Clearly, changes are needed in how we educate our children. Those who are identified as high-ability learners or gifted or profoundly gifted or ‘whatever’ other appellation appeals to your sense of political correctness … must be included within the framework of today’s education reform.
Is it time to re-invent the wheel? I don’t think so. I think it’s time to take a trip down memory lane myself. Back to the days of the one-room school house romanticized in American folklore as a simpler time when the lone ‘teacher on the prairie’ was tasked to educate children as a group composed of many different ages.
Today, the schoolhouse may have changed, but teaching children according to their ability rather than by chronological age is an idea whose time is re-emerging as a real viable option. It’s not as radical as it may seem on face and it is gaining support in education circles. Nascent steps in this direction are already being taken with the introduction of dual-enrollment of high school students in college classes, early graduation paired with early entrance to universities, and even the elimination of grade levels in several school districts; most notably a pilot program in the Kansas City (MO) school district at the elementary level.
So what does this mean for parents of gifted children? I recently read the new book from Corin Barsily Goodwin and Mika Gustavson, Making the Choice: When Typical School doesn’t fit your Atypical Child. Although it is a part of the Perspectives in Gifted Homeschooling Series, I highly recommend it for all parents, not just homeschoolers. It is especially informative concerning 2E kids and provides a wealth of information on many educational options.
What piqued my interest in this book was why so many parents are seeking alternatives and why homeschooling is so appealing for gifted children. Ding … ding … ding! Could it be that these children progress at their own pace? Could it be that these parents were never given this option in their traditional school districts? Could it be that these students have a track-record of success? A word of caution … I am not referring to homeschoolers who make this choice based on religious reasons. I’m talking about gifted children who are languishing in classrooms that require them to ‘stay with the program’ … ‘think inside the box’ … ‘be quiet in the hall’ … and never ever challenge the all important status quo.
About now, many of you are probably thinking … this is a nice topic for a blog … but totally unrealistic. Not so fast! Is this just the pipe dream of an eccentric blogger? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Consider this – schools are strapped for money. These days nothing is off the table when it comes to slashing education budgets. Pay to play and pay to expect anything beyond the basic curriculum is the mantra of many taxpayers.
But what if we move academically gifted students through the school system at an accelerated rate? Students no longer become bored who are able to self-pace through the curriculum, teachers are free to devote more time to students who need more attention, and school districts save money by getting these students through in a shorter amount of time.
Yes, I know … the devil is in the details. It takes time to make radical changes and the powers that be do not like to be challenged. The crux of the matter is this. Parents must be willing to advocate for change that may never be implemented in time for their own children. They must begin to advocate at the very first signs that their child’s needs are not being met by the system. Is this too much to ask? Think ~ grandchildren if you need inspiration. Or perhaps you’ll be fortunate enough to partner with parents who have already started the ball rolling. Whatever it takes … do it now!
It’s a lot to think about, but thinking is a good thing. I do it often and take great pleasure in the results. It’s especially rewarding to think with others … crowd-sourcing a solution to a problem. I look forward to your comments.