52 in 52 Week 44: Educating Gifted Students in Middle School



I must admit my bias in reviewing this book. I graduated with honors from high school, college, and graduate school without ever having achieved the illustrious title of "gifted" while in middle school. I have a vivid memory of the blonde-haired counselor with the squeaky voice writing different sizes of tanks on the chalk board, explaining that the "gifted" students had bigger tanks in which they could fill. What a bad message to send to the littler tanks! My best friend was one of those people with a bigger tank (the biggest, in fact) and a big "G" next to her name in attendance books (I saw it), and she was constantly treated more special because of her "tank." I went to a school district that had plenty of money to burn (back in the 70's when revenues were not put into a large California tank and distributed equally. Since we had a large oil refinery that paid taxes but furnished no school children, education was abundantly funded). Consequently, there were special programs for gifted students but not for the students who did really well because they worked really hard in spite of their smaller "tanks." I have already told you my outcome. My best friend took a non-academic path in high school and opted for a trade school and community college where she eventually dropped out. She works in customer service in a job that requires no post-secondary education and is very "artsy" with a side business selling scrapbooking items. She was "gifted" in that. The size of your "tank" does not take into account a person's other gifts and abilities. She was happy in the road she took regardless of the size of her "tank"!

So, that is why I take issue with this book. I do not think "gifted" students should be treated any differently from other hard working students. I do not think tests should determine how "gifted" or "smart" someone is because some kids just don't do well on those achievement tests. I believe in equal opportunity for all students, not just the gifted ones. (By the way, I had a high score on the vebal/language portion, but my math always made me not have the "G" next to my name, despite always getting an "A" in math courses.)

The book is clearly written. While it will help teachers, I do not believe it is fair to channel fund's exclusively for "gifted" students, especially when I question the effectiveness of these program. We should reward students who work hard, regardless of the size of their tank. 
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