Saturday, July 11, 2015

Reading about Extreme Cognitive Gifts--Part 2

IQ is a Controversial Topic to Some

This third book is included because it is controversial, and I firmly believe people should be exposed to controversial ideas. It is good exercise for the mind! Doctors Herrnstein and Murray provide loads of data and footnotes to back up their observations and conclusions.
Whether or not one likes the authors' conclusions, this is a book that raised important questions people were (and still are) afraid to ask. Many Americans think we must pretend everybody is the same in order to maintain equality under the law. In fact, our system of equality under the law is to ensure that all of us, while different in abilities, interests, religion--and intelligence--can get along with one another. Full of footnotes, this book is worth reading whether you like it or not.

How Gifted Students Challenge the System

Today's professional educator/bureaucrat (as opposed to the actual classroom teacher) wants all children to learn in a straight line, in a prescribed sequence, at the same rate. Gifted children can't help challenging this system. Many of them learned to read with no formal instruction before any educator had a chance at them (I was one of those children, as was a son of mine.) They arrive in kindergarten and are told they can't read their chapter book because it is time to sit on a rug and look at state-approved basal readers--boring!
Gifted students ask too many questions, especially those of the "Why?" variety. Their thirst for knowledge can seem unquenchable, especially for the modern classroom teacher who has a room full of students that range from several grade levels below grade to several levels above. What is he/she supposed to do in those circumstances? The obvious solution, promoting gifted students a grade or two, is rejected by bureaucrats for vague "socialization" reasons. Pull-out programs are just some token add-ons to the unchallenging (for the gifted student) curriculum rather than an appropriate program for their actual academic level. Parents need the resources to fight for their child--or to create an appropriate educational program themselves.
Gifted students also challenge systems created for typical children because of their asynchronous (out of the usual time) development, e.g. their emotional growth may lag behind their math ability and their fine motor skills may lag behind their reading skills. Thus even a classroom full of gifted students would present some difficulties for a teacher. Understanding the challenges is the first step to meeting them, so read these books and learn.
Gifted children grow up being told they are "too (fill-in-the-blank)" and wonder what is wrong with them. If your child is "too curious", "too active", or "too everything" you need this book. You can't force a child to not be intense, but you can teach them to channel the intensity appropriately. Intensity is a gift, not a disease!