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Monthly Archives: June 2016

STEM, STEAM, and Perfectionism in Gifted Students

The art curriculum could be an excellent place to help alleviate the pressures that gifted children put on themselves due to their tendency toward perfectionism. As a famous artist, Salvador Dali, once said, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” The beauty and diversity of art is in the differences caused by imperfections. Conversely, in most forms of mathematics, for example, it is possible to score 100% on exams and assignments all of the time, which can be equated in the gifted child’s mind with perfection. Therefore, when s/he misses one question on a test, s/he also questions her/his abilities regardless that there were no prior mistakes. In art, perfection is impossible; so, if taught correctly, the art room can be a place where gifted children can learn that unavoidable mistakes and differentiation is what gives the world of art such beautiful diversity. In a time when the trend in educations is toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), there is extra internal pressure on the gifted child toward perfectionism because each of these is an exact discipline with little room for error. That is why I prefer STEAM, because integrating the arts—the “A” in STEAM stands for arts—and language arts with these things introduces back the ability to have different approaches, some less than perfect, that are equally valuable contributions to the subject area. In gifted programs particularly—and in all programs in general—there needs to be a sharp movement away from STEM toward STEAM so that schools are not trying to produce citizens who place their personal value on exactness. Rather, students of the future will be more valuable to society—and to themselves—if they can contribute imperfectly and still be happy with their production.

 
 

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Gifted Identification in the Urban Classroom

Charles Sutton

Galileo School for Gifted Learning

Level 7 Learning

The Davidson Institute posted a journal article discussing the problem of under-identification of low SES students in gifted programs, and they mention that it particularly a problem urban schools. The authors write about how these school have extreme problems with funding to the point that any resources they have are funneled into interventions for getting the lower-achieving subgroups to pass high stakes tests, while putting little or no investment into the differentiation needs for gifted students (Olszewski-Kubilius & Thomson, 2010). Since these schools are often predominantly in African American and Hispanic communities, the lack of programs in the schools widens the gap for lower SES and ethnic groups in gifted programs in general as a percentage of the population.

Urban schools may present other problems as well. Rodriguez and Bellanca (2007) discuss how many urban teachers lack the confidence in student ability that may be necessary to identify under-achieving gifted students. As a result, they do not provide the high-quality educational experiences that these children need to help them begin to demonstrate their level of gifts and talents. When children do not get quality instruction from their teachers, and the teachers believe that low SES and minority children cannot learn as well as other students, then the underachieving students fall farther and farther below their potential, and they many never develop their true abilities. Therefore, they recommend that teachers in urban districts have to modify their own behaviors using the fifteen TESA recommendations in order to help all children achieve to their potential, including the gifted children. They write that these teachers “…don’t look for a gifted rose garden; they make their little plot of land into a rose garden (p. 10). This allows all children to flourish and grow allowing the gifted students to show their talents, which will more likely allow them to become among the identified gifted students in a district.

Rodriguez and Bellanca (2007) believe that in order to turn around educational opportunities in these low SES urban communities that teachers should receive “…multifaceted professional development wherein workshops…reinforced with peer coaching and strong supervisory support” (p. 25). They should be trained in TESA-recommended teacher behaviors that will help them provide a quality education for each student. If not, negative teacher expectation turns into poor self-evaluation and the underachieving conditions will persist. They write, “…unless the parent of teacher expects these youngsters to change how they think and behave, unless the mediator persists in demanding the changes, most students will form low expectations for themselves and stay trapped in the inability to learn” (p. 37). This condition will further reinforce the identification gap in gifted programs.

According to Parsons (2001), the problem is also one of privilege and built in advantage. She claims that even when students of socioeconomic advantage and low SES students occupy the same academic building, there are still factors that provide built-in academic edges to the higher SES, white, male student over the others. If the teacher has different expectations for the students based on their family’s economic wealth or the students race, ethnicity, or gender then those biases affect the quality of the education each of the children will receive. If, on the other hand, the teacher—like the teacher in her study—understands that s/he can affect the performance of the students based on her/his expectations, then a teacher who believes that everyone has an equal chance to succeed (and even an equal chance to be identified for gifted programs) will provide better quality learning materials and differentiation for all students to allow their skills and talents to show through. She writes, “…the teacher’s job is to influence students toward educational ends…” (p. 332). That being the case, it is time that we hold teachers responsible for providing equitable educational opportunities for all students—urban or otherwise—that accounts for the differences in SES and family/community culture. Upon doing so we may see more students identified for gifted services from the underrepresented groups. Schools and districts need to provide professional development opportunities, coaching, and other support systems to ensure that it happens.

Frequently, it seems that educators want to blame the students’ cultural values, behaviors, family circumstances, parent involvement, and a wide range of other socioeconomic factors when confronted with achievement gaps. Yet, the most effective way to mediate these gaps is by providing good-quality learning opportunities for all students (Rodriguez & Bellanca, 2007). Perhaps, instead of blaming others, teachers need to “…acknowledge[d] the power inherent in teaching and use[d] it to address equal and fair access for all students to the experiences of the classroom” (Parsons, 2001, p. 332). It is only the ethical use of the teacher’s power used in an ethical manner that can help us recognize which students need gifted services in low SES and urban settings.

References

Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Thomson, D. (2010). Gifted programming for poor or minority urban students: Issues and lessons learned. Gifted Child Today, 33(4), 58–64. Retrieved from Davidson Institute: http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10670
Parsons, E. C. (2001, December). Using power and caring to mediate white male privilege, equality, and equity in an urban elementary classroom: Implications for teacher preparation. The Urban Review, 33(4), 321–338.
Rodriguez, E., & Bellanca, J. (2007). What is it about me you can’t teach?: An instruction guide for the urban educator (Second Edition ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

 
 

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Poverty and Gifted Identification

Charles Sutton
Galileo School for Gifted Learning
Level 7 Learning

This week’s readings in my gifted endorsement program are related to the cultural biases in education that account for the underrepresentation of non-white families and families from poverty in gifted programs. Kitano (2003) writes, “…while intense poverty limits the presence of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students among the highest achievers, inadequate school resources, racial and ethnic prejudice, families’ limited educational resources, and cultural differences contribute to underrepresentation” (293). This paper will use the two articles from the reading assignments along with some other experiences and information to illustrate Kitano’s point.

According to Beegle (2003) families from low socioeconomic status—especially if the family is from generational poverty—are often stuck in the lower levels of what Maslow identified as a hierarchy of needs (McLeod, 2007; Huitt, 2007). Parents from generational poverty spend the majority of their resources trying to meet the physical and safety needs of the family, so there is little or nothing left to invest into school, which is a much higher-level need reaching the social, esteem, and self-actualization areas of Maslow’s pyramid. As a result, the parents lack the monetary, educational, and time resources needed to invest in ensuring that their children get into gifted programs despite the child’s individual strengths and talents. That leaves the work of identifying to the teachers and school, which is already prejudiced toward middle class values for academics and behaviors as well as scores on standardized tests that are written to the advantage of white, middle class students (Payne, n.d.; Slocumb & Payne, 2000). Slocumb and Payne (2000) claim that the current “…identification processes do not factor in environmental differences” (p. 28), thereby favoring identification of middle class students over low SES and culturally diverse students. Montoya, Matias, Nishi, and Sarcedo (2016) suggest that this inequity situation is institutionalized racism that needs to end. Having little confidence that the identification system can be repaired, they call for an end to segregated gifted and talented programs and to instead use a differentiation model to service each student’s gifts and talents in the integrated classroom. This model also has the benefit of giving gifted children who have asynchronous development the social and emotional interactions with children who may be more aligned with those needs than some of the more evenly developed gifted students.

Others have more confidence that they system can and should be fixed because of the extremely high needs of gifted and talented students that may be more difficult to service in an integrated classroom. For example, as a remedy to the current segregated system, Slocumb and Payne (2000) suggest that schools should “…develop an identification process for the gifted and talented that takes into account the inequality that exists between students from poverty and those from middle class” (p. 29). To do so would require taking away standardized test scores and other grading systems that favor middle class students as identifying tools, and in their place schools should develop more formative evaluations to help identify students based on skills that are not traditionally valued in school. This could include opening up evaluation systems that use a wider range of Gardner’s identified intelligences (Lane, n.d.), especially the ones that are undervalued in the current gifted identification process.

Another possible solution is to use the model that we use at the Galileo School, which is to teach each student enrolled in our school in a gifted style regardless of identification or designation. Of course, that requires a lot of differentiation as mentioned in the Montoya, Matias, Nishi, and Sarcedo (2016) article, but the difference is that the teachers are not simply using the gifted-style of learning to differentiate for the gifted students. Rather, all students received the benefit of gifted style learning with the academic elements of the learning tailored to their own educational needs and development. As a result, all of the children benefit from things like enhancement, acceleration, and choice.

References

Beegle, D. (2003, October/November). Overcoming the silence of generational poverty. Talking Points, 15(1), 11-20.
Huitt, W. (2007). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from Educational Psychology Interactive: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/conation/maslow.html
Kitano, M. K. (2003). Gifted potential and poverty: A calll for extraordinary action. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 26(4), 292–303.
Lane, C. (n.d.). Multiple intelligences. Retrieved from Tecweb: http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html
McLeod, S. (2007). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from Simply Psychology: http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Montoya, R., Matias, C. E., Nishi, N. W., & Sarcedo, G. L. (2016, March). Words are wind: Using Du Bois and Borudieu to ‘unveil’ the capricious nature of gifted and talented programs. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 14(1), 127–143.
Payne, R. (n.d.). Understanding and working with students and adults from poverty. Retrieved from Homepages : http://homepages.wmich.edu/~ljohnson/Payne.pdf
Slocumb, P. D., & Payne, R. K. (2000, May). Identifying and nurturing the gifted poor. Principal: The New Diversity, 79(5), 28–32.

 
 

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Relating Gardner’s Visual-Spatial Intelligence to Artistic Development in Gifted Students

Charles Sutton
Galileo School for Gifted Learning
Level 7 Leaning

<pPOne of the leading theorists when in cognitive child development is Howard Gardner. Gardner realized that instead of the two intelligences—Language and Mathematics—that we identify for giftedness, there are several other areas where a child can have gifts and talents that should be considered with equal weight as the others. One of these is in the visual-spatial realm. The question that this research will examine is how—if at all—a child’s artistic development in the visual-spatial intelligence areas can positively or negatively affect the gifted child’s social/emotional development.

Areas of concern may arise when a researcher finds an inconsistency between areas where the child is developing asynchronously or where there are conflicts between divergent areas of growth. While looking for evidence of these inconsistencies, the author noticed the following problem. Codd (2004) noted the following, “Although risk-taking is a characteristic typically associated with creative people, gifted students are often hesitant to experiment in a new area if they have achieved a certain level of mastery in an idiom” (para 11). In other words, there exists an incongruent relationship between the creative aspects of giftedness and the tendency to want to repeat past successes. This may cause internal struggle for the artistically gifted student as s/he wants to do creative work but worries about failure when trying to do something that is truly unique. This could be a key to understanding why some gifted and talented students tend to want to drop out of art in the decision stage as identified by Lowenfeld (Fussell, 2011).

As a result, the gifted child may lose some degree of the confidence that s/he previously had in her/his artistic self-competence. As Chou (2013) points out based on Erikson’s theories, “our ego identify is in dynamic conversations between ourselves and our environment….[we develop] a sense of competence, of mastered, or a sense of inadequacy, if managed poorly…which motivates our behavior and action” (para 3). If the gifted student loses confidence from the fear of trying to break out of his/her usual visual-spatial elements or tools, then s/he may also lose self-efficacy in art and may want to stop creating visual artworks.

To compensate, the teacher may need to stress the visual thinking skills in which the gifted students typically excel. These skills include perceptual discrimination, metaperception, and creative interpretation (Codd, 2004). Using perceptual awareness means that the students can more accurately recognize the subtle differences that they are observing that helps to make their drawing more accurate. Metaperception is similar to metacognition in that it involves thinking about the processes involved with perceiving visual-spatial relationships. Finally, creative interpretation is the process by which a student can reintroduce her/his creative nature back into the artistic process by coming up with divergent solutions to the same art problems (Codd, 2004). If the student can be taught to think along these three lines, it may help her/him reintegrate the visual-spatial talent with the creative aspects of art that were previously seen as problematic.

References

Chou, S. H. (2013, December). Director’s corner: The phychosocial development of gifted children. Retrieved from SENG: http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/directors-corner-the-psychosocial-development-of-gifted-children
Codd, M. (2004). Recognizing the child gifted and talented in visual art. Retrieved from Grown Minds: http://www.growminds.com/TheArts/GTinArt.htm
Fussell, M. (2011, June 20). The stages of artistic development. Retrieved from The virtual instructor: http://thevirtualinstructor.com/blog/the-stages-of-artistic-development

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Development of Divergent Areas of Students and How They May Affect Gifted Children

Charles Sutton
Galileo School for Gifted Learning
Level 7 Learning

Introduction
The current assignment in my gifted endorsement class asks the learner to consider the developmental stages that individuals go through as they pass from childhood to adulthood and how the stages of development may be affected by a person’s giftedness. In turn, it is important to note how asynchronous development within the child and variant development from grade level peers may have an effect on the child’s socioemotional growth. Upon reviewing the developmental stages, it became obvious that there are many different ways that stages of development have been analyzed over the years, and that each of these may affect how a student learns differently according to his/her social and emotional needs. These divergent areas of development include the cognitive stages identified by Piaget and Vygotsky, the emotional stages identified by Ericson, the moral development stages identified by Kohlberg, and the stages of artistic development identified by Lowenfeld. Since all of these stages of development may cause specific challenges on the social and emotional states for gifted learners in the art classroom, it is appropriate to mention each one and to explore how they may specifically affect elementary and middle-school art students.

Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky—Cognitive Stages
Of Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development—sensory motor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational—it is likely that the final two will be present in elementary/middle-school classes because of the typical ages of the students. Most of the students will fall into the concrete operational stage, which, according to Piaget, runs for most children through elementary grades and into early adolescence. Because Piaget’s levels are based solely on cognitive development, many of my gifted and talented students will likely surpass this stage in the elementary grades, and they will enter into the formal operational stage before their typically developing classmates. This means that they will be able to use abstract concepts in their learning prior to others in their cohort who are still working on logical and systematic learning. Since this is the case, there may be some need for grouping with other gifted peers to learn together to help one another work out the abstract ideas that their classmates are not yet prepared to handle. This is especially important as Piaget insists that development must precede learning, so the students in the concrete operational stage are unable to learn at the level of the higher stage students despite instructional inputs (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).

While there are some significant differences between Vygotsky’s stages of cognitive development and Piaget’s, perhaps—for the proposes of this paper—the most important variance is that Vygotsky’s theory features social interaction as the driving force between the stages, while Piaget feels that the stages come more naturally and precede learning (McLeod, 2007; Huitt & Hummel, 2003). Vygotsky believes that the child is in a zone of proximal development, and her/his social interactions are what expand that zone allowing the child to move to higher levels of cognition. Knowing this, one might be tempted to use the gifted students to help develop the other students in the classroom, thereby raising the cognitive level of the entire class. However, doing this is not in the best interest of the gifted students because their own zone is not expanding when we are using them to stretch the developmental growth of others. As a result, it is still important that the gifted students learn together at least at times to help one another stretch and grow their relative cognitive strengths, while still keeping them with people who may be closer to social/emotional peers.

Erik Erikson—Socioemotional Stages
Erik Erikson’s stages of development speak more to the social and emotional development rather than moving through cognitive stages. In Erikson, most of the students in elementary and middle school classes should fall into stage four, which is the competence stage—also known as industry versus inferiority. This stage includes most of elementary school up to and including some of middle school. Children in this stage are learning things like interpersonal cooperation, structured play, teamwork, and more advanced academic studies (Child Development Institute, n.d.).

For gifted students, there may be some developmental variance between their cognitive age and their socio-emotional age lending itself to crisis if the teachers/parents aren’t aware of the discrepancies. For example, they may understand more complex rules, but still lack the social skills to engage in the more advanced types of team play and cooperative learning. Chou (2013) says, “Yet, gifted children still encounter a myriad of difficulties within the socioemotional realm…Many gifted children experience challenges relating to peers…” (para 2). Since some gifted students have a higher understanding of the cognitive structure of the learning, then sometimes teachers assume that they should have more success with the socioemotional aspects as well. However, this is not necessarily the case as children with high cognitive understanding often have more typical social and emotional development. When they are put into cooperative groups with students on differing levels of development, they may have difficulty negotiating the situation. Sometimes they are taken advantage of and end up doing the majority of the work for the entire group. That is another reason why they need to develop peers with similar giftedness in cooperative groups to help themselves negotiate these difficult variances. Teachers need to be aware of this need.

The other stage in Erikson that may be present in some of my older/more advanced students is the fidelity stage, also known as learning identify versus identify. In this stage, students start to develop “…self-certainty as opposed to self-consciousness or self-doubt” (Child Development Institute, n.d., para 8). This is where some gifted students might want to show that they are always right and exhibit behaviors that may be perceived as negative, like correcting their teachers and other students. The attitude of self-certainty may alienate them from their classmates, so it is especially imporant for teachers to understand and help them manage what may become difficult social times for the gifted children.

Lawrence Kohlberg—Moral Stages
Kohlberg describes six stages of moral development that he arrived at through presenting ethically-based scenarios to various subjects. While there is some alignment between age, cognitive development stage, and emotional development stage that affects the outcomes of which ethical stage the subjects fall into, there is a wider variance between ethical age and other kinds of development. Generally, younger children are less morally developed and older children have higher moral sensibilities, but there can be a wide range of moral developments within each age group. In Kohlberg’s theory, students in the lower levels of ethical development base their moral judgements on punishment and consequences, but more highly developed students are able to see that intentions are important to consider in ethical situations as well (Crain, 1985).

Since students can be a varying levels of moral development throughout the elementary and middle school years, it is important to recognize that when asking moral or ethical questions. Gifted students can be at varying stages within the same age range. Some of their moral/ethical development may be driven by their advanced academic knowledge and skills, while others may be tied more closely to the socioemoational development of the particular student, which may be considerably lower. Therefore, it is important to recognize that there might be a wider incongruency between knowledge level and moral development than there is in other areas of the gifted child’s development.

Kohlberg says that our stages of ethical development are neither tied to an unfolding “genetic blueprint,” nor are they the “…the product of socialization” (Crain, 1985, p. 125). Rather, they emerge from toiling with moral problems; thus, the stage that each child is currently in can vary greatly based on prior introduction to moral dilemmas (Crain, 1985). While moral questions may have been considered by some gifted children at an earlier age than their typically developed peers, others may have been more insolated from such problems. Therefore, the teacher should not prejudge the moral development stages for children based solely on her/his level of giftedness. Rather, each child should be presented with a wide range of moral/ethical questions and helped to develop using his/her intellect and thought processes.

Viktor Lowenfeld—Artistic Stages
As an art teacher, it would be incorrect to evaluate how developmental stages may affect the socioemotional growth of gifted children without considering the stages of artistic development as well. Lowenfeld divides artistic development into six stages, including the following:
• Scribble (1-3 years old)
• Preschemaitc (3-4 years old)
• Schematic (5-6 years old)
• Dawning Realism (7-9 years old)
• Pseudo-Naturalistic (10-13 years old)
• Decision (13-16 years old)

Judging by the ages/grade levels of the students in elementary and middle school programs, the children will mostly fall into the dawning realism and pseudo-naturalistic stages; however, the author has already witnessed many students with advanced artistic talents at much earlier ages than Lowenfeld describes. Therefore, this paper will also consider the possible socioemotional effects of the decision making stage though most of the students will not yet be 13 years old. Additionally, though most students are not in the lower stages by entering elementary school, some will be. Therefore, there will be a brief discussion about the schematic and preschmatic stages as well.

Some students entering school for the first time in kindergarten are still in the preschematic stages of drawing. That is, they have just begun to draw with correlation between shapes and real world objects. At this point one sees stick figures emerging and some recognition that two lines can represent arms, two others—legs, a circle for the head, and so forth (Fussell, 2011). Yet, some of the more artistically talented students already enter elementary school at higher levels of artistic development. Others, as witnessed by the author, may be stuck in the preschematic stage much later in elementary school. For example, this year, the first-grade teachers asked for artistic intervention to help their students—many of whom were still stuck on drawing stick figures. They had not yet reached the schematic stages where they could formulate a plan to use more accurate shapes to visually represent real world things (Fussell, 2011).

This situation was more true of students who were more developmentally delayed in other areas than it was of the typical or gifted and talented students at the same grade level, but some did show lower skill development. However, the gifted students were more likely able to not only plan shapes to fit the visual represenations in the objects and people they were drawing as notable in the schematic stage, their drawings were created more realistically as one might see in the dawning realism or even the pesudonaturalistic states. While the more talented students’ artworks were generally praised by their peers—who were stills struggling themselves in the preschematic and schematic drawing stages—the gifted and artistically talented students were also more critical of their own work as is characteristic in more advanced stages of artistic development (Fussell, 2011). They were more likely to say that they made a mistake and they wanted to start over; they even become more dispondent over their own perceived artistic inconsistencies and flaws than were their lower-developed classmates. This may be a particular developmental challenge for gifted and talented students than it is for the general population.

As the older students get to the pseudo-naturalistic and decision states, their drawing become more accurate as they start to represent ligth and shadow along with basic shapes to develop forms. However, with their increased artistic accuracy also comes amplified self-criticism. They compare their works to exemplary art and fail in their own eyes. Therefore, many students will opt out of art electives in the middle school years (Fussell, 2011). This may be a critical stage were teachers can be particularly useful in helping gifted students find value in visually describing the real world to help facilitate understanding rather than focusing solely on comparative deficiencies. However, if the student has opted out of art, it is more difficult for the art teacher to develop these skills. Therefore, the art teacher should work with the classroom teachers to develop artistic enhancements that are available for all students at these stages of development, not just those who feel artistically competent. Visual storytelling and photography may be ways that schools can help students develop artistic self-confidence and assurance.

Summary
Development happens in many areas of a child’s life at different times. Though some, like Piaget, argue that development is chronological, others see asyncrhonous development as dependent on different socioemotional and ethical opportunities. Children develop cognitively, emotionally, morally, and even artistically in stages, and the developments in each area for gifted studets may or may not be aligned with other age-level peers. Therefore, teachers need to consider the differences in development for each of these, to anticipate possible consequences for the differences, and to develop remedies for the varous issues that may arise for gifted and talented children.

References

Child Development Institute. (n.d.). Stages of social-emotional development—Erik Erikson. Retrieved from Child Development Institute: https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/erickson/
Chou, S. H. (2013, December). Director’s corner: The phychosocial development of gifted children. Retrieved from SENG: http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/directors-corner-the-psychosocial-development-of-gifted-children
Crain, W. (1985). Theories of development. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Fussell, M. (2011, June). The stages of artistic development. Retrieved from The Virtual Instructor: http://thevirtualinstructor.com/blog/the-stages-of-artistic-development
Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. (2003). Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Retrieved from Educational Psychology Interactive: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cognition/piaget.html
McLeod, S. (2007). Lev Vygotsky. Retrieved from Simply Pshcyology: http://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Education, Gifted learning

 

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The Role of Curriculum in Identifying Giftedness

Charles Sutton
Galileo School for Gifted Learning
Level 7 Learning

In Hart and Risley’s (1995) landmark study about the diverse language experiences of children in their early years as a direct result of the education and professional differences between their parents, the researchers identified that children raised in poverty with undereducated parents experienced about 8 million fewer words spoken to them in the early years in contrast with the children of educated, professional parents. These differences in the years where children typically formulate language and early reading skills accounts for a tremendous disadvantage for some children when they arrive school age where they are building on those early skills. Other children have a much firmer structure upon which to develop new skills. Based on the research, it is no wonder that these children are also not identified as gifted and talented with the same frequency as their peers as they enter school with a far smaller lexicon from which to demonstrate their talents. Hart and Risley (1995) conclude from their estimates that it would take “…41 hours per week of out-of-home experience as rich in words addressed to the child as the average professional home…” (p. 205) from the very beginning in order to give the children from poverty an equal footing with those children born to more affluent families. Therefore, using testing that is language based to decide whether a child has gifts and talents that need development can only necessarily expand the gap between the percentages of children from different cultures and their identification and placement in gifted programs. Therefore, there needs to be additional methods for identifying latent talent through the use of curriculum.
One problem is tracking, which is placing students into academic tracks where students get varying quality curriculum based on the perceived intelligence and gifts of the students in the track. Spencer and Dowden (2014) suggest that these academic tracks cause “…discriminatory practices and the stratified nature of our schools creates an environment where African Americans [as one example] are not afforded exposure to advanced courses or post-secondary opportunities” (p. 2). In other words, in these tracks they lack the quality curriculum that children in the gifted and talent tracks and programs receive, so it widens that achievement gap later on. If children from poverty, including racial and ethnic minorities, are excluded from quality curriculum, and many are already at a disadvantage when it comes to identification through IQ and other kinds of standardized academic testing because of cultural biases of the tests (Spencer & Dowden, 2014), then how is it possible to identify the gifts and talents in these populations? It seems that many of the gifts and talents of these students may be revealed only if they are already receiving quality curriculum, but tracking and academic placement often prevents that from happening.
Here is where eliminating tracks and preferential placements can help. According to Montoya, Matias, Nishi, and Sarcedo (2016), it is recommended that “…districts dial back separate gifted programs in favor of personalized/differentiated and more challenging curriculum for all kids in every class” (p. 137). In doing so, the students who enter school at an academic disadvantage, like the one shown in Hart and Risley’s (1995) study, can have the opportunity to show their talents by working on more academically appropriate curriculum.

References

Hart, B., & Ridley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday esperience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.
Montoya, R., Matias, C. E., Nishi, N. W., & Sarcedo, G. L. (2016, March). Words are wind: Using Du Bois and Borudieu to ‘unveil’ the capricious nature of gifted and talented programs. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 14(1), 127–143.
Spencer, N. F., & Dowden, A. R. (2014, November). Racial identify development and academic achievement of academically gifted African American students: Implications for school counselors. Georgia School Counselors Association Journal, 21(1), 1–8. Retrieved from Georgia School Counselors Association Journal.

 
 

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