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The Stigma of "Smart": In Defense of Gifted Education

Sunday, January 29, 2012

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The Stigma of 'Smart': In Defense of Gifted Education | Faith Permeating Life

I remember being on a road trip with my family when I was probably around 7 or 8, doing a crossword puzzle or word search in one of the activity books my mom always packed for us on these long trips. I had gotten all but one word, and though I stared at it a long time, I couldn't figure it out, and I finally had to look it up in the back.

The word was "smart." The irony struck me immediately and I had to share. Laughing, I announced, "I got all the words except 'smart'! I'm smart, but I couldn't figure out the word 'smart'!"

My parents began conferring in whispers about whether they needed to tell me that it wasn't polite to say I was smart. I remember it vividly because that was the first instance that it dawned on me that my intelligence level wasn't just another fact about me, like my height or my age or the fact that I had strawberry blonde hair. Despite being told over and over again how smart I was, this wasn't something I was supposed to acknowledge about myself.

I attempted to save face by turning to my brother and saying, "Isn't it funny? I was smart enough to get all the other words in this whole puzzle, but I couldn't get the word 'smart' itself!"

That was one of many experiences to come in which I would downplay my intelligence to avoid being looked down upon.

To give you some snapshots of what the first 10 years of my life were like:
  • I learned to read when I was 4, and one of my earliest memories is a reading test we had to do at the beginning of kindergarten. The teacher's assistant had this packet of paper with columns of words on each page -- I'm guessing they got progressively harder as you went, to see how many words kids could recognize coming in. After going through about four pages of words with me, she got bored of listening to me read and just gave me whatever the top score was.
  • In first grade, I learned that the pace of the class was determined by how long it took for someone to raise their hand and give the correct answer to teacher's question. Soon after that, I learned that I had to pretend not to know the answer a lot or else the teacher would start saying, "Does anyone other than Jessica know the answer?"
  • I was one of a handful of second graders chosen to be in a "2/3 split," meaning the class was mostly third graders but we were all together learning the same things. That year was great, and my teacher was fabulous. It wasn't actually skipping a grade, though, which meant I still had to do third grade. Again.
  • In third grade my teacher would give us spelling pre-tests at the beginning of each week, and then we'd be tested on the same list of words at the end of the week, unless we got everything right on the pre-test, in which case we had to come up with our own list of 10 spelling words to work on that week. After many tearful nights sitting for hours with my mother flipping through the dictionary, trying to find words long enough or complicated enough that I didn't immediately memorize the correct spelling, I started purposely missing a word on the pre-test so I wouldn't have to make my own list of words every week. Unfortunately my teacher overheard me telling my friend about this strategy, and I got in trouble.
  • In fourth grade we had weekly spelling tests again, except this time you had find a replacement word for each word you got right on the pre-test. Not wanting to miss all the words on the pre-test, I resigned myself to more long, tearful nights with my mom and the dictionary.

I did test into the gifted program in grade school, which meant once a week I would leave class for an hour or so to go do fun, challenging things with the other gifted kids. It wasn't an ideal situation, but it was more than worth it for me. That was where I learned to play Set, which remains one of my favorite games to this day. We were given challenges, like when we had to pick stocks and try to build the best portfolio or when we had to build a contraption out of foil that would keep ice cubes cold the longest. Even though I had to leave my regular class to go to another part of the school, it was a better situation than if we'd stayed in Washington, where I would have been bused to another location to participate in the gifted program.

When I started middle school, everything changed. The gifted program was its own "team," meaning we had our core classes together rather than just doing extra activities once a week, and we had our own set of teachers who taught only the gifted students.

For the first time since second grade, I was truly challenged. I didn't have to pretend not to know the answer to the teacher's question because either half the class also had their hand raised, or I really didn't know the answer because it was that difficult. I didn't have to purposely miss questions to avoid extra work; our weekly vocabulary lists were all new to me. The quality of work that got me an endless string of A+'s in grade school now had red marks throughout it, and I had to step up my game. I was pushed to read books that were above my grade level.

I learned to write. I learned to research. I learned to do algebra. I learned at a pace that felt natural to me. And I made friends who enjoyed being challenged as much as I did, friends I've kept to this day.

I have also remained good friends with my middle school English teacher, who is still at the same school doing the same work but nearing retirement. Every so often when I get together with her she'll tell me that there is talk brewing about doing away with the gifted program. That it's "elitist" and "unnecessary," according to people in the district.

It makes my blood boil just thinking about it. Who would I be today without those classes? If I'd continued to be taught at a slow, slow pace and encouraged not to show off my intelligence too much, how would that have shaped me?

I was exceptionally blessed that I was admired and not bullied by my classmates in grade school, but I don't think that would have continued if I'd been put in regular classes in middle school. Middle school is a rough time for anyone, and it was clear in a lot of ways that we were the rejects of the school -- even most of the administrators refused to treat us like just another team when making announcements to the school or organizing our grade to go on field trips. Our team would either be ignored altogether or they'd draw special attention to us for being different.

Elitist? We were never on the top of any social order. We were on the bottom, and we knew it, but we didn't care, because we had each other. The fact that I spent most of my day with, and made friends with, people whose minds worked like mine sheltered me from social isolation.

When my grandmother was in school, they didn't have these kinds of gifted programs. You just skipped grades. She started college when she was 15. I am so, so grateful I didn't have to do that. I was able to grow emotionally and socially along with my peers, while still being intellectually challenged.

What good would it do to take the brightest students and slow them down by putting them back into regular classrooms? School is a place to encourage learning, not stifle it. To nourish creativity and intellectual growth, not force everyone to learn at the pace of the lowest common denominator.

And the opposite is true as well. In grade school sometimes the teacher would take my correct answers to mean that the entire class understood something, and then I'd have people coming over to ask me to explain things because the teacher had gone too fast for them. Having a student who gets impatient and speeds up the lesson makes it worse for those who need extra help.

Being on the gifted team in middle school was a lifesaver for me. It is not the right place for everyone, but it was the right place for me, beyond the shadow of a doubt. There is a lot that I would change about our educational system, but I will defend the good that my gifted program did for me to the day I die.

26 comments:

  1. OK now I really think we're living parallel (or almost parallel) lives...your story is SO familiar to mine. And I've ALWAYS defended G&T programs. We have classes for those who are developmentally disabled or delayed, why not for those who are on the opposite end????? Ugh, I could say more, but I think someday, I'll post about my own experiences.

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    1. Same here. Had the same kind of gifted education the author described in this post and greatly benefited from it. Couldn't agree more.

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  2. I can't say I grew up being one of the gifted kids. But I can understand that gifted kids need certain classes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and in my opinion it is very necessary! Plus there is always a child who acts out in pure boredom. No fail each year I could think of one kid exactly like that.

    I am 100 percent pro gifted classes. But there is always two sides. Now here is my opinion from a parents perspective...they maybe worried that the kids who aren't gifted are feeling left out and losing confidence in their own work. I'm not sure how it all works but I was always curious if parents had any say and they were able to talk to the district and get their opinions across.

    If anything I think that should encourage parents to work even harder with their kids but that is just how I see it.

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  3. @Rabbit
    As always, I'd love to hear your own experiences :) And yes, I think that everyone learns better when their classes can be targeted to their own learning styles and abilities. Until one-on-one teaching is the norm, grouping kids generally by their learning abilities is at least a step in the right direction, IMHO.

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  4. @melissa
    You're exactly right that kids who aren't being challenged enough will sometimes act out. I was so incredibly bored in my high school French class one year that I regularly wanted to just jump out of my desk and scream to keep from going crazy. I had a friend (from my middle school gifted program) who was auditing the same class and stopped going after two weeks because she was bored out of her mind.

    If kids who are not in the gifted programs are feeling not good enough, I don't blame that on the student or the parent, I blame that on our culture that says that everyone should be "above average." Most people are in the middle of the pack on anything--bell curves and all that--and there's no shame in that. My former middle school teacher says she now has students every year whose parents battled to get them into the gifted program, and they just completely drown in the work because it's not the right pace for them. And that's a disservice to everyone. I think there is too much cultural pressure to be at the high end of the bell curve rather than accepting that everyone is different and needs to learn at a pace appropriate to them.

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  5. I can understand why this would be frustrating. The way our education systems works frustrates me as it does you.

    My older sister is dyslexic, so my parents brought us home when I started 2nd grade and she started 4th grade because, despite her reading comprehension problems, my older sister had a fantastic memory. So none of the issues she was having at home due to her dyslexia were showing up in her grades and the school board flat out told my parents that until she started to fail, they wouldn't help her.

    I think in the long run, homeschooling really helped me though. There were some subjects I excelled in and others that took me more time, and as a result, I was able to work at a pace that challenged but didn't frustrate me.

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  6. I so agree with what you are saying here. Our kids need to be challenged as opposed to glorified. We will all run into circumstances, no matter how smart we are, that will challenge us and we need to be equipped for that challenge.

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  7. @Jessica
    What's funny is, I wrote my 11 things post on Friday night, without reading your post here first!

    Education is tough, no matter what. I can see pros and cons for keeping kids together and for separating them.

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  8. @Sarah
    That's great that homeschooling worked so well for you and your sister. That's why I jumped on the idea of having a private tutor for French--it will allow me to work at my own pace, so I can move quickly through the parts that are easy to me but get extra help on the parts that are difficult.

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  9. @Shayna Abrams
    "challenged as opposed to glorified" -- yes. It's the whole "big fish in a small pond vs. small fish in a big pond" thing. It was fun for a while to be the smartest in the class--and yes, we actually had awards in fifth grade and my classmates voted me the smartest--but I feel like I thrived as a person much more when I was challenged and my teachers didn't take for granted that I knew the answer to everything.

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  10. @Rabbit
    That is funny! How about that.

    I can understand the pros and cons from, like, a theoretical level, which is where I think people in the district are viewing it from. But I find it hard to justify taking away a program that is doing actual, real good for certain students because it theoretically might be making other kids feel bad about themselves. Which is dumb, anyway, because if a student is truly an "average" student, then how is moving the gifted kids into their classroom going to make them feel better about themselves? I'd think that could potentially make things worse--for everyone. But then I'm biased :)

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  11. Oh, how wonderful it would have been to be in gifted classes all day in middle school!!! I did not have that experience of being truly challenged by all my classes until college. In my schools some subjects were divided into 3-5 aptitude "tracks" but they never did that for social studies, and they didn't do it for science until 9th grade; it was frustrating because there was so much cool stuff we could've been doing in those subjects!

    Why do you think it would have been a disadvantage to be bused to another school for a gifted program? I was, one morning a week in 4th-5th grades, and it was wonderful! The other school had a small auxiliary building that had been for kindergarten (before additions to the main building) that had just two classrooms and restrooms, so it was perfect for about 50 gifted kids, and the teachers could run it as a separate school with its own rules. After budget cuts, there was just one gifted teacher who traveled to the schools and held class wherever there was space (in my school, it was in the lunchroom) and that wasn't nearly so good.

    I think gifted programs are crucial in schools that stick to the grade system. The only other way for gifted kids to be appropriately challenged is to have classrooms with a wide range of ages and abilities, in which kids can be grouped flexibly and learn from each other. (Two of my grandparents had much of their educations in one-room schools and told me how they could learn at their own pace because it was taken for granted that when you finished one book you moved on to the next, regardless of age.)

    However, I think some of the things we did in the gifted program should have been taught in regular school (like Venn diagrams and matrix logic) and those that were taught in regular school but not until much later should have been taught earlier (gifted did a research paper every year beginning in 4th grade; regular students didn't until 10th grade, when they found the skills much harder to learn). I am pleased to see my son's school teaching some of these things to all students at a relatively young age--they did Venn diagrams in kindergarten!

    It really bugs me that there is a stigma around being smart that isn't around being good at sports, music, etc. I did better than 99% of college-bound Americans on the verbal SAT; that means something--it isn't the only measure of a person's worth (which is, for some reason, what many people think I'm trying to say if I dare mention it at all) but it is a measure of verbal intelligence, so it isn't conceited of me to think of myself as highly intelligent. But it seems there isn't any word we can use for it that isn't automatically and unforgivably offensive to some people.

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  12. @'Becca
    OK, I called my mom to check about the gifted program I tested into in Washington, and apparently there weren't buses; my mom would have had to drive me there. The disadvantage is that it was so far away; in Illinois the gifted classroom was just downstairs from my regular classroom, so it wasn't a big commitment on my family's part for me to join, and I only missed an hour or so of class. My mom found on the website for our Washington school district that in 2004 they were able to set up gifted programs within each of the schools in the district so people didn't have to travel long distances anymore and kids can ride the school bus they would normally take to school.

    The 2/3 split I was in was great because it was exactly that breaking away from strict grade levels like you described. But then we moved to Illinois, so I went into a regular third grade classroom the next year.

    I completely agree that some things I was taught in the gifted program should have been part of the regular curriculum. When I got to college I was shocked at some of the things that my classmates were learning about for the first time--things I had learned in middle school! I wonder if there's a different mentality between gifted program teachers and "regular" teachers in their approach to curriculum: "What will challenge them?" vs. "What can they handle?" I remember my former teacher telling me about another teacher who said to her, "You can't teach Hamlet to 8th graders!" This after she's been doing it for decades and had us not just understanding the plot but the wordplay, the themes, etc. Why decide that students can't handle something without even trying?

    It is strange how much pressure there is to downplay academic skills vs. other kinds of skills. I would guess it's due in part to what I mentioned above, that there's a cultural pressure for everyone to do exceptionally well in school, which you don't find in other fields. So for me to do well in music, for example, is not necessarily threatening because people can go, "Meh, music was never my thing," but for me to do well in math, then it's like I'm showing off how much better I am at something everyone's supposed to be good at. That's my guess, anyway. There's also something more public about other kinds of achievements; everyone knew when my brother's Ultimate team made Nationals because we flew out to Colorado for the tournament, and then my mom could tell people about the trip and how high they ranked. But when I got a perfect score on the math GRE--well, who's going to know about that unless I tell them? And working it into conversation myself makes me look conceited, because it's not like people generally ask you to share your test scores in normal conversation. There's definitely a big difference.

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  13. I can understand the frustatration. Gifted programmes are rare here, there's a special school for kids with a certain minimum IQ (I think it's 125), but if you happen to fall at 115 or even 123, you're not allowed in. Which is fairly stupid. The common thing for gifted children here is to skip a year, which I agree isn't the best solution. There's kids who skip several years and suddenly find themselves surrounded by kids who are several years older and who of course look down on this little overly smart kid.
    Special classes for gifted kids seem like the best solution, but I can imagine in small schools in the country for example this isn't really doable.

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  14. @Little redhead
    I'm glad that I didn't have to go to a separate school for my gifted classes; I was able to have my electives (like choir and gym) with a larger group of students, so I made friends both in and out of the gifted program. And I'm also very glad I didn't have to skip grades. I was part of the first cohort who studied math two grade levels ahead in middle school, so when I started high school I suddenly found myself taking math with mostly juniors, and I felt so awkward and out of place. I can understand, like you say, why in some places it's just not feasible to have a separate track for gifted classes, but I hope that things at least move more in that direction in more places, rather than away from it.

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  15. This is a big part of why I want to home school my kids. I don't feel that the classroom model really encourages growth or social skills (the biggest criticism against homeschooling) very well. In no situation in my adult life, outside of school, do I find myself stuck in a room with 20 other people my exact age (and probably ethnicity and socioeconomic status). I feel like it's counter-intuitive to try to make a large number of people of any age learn at the exact same rate. I think that the idea of a classroom-free school would go a long way to helping each young person learn at their own rate.

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  16. @Mórrígan
    I hadn't seen the classroom-free school before--thanks for sharing the link. The model of schooling that I like the best is the School of One, in which an algorithm determines which mode of learning suits each student best, and changes it up if they're having difficulty with a concept. It achieves the same thing as standardized tests--tracking student progress at an individual and a group level--but in a radically different way: Rather than saying everyone should be on the same level and working to get everyone on the exact same page, it acknowledges in its very structure that everyone learns differently, and that if you're struggling with a concept it doesn't mean you're dumb, it just might mean that you haven't yet been taught it in a way that makes sense to you. I'm sure there are criticisms of it, because no program is perfect, but I love the concept of customized learning and hope more schools take note.

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  17. Man your story sounds much like mine, except, by time they actually did test me for the gifted program, after fighting with my parents about how they would make me switch schools into the full time instead of doing the one day a week, I purposely flunked it.

    I stopped trying in High School, and even though I got better than average grades, screwed myself over in the long run by not applying myself. It was my way of rebelling against my parents, since they would continuously state their expected minimum grades of me and I would always purposely try to get lower.

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  18. @Tabitha
    :( That sounds like not a great situation. Why did your parents want you to switch schools? That would have been the choice for me if we'd stayed in Washington--one day a week or go to the other place full time. I'm not sure what we were planning to do or if we even got that far in the discussion when my dad was transferred.

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  19. HI, are you me?

    I had the *shittiest* public school education. Really, I went to one of the poorest schools in Virginia. Some highlights:

    * I only took 2 years of French because our French teacher was split between two schools and so was only there for 3 periods and my schedule conflicted.

    * We did not offer calculus or physics.

    * No AP classes.

    * I did TONS of reading in my 11th grade honors English class. Not because of the class, but because I was so utterly bored that I gave up and just started reading my own books. That teacher would say things like "to be or not to be" was a quote from MacBeth and there were 24 letters in the alphabet. I wrote an essay on how cross burning should be a legal form of free speech (I like the controversy) and she gave me a C while marking nothing wrong with it. She told us that it was more important to know plots of famous books than to read them so we watched The Last of the Mohicans, Great Gatsby, and The Crucible.

    * For 12th grade government we watched American President, Dave, Air Force One, Executive Decision, and many others - as part of the curriculum.

    It.Was.Bad. Elementary school was worse but I didn't know how bad it was at the time. I did often wonder why I couldn't just skip a grade though. I felt the first half of the school year was review - why were we learning our colors in second grade? My 2 year old niece has those mastered! We didn't have a formal G&T program, but once a week some years a mom would do a special reading group with the gifted kids. Other years (2nd and 3rd) the teacher would give me and a few other kids a special project to work on. Completely on our own. Unsupervised. So we would hang out in the back of the class and do nothing. Looking back I just think WTF???

    Same with 6th grade. I had skipped 5th grade math to take pre-algebra, but there wasn't a way for me to take algebra in 6th grade. So when the rest of my class was taking pre-algebra, the teacher would come over and try to teach me algebra when they were working on work sheets. Needless to say, I had to re-take algebra.

    In 11th grade I could go to the Governor's School, this program that is sort of like charter/magnet schools for VA public schools. About 1/3 of our class went and a bunch of kids from other regions. We took advanced classes in math and science, but it was still pretty sloppily run. I definitely struggled my first two years of college (I went to William and Mary, where half the kids are from Northern Virginia with the best public school systems in the country), and I would have been way worse off without Governor's School.

    My parents tried to supplement our educations with "mommy school" and summer camps, but I still think I would've been a lot better off if I had been challenged more in school.

    This is an article you would like: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/02/27/autism-and-education.html

    It's a mom who has a gifted child and an autistic one, and says while she is appreciative of all the resources for her autistic child, she wishes that more would be there for the gifted one, saying it would be better for the world in the long run.

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  20. @Jackie
    Wow... I am so sorry. I seriously cringed reading about your experiences because it sounded so painful. I feel incredibly fortunate for having had the opportunity to be part of a gifted program in middle school. I don't know what I would have done with myself in your situation. I know what you mean about how you're more aware now of how bad it was than at the time, but... it still upsets me a great deal to hear about students not getting the learning opportunities they need and deserve.

    Thank you for sharing that article. It nearly brought me to tears because it's so true... I feel like she could be talking about me instead of her daughter, except that I was blessed enough to be finally challenged in school most of the day by the time I was 12. Yes, there is value in wanting all students to reach a minimum level of learning--but having everyone performing at the minimum can't be the end goal. Sigh.

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  21. I'm all for gifted programs that in some ways-- but I'm agaisnt them in other ways. There are lots of kids who would never ever qualify for a gifted program-- and yet if they were actually IN that advanced math or English or science program, they would actually fly with it. I like the way our school does it-- if you want to take the class and you are willing to do the work, you can take any class you want.

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  22. @Anonymous
    It sounds like you're not against gifted programs per se, but gifted programs that require some kind of testing to get in. I agree that there are pros and cons to requiring qualification vs. letting anyone in. Some people's learning styles can't be captured by a test, but they need the challenge of a gifted program to learn best. The only problem I see with keeping it open like that is the parents: Some parents will push their children to take the advanced courses even though the child isn't actually capable or ready for it. If you could take the parents out of the equation, letting students self-select for more challenging courses makes sense. The other issue is the culture--if there's a stigma around not opting to be in advanced courses, then students who aren't ready may try to take them anyway. But I definitely see your point that there are two sides to the issue.

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  23. I also wonder about the pros and cons of testing for magnet programs vs. letting people or parents self-select. So I will share my school experience to show yet another model with pros and cons. I grew up in Maryland, where we have pretty good schools in most counties. My county practiced integrated classrooms in elementary school. For language arts and social studies half the classroom was at one level, and half was at another. We all received the same lecture instruction, but many of our assignments differed. While one group worked with the teacher, the other group would do exercises. Then, for math and science we would switch teachers and they would make sure that the two groups that came together were on a similar level.

    In third grade my teacher had me take a test to possibly enter the magnet school. No one told me that time mattered on the test, and I was a perfectionist, so I took forever. Mom told me later that she could have fought the decision not to let me in on the basis of time (some other parents did more than that), but she thought I was figuring out ways to challenge myself enough in the program where I was. I probably would have done well at either school, but the rejection was very embarrassing for me. I think that the decision whether or not to send me to that school should have been left up to my 3rd grade teacher—she knew my strengths and weaknesses better than any test and the outside teachers reading it. If she had simply been able to decide, this may have saved me a lot of the embarrassment that followed me into middle school and high school where I sometimes did push myself much harder than I should have. Fortunately, even though I didn’t go to the magnet school, I did get to take Renzulli classes once or twice a week in 4th and 5th grade (similar to the extra classes Jessica described).

    In middle school we had no magnet school. Each school had honors, merit, directed and some advanced classes. One of the former magnet kids even took algebra in 6th grade, algebra 2 at the high school in 7th grade, and then geometry with us. After 6th grade, honors students who passed a math test were allowed to skip pre-algebra and go directly to algebra. In my 7th grade honors class however, they did an “experiment”. They put directed math students in that class with us to see if their level could be improved (or maybe there were staffing issues). As a consequence, most of the directed students felt completely lost, we had behavior problems, and the teacher was only able to make it 2/3 of the way through the curriculum. A couple of the directed students did successfully move from directed math to merit math the next year (took algebra again). Overall, most people seemed unhappy with the arrangement, and the next year I took geometry with only the advanced group. All of my other middle school classes were at the honors level, but we still had extra Renzulli classes and I was able to participate in a couple of service learning programs.

    (cont'd below)

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  24. My school system was pretty good at the high school level. Students could opt to go to a different school where a certain type of AP classes were offered, where there was a career and tech program, where there was an IB program, or where there was and advanced music program. At every high school we were allowed to test out of the introductory science and take biology immediately. Then we were on a block schedule, so students could elect to move fast on the math and science front. Some of my friends advanced their math enough that they brought in a teacher to offer differential equations at 7am my junior year.

    Although this block schedule gave me the freedom to graduate a year early and become an exchange student my senior year, I think I could have used a little more guidance in middle and high school. Sometimes I pushed myself too hard because I had certain misconceptions about what was necessary to get into a good college or because I wanted to be one of the “smart kids”. For the longest time I was terrified to get a B. My junior year I took Chem 1 and 2, Calc 1 and 2, 11th grade English, AP US history, AP English and Comp, and independent study art (my one concession). I also worked 20 hours a week after school because my parents required that I have a job and I couldn't find one that would let me work less. Since none of my AP classes ended up erasing any of my college requirements (I tested poorly in science and had to take math, English and history requirements in college anyway), I sometimes wonder what all those sleepless nights were for. They did help me get a scholarship, but from a learning and maturity perspective I think I would have been better off going to our local college my junior year.

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  25. I was not in a "gifted" program....but..I was obviously different than the other kids. I went to a private school (a Jewish Yeshiva), and most of the kids there were pretty "smart".
    I did not do well as far as grades were concerned...because my motivation was not necessarily directed from competition....however, I was clearly different because I did not take notes in math class and consistently sat in the back of the class because I was simply was not interested and bored by the talk....but managed to get A's throughout.
    Since I was not put in the gifted classes...I cannot discuss how different it would have been for me.....it might have been...
    But, do I consider myself denied because I was simply left in the classes that my Yeshiva had to offer?
    NO.
    Intelligence is not measured by how well you do compared to your peers.
    Your peers may be more intelligent than you in areas that you are not interested in.
    You may be more intelligent than your peers in areas that your peers are not interested in.
    Intelligence in relative....relative to your life experiences.
    I admire the fact that you have found appreciation in the fact that you have had the opportunity to shine in a program that was built for you.....but, sometimes life does not set itself up the way we ideally would like it to....
    Sometimes, we are confronted with programs and situations that may not be to our best advantage....and they will have to do.
    Everything is relative .
    I am not criticizing your post...because I could tell by your thought that you very clearly display a level of intelligence that shines...but, some of us are not privy to the benefits of being challenged.
    We must do with the tools we were given.
    Are we less capable?
    Maybe.
    Does it matter?
    That is for the individual themselves to decide....

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