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Education For The Best And Brightest

1551 words - 7 pages

Education for the Best and Brightest The idea of specially educating gifted children stretches back to Aristotle, who recommended that promising children be given early education in Latin. Charlemagne, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, in 800 AD urged the state-sponsored education of gifted children from among the general population. Gifted education took a dramatic leap forward in 1916, when an American psychologist named Lewis Terman standardized the Binet IQ test, and began using it to identify children with extraordinary mental ability. His study of gifted children dispelled many of the myths surrounding giftedness in that era, and is still considered a classic piece of ...view middle of the document...

In order for this approach to work, programs must meet three basic criteria. First, they must present gifted children with creative and challenging curricula and material to learn, not simply greater levels of basic work. Second, there must be both a variety of subjects to be learned and a variety of other students for the gifted children to learn with to keep the educational process fresh and challenging for the child. Finally, the children should be offered choice in what material they are going to cover and the method in which they cover it. There is only one main drawback to cluster grouping: it singles out gifted children as different from their peers, a situation that can inhibit a student's social growth and adjustment (Smutny 141-147).Another method for specially educating gifted children is placing them in different classes from their more average peers. There are two ways of doing this: self-contained classes, and pull-out programs. Self-contained classes are separate gifted classes inside regular schools, where gifted children spend part of their day interacting and learning with other gifted children of similar ability. The Cleveland public school system has provided gifted students with separate classes called Major Work classes for over 30 years, where gifted children get into groups to do advanced projects and assignments designed to stimulate creativity and individual responsibility. The only real drawback of self-contained classes is the potential for teacher or administrator apathy to cause program content to degrade into simple busywork, which would render the program ineffective (Berger 65-67). Pull-out programs are part-time programs that remove gifted students from the regular classroom and send them to special, all-gifted schools for varying amounts of time, ranging from one hour a week to several hours a day. Basically, they are just self-contained classes that occur at a site other than the main school building. Again, in order for this type of program to be effective, the material taught must be creatively and intellectually stimulating, or else boredom and apathy among the students is risked. The major drawback to pull-out programs is the fact that the gifted students miss time in their regular schools while their classmates learn other material that the gifted students are also required to know (Walker 86).A third technique often used in gifted education is acceleration, more commonly known as "skipping a grade." Acceleration programs come in two forms: ones that allow students to enter kindergarten, high school or college at an earlier age than usual, and more traditional programs that allow students to skip grade levels in the schools they already attend. Most schools in the US already allow children to do the more conventional grade skipping if parents, teachers and administrators think it appropriate, however, early entry programs are gaining wider acceptance. One such model program exists at Johns Hopkins...

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