Friday, October 24, 2008

Beam me up, Scotty

So the Davidson Institute kindly sends me round-ups of gifted education in the news each week. This past week, one of the more bizarre headlines in the package was from a publication called Planet Blacksburg, entitled "Virginia's Gifted Not So Grand." After reading the piece by Kaylie Brannan, I was puzzled that a serious, adult news outlet would run it, constructed as it is by throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks. But then I realized that Planet Blacksburg is actually a website that showcases Virginia Tech student freelancers, so perhaps it's best to use this essay as an excuse for a good Friday chuckle -- and a chance to count up the usual anti-gifted canards.

Technique #1: Bash "pushy parents," everyone's favorite target.

"'Our little Suzy is just so special...' How many eye-rolling moments have we all suffered when particularly proud parents begin boasting of their children's fine natural abilities? Most would say, probably too many."

Technique #2: Claim IQ tests are biased or ineffective.
"If we're using IQ tests, then it may be possible privileged children are scoring higher than disadvantaged ones."

Technique #3: Claim separating students by ability leads to horrible ostracizing and bullying.
"...Why should we have these programs anyway? Would not separating a child from his/her peers to be put into a 'gifted' program be a cause for ostracization or bullying? And wouldn't telling a child he or she is not gifted enough to be separated from 'the crowd' be sending a bad message from trusted adults and/or be cause for ostracization or reverse bullying from gifted students?"

Technique #4: Claim that incorrect socialization leads to lifelong problems.
"...A study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction, as well as research described on (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), found that people deemed gifted often experience alcohol or drug abuse as a way of coping with their differences from peers."

Technique #5: Lament some lost golden era of a classroom "community" and champion the idea of gifted kids teaching others.
"...[we] could reestablish the idea of everyone appreciating each other's differences and working with each other instead of singling people out. Maybe kids like Suzy could share their uniqueness with others instead of being herded into a room with a handful of other special kids."

Technique #6: Hint that gifted kids are nerdy. It helps to mention Star Trek.
(On changing the requirements for entrance to gifted programs): "It would be like inviting a group of intelligent adults to hold hands, cling together and chant, 'Beam me up, Scotty!' and then, when it was not really working, deciding to choose participants more assiduously."

That's a lot of the usual suspects for a short op-ed, but I bet Gifted Exchange readers can come up with a few our pundit missed. Have at it!


nbosch said...

I cringed when I read the article!

Anonymous said...


How I wished you wrote for The New York Times or a New York newspaper. The way newspapers in New York are writing about the gifted-and-talented programs is not too far from this sophomoric article. The reporters seem to have a pre-conceived bias and make sure to interview those that will support their viewpoint. And I usually like the NY Times and The Village Voice. (VV recently gave Joel Klein a D- because the "gifted" programs in NYC weren't diverse enough, which is odd because in my child's class, that certainly isn't true, which makes me wonder how much depth these reporters go...but I digress)

Why do writers always put "gifted" in quotes if it refers to these programs? Certainly at one point in their lives someone told them they were "gifted" writers.

Thanks for advocating for the gifted.

The Princess Mom said...

"be cause for ostracization or reverse bullying from gifted students?""

This was the part that really threw me. I know many, many gifted kids and they are all socially advanced enough to be able to put themselves in the other child's place. They don't bully.