Thursday, September 06, 2007


My mother sent me a link to a good article on gifted children from Time Magazine called "Are We Failing Our Geniuses?" Probably because a.) she knows I was bored through most of my schooling, and b.) Eryn seems smarter than either Pooteewheet or I, so we're going to have to keep on top of it, even if she's not gifted across the board.

She probably read this bit and thought of Eryn...

"Max is Gael's only child, so when he taught himself to read at 3 she says she hadn't even taught him the alphabet she wasn't sure it was so unusual. Then around age 4, he read aloud from a medical book in the doctor's office, and the doctor recommended intelligence testing. At 4, Max had the verbal skills of a 13-year-old. He skipped kindergarten, but he was still bored, and his mother despaired. No system is going to be able to keep up, she thought."

As Eryn could read at 3, and currently reads better than any of the Garlough grade schoolers I ever worked with in the reading program, you could substitute "read her father's MSDN (computer programming) magazine", and it might be almost verbatim - except we haven't skipped her over kindergarten, we've just found her a private school instead of daycare.

Anyway, the thrust of the article is that gifted kids drop out of school at about the same rate as the severely challenged, and that the answer is often to pair them up with the challenged, or let them float, hoping they find their own way: "We tend to assume that the highly gifted will eventually find their way--they're smart, right?" Both of which are invalid responses. It's surprising they're considered valid at all, because this quote: "As Columbia education professor Abraham Tannenbaum has written, 'Giftedness requires social context that enables it.' Like a muscle, raw intelligence can't build if it's not exercised," is obvious to any tech lead. Your developers, if you leave them on trackers and stupid things where they don't stretch their imagination and their skills, stagnate. You have to challenge them to make them better, and good programmers thrive when challenged. I'm not saying all programmers are geniuses, I'm just drawing the comparison that using and improving your brain is an active skill.

If you have a genius around, and you don't mind sending them to school under a couple of Republicans in Reno, Nevada, Davidson Academy sounds exceptional. I like it that they've been accused of being elitest. Of course they're elitest. It's a school for smart kids. But the idea of setting the kids loose to study at their own pace and challenge each other sounds like it works. It would be interesting to meet some of them after they've grown up to see how their socialization went.

1 comment:

Carol E. said...

Hi. Stumbled upon your blog today. Very interesting discussion of education for gifted kids. My poor son was bored all through school, too. He only had his spark burst into flame once - when he had a fantastic teacher in 4th grade who "got" him. I wish I had known more about what to do and how to help him. Now he's at Hamline (Go, Pipers indeed!) and finally experiencing some academic challenges that he enjoys. You can't do too much for your child... learn all you can about how to help her so she doesn't hate school from Day One. Good luck!!!