Monday, May 13, 2013
Changing a name
The Davidson Institute sends me a list of gifted-related headlines each week. This past week, a short article from Davis, CA announced that the school board had voted to change the name of the gifted program from "Gifted and Talented Education" (GATE -- a common acronym) to an "Alternative Instruction Model." When I hear such news, I'm struck by two things, which point in different directions. On one hand, I generally suspect that few school boards are excited about the concept of gifted education. Indeed (if I'm reading the story right), the Davis board seems to be moving away from self-contained gifted classes, and to in-class enrichment. This is a problem. It basically means watering down gifted education and depriving gifted children of the opportunity to be challenged with their intellectual peers. On the other hand, I don't dislike the idea of calling gifted education something else. The "gifted" label can become a bit of a lightning rod, which is one reason that school boards like getting rid of gifted education. It seems to satisfy some false egalitarian urge, as opposed to being what it really is (choosing to under-invest in part of their student population). An "alternative instruction model" is, in reality, what gifted education is. Some children's needs cannot be met in a regular classroom. They need alternative instruction, just as children with other special needs do. Calling gifted education something more neutral could turn the whole discussion from something political to something more practical. Here's what we do to help some children learn best. Here's what we do to help other children learn best. What do you think of alternative names for gifted education?