him!