Sunday, April 24, 2016


Yesterday two friends (independently) sent me links to a blog post on Old Motors, with this photo of a speedster in front of a shop offering Swedish Sloyd. The photo from around 1916, shows that some Sloyd instruction was offered in some places as a commercial enterprise outside formal schooling. A sign in the window indicates they also offered "outing" classes, which I assume referred to outdoor education... a thing also denied to most children today, even though the need for it has grown enormously.

On Friday in our school staff meeting we went through the student body, one student at a time, identifying the special gifts and challenges of each child. It was a way that we could discuss strategies through which we might better serve each.

The following definition is given for students labeled as "Gifted and Talented:"
Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.
All but 8 states offer special funding for gifted and talented programs in public schools. All but 8 states make a special effort to identify particular students as "gifted and talented," and provide funding to provide individualized learning opportunities for certain children in school. But it is reasonable to argue that ALL children have particular gifts that will be neglected in schooling, and ALL students have the potential to develop talents that will not be nurtured in school due to the lack of individualized attention. The problems I have with the definition offered above is that it is left up to the child to "give evidence." Good teachers are constantly seeking evidence on their own if they are not overwhelmed by overly large class size.

Dr. George Betts and Dr. Maureen Neihart are the renown experts for establishing profiles for 6 types of gifted and talented students and although I may disagree with the label, "Gifted and Talented," far more students would fit than most schools would allow. This link, The Revised Profiles of the Gifted and Talented offers a key to identifying 6 types of G&T students and provides strategies for meeting their needs in school and at home. Types one and six in the chart are the ones usually selected for participation in gifted and talented programs because they are the ones most motivated to make such programs a success. School gifted and talented programs tend to do their selection at both ends and choose not to address those students in the middle that may be more difficult and challenging to serve.

The answer, it seems to me, is to offer gifted and talented education to all kids and to stop identifying only certain kids as being Gifted. If all schooling involves sitting endless hours at desks, rather than running, playing, playing music, creating art, learning directly from nature and building things in wood shop, how will students become talented at anything but taking tests?

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.

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