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.


Dori Kleber said...

If you agreed with this post, please send a letter to the editor of the newspaper nearest you that carries Rosemond's column, pointing out how misguided he is about gifted kids.

Don't do it to punish Rosemond, although that might be deserved. Do it to help the gifted children of those moms and dads out there who read Rosemond's column and are now labeling their bright child as lazy.

nicoleandmaggie said...

Wow, that's so sad. It's like the text-book case of what can happen when you don't challenge gifted kids.

Anonymous said...

Cannot find a comment section for his articles :( Did find this "feedback" email from his website that is supposed to address his columns :

Dori Kleber said...

Anonymous, I am not sure what good it does to send feedback to Rosemond via e-mail. I sent something the last time I thought he missed the boat on gifted and received no response. If you want to contact him, you may wish to send a letter to his office, at 1391-A East Franklin Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28054.

Gail Post said...

I also read this article. I think it is syndicated in areas outside of Kentucky as well.

Really infuriating when a so-called expert has an ax to grind and makes inaccurate and inflammatory statements about gifted children.

Dori Kleber said...

I've continued to look into this, and here's what I found in terms of contacts:

1) If your local newspaper runs Rosemond's column, write to them.
2) Rosemond's home newspaper, the Charlotte Observer. This is where the column originates. Address letters to Michael Weinstein, Features Editor, Charlotte Observer, 600 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202
3) McClatchy Tribune News Services, the company that syndicates the column. Write to Wes Albers, McClatchy-Tribune News, 700 12th St. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005.
4) John Rosemond himself. The address of his physical office is 1391-A East Franklin Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28054.

ThinkingMom said...

What Rosemond said is true and it happened in my son's gifted class. Some of the kids simply aren't interested in the homework assignment, especially the boys who are good in math and science and are forced to do book reports that supposedly stretch their "creativity"(but not really). Many boys especially hate to write and if the gifted program stresses more writing they'll revolt. Our district's gifted program does not believe in grade inflation so many "gifted" kids get Cs and Ds for the first time in their lives and are in shock. I think when that happens a lot of the problem is with the gifted program itself. in our case the program is designed and taught by someone who has no idea what giftedness is and does not understand what gifted children really needs.

Anonymous said...

What Rosemond described definitely doesn't sound like the gifted program in my school district. Most of the kids I know who are identified as gifted have a good work ethic and any who don't are kids who would have been slackers anyway. Based on my own experience Rosemond is giving blatant misinformation.

I think he may be sort of right about gifted kids thinking they're entitled to good grades, though. I have heard high school age gifted kids complaining that their grades should be weighted because their classes are supposed to be harder than the regular college prep classes (never mind the fact that this is rarely the case and most "gifted" classes are academically identical to the regular classes). However, none of these students are lazy, just whiny.

kim said...

I'd say my gifted kids were lazy in many ways, but I also see that a result a of teachers not wanting to or interested in going the extra mile to provide appropriate challenge, esp. for the son who wasn't their idealized image of a gifted kid- eager to please and learn in class. He mostly just tuned out, but he met or exceeded "standards," so there's that...

Stefany S. said...

Rosemond's ideas are ludicrous. In my own experience, gifted kids thrive on learning new things and work hard at tasks that challenge them to find an answer. It's when they already know the material and their minds aren't stimulated that the laziness creeps in.

The misunderstanding of gifted needs and gifted programs is pervasive. I think our challenge as advocates (beyond the day to day advocation for our own children) is to promote the true function of a real gifted program - the wider we can broadcast the message, the more likely we are change these ignorant views. After 7 years of advocation for my children, I have found that these views - and policies - have remaining unchanged or gotten worse.

How do change the ingrained views of the masses?