Monday, August 26, 2013
"Their mere participation in G&T programs entitles them to good grades"
John Rosemond has a nationally syndicated parenting column. He's often got an edge, which is fun to read -- though oddly enough, Kentucky seems to be accusing him of practicing psychology without a license (at least a Kentucky license that is) because of his sharp advice. As someone who freely dispenses my advice all over the place, I think this is kind of an alarming development. But anyway, the problem for our purposes is that he seems to have it in for gifted children. I'm not quite sure what Rosemond has experienced that's led him to have a negative view of the whole enterprise, but that certainly comes out in his columns. This past week, he wrote about "Motivating a smart kid who is lazy." The gist of the advice -- that people don't change unless the consequences of their behavior affect them personally -- isn't wrong. But he gets at that with some broadsides against gifted education in his response to a parent worried that a gifted son isn't doing his homework. As he writes, "The fact that the school has identified your son as 'gifted and talented' may be part of the problem. My finding is that a good number of children who've been so identified seem to feel that their mere participation in G&T programs entitles them to good grades no matter how much effort they put into their schoolwork. So they do just enough to get by and no more. The further problem is that schools will not, generally speaking, lower the boom on these kids. Teachers continue giving them decent report card grades even though they don't complete assignments or turn in work, do poorly on tests, and so on. And once a child's been promoted to G&T status, demotion is virtually out of the question. These kids are smart all right. They're smart enough to figure out that the only consequence of their lack of effort is that adults get upset." Note the use of the word "finding." It implies that there's some research backing this statement up. There isn't. There are, of course, gifted children who don't do homework. Some may feel entitled. Some may be lazy. And some may object to spending big chunks of their lives doing work they've mastered years ago. Perhaps parents should teach that we follow the rules...and sometimes, perhaps, they should try to find alternate educational arrangements that actually challenge the kid. I know that in my life, some of my biggest educational accommodations have happened when I spoke up about why I shouldn't do certain assignments or classes. Adults don't always know best. The point is that these situations are often not black and white. Education and parenting both require a lot of understanding of complex reasons for things. Especially when we're dealing with children with special needs of any sort. But Rosemond has decided that gifted kids are con artists, looking to lord their smarts over the rest of us. I'm sure plenty of readers from this blog could share stories pointing otherwise -- stories of gifted kids doing poorly on tests, and getting poor grades, and parents' struggles to figure out how to solve those problems. As for entitlement and lack of effort? I maintain that the best way to undercut any entitlement in gifted students is to truly challenge them so they have to work. Which is far more likely to happen in GT programs than in regular classes, whatever Rosemond may think.