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Failing Our Geniuses

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the harrison-bergeron dept.

Education 815

saintlupus writes "Time has an interesting article about the failure of the US educational system to properly deal with gifted students. For example, up to ten times as much money is spent nationwide on educating 'developmentally disabled' students as gifted ones. Does No Child Left Behind mean that nobody can get ahead, either?"

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of course (5, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268823)

Does No Child Left Behind mean that nobody can get ahead, either?

Re:of course (-1, Offtopic)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268853)

You bastard, that's exactly what I was going to say.

Re:of course (4, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268911)

Absolutely, ask any teacher. 95% will say yes.
I thought about this the other day, anyone know if they've ever tried splitting the smarter/average/dumb kids up into their own classes permanently from 5th or so through 12th, as in they hardly ever see the other groups anymore except between classes and at lunch? I would be curious if the social structures in each group would clash, or if the system would work.

Re:of course (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268997)

I thought about this the other day, anyone know if they've ever tried splitting the smarter/average/dumb kids up into their own classes permanently from 5th or so through 12th

At my school, they did this from 7th to 12th (and for math in 6th). The split was per subject, so the strong math students were not necessarily the strong English students, though there was a large amount of overlap. I don't know if there's a critical mass of students required before this becomes practical - I was in a graduating class of approx 550. I was under the impression that it was reasonably common though.

Re:of course (2, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269105)

They do this in high school here in Canada. Only the advanced classes count towards university qualifications though, so you generally find strong students take all advanced classes, and weak students take general classes.

I was in a pilot fast-track program when I was a child... completed grades 1, 2 and 3 in 2 years while mingled in amongst the grade 1s the first year and the grade 3's the next. I have to say, it's a hard thing to put a kid through when it comes to socializing... I lost a lot of blood on that schoolyard. They didn't continue the program.

Re:of course (1)

Saxophonist (937341) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269047)

I thought about this the other day, anyone know if they've ever tried splitting the smarter/average/dumb kids up into their own classes permanently from 5th or so through 12th, as in they hardly ever see the other groups anymore except between classes and at lunch? I would be curious if the social structures in each group would clash, or if the system would work.

That is known as tracking [] . Tracking, that is, grouping students by ability through all classes rather than judging ability by subject, was usually referred to as illegal in education courses I took or in schools in which I taught, but I cannot find a citation to back that up. The closest I found was here [] , which alludes to the potential for civil rights violations.

Re:of course (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269109)

This was done at my high school. The result was that the good teachers fought to teach the classes with the good students, because the classes with the bad students were rowdy. The low and mid level students got left further and further behind. This is pretty much what no-child-left-behind was designed to defeat.

Re:of course (1)

Javagator (679604) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269143)

Where I live (Fairfax County, Virginia), they do split the kids up. There is a "gifted and talented" program, where, starting in the 3rd grade, the more advanced kids are put in their own classes and have their own curricula. According to some kids I talked to, there is some friction between the groups, but not anything too serious. There is also a public high school, Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology, that the cream of the crop attend.

However, the spending per pupil is about the same for all students. Smart kids don't really need extra money to learn. They just need to be turned loose.

Re:of course (5, Insightful)

netruner (588721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269145)

The problems happen in a couple of ways:
1.) "My kid should be in the smart class" (whether they belong there or not)
2.) Claims of discrimination / creation of a caste system being unacceptable.

Remember, school board officials are elected and must bow to political pressure.

One of my mentors used to always tell me: "Culture is the hardest thing to change". Parents want they perceive to be the best for their kids whether it really is or not. They also (typically - no matter how many sob stories you hear) have a greater stake in them than the teachers that only see them for a few hours a day.

Would you trust someone at the local public school to put your kid on a path that will determine what opportunities will be available to them? As one of my college professors said: too many Einsteins are passed over because the teacher was looking for that one Gauss.

Re:of course (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269181)

anyone know if they've ever tried splitting the smarter/average/dumb kids up into their own classes permanently from 5th or so through 12th

When I was in middle school and high school (early to mid 1980s, Baltimore County, Maryland), certainly things were done this way. There were gifted & talented, honors, standard, and remedial level classes in most core subjects. (Not all schools had G&T classes.) And you could be in different levels in different subjects. Classes like art, music, gym, and "industrial arts" (shop), were mixed.

Even in elementary school, I recall there being different reading groups in the same classroom. I was fortunate that in fourth through sixth grades we also had special G&T programs in math and creative writing.

I would be curious if the social structures in each group would clash, or if the system would work.

I'd say that splitting classes worked fairly well. It certainly was easier for me in high school than in elementary school - I was skipped up a grade, some of the bullies were held back a grade, and that made for a combination that had me getting beat up a lot.

In high school, most of the G&T kids weren't as socially retarded as I was, and got along fine. Many played on the sports teams and made friends at all academic levels through that. Even I was fairly well adjusted by my junior year - getting involved in one of the school plays helped.

Re:of course (3, Informative)

robgig1088 (1043362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268927)

Yeah that about sums it up. In our school district, they're pushing more regular students into our magnet schools (this is a Louisiana magnet school, mind you). Basically they're trying to level the playing field. Unfortunately, this means the AP students don't have as many higher-level classes to take because they have to cater to the regular-class students. If you ask me, High Schools should be like colleges, where they get to choose whether or not you're smart enough to attend. This sort of thing just annoys me to no end.

Obligitory "Incredibles" quote: (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268953)

"When everyone is special, then no one will be."

Re:of course (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269067)

This is new? Yes, of course no child left behind means nobody can get ahead- but it didn't start with no child left behind. EVERY person I know who tested with an IQ greater than 105 had this problem in high school, and to a lesser extent in grade school (but only because I went to a rural grade school with extremely small class sizes).

Re:of course (1)

Captain Redundant (1086453) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269125)

As a self-diagnosed genius, I think this is quite right. The education system really failed me.

I console myself by wearing a t-shirt that says "Genius At Work". Man, I love that t-shirt.

Re:of course (5, Informative)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269161)

Your response is correct, but the Time article doesn't appear to address the reason. Most people are familiar with the phrase "No Child Left Behind," but don't actually understand how it works.

AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) is a factor in the ranking of school systems. Specifically, it was designed to expose the fact that many school had masked the few poor performers with the majority of successful students.

What it effectively means is that all "sub-populations" (broken by ethnic groups, ESL/Limited English Proficiency, "at-risk," and low-income, among others) must demonstrate "adequate yearly progress." It's designed to even be a bit forgiving - the low-income group doesn't necessarily have to pass, they just have to have improved a reasonable amount from the year before. A subpopulation counts if it is 1% of the school population or 30 kids (IIRC).

If a school fails to meet AYP for two years in a row, they become a "school of choice." Parents may now choose to pull their students from that school and send them to another one, and the failing school will pay for transportation. I'm not sure how it works out in small, rural districts where a given high school is the only one in the district.

Once a school fails in AYP, kids start getting pulled. The kids who get pulled are the ones who have parents who care about education; that usually translates to the kids who do well in a school being pulled from it. You can see how much this would impact a school.

If a school fails to meet AYP for five years in a row, a radical restructuring is due; this generally means that large amounts of the staff need to be fired, or the school should be converted to a charter school or something similar. In practice, though, the actual actions at this stage usually aren't as substantial.

With the background out of the way, it's fairly easy to see why geniuses don't matter: they'll pass the test. Five or ten ESL students (or low-income, or at-risk, or whatever) can make or break a school of 3000. With the way the NCLB program has structured AYP, it should be obvious where a principal/district would focus resources.

I'm not arguing that schools don't need monitoring; they do, no doubt. But if this system sounds ridiculous to you, please do all of us a favor and let your elected officials know.

No Child Left Behind (1, Redundant)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268827)

Does No Child Left Behind mean that nobody can get ahead, either?

Yes, next question please...

Bored Kids ... (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268967)

are too easily misdiagnosed [] as having ADHD.

This means that being gifted is sometimes pigeon holed as being defective.

Never mind the nasty side effects of inappropriately prescribed drugs.

I wonder why so many bright kids are skeptical of school?

Re:Bored Kids ... (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268999)

I've been a teacher: don't tell me. I got so disgusted I quit.

Yes. (3, Insightful)

oskay (932940) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268835)

>Does No Child Left Behind mean that nobody can get ahead, either? Of course it does. If *any* child gets ahead, *millions* of children are left behind that one. I have always referred to this program as "no child gets ahead"-- it's turned out to be remarkably accurate.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20268915)

Frequent any imageboards by perchance?

No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (4, Interesting)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268841)

The public education system has been failing gifted students since long before No Child Left Behind.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268903)

Allow me to rephrase that:

The public education system has been failing students since long before No Child Left Behind.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268917)

It's no surprise. Some cultures love their smart people. The Asian's love their smart people. They glorify them, they treat them with a lot of respect, and view them as a source of national pride.

We, on the other hand, do not. Culturally, Americans view intellectualism with suspicion. We love the captain of the football team; big, handsome, and dumb. You have only to look at the debates on science to understand that. There is societal pressure to not appear too smart, or you'll have a number of unflattering stereotypes applied to you. The last two losing presidential candidates both had their intelligence used against them in an unflattering way; they were know-it-alls, dorks, geeks, namby pamby sissy faggot intellectuals, whereas the guy everyone regards as the dumber candidate is trustworthy and strong.

A lot of it probably has its roots with Christianity. The Devil is smart, remember? When Dante was populating the Inferno, he dumped Odysseus in the 8th circle, 1 up from the bottom. Why? Because he's a smart, tricky bastard, just like the Devil is supposed to be. This country has a lot of radical Christian roots (Puritans, anyone?) so it's not all that surprising that our views on intellectualism are shaped around that.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269081)

I think you might overstate your point a bit, but I do think you have one never the less. The rise of intellectualism during the Enlightenment was also a period when it was permissive to view religion with suspicion, where the human mind was something to be glorified as much if not more than some fuzzy sky deity for which Europe had been battered bloody for a couple of hundred years before. Heck, men like Madison and Jefferson, who didn't bother to hide their own contempt for Christianity, were not only accepted in society, but became major politicians and statesmen, and were major architects of the United States itself. By Lincoln's time, we were already heading into the post-Enlightenment era, where politicians had to make all the right religious sounds.

Now we have powerful lobbies seeking to undermine science education in the United States, trying to find ways to sneak past that great product of the Enlightenment Age; the Bill of Rights, so that there superstitious worldview can be promulgated in public schools.

If the US wants to know why its surrendering the production of scientists to other parts of the world, they only need to look at all those small-minded, anti-intellectual twerps that manage to get on school boards and state Boards of Education, with their Bible in one hand and hatred of knowledge in the other.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269169)

The last two losing presidential candidates both had their intelligence used against them in an unflattering way; they were know-it-alls, dorks, geeks, namby pamby sissy faggot intellectuals, whereas the guy everyone regards as the dumber candidate is trustworthy and strong.
There's a difference between being smart with some humility and getting in everyone's face telling them that you are smarter than them and that with only your help can humanity survive.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269199)

Agreed, 100%. Moreover, I think the Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage of the USA has a lot to answer for here. Certainly, a similar vein of anti-intellectualism can be found in the UK, although not quite as testosterone-pumped as the USA. And this also somewhat ties into C. P. Snow's 'Two Cultures' theme -- while in intellectual circles there is value attached to art and literature, there remains a general disdain within these circles for science and scientists.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1)

Flavio (12072) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269201)

A lot of it probably has its roots with Christianity. The Devil is smart, remember? When Dante was populating the Inferno, he dumped Odysseus in the 8th circle, 1 up from the bottom. Why? Because he's a smart, tricky bastard, just like the Devil is supposed to be. This country has a lot of radical Christian roots (Puritans, anyone?) so it's not all that surprising that our views on intellectualism are shaped around that.

That's nonsense, and there are many counterexamples to this claim. Which is a pity, because I enjoyed the first part of your post. Christianity doesn't teach people to be stupid. Jesus himself said "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16).

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1) (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268935)

"The public education system has been failing gifted students since long before No Child Left Behind."

The education system can best encourage gifted students by leaving them alone to pursue what they're interested in, instead of sitting in classes getting bored to death. Of course, that would mean taking less credit for their achievements, something that no self-respecting dickhead [] would agree to.

Smart kids learn despite the roadblocks thrown in their way.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269095)

Just because isolating them from their slow peers is better than integrating them doesn't mean this is the best policy. Nobody learns well or does good work in complete isolation. Kids need stimulation and challenge from other bright, creative kids, and they need it from bright and educated adults. They need freedom as well, but freedom in isolation is stultifying.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268991)

The public education system has been failing gifted students since long before No Child Left Behind.

That's true, but its not true that NCLB doesn't matter. NCLB certainly encourages school systems to fail gifted students even more than they already were. With increased focus on the worst performing segment (and with funding tied to that), that's a natural consequence.

The problem existed before NCLB, but that doesn't mean NCLB hasn't exacerbated it.

Re:No Child Left Behind doesn't matter (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269101)

Yeah, even before No Child Left Behind 'gifted' kids had to fend for themselves.

I had access to all sorts of advanced classes, but most of the other kids in those classes were hard workers, not natural talents. Significant aspects of being 'gifted' rather than just exceptionally hard working are the desire to learn in any context, to seek out new opportunities outside of predefined academic structures, and to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowing.

It is difficult to put into words the frustration of finding that the other gifted students in my classes were only curious in so far as curiosity served their goals of achieving the GPA required to get into a good college, and following that, to obtain the job they wanted. My advanced classes, special labs, and alternative working groups served me no better than time alone in a library would have.

My experience revealed that many gifted students are more like athletes than intellects.


Exactly. "Developmentally Disabled" is bullshit. (1)

mrbrown1602 (536940) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269147)

Its not that these children are legitimately disabled, a lot of them just DON'T WANT TO LEARN. My mom was in the public education for several years, and there was something she always told me, "The politicians don't understand. They just want good test scores, and that means teaching to the lowest common denominator."

The only way to resolve the issue is to take those kids who do not want to learn through conventional education and put them into technical or art programs, so they will at least learn something they enjoy and will be able to use to support themselves.

True, but it's kdawson (1)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269177)

C'mon. You didn't expect kdawson to post an article without some sort of dig on Republicans, did you?

My experience with the gifted program was abortive... but pretty funny as well. About two-thirds into my test to enter the gifted program in elementary school I asked what I was being tested for. All I knew at the time was that I had been pulled away from my class which was doing something fun at the time. I was told not to worry about the test, it was just for fun, and to just relax about it - it wouldn't count, and it wouldn't hurt me if I did badly, and I could go as soon as I finished. Let's just say that my effort on the last bit of the test was less than stellar. It turns out I missed being in the gifted program by about 2 points... and I've never had the guts to tell my mother why that was the case since =)

I wonder how much of this I could pin on the "we must make all children feel equally special, so we can't hint that smarter kids are, indeed, smarter" attitude popular in education. Then again, if I had been told what the test was for, I might have become very, very nervous and done poorly as well. Still, I wish I had been told the truth. It would have hurt if I hadn't made the cut for some reason, but it still feels as if I were stuck in a championship football game and told it was simply a game of catch with no consequences.

Well there's other ways to look at it (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269219)

I mean we could decide that we only really care about people who are smart. Say ok if you are above the 50th percentile, we aren't wasting any money teaching you, get out of school and of the money we spend, half of it is going to go to students above 95th percentile. That would do a good job of spending money on the smartest (by standard testing reckoning at any rate) students. However it might be a bit unfair.

Another way to consider it is that smart people do a better job learning on their own. They'll get more out of what it taught and be more willing and able to do learning on their own. As such they don't need as much focused towards them, they'll do fine anyhow. However those that are as good, those that do have mental handicaps, need as much help as they can get. Thus you spend more money on things that can benefit everyone and things that directly benefit those with learning problems.

It's a nice thought that you throw tons of money at the really smart kids, but you have to appreciate that the money has to come from somewhere.

as a genius... (3, Funny)

bit trollent (824666) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268849)

I feel like the education system totally failed me.

Err actually I went to a gifted & talented middle school (100 smartest kids in Houston). Then I went to a private Jesuit high school. Then I went to a relatively small public college in Dallas.

And now I make fat cash. I guess I really don't have anything to complain about.

Answering the hypothetical question (4, Interesting)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268863)

Does No Child Left Behind mean that nobody can get ahead, either?
Yes. "Not leaving a child behind", in educational context means lowering the level of the education for the average and the smart students.

Anyone with half a brain would tune education for the average person, or very slightly above the average to encourage improvement and the stupid/disabled and smart kids would get special programs to help their development the best. Leaving no man behind is a stupid analogy to the problem, as the stupid kid who can't learn more drags down the kids who can.

Ob. pants reference. (1) (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268965)

"Yes. "Not leaving a child behind", in educational context means lowering the level of the education for the average and the smart students."

As opposed to the priests' "Not leaving a childs' behind" which means lowering their pants.

Re:Answering the hypothetical question (1)

delong (125205) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269113)

Yes. "Not leaving a child behind", in educational context means lowering the level of the education for the average and the smart students

Lowering? You mean demanding that children learn the most basic rudiments and test out? This is a perfect example of how broken the education system is. Teachers can't even freaking teach the fundamentals, and calling them on it is referred to as "lowering the level of education".

Anyone with half a brain would tune education for the average person

Anyone with half a brain should be able to teach fundamentals and more in a school year, but apparently that's too much to ask.

Leaving no man behind is a stupid analogy to the problem, as the stupid kid who can't learn more drags down the kids who can

It's the teachers that came up with the hairbrained theory that "gifted classes" that catered to the more intelligent was bad, and that mixing the smart and dumb kids was good because it supposedly, and counter-intuitively, was supposed to raise the dumb kids. It is also the teachers that insist on not being accountable for their own miserable failures, entrenching the problem.

Kids today (0, Troll)

kabz (770151) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268869)

If you're that smart, you should be able to get ahead yourself.

Kids today. Sheesh.

Re:Kids today (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269061)

Doesn't make it any easier when the system is designed to hold you back. Yea, sure, you're in history class, and the teacher is lecturing out of the book, so you just start reading the book. You think when you finish the book they let you move up a class? Or do you think the teacher will start ragging on you for not paying attention because you've read the damn book two or three times, and you're bored out of your fricking mind?

And do you think when the teacher hears your assertion that you've read the book that that teacher will react with anything but scorn? And do you think that teacher will be surprised and pleased that you actually appear to have mastered the material, after he's stopped class to flip ahead and bombard you with study questions from the later chapters of the book?

Or do you think that he will be so enraged at your showing him up in front of the class that he will go out of his way to pick on you for the rest of the year? You'll end up with a reputation as a "discipline problem," and spend the rest of high school magically ending up in classes with other "discipline problems" which is the nail in the coffin as far as ever giving a damn about school.

And those grades are critical for getting you into the sort of college that you'll really need to be in to get the most out of it. Mediocre grades and phenomenal test scores will only take you so far.

Well, hang on. (4, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268871)

Maybe the developmentally disabled kids need a lot more help to be functional (and if they don't get that help as kids, we end up feeding them their whole adult lives), and the genuises don't need as much help?

Honestly, I wish I'd gotten help for my actual limitations (mild autism, which has been moderately crippling at times), but frankly, for the genius stuff, it would have been sufficient for the schools to mostly get out of my way.

Hold up, Dude! (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268925)

frankly, for the genius stuff, it would have been sufficient for the schools to mostly get out of my way.
That can't be allowed -- it would mean leaving the others behind.

More to the point, it would mean treating students as individuals and that would totally screw up the system.

Re:Hold up, Dude! (3, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269025)

"behind" is not defined in relative terms, but in absolute terms; it's about keeping students up to the minimum for their grade. You can go past it.

Re:Well, hang on. (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268969)

I agree 100% with your sentiments. I have both a gifted child and a developmentally delayed child in the public schools. The gifted kids do need the school system to give them resources and ample opportunities to explore their gifts, they mostly just need them to get out of the way.

Whereas, my delayed son really needs a 1:1 aide. But he won't get one. People shouldn't mistake "dollars allocated for special needs children" for "dollars spent on special needs children."

Re:Well, hang on. (1)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269167)

Feeding them?

The article was talking about people with IQ's around 55, not vegetables.

High intelligence can be just as debilitating as low intelligence. Watch the movies "Little Man Tate," and "Searching For Bobby Fischer."

Re:Well, hang on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269247)

for the genius stuff, it would have been sufficient for the schools to mostly get out of my way.
I'm not a genius myself, but it's not much of an exaggeration to say that I learned almost nothing from school after 6th grade. School was a social nightmare, it was something I hated and wanted to escape. 7th-10th (at which point I dropped out and got my GED and finished up my basic education in a community college) were completely wasted and did nothing but fuel my hatred and contempt of authority of almost any sort.

I still wish to god that school would have been willing to get out of my way. Primary education is more about control and conformity than it is about actually teaching anything worth knowing. Some kids can sense that, and in rebelling against it they can really wind up hurting themselves.

Re:Well, hang on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269259)

frankly, for the genius stuff, it would have been sufficient for the schools to mostly get out of my way.

Yes and no. Complete abdication is not good, supplying the right material and letting you go at your own pace is good.

I went to a very small primary school in the UK until I was 11. A lot of the subjects were taught from work-books, which meant that the teacher supervised you to make sure you were getting things mostly right and not falling behind, but you could basically set your own pace. I flew ahead of everybody else and I was the first in my school's history to be accepted to a grammar school.

The first couple of years at grammar school were different. Everybody had to work at the same pace. There wasn't much variation between students, and I remained in the top 10% or so of the year but couldn't really get any further than that. Of course, compared with normal comprehensives, the pace was still a lot faster.

Then, for some subjects, we were separated into sets, and the better sets were taught at a faster pace and took exams earlier. Again, the top students quickly outpaced the rest, even though the rest were still way faster than average for the country.

Unfortunately, I fell ill with a long-term illness. I was missing a lot of school, so first I had to drop down to the lower sets that were being taught more slowly. Then I dropped out of school altogether for a year. By the time I had recovered enough to attend school again, I decided to attend a local comprehensive rather than my old grammar school (for various reasons, none of which are interesting or relevant).

Now bear in mind that I had missed over a year's worth of school at this point, and I was about 15 years old. I went to the comprehensive school, and had nothing to do. I'd already learnt what they'd be studying for at least the next year. So in about three years, the grammar school had taught me more than the comprehensive had taught the other students in five years. And I wasn't even being pushed significantly at the grammar school. Of course, I didn't learn much of anything at the comprehensive school, it was dawdling along so slowly that I just dropped out again and went to college.

My personal experience, which is fairly uniquely varied, is that if you separate kids by their ability and let them work at a pace that suits them, so long as you give them enough suitable material, you will see them work to the best of their ability and see the best ones learn at a tremendous pace. But stick them all together and force them all to learn at the same pace, and they'll only be able to go as fast as the slowest kid amongst them, and the rest will be bored and lose interest. Think back to when you were at school. Remember the dumb kids? Do you really want the whole country to learn as slowly as them?

Nothing has really changed (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268883)

I was one of the "beneficiaries" of the 1950s-1960s "Sputnik" educational reforms.

Then, like today, it was much easier for schools to keep classes uniform by holding bright kids back so that more effort could be spent on the "slow" ones. Uniformity is the goal, and it's a lot easier to dumb down smart kids than the other way 'round.

Oh, and here's a clue: if you offer bonuses for teachers of math and science, the teachers with the most seniority (regardless of whether they can add) will teach those classes. My kids had a math PhD teaching music, but she couldn't get into the math program against the ed majors who ran the system.

What a surprise. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20268887)

I've known this to be the truth ever since I was in the 7th grade. I hated school, but I didn't fully understand why. The real reasons did not make sense to me until I read some stuff by John Taylor Gatto. He has a paper called the [] Six Lesson Schoolteacher that was really eye opening. He has a rather large book called The Underground History of American Education you should check out.

What I believe, now that I am not in school, is that first off we should have never had public school, secondly they should never have been tied into the government. Thats how propaganda gets spread around. I honestly believe that every child is a genius, and that our public schools do a great job of convincing them that their individual genius is worthless (eg. You're only a genius if you can add these two 50 digit numbers together in your head in less than 2 seconds). My Mom is a teacher, and she teaches special kids, savants and what not.

Anyways, go back to being told /what/ to think, instead of learning /how/ to think.

Re:What a surprise. (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269207)

John Holt and John Taylor Gatto are two of my personal heroes. My mother met Mr. Gatto at some sort of homeschooling conference shortly after pulling me out of kindergarten and was influenced by his unschooling philosophy. I taught myself to read by age 5, and mom always joked that I was slow - she learned by the age of three. Our IQs are otherwise similar (between 160-165) and dad's no slouch either (never tested).

I was simply given the tools to become autodidactic and learned at a fantastic rate, easily handling college-level material by the time I was 10 or so, and learning Bible-era Greek by 13 (Spanish at 14, started Japanese at 18, not done yet!). Later that year I got a high school diploma from a charter school and enrolled in a local community college, where I aced all of their computer courses.

For better or worse, it seems that most of my particular genius-level abilities have been made obsolete by the advent of certain tools on the Internet. My photographic memory and the resulting encyclopedic knowledge has been replaced by the popular usage of Google and Wikipedia as cyber-implant brain proxies, and nobody cares how well-spoken or dextrous with languages I am over the Internet. The only thing I have left is musical talent but nobody listens to opera or any kind of classical music anymore. I get the distinct impression that the only geniuses the school system ever cared for were math and science savants, and it seems like they're the only ones who ever mattered in the first place. Oh, well...

Re:What a surprise. (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269211)

The entire purpose behind public education in the Western World was to create a literate working class, which, after the Industrial Revolution, was essential. Leaving education in purely private hands would have meant a lot of kids never got one. Public education isn't perfect, but it wasn't really designed to create rocket scientists. Gifted students have long presented a significant challenge to education, and solutions like bumping them up a grade have often lead to very unpleasant emotional issues.

But I don't buy into this garbage argument that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. All this nonsense about vouchers, home schooling and the superiority of public schools is little more than a pack of provincial, parochial types trying, intentionally or not, to destroy education. Countries like Japan have public school systems that do a generally better job at encouraging gifted children, so clearly this ludicrous, over-the-top idea that public education is a propaganda machine or that it's harmful are false.

This is what No Child Left Behind, voucher programs and all the rest are, attempts by arch-conservatives to roll back the clock, because they despise the idea of a society that actually uses the organs of state to create a literate populace. The NCLB crowd are nothing more than a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool Social Darwinists.

Intelligence reaps mockery in the US. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20268889)

Well, in a society that regularly ridicules people because they are smart, what do yo expect?

Re:Intelligence reaps mockery in the US. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269149)

I see where you are coming from but I don't think you see how deep it goes.

I don't know if media (like MTV or just about every movie made in the past 10 years) was what started it, but it's definitely one of the major players in this.

Children are being brought up to believe that doing what is right is uncool.
They are being brought up to cherish the quick self satisfaction and to immediately fulfill any base desire or appetite they have without even questioning their thought process.

Yes, it's true. At least in the schools I went to, it was very uncool to do what was right and to have limits and keep yourself in check. The 'cool' kids are those that have no restrictions, the kids that won't warn you not to do something that will potentially cause you more problems than enjoyment. [] saw it coming

Re:Intelligence reaps mockery in the US. (1)

weak* (1137369) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269155)

Amen. Being smart? That sounds French to me...

It doesn't take a genius to figure it out !!! (3, Insightful) (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268891)

"For example, up to ten times as much money is spent nationwide on educating 'developmentally disabled' students as gifted ones."

Duh! Smart kids learn faster than 'tards. Whodathunkit? Was this article written by Captain Obvious? So you've got a choice - either invest more in educating those who are slower learners, or pay to support them. Which is cheaper in the long run (hint - you don't have to be a genius to figure that one out either).

Re:It doesn't take a genius to figure it out !!! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269163)

I think he was touching on the kids that will never, ever, be able to think about an 8 year old level getting an education. Usuaklly an education that takes 2-4 people at any given time.

These 'extreme' cases cause us a lot of money, and we will end up paying for them anyways.
Yes, it is sad. Perhaps those kids should not be in a public school?

Disclaimer : My child is getting some special classes do to his speech issue. In that case, he is not learning or physically disabled.

Linus is right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20268895)

I am with Linus on this one. For the life of me I can't understand what this sucking up to RMS is about. Linus himself does not think GPLv3 is a good thing. So why do people keep adopting it.
Without Linus FOSS is tossed. Not following Linus is dangerous for the survival of FOSS.

Re:Linus is right (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20268949)

You fail it, genius.

What topic was this supposed to go under? Or is it a Robo-Troll Gone Wild?

Fail! (4, Funny)

uberjoe (726765) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268921)

Failing our Geniuses?

Well my school sure failed me!

It's still the parent's responsibility. (4, Insightful)

geekd (14774) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268941)

I was in grade school in the early 80's. I went to a good public school. My parents were both teachers and chose to live in that neighborhood because of the school district. Even then, the gifted program was just OK. My parents had me in several after-school classes and activities to bolster the schools shortcomings.

It still comes down to parents doing actual parenting. If you've got a gifted child, you have to know they are only going to get so much from their school.

I was lucky. My parents knew what they were doing. They let me explore my interests without pushing. They had me in a creative writing class. They got me into science competitions. The best thing they did was buy a computer for the house. This was a TRS-80 in 1982. It was a stretch for the household budget, but messing with that taught me more than anything else.


First Hand Experience (5, Informative)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268947)

I am 25 years old. I spent 1st grade through 8th grade in the ALPHA program in Florida, which required an IQ testing of 135 or above to attend. I would say that on the whole, I felt like I was constantly dealing with uninteresting and repetitive work. I know being gifted isnt "a handicap" but there was always an air of "ok well, you're smart enough, there are plenty of other people who actually need our attention." The only time I was being truly challenged was in my 2 hours of ALPHA a day, in which times we would do brain teasers, read Shakespeare, do simple physics projects, etc. Looking back I know our budget for that class sucked royal asshole. Our class was in the most broken down portable room on campus. The teacher often brough her own materials and made up stuff for us to do on hand-written photocopies. So yeah, I can see how this article would have some weight in truth.

Re:First Hand Experience (1)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269005)

Edit: "I felt like I was constantly dealing with uninteresting and repetitive work." This refers to normal class time. After re-reading the passage I realized it sounded confusing.

Re:First Hand Experience (1) (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269071)

"I know being gifted isnt "a handicap"

Its only not a handicap

  1. if you can run faster than the bullies
  2. if you don't mind being typecast as a nerd or geek or freak
  3. if you don't get bored easily
  4. if you don't want a social life
  5. if you don't want people expecting you to always know the answer (its okay for others to be wrong, but ...)

It's a handicap. In geniuses, it creates an uneven development of social skills, a handicap which often follows them though their later life.

Re:First Hand Experience (1)

Token_Internet_Girl (1131287) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269255)

I can see your point. I'm a (mostly) capable young woman now but as a kid, I was not any of those things you listed, and I was bullied constantly. As an adult, I've had to deal with poor social development and social anxiety, and probably will for the rest of my life.

Re:First Hand Experience (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269079)

Sounds kinda like my high school experience.. We begged the school for a couple of computers, and ended up putting several together from donated old ones.. thats really how I started with computers.. Meanwhile, the "developmentally disabled/handicapped" program (with an average of 1 teacher for every 4 kids, and 1 assistant for every 2 kids) got 6 brand spanking new computers so that the kids could use "MS-PAINT" that was in windows 95. (cause the kids liked to draw all day, and this way they could learn computers!)

developmentally disabled (2, Insightful)

QAChaos (793637) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268955)

you mean the jocks right? Paying for all the sports equipment to feed their egos so that at least at one part of their life they can look back and say they were happy? - QAK

Home/Private school (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268973)

It's hopeless to make talented students go to schools where even the most violent and the most stupid can not be denied admission. Gifted students will be bullied (sometimes literally) to death because of their different personality, tendency not to hang around in peer groups that can not understand them and plain jealousy. Besides, how exactly can a teacher lecture in a single class where some students are having trouble with multiplication tables and others have questions about derivatives?

Ideally, we need a system of student competitions that identifies talent and sponsors the winners for tuition in private, more challenging schools - as much for their protection as for accelerated education. This is unlikely to happen though because of both lack of money and current attitude of political correctness that allows "special needs" students to beat up gifted ones at will. In the meantime parents should step up to the plate, do home schooling the best they can and organize study groups where students can help each other get more information from books and Internet.

What they need (1)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr (5602) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268981)

1) don't let school get in their way too much
2) hook them up with at least one really smart adult who works in an area they are interested in

This would probably cost even less than whatever is being done now and would get far better results.

Re:What they need (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269131)

It actually probably wouldn't. For one thing, there is a fairly limited supply of "really smart adults", and an even more limited supply of those in any given field in any given region. And they tend to have lots of high-paying alternatives open to them, so unless spending time with youngsters is what they happen to be interested in, would be very expensive to attract and retain for such a program.

Like developmentally disabled students, students that are gifted in one or multiple areas need resources (whether more or special lab gear, access to research tools, teaching staff with special talents, etc.) that don't produce as much return for the average student to reach their full potential. And, like developmentally disabled students, if they are instead treated like regular students, they don't perform as well as they could, and often become serious discipline problems and negatively impact everyone else.

The particular ratio in money is perhaps overplayed here; its one of those simple to measure but not necessarily all that relevant measures. But the issue is, nevertheless, a real and serious one.

No Child Left Behind (5, Informative)

ArchAngelQ (35053) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268989)

Just to be clear, the 'No Child Left Behind' nonsense has no additional funding for schools, and just additional requirements. Specifically, testing, testing, and more testing. That's it. Really. It requires a great deal more testing of students than ever before, and a certain pass rate for a school to get existing federal funding.

The end result is that children who are just below the pass rate on the 'pre-tests' (really, just more tests, but the results only get examined by the teacher or the school faculty) get the most attention. Those above it, especially well above it and those well below it, are more or less shafted by the way it's designed.

Alternately, several school districts have simply changed the rules for what constitutes a pass, and what a failure, on their tests, so that they have a high enough pass rate to continue to get full federal funding.

Yes, but... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20268995)

Gifted kids are not fully enabled, due to lack of time of the teachers. But also, a lot of gifted kids are able to fend for themselves, whatever the teacher does or does not do.
(yes, some of the more 'sensitive' gifted kids can't, and need more of a helping hand. But quite a lot simply go on with things and succeed.)

And the population in here is in no way representative of the pop as a whole. Among general online communities, there are probably more formerly 'gifted kids' here than anywhere else. Let's not use us as a benchmark.

Yeah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269009)

I know a few gifted kids that ended up dropping out High school cause of how bad it sucked.

Article's f*cking right! (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269011)

And it's true in Canada as well! Gotta brain? Park it at the door if you are going to kindergarden through grade 12! Else you risk a *very* unhappy childhood!

What a crime!

          Farrell ...still bitter about my treatment in the schools...

Been there, done that (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269217)

I was recognized as bright very early on, but in a small town in the 1970s, there was little they could do about it. I skipped a couple of grades, which helped, but also had me a couple of years younger than my classmates. At an age when a year or two makes a big difference.

About all they could offer was tutoring other students; if that's all that's on offer, I'd rather be dumb. I remained bored stiff until about 3rd year university. In my last couple of years of high school I had the run of the school library, labs and stuff, and the teachers did everything they could to cut me some slack on attendance if I was doing something interesting, more interesting than what they were going to teach.

I'm now Auntie Laura several times over, and, sadly, the education system is failing my two very bright nieces exactly the same way it failed me. I hope it doesn't damage them too badly before they can get to university and maybe do something a little more interesting.


Stick with Ms.Crock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269019)

and you'll get a head.

kids education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269021)

The study also revealed a startling statistic.

Almost 50% of the kids in America are below average!!!!!

As it happens... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269029)

For all the hysteria about the failure of the US educational system, going back at least to Sputnik and probably long before, it continues to generate the most creative, innovative people in the world. Just because it's obvious to the author that the only thing to do with very smart kids is to move them ahead multiple grades, or separate them from their families and isolate them with other very smart kids, doesn't mean that's really the best way to maximize their potential, let alone their happiness.

Achievement levels off once you start generating knowledge yourself. Learning logarithms when you're 10 instead of 14 isn't going to make you significantly more likely to "cure leukemia or stop global warming".

Look at those "geniuses" who get packed off to college in their early teens. Have any of them ever accomplished anything noteworthy?

Re:As it happens... (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269239)

For all the hysteria about the failure of the US educational system, going back at least to Sputnik and probably long before, it continues to generate the most creative, innovative people in the world.

I'd like to see the evidence that people educated in the US system are, per capita, more "creative" and "innovative" than those produced in every other educational system in the world. Really, this sounds to me more like nationalist mythology than anything resembling a fact, and contrasting it with "hysteria" is somewhat ironic.

Learning logarithms when you're 10 instead of 14 isn't going to make you significantly more likely to "cure leukemia or stop global warming".

I don't think the difference between "gifted" and "average" students is learning logarithms at 10 instead of 14. Its more like the difference between learning logarithms at 10 and having a vague idea as an adult that they are somehow connected to the Taco Bell chihuahua.

Look at those "geniuses" who get packed off to college in their early teens. Have any of them ever accomplished anything noteworthy?

Even assuming the answer is no, wouldn't that demonstrate that, indeed, the US educational system is, contrary to your argument, failing the gifted? I mean, if they weren't being failed, you'd expect them to acheive noteworthy things at the same proportion as the rest of the population.

My experience with the "gifted" class (1)

grilled_ch33z (1140073) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269035)

... was not a good one. I was in junior high, and some genius decided to have the most hated teacher in the entire school handle the gifted students. I could've dealt with that if the subject matter had been at all engaging. We spent at least half the time doing crossword puzzles and watching old movies. We spent the other half reading or dissing the crappy movies. Yawn.

Not once did we do anything relating to math or science. Quite seriously, the only time I saw a number in that classroom was when I programmed my calculator to count down how many more seconds I'd have to spend in that classroom before the semester was over.

My point is that gifted students exist and are recognized in our current system, but unless our gifts are utilized or expanded by the class, what's the point? The only things I remember from my semester in that class are that it was the first time I'd ever gotten a C, and "The Poseidon Adventure" was surprisingly decent.

Private institutions may help (1)

gihan_ripper (785510) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269043)

Any bureaucracy can fail those at the extremes. However, I don't think it's necessarily such a bad thing that we're spending more on developmentally challenged children than on geniuses. After all, shouldn't the geniuses have a better chance of being able to succeed even without extra assistance?

None the less, it is vital that we do as much as possible to encourage bright young children. One of the recent recipients of the Fields medal (the 'Nobel prize for math'), Terrence Tao was raised in Australia and quickly progressed to University there, gaining his degree aged 17. He then moved to Princeton for graduate study! It seems that private educational institutions, especially the better Universities, do recognise exceptional talent and take it very seriously, even when the vessel is physically immature. The real problem arises when the children come from underprivileged backgrounds, where there parents do not have the financial resources or contacts to further assist their child. I don't think we need special schools for gifted children, but it would be prudent to send bright children to the best schools, and indeed to let them skip grades. For this to happen, parents need information about scholarship opportunities, and to be able to communicate with the better schools.

Re:Private institutions may help (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269063)

"After all, shouldn't the geniuses have a better chance of being able to succeed even without extra assistance?"

No. Just ebcause they are smart doesn't mean they know everything, like how to work a system.

well (1)

d3l33t (1106803) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269053)

I failed multiple classes, later realising that i wasn't being challenged nearly as much as possible. I have never been more disappointed in the public education system than that of the US. IMO our society helps hinder kids from striving in school. It's that dam hipity hopity!

Failing the smart kids? YES (1)

Szeraax (1117903) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269073)

As one of those fairly smart people, not a genius but a smart one, I can tell you of when my Elementary school dropped its 6th grade pre-algebra class after 'no child left behind' came into effect. I ended being one of 3 students from my Elementary school to take Algebra in 7th grade that year. I was barely able to get in and even learned stuff about Algebra while taking that test! I would've _LOVED_ to be able to take a class that was more on my level as, I didn't learn a single thing in 6th grade math besides long division... just my $0.02

Risking Discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269083)

I don't know that I was 'gifted', but I was one of the bored smart kids who was put in special courses for both dumb & smart kids because my regular teachers just wanted to get me out of their classrooms.

Later in high school, I was able to do a little better academically by picking "hard" courses to reduce the number of thugs who were generally disruptive & used to beat the shit out of me personally. But that came at a deep price because the few teachers who were any good were given the problem classrooms -- I got incompetents and sadists. How bad? Our Calculus instructor was so bad that our class made up the entire night-class population at the local college.

End result is I simply survived public high school, and made my own way only thanks to a large civic library. I was nearly thirty before I realized that math was interesting, and that I was rather good at it.

What was your direct experience?

Mandatory Simpsons' reference (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269087)

Lisa: It's not my nature to complain, but so far today we've had
                    three movies, two filmstrips, and an hour and a half of
                    magazine time. I just don't feel challenged.
Skinner: Of course we could make things more challenging, Lisa, but
                    then the stupider students would be in here complaining,
                    furrowing their brows in a vain attempt to understand the

The way I see it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269089)

First time poster, long time reader...

Only reason i'm posting here is because this relates so much to my childhood.

I am 21 now, and loathed high school.

Homework was my bane.

The "smart" students were the ones who went through the daily grind and crunched the daily numbers to get the daily grade.

The "average" students like myself were the ones who never did ANY homework, got 90+% on every test without studying.

I slept through 7 hours of my 8 hour school day and passed every class with a C. It was downright boring and I don't see being given a task to do simple math on a day to day basis at home, when I could be tearing into an old computer during MY time, rewarding or challenging in any way shape or form.

High school was the biggest waste of time I have ever experienced. Now that I am going to a technical school working towards my MCSE I feel much more challenged.

The system doesn't want anyone to get ahead (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269103)

The American education system isn't designed to educate anyone, it's designed to produce subservient, unthinking consumers.

Money is spent on developmentally disabled kids out of sympathy/pity.

Money isn't spent on gifted kids because the system fears that they might actually learn something, or learn to question things, and become disruptive (either in school, or later in society).

Walk into any high school and ask the history teachers why the War of 1812 was fought. I bet 99% of them will give some non-reasoning answer like "because the British attacked us," rather than the real answer: Britain was trying to keep American hemp out of France, in order to cripple the French navy.

If the kids were taught this, they may realize that hemp == marijuana and begin to question the War on Drugs, or the government in general. There are countless similar examples.

PS: I am not a pot smoker, I just have an interest in history.

A good school system is like a good OS (1)

Pfhorrest (545131) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269111)

A good school system needs features much like a good operating system: it should make the resources you need to do what you want to do available to you and then get the hell out of the way, so that the more capable people aren't hindered by something that's supposed to be there to help; and it should offer clear instructions and guidance for those less capable people to figure out what they want to do and what they need to do it.

In an OS, this means having a clear intuitive interface that lets capable users see what's there and what can be done with it, that's not always bugging you and trying to second-guess what you want, or worse, telling you what you want; and then having well-written online help and guides/wizards/whatnot that ask the user what they want, and then tells them how to do it. (For anyone who remembers AppleGuide from pre-OSX Macs, that I think was the ideal system; each step told you what to do in text, and then circled the interface elements it was talking about on screen to walk you through actually doing the thing, rather than doing it for you).

In a school, this means that you have broad and deep educational materials available for capable and adventurous students to pursue at their leisure, and you don't bog them down with so much asinine crap that they don't have the time or energy to pursue those things; and it means that your *instructional* resources (i.e. teacher time) are devoted to helping the slower kids master the basics. The bright kids don't need extra instruction to excel; they'll get the standard instruction well enough and then look up more on their own if you make such resources available to them. The slow kids don't need a vast library of supplementary materials; they're having trouble enough with the basic stuff and don't need to be overloaded with more information. A well rounded school should have both: devote extra attention to the kids who need it more (the slow ones), and have extra material readily available for the fast kids to pursue while you're helping the slow ones.

I'm sure someone will complain that some slow kid will have his self-esteem hurt because the fast kids are allowed to move ahead of them, but then look at the flip side: the slow kid is getting the lion's share of the teacher's attention. Nobody's being unjust to him. If his self-esteem is hurt because someone else learns faster than him, he needs to grow up (I know, they're kids, but this is how they become adults) and realize that sometimes people have different levels of talents, and so long as special privileges aren't being afforded to the smart kids who need them least, then nobody has done anything against the slow kids.

Re:A good school system is like a good OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269235)

worst analogy .. ever.

Nothing new. (2, Informative)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269127)

My K-12 days were in the 60s/70s. My mother was a teacher who quit after my sister and I were born. She used to be infuriated after parent/teacher meetings where she would ask a question and get the "don't worry, we're the professionals, you're an untrained parent" attitude when she had her education masters from Stanford.

Frustration with the schools led a group of parents to form an action group that discovered, among other things, that the district had claimed they had a MGM (Mentally Gifted Minors) program to get funds when they actually weren't doing anything for the gifted children but rather just grabbing money for the budget.

They did make a small dent - especially when my dad was elected and re-elected as head of the Board of Education. But I'm not sure that any of the good they did lasted much past his term of office.

The former Secretary of Education commented on NPR the other day that 40 years ago the best option for college-educated women was teaching and that's what about 50% of them did. That pool of (probably unfairly) cheap teaching labor dried up long ago. If you want good people as teachers you are going to have to pay them. Conversely, the teaching establishment needs to stop the same-pay-for-all nonsense. Teachers in difficult-to-fill specialties like science and math should be paid more. Top-flight teachers should be compensated better as well. Bad teachers should be fired. (There's no excuse for tenure in K-12.)

It depends... (3, Interesting)

weston (16146) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269129)

... on whether or not the gifted student is smart enough to figure out how to use resources to direct their own learning.

I'm one of the first people to admit there are problems with many public schools. I went through an education to be a secondary math teacher. I stopped after student teaching because I realized I didn't want to deal with a lot of the issues.

But when I look back over my public education -- in Utah, where per pupil spending traditionally lags pretty far behind many other places -- I have to admit it was pretty damn good overall. When they realized I was breezing through all the reading primers in first grade, they made sure I knew how to use the school library and pointed me at a few particular topics. I got after school access to some of the first computers the schools had. My parents helped, taking me to the local library and enrolling me in community classes, but the staff was helpful. That was elementary school. My high school had a full quiver of AP classes and the teachers were, by and large, good. And they had a program where advanced students could also take courses from the public community college. All in a small-government, relatively low income and not large tax-base state.

I daresay I didn't get near as much out of my public education as I could have if I were more focused and ambitious. One guy took all of the computer science classes, took advantage of after school lab time to learn everything he could about the unix minicomputer we had and C, and got a job not long out of high school working as a sysadmin for a salary that a lot of college grads don't get. Couple of people I knew used some pretty advanced language skills to work as au pairs or English teachers in foreign countries. Me, I learned to play nethack in the lab after school. :)

The point? I think most of the smart kids -- especially if they have any kind of decent direction from parents, or a counselor, or some kind of mentor -- can take advantage of the existing system just fine, and learn to find resources outside of it to further their own goals.

The ones with developmental disabilities, by contrast, are often the one with issues that are actually keeping them from getting even a fraction out of the system. That's why a disproportionate amount of resources are directed there.

None of this is to say there shouldn't be some changes in how things are done. I'm just a tad skeptical of sweeping statements like "no one can get ahead." My observation is that's simply false.

New slashdot pole (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20269151)

"No Child Left Behind" slogan alternates:

The Weakest Link
--I'm Wit' Stupid
Overlord Welcome Wagon
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Bong Hits 4Cowboy Neal

Even the term "gifted" is a crock (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269191)

We can't say the classes are for smart students, they have to be for gifted students. Why is that? Because if some kids were smart, then that would imply that others were stupid (which, as it turns out, is the case). However, calling them gifted mitigates this a bit, because it implies that everyone is inherently the same. Some people are just given "gifts" by some benevolent entity, apparently. It doesn't rule out that everyone else might get these gifts sometime in the future...

Back in the days when the grass was greener... (2, Interesting)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269193)

When I used to go to middle school (grades 6 and 7), our classes were split into three groups, A B and C, based on how well we were doing (A=best, C=worst). There were separate classes based on the group (group A studied together with other group A students and separate from students from the other groups).

There were more than just raw grades that determined what group you were in. Behavioral problems (you are dealing with young kids, remember) were a very big factor, and overall, how willing you were to learn took precedence over your natural talent. That's why you saw good and bad grades even in the A group (where I was in), because many kids who did try hard and therefore were in A group still didn't manage to do well, especially in courses like math.

It also meant that even some group C students got As, based on things like improvements, behavior, etc.

And back then, nobody had a problem with this system. Yes, the grades were mixed (getting an A in group C was nowhere near as hard as getting an A in group A) but the final grades don't really mean anything in middle school, it's more about what you actually learn. The shift and focus was very different. Group A (the students of which were more disciplined and hardworking) actually focused on the academic curriculum, while group C students were working more on social and behavioral issues (which to them, at that point, was more important to learn than just the academics).

And it's not like these were two different schools. Only some academic-based classes (math, English) were separate, while classes like gym or arts, as well as other activities (breaks, field trips) were together, so it did not create a "segregationalist" impression. Most importantly, it provided each group with the study THAT GROUP needed most, the problematic kids got the attention they needed and the rest had a chance to actually learn the subject without having the problematic kids interfere.

P.S. Just because I see this question coming: Yes, most students in group A TENDED to be white and in C there were more minorities, but we still had quite a few minority kids in A, and the race itself was not a factor. (The minorities in group C were there because not because they are the minority, but because they were poorly performing or problematic students who happened to be the minority). Yes, due to social factors and whatnot there tended to be more minority "problem" students compared to the general population, but you know what? Back then the schools were designed to provide an education and teach students a set of skills (whichever skills the students needed the most), instead of playing politics and trying to fix (or pretend to be fixing) social problems that have nothing to do with the school's purpose.

Nowadays, of course, any school board member who THINKS about trying to introduce such a system would be labeled a Nazi racist elitist snobbish evil person who eats children for breakfast...

No Child Left Standing (1)

mazanoid (1114617) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269195)

Is what the educators in North Carolina refer to it as. The whole no child left standing was modeled on north carolina's end of grade tests. At the time it was instituted, north carolina was #49/50 ranked in the nation for public education. After the no child left standing came into play, I think we're #48? or maybe I got them backwards. Anyways, No Child Left standing was based on a patently flawed model, just like NAFTA. Gee, Everytime we plant a bush we come a bit closer to hedging out the sun.

Back to the topic. Because of the intense (and by intense, I seriously mean INTENSE) pressure to produce scores, virtually any school system in any state with a NCLS/NCLB act in place (I think 39 states have adopted this now) forces the teachers to dedicate all of there energy getting the bottom 20% to pass. You don't have to worry substantially about the kid with 150 IQ failing a "If a well stores 10 gallons of water, and I draw out 7, how many gallons are left" (Okay, they're marginally harder than this) test built around the 9-12th grades.

Anyways, the really smart kids who got screwed by the vanishing Academically Gifted programs know to enroll their kids in magnet schools or homeschool.

Easy nuff.

There must be constant challenge (2, Interesting)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269197)

Although I'm not close to the level of the kids in the article, I was always in the advanced classes throughout my K-12 days. For example, I was three years ahead in math. Even being so advanced, I always had a very easy time, and I got excellent grades. And this was all at very good schools in the Bay Area, where I had plenty of classmates who went to Cal, Stanford, Ivy Leagues, etc.

But then it all changed when I got to college.

I went off to college, and I got my ass kicked. Royally. This was a concept that was totally foreign to me. I wasn't prepared to learn stuff that didn't come to me instantly. I had no work ethic. I ended up flunking multiple classes my first semester freshman year. While I had the intelligence to succeed in college, years of skating through classes had lowered my expectations and made me overconfident. I ended up graduating just fine and I've got a nice job, but throughout my time in college I didn't come close to my potential because I had gotten so accustomed to taking the easy way out.

Looking back on it, there came a point when I was no longer challenged in middle school and high school. As soon as I hit the farthest that the school would advance me, I stagnated. The problem was that I was always judge against my age group peers. If you're three years ahead and still at the top of the class, most people think that it's a great job. But it's not. You can learn a hell of a lot, both academically and socially, by being pushed beyond your comfort zone. Without a constant challenge, there is much less incentive to keep pushing yourself. Regardless of intelligence level, be it special ed to gifted, our focus on education needs to be identifying and providing difficult but attainable goals for all students. Having one standard for everyone is inevitably going to fail people at one or both ends of the curve.

One of the things (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269203)

That contributes to this is the growing demonization of the gifted, and in fact anyone who doesn't fit the mould that the educational system has decided is the "norm". Poor funding of public education has lead to a dumbing down of schools and weaker curricula by necessity. I have watched as my kids have brought home work sheets riddled with errors and passing grades given to those who plainly need more instruction. As for the common cry of who will pay for it? We all will, in about 20 years.

Ditto, the everyone is a winner train of thought.

If you accept the status quo, I would say quit bitchin' when an immigrant takes your job or seat at university. Don't even get me started on the media's portayal of smart people and the message it sends.

Harrison Bergeron (1)

justfred (63412) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269205)

Someone should report this to the Handicapper General.

Yes, it does. (1)

os_evaluator (1117225) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269213)

I've come to the US in fourth grade from Hungary. Somehow something happened and I was extremely ahead of everyone else in the US schools. They were learning how to multiply in the first quarter, and how to do long devision in the second quarter. In Hungary we've learned basic skills like that in second grade. There was a group of kids that were considered "gifted and talented", and they all went to one teacher instead of their usual English/Math/Science teachers, where they learned everything one year ahead of everyone else. When I found out about such a class I begged to be in it, but wasn't allowed because I was still in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. And they really think that kids that came from these third world countries are complete idiots so they didn't really care. Somehow at the end of fifth grade they transfered me to there GT classes. When the time for middle school came around I had to move to a different district, and was once again put into the regular classes. I also didn't know that there were "gifted courses" in this new school, because they called them TAG (Talented and Gifted). Finally in seventh grade I found out about this program and begged to be placed into it. My math teacher must've seen something in me and recommended me and another kid (from a "third world country" as well), and we took the test. I think the administrators thought that I cheated or something like that, because they had me retake is a couple of times. When 8th grade started and I received my schedual for the year I marched into my "TAG" classes with pride. Only to find out that in math we were learning Algebra 1 (which in Hungary I've already learned in 3rd grade), the Science class only differed from the regular one by requiring the "gifted" students to do a science fair, and the History class followed the exactly same ciricilum except we were given half hour lectures about leadership and current events. Bummer. So in the end I think the whole system should be changed, because right now the gifted students are the ones that actually want to learn and do something with their future and the kids in the regular classes are just their because they have to be. And then there are kids like I was, that because their English was bad at the time, they were categorized as complete morons. This is just my point of view, and a little history about what happened and still happens to kids like me right now all over the US.

Yes (1)

Noishe (829350) | more than 7 years ago | (#20269225)

It's been said lots of times already on here, it should be said many thousands more.

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