From the perspective of an administrator in Gifted Education
I found the first part of the book to be very informative in getting at what exactly a highly gifted child is. I especially enjoyed the first and the fifth essays that dealt with IQ tests and what the numbers mean. I especially found the description/history of some of the IQ tests very interesting reading (pg. 50-57). I enjoyed the essay by Bambi's father because it allowed me to learn more about the early development of a highly gifted child as well as the difficulties that her parents faced, and continue to face, in trying to get their daughter an appropriate education. I was not surprised that they are now homeschooling, and I am interested in seeing how Bambi is doing now. As a public school teacher, I was left with the idea that we need to do more to reach out to those parents who homeschool because they don't feel that the public school setting does not meet their child's educational needs.
While some sections of the first part were highly technical in terms of the types of testing, I appreciated seeing the categories of giftedness in terms of IQ. It seems that this book targets the higher levels of giftedness, and I don't think I typically see that in my classroom. I think most of the students that do well in the GT program at our school fall into the category of moderately and mildly gifted. I enjoyed the stories written by parents most, since I think they provided better pictures of how these kids function on a daily basis.There were also some points in here that I had not heard before that I found helpful:pg. 77 Research shows that siblings tend to be within 10 IQ points of each other.pg.72 Homeschooling helps these children because of the lack of age-consciousness.pg. 49 Intelligence does not continue to develop through life?pg. 34 Gifted kids need to be taught how to deal with the less-than-ideal ("suffering fools gladly")
REPLY TO POST: Dear JenniferK,In previous years, I did a lot of research into homeschooling, and was surprised by how many gifted kids were being homeschooled. I think it would be great if Spring Branch could reach out to more of those families. I previously thought that most homeschooling families did so because of religious, social reasons. While there are some people who homeschool for that reason, I also learned that many families just want schooling for their kids that consistently challenges them, and although there are so few highly gifted kids out there, after reading this book, I can see that there are highly gifted kids who are being homeschooled.
I loved Chapter 2, "Normal Kids Don't Quack". When I was raising my daughter, my best friend raised a son who was the same age of my daughter. He was a "quacker". She was constantly dealing with some odd behavior or hypothesis that he would come up with. We had a good time and used the ability to laugh when necessary to keep her sanity! She was flexible and managed to provide the kind of education he needed through homeschooling and public school. Lee Singer, Courtney James, and Cathy Marciniak, as well as my friend, were excellent advocates for their highly gifted children as they searched for "the road less traveled", so their children could reach their full potential. On another note, I realize I have seen asynchronous development in some of my gifted students. This accentuates the importance of correct measurement instruments that will best identify and aid in providing the correct learning path for each gifted child.
Reponse to Patricia Kassir: I saw, through my friend, the agonizing decisions she was making to find the best path for her son. Should she homeschool or send him to school was constantly on her mind. Parents must know their children as to what path they plan for them. I agree that, in many instances, the public school setting should be able to arrange a situation that meets their child's educational needs. However, testing is just the beginning of that process.
Overall, the first section of the book was very informative. I liked the fact that gifted did not just come down to one number (p.5). That children are not just their IQ. I found the anecdotal chapters to be the most informative. Hearing what parents struggle with and how they must advocate for their children was more informative to me than all the testing information. These sections brought the others to life; helped you to see the reality of these children and parents.I found Chapter 6,"Recommendations for Identifying and Serving Black Youth in Gifted Programs," to be lacking. It didn't seem to really say much. It addressed the issue of testing, but didn't really seem to say what to do in the meantime. As teachers we should be advocates for these students, but isn't that the same for any student?
Looking at pages 7-12, Defining the Few, it was interesting how gifted kids are identified. So it came to my mind that each gifted child must be considered individually. Some highly, exceptionally & profoundly gifted children are happiest placed by their academic achievement, learning side-by-side with students who are intellectual peers. Others prefer a social placement, learning with peers who can be friends, offering good social interaction. For a lucky few, that happens, placement is available that offers both intellectual & social fit. Most uncommom is the exceptionally or profoundly gifted child who fits best in the age/grade classroom. This seems to work best only in the congregated gifted classroom. So testing is not too valid at times, I think, because things to watch for with any child in any educational placement is underachievement, where the child is intentionally underachieving to fit in. So I can understand a parent's concern when these kinds of things also happen. How do we really identify these kids when this underachiever purposely becomes an underachiever just to fit in? How can we catch that? They could fit under different levels of Giftedness because they know how to.
I thought that the first part of the book pointed out what truly exceptional students "look like" but there was too much time spent on the testing aspects. The comment on page 35, "young exceptionally gifted children are often natural philosophers.." and "Parents and teachers of these children need to allow them plenty of opportunity to explore the natural world without giving them predefined answers' sums up what a teachers role should be in the class room. We should be guides in a discovery process for these students. These are the students where the "normal" curriculum simply doesn't work.
Reply to jenniferkI agree that most , if not all, of our gifted students fall into the moderate to mildly gifted areas. I also feel that one of the areas we do not address is the Suffering Fools Gladely" area. These students need coping skills to survive in the real world. Their boss might not be gifted like they are, but they do have a lot of control over their lives.
I found the beginning of the book to be an eye opener in many ways. The personal stories like Bambi - pages 40-47 was definitely a wake up call. Parents and educators should feel confident in the school system. It is the system's job to teach everyone - when we are able to have resources for other special populations, Sp. ED., ESL, Bilingual, we should have resources for the gifted. They are also our future that needs nurturing in a big way. I also found chapter 6 important for the fact that it is in the book. The fact that it needs a chapter of its own is enough to throw up a red flag and make educators aware of the unmet needs of a whole population of learners. I am also amazed at the multitude of tests and the variety found in each. There is also (according to page 60)only 3 main tests that test true giftedness. Yet these are not standard in testing students across the board. So what is gifted in one school/state may not be in another. How is it then a reliable system? (to put in a US census) Which test do we choose as a standard to use and are we accurate in the students we declare GT?
My impressions from the first part of the book are that it's really difficult to be a parent of an exceptionally gifted child. I was not surprised that so many of these children were home schooled.(p. 42, p. 75) We in the public schools aren't prepared for these kinds of kids! I was also interested to learn about asynchronomy and the ways to deal with it. Nor was I aware that there are so many levels of giftedness.
Jennifer K,I think I'd be terrified if I had a profoundly or exceptionally gifted child in my class. My GT kids probably fall into the gifted range. As the parent of two children who tested in the gifted range, I felt that what was offered by the public schools as enrichment was frustrating to them.
I found this first part of the book very interesting and informative. The delineation of levels of giftedness was new to me (p. 7). The parents' anecdotes were thought-provoking. The quacker and his family were very humorous, but I bet it's hard for them to suffer fools gladly. (It's hard for me, and I know I'm not in that IQ range!) I was glad when I read that Bambi's parents are home-schooling her. I think that parents have to do the right thing for their kids; they might not fit in the school district 'box.'Patricia, I think you make a good point that it behooves Spring Branch to reach out to and work with these home-schooling parents. Even if they are home-schooled, surely there are resources that the district can offer, I'm sure. It would be an interesting thing to pursue.Naletta, I think you're spot on about chapter 6 about serving black youth in gifted programs. Every student should develop multicultural competencies and be in classrooms with teachers that have cultural awareness, not just gifted students! While I agree that black students are probably underrepresented in gifted programs, this article did very little to inform us as to how to change that.
With the exception of the technical information in chapter 5, I enjoyed the first part of the book. The personal stories of parents and children helped me understand the struggles of families with profoundly gifted children. I could relate most to the section on gifted children and philosophy. The biggest difference I see in the classroom between a gifted child and a hard worker or quick learner is the gifted child's ability to analyze and formulate theories and ideas.
I agree with oliverl - way too much time spent on the testing aspect. I also agree that our job with kids like this is to let them discover patterns and rules and formulate new ideas.
Overall, I found the Part I was a good survey of the different levels of giftedness as well as the complexities of giftedness. Although appropriately placed in Part I, I did not enjoy reading all of the details of the various testing instruments. However, I particularly liked the sections in Chapter 3 entitled Theories of Moral Development (pgs. 29-34) and Suffering Fools Gladly (pgs. 34-35). I have a special interest in the high level of sensitivity in gifted children and I had an AHA! moment after reading the following quote on page 34: “….the difficulty that young exceptionally and profoundly gifted children have in understanding that most other people are different from themselves with regard to intentions, interests, and the ability to reason or make good choices. Failure to tolerate the foolishness in others leads to bitterness, disillusionment and misanthropy.”
My overall impression of the book was, “WOW! How thought provoking.” For me, this was true from the Foreword to the very end of this section. I found the read easy to digest yet with a lot of chew as food for thought. The opening sentence, “There are no MapQuest directions for you on this journey.” (page vi) left this reader filled with anticipation as to the ride ahead and I was not the least bit disappointed. I experienced numerous feeling as I gobbled up the words. The story of Filly, page 76, fueled my fire to find a way to reach all children…not by creating “separation” as seen in Filly’s classroom experience (last paragraph on page 77). Another thing I liked about the Forward was the importance of open communication…with the reminder, (page vii) “We’ll do fine.” To me this book is blazing the pathway of highly gifted children with stories, guidance, inspiration, knowledge, questions, and hope.
I liked reading about the testing because I wasn't really sure what tests were used to identify GT. I remembered that once(only once) in my 15 years working with GT students that I was told that one of my students had scored 160, but that his IQ was probably beyond that since the test only measured to 160. I felt frustrated for Bambi's parents that they had to try so many different schools before they ended up homeschooling.
Oliveri, talk about a boss's control over gifted kids lives! My daughter just quit her job cause she and her boss couldn't agree or see "eye to eye".She has been trying to make his company progress and grow with her ideas and he just criticizes her all the time. Well, she is now working with another big company where the big guys there respect her input and ideas to helping them progress and expand their company. She's the youngest one their with a very impressive salary and she is in the prospect of becoming a CEO. Why don't some people appreciate gifted kids?
Barbarac, that phrase I also read, "We'll do fine", I smiled after I read it, and said, Yes they will. Because gifted children are able to survive by developing an adequate defense system, and also because they have those advocates that are willing to watch for them, either in school, or on the job site.
Patricia, Judy, Kathy and Melissa, I read your comments about Homeschooling, and Homeschooling is pretty cool. I had a nephew that was living in New York that was homeschooling. It seems that society believes in everything is practice. That learning is something kids have to be forced to do. That only certain people can educate others. Also, who seems to decide who should teach, and how it should be taught, and what should be taught? The State! Who has the final say? The State, the board, the superintendent, or the parent? In Homeschooling you can work on real things. Learning doesn't have to stop when the bell rings. You don't have to accept a wrong answer just because it's in a textbook, and the teacher wants that correct answer that's in the textbook. Homeschooling works out just fine, especially for the profoundly and highly gifted children.
Prior to reading this book I don't think that I thought about the difference between our cut off for qualification in the GT program and extremely high IQ children. I found the testing information valuable. I truly don't know how I would meet the needs of a profoundly gifted child in my class anymore than I could a profoundly handicapped. The classroom teacher gets help with a profoundly handicapped child. Perhaps additional classroom support is needed with the profoundly gifted also if their needs are are to be met. Homeschooling always worries me but in the case of these children it seems like a good idea if the parents have a network with other parents of high IQ kids. I think Patricia K was correct in suggesting that the district needs to reach out to parents who are homeschooling gifted children
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