This post will be somewhat different. This post will be ranty. Ranty (word? no?) and possibly disorganized. If you follow me on Twitter then this will not be new to you. OK then.
I am on the board of a local parent group that advocates for gifted education in our town. This has allowed me to gain a mountain full of information. It also allows me to be privy to knowledge before it is released to the public. Our district recently made some changes to gifted programs offered and our group was able to meet and hear about it first. We met with two higher up district education employees and were impressed with the changes that were being made. Towards the end of the meeting we started some small talk and she said something that made me want to leap out of my skin. She suggested that since we were in an affluent area that most of the children come into the system enriched already and that by third grade most children even out. E-v-e-n O-u-t.
Pause. Breath. OK. This concept or theory is not new to me and I have read this in different forms. I just couldn't believe that this woman who is pretty high up in our district buys into this way of thinking and is sharing it with a group of people who actually have gifted children.
I understand that children in this area are fortunate to have certain opportunities that will become part of who they are. I also understand that many can afford the many educational opportunities available as well. I can’t speak for the others but my child is not being drilled at home with workbooks or worksheets. We don’t do flashcards or number drills. He’s does not attend regular enrichment classes focused on school topics. Actually, I haven’t done anything with him this whole year and he still manages to be a top student surpassing others by years in reading and math. NATURALLY. Yes, naturally. I understand that some students are getting all these extra “pushes” or “help” but mine is not and to tell me that he is going to “even out” in third grade is just nutella nuts to me. I understand that some of the kids who were possibly struggling early on at this point may catch up to an acceptable level but to suggest that those who were higher to begin will slow down is well, like I said, nutella. Even if in the next few years he stays stagnant, he’ll still be two reading grades above.
This is not only my districts or even my states way of thinking about gifted children. As a country we tend not to recognize gifted children and offer them services until 3rd grade. This is mostly based on this “even out” theory. By not challenging our students at a younger age they start to tune out and by third grade some of these previous outstanding students lose interest and start to underachieve. So how about challenging my child until then? Why not demand more of his brain to counter this risk of him becoming an underachiever. How about educating teachers to proactively identify gifted children earlier. Also, give them the tools and freedom to do what they need to teach high achieving children. Demand the teachers not to let students who were at the top to drift to the middle. You can read a much better description of this “even out” theory Here.
Maybe I’m out of touch with this reality. Maybe this does happen but if my child becomes an underachiever in third grade, I might just go nutella on someone at that school.