Gifted Education

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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yakk » Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:33 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:The concept is simple, tracking doesn't benefit the school as a whole, barely benefits the advanced students and only helps them achieve very specific abilities

Which abilities are these?

So, you are saying that teaching a university-bound student in the same classroom a 17 year old doing remedial mathematics 3 would only slightly harm the student?

That sticking someone doing the insane first year "teach all of a pure mathematics degree undergrad mathematics in two semesters in one course-slot" course would only be slightly harmed by being in a class with college students doing a degree in surveying?

Or does this "lack of streaming is ideal" magically change when you hit the college level?

I've seen people with their PhDs before 20, who went on to getting Tenure at MIT. I'm doubting that person was able to pull that off while taking classes along side the slowest of their cohort. And sure, I'm betting he could have spent more time learning how to lead others had he been held back.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yambert » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:08 pm UTC

let's see...

1-5 grade we went to a separate classroom at a specified hour of the day (the hour was different each day, the breakup of routine is one of the reasons I enjoyed it). The subjects in the gifted class had nothing to do with our normal coursework. They were special topics picked out by the gifted teacher, with the purpose of expanding our talents, interests, cultural awareness, basically to make us intellectually well rounded people at an early age. This was a GREAT system. It was something to be excited for everyday. My teachers were skilled at finding work that we would enjoy and find stimulating. And we were still in a "normal" class most of the time. I feel like it was the best of the both worlds. But, I went to a really great Elementary school (even though it was a public school in Louisiana... I got lucky)


Then in middle school I went to a different school system, and gifted classes there weren't "special" classes but simply "harder" versions of normal classes. I actually found these to be mostly destructive to me, essentially because of crappy teachers. The gifted kids were known to be particularly lazy and unmotivated, and I think a lot of the teachers just kind of accepted that and didnt really force us to do much work at all. I mean, it was really fun, but it laid a foundation of extreme laziness that quite frankly I'm still struggling to get out of.


Then in high school I moved to a private school, completely different environment, that didn't have gifted classes.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby ibgdude » Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:40 pm UTC

For me, most of the gifted education has consisted of taking classes earlier than usual. The only difference between a gifted and honors class I have observed is that the teachers expect you to learn quicker in gifted classes. I have really enjoyed the class skipping aspect, because I enjoyed the classes I got to take early, but the slight speed up on the same material method seems not to contribute much.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Gear » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:26 am UTC

If you were/are in a gifted program of some sort, what did you do? What worked? What didn't?


My Elementary school (US) had no official gifted program. Some of my teachers attempted to create their own in miniature for me, but it essentially boiled down to getting a math textbook from one or two grades above and having me work in it while the other kids did their math. It was completely useless and effectively segregated me from the rest of the class, and lost me several friends.

In Middle school, honors classes were introduced, but about half the kids were in honors and half the kids were in non-honors, so the honors classes still moved at a stunningly slow pace. The grand total of what I learned in middle school was:

1. Don't let on that you're smart. The teacher will send the other kids to you and make you teach them. This is a bad thing. I am not getting paid to teach them. I am not getting extra credit to teach them. I am, in fact solidifying my knowledge by teaching them, but after the first time, the gain drops off exponentially. By the time I finish with the 25th person in the class, I am gaining absolutely nothing from it.
2. If you want to know something, teach yourself. You won't learn it at school.
3. Make smart friends. They are entertaining and awesome, and have a far higher probability of actually teaching you something useful than your teachers do.

Probably not the best endorsement of my school.

For the first year of high school, it was pretty similar to middle school. I'm now in my second year, and just switched to a private school. I haven't been there long enough to say what the gifted program there is like, but it seems much more promising thus far.

If you weren't/aren't actually in a program but feel like you could/should have been, what were/are your experiences because you were not in an advanced program? What did/do you wish for?


During elementary school, I was, on several occasions, literally bored to tears. By that point, pretty much anything would have been an improvement. I would have been fine with them taking me and some other kids out of class and giving us more advanced/different work to do. The biggest problem I had was sitting in the corner while everyone else was together - it was rather alienating.

What are some of the problems academically, socially, personally, you had/are having in school due to being in a gifted program or not being in a gifted program?


I experienced some verbal and minor physical bullying, but honestly I would be willing to bet that most of that was more about me being physically weak and a smartass (not a fun combination) than being in the farce of an honors program.

What are your suggestions for a great gifted program?


I wish I had some awesome, works for everyone, a silver bullet, but if I did, it probably would have already been thought of. I know quite a bit more about how not to proceed in making a gifted program. Overall, I would suggest tracking based on ability rather than age would definitely be a good first step, as well as making it possible to change between several degrees of difficulty for whatever reason.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Euler » Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:26 am UTC

In a town of 800 people, our educational system consists of one school, kindergarten to grade twelve (Senior). As a "Gifted" student, I was never challenged intellectually. In grade 5, I was moved up to grade 9 and began to take high school classes. Although I was more educationally challenged, the curriculum neither challenged my intellect nor benefited my schooling whatsoever. On top of that, I was relentlessly ridiculed by both my peers and the class I was moved up to. From this, I became a social outcast with no self-confidence. Needless to say, I hold this to be one of the worst experiences in my life, and think that a proper gifted program may have catered to my needs and helped my intellect, while not damaging my character.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Chant » Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:46 am UTC

4th grade, my public school gave us some sort of test (I remember some interesting math and spatial reasoning on it). For a few weeks of that year, we got to skip a small bit of class every monday so some guy (not a teacher) could teach us memory tricks. The school ended that program next year, shifted it to a dumbed down version for all 5th graders... That test was well designed though, it really sifted out the idiots and only passed the smart kids.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby apricity » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:27 pm UTC

Chant wrote:it really sifted out the idiots and only passed the smart kids.
You mean... it told them the cognitive ability of different fourth graders in order to put them into programs that would best support their learning potential? Oh, okay, that's what I thought. Thanks for saying that so eloquently.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:38 pm UTC

lanicita wrote:
Chant wrote:it really sifted out the idiots and only passed the smart kids.
You mean... it told them the cognitive ability of different fourth graders in order to put them into programs that would best support their learning potential? Oh, okay, that's what I thought. Thanks for saying that so eloquently.


You know, that's something I think is really important when talking about gifted programs. It's so hard to not think of everyone else as "the idiots" because, so often, they seem light years behind. Add that in with students outside of the gifted programs often being jealous and therefore often mean, and you get a very "us versus them" feeling. But, at the same time, I feel it's better being in a gifted program because there is an "us" - it's not just a single person. It's hard to be so isolated.

Still, I think we can mostly agree that the absolute distinction between "smart" and "stupid" is not conducive to getting things done in the 'real world', especially if that distinction was made at 9 years old. So, for gifted programs which I see as a huge need (I realize others disagree, but for me it seems close to torture to not allow students to excel), how can we reduce that separation - especially when the cutoff point seems very arbitrary?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:22 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote: So, for gifted programs which I see as a huge need (I realize others disagree, but for me it seems close to torture to not allow students to excel), how can we reduce that separation - especially when the cutoff point seems very arbitrary?

I think you massively fail to understand how it can be torture for everyone else as well. Please try to think outside of your own wants and understand the how a system needs to function if it trying to be just or fair. If you don't value those concepts fine, but I'll fight your darwinian values quite strongly as I do think human well-being is important for more than those whom are lucky.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Spam » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:56 pm UTC

In my elementary school we had a gifted program which I got into in 5th grade. It was one day a week and all we did was play Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego and similar video games. Honestly it was a huge waste of time and did not help me at all. In fact it hurt me seeing as my teacher in 6th grade was opposed to the program and singled out me and another child for ridicule in our normal classroom.

After that though my mother pulled me out of school all together and began home schooling. This in comparison is what a "gifted" program should be. It was extremely focused on where I was at educationally, I was pushed to my limits, and my interests were kept and expanded. I feel that I developed more from that period of my education than anything in public school. Of course this won't work for many children who's parents simply don't have the time or experience to do home schooling (my mother was prepared having had an MS in education prior to having children, and afterwords started a successful small 15-20 kid "private" school after I left for high school) but the concept should be the same. You push the kids in the correct direction and work towards a personalized education, rather than the cookie cutter one size fits all model currently in use. This works to a point of establishing discipline and work ethic, but it does not educate.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:44 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
KestrelLowing wrote: So, for gifted programs which I see as a huge need (I realize others disagree, but for me it seems close to torture to not allow students to excel), how can we reduce that separation - especially when the cutoff point seems very arbitrary?

I think you massively fail to understand how it can be torture for everyone else as well. Please try to think outside of your own wants and understand the how a system needs to function if it trying to be just or fair. If you don't value those concepts fine, but I'll fight your darwinian values quite strongly as I do think human well-being is important for more than those whom are lucky.


Zcorp, we've had this conversation before, it is not torture for students to learn at a pace that is appropriate. Socially odd currently? Yes, but that can change when it becomes more mainstream that students learn at the pace that is needed for them. Unfortunately, there will have to be a transition period.

And, honestly, do you think the school system with an 'average' class is actually fair? I don't. While I think we can strive towards making the initial opportunity fair for everyone (including those with low socioeconomically environments) and the ability to get into the gifted programs at a later date, but when it comes down to it, some students just learn faster than others, just like some students run faster than others. We don't seem to have a problem making junior and varsity athletes, so why should we have an issue with junior and varsity academics? Academic speed, just like physical speed or strength, is a largely genetic thing. We need to stop treating all students like they learn at the same rate - they just don't! It's as varied as the height of the population, yet we don't make clothing that's all one size, so why is schooling 'one size fits all'?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Splanky222 » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:16 am UTC

I actually had a fantastic experience with the gifted program at my middle school. I fondly remember my teacher, Mrs Graham. What we did there was that it was basically just like an honors class: she taught us our math and our English, and we generally went during lunch to do other independent projects. She was a fantastic teacher who (a) recognized our personal strengths and weaknesses and tailored her teaching to her students, and (b) helped foster in us the ability and desire to be great all-round students as opposed to just an 'art person' or a 'math person'.

My high school gifted program, on the other hand, was more of the stereotype: we got taken out of a regular class to do projects for easy grades and not a lot of fulfillment (but castrated us somewhat from our peers...)
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:46 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:Zcorp, we've had this conversation before, it is not torture for students to learn at a pace that is appropriate. Socially odd currently? Yes, but that can change when it becomes more mainstream that students learn at the pace that is needed for them. Unfortunately, there will have to be a transition period.
You are making the entirely false assumption that the reason some students don't care as much, don't perform well as well, don't understand as quickly is due to some aspect to developmental anomaly with the students who are better at those things. Many 'average' students don't perform well for things like not bonding with the teacher or not learning the way the teacher is teaching. This are quite emotionally disturbing situations as well. You are foolish if you believe there are 'the good students, the average students and the bad ones.' Thats not how it works. One student that develops a cognitive aspect a year earlier than a student doesn't mean that that student will consistently be faster at acquiring knowledge. But if you then separate them and devote three times the resources to that one students learning he will almost certainly consistently perform better.

And, honestly, do you think the school system with an 'average' class is actually fair? I don't. While I think we can strive towards making the initial opportunity fair for everyone (including those with low socioeconomically environments) and the ability to get into the gifted programs at a later date, but when it comes down to it, some students just learn faster than others, just like some students run faster than others.
So you think it is fair to devote more resources to a few students who have slight advantages early in their education. Advantages that like finding a teacher that bonds with them early in their schooling, that teaches to how they learn, parents that have can take the time to teach them at home and have the capability to do so?

You just want to actively create a significant Matthew Effect. Social programs need to strive for equality, specifically equality in distribution of resources. You actively want to perpetuate an imbalance in how resources are distributed. Until we master digital learning and fulling understand the development of intelligence there will always been a imbalance but we don't need to, and should not, actively make it worse.

We don't seem to have a problem making junior and varsity athletes, so why should we have an issue with junior and varsity academics? Academic speed, just like physical speed or strength, is a largely genetic thing. We need to stop treating all students like they learn at the same rate - they just don't! It's as varied as the height of the population, yet we don't make clothing that's all one size, so why is schooling 'one size fits all'?

Who doesn't have a problem with how system deals with athletes? Because no one who are actually aware of the problems that I know agree with you. I'll state again that learning academics is not the only thing school is trying to teach you. If you break down in a classroom because the teacher is going to slow there is a lot you can do as a student learn other things in that class time, and if you are breaking down maybe you need to focus on your resolve and emotional health. Do that while thinking about how while you may be understanding the material quickly the guy you think it stupid is struggling because the teacher is worse for his style of learning, which in turn results in social punishment from other students and the teacher which decreases his motivation to care to learn. That sounds much more torturous to me than going to fast for the material.

To even suggest that other students don't find incredibly the classroom to be incredibly frustrating is failing to understand a significant amount about human development and learning.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yakk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:03 pm UTC

Zcorp, out of curiosity, how do you define "what school is trying to teach you"? It appears any points that disagree with your position are a "learning lesson that is essential".

If school should teach people how to sit in boring and slow classes (for them) and be taught nothing in the subject area (that they don't already know) and have to make that productive, why shouldn't it also teach that being left behind results in you being passed over? What makes one more valid than the other, other than one is a supporting rhetorical device, and the other isn't, for your argument?

My theory is that you put "eliminate privilege" as your primary goal prior to the justifications, and not (as your rhetoric claims) as a derived claim. It explains what kind of things you think are learning opportunities, and which are misfeatures of an education system. It is a reasonable assumption to make, because the position of "eliminate privilege" is a common one. And given the degree to which you express certainty in the domain of a social science (and hence, a really really hard science -- nothing easy like physics), there is strong reason to doubt that the evidence is nearly strong enough to back that level of certainty.

I'll repeat my early question. An (effective) stream based education system, where stronger students (in a subject) are streamed into harder/faster classes, is analogous to the difference in math education between a MIT degree in engineering and a community college degree in business. Both will have a calculus math course in their first term -- but one of them will be much harder and much faster and much more intense. In a sense, one will be an "enriched" mathematics course. If enrichment doesn't have a significant effect on the outcomes of the "better" students, one would expect that the MIT student taking the business calculus course from a community college would nearly as much as they would taking the MIT course. Is that a fair comparison -- ie, is that what you are claiming?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby doogly » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:12 pm UTC

Also, you talk about "inequality" in way which suggests you might currently think the amount of resources currently spent on remedial / mainstream / gifted programs are already equal, and someone is lobbying for a disproportionate amount of resources to go to gifted students. I don't think this argument is being made.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:19 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:If school should teach people how to sit in boring and slow classes (for them) and be taught nothing in the subject area (that they don't already know) and have to make that productive, why shouldn't it also teach that being left behind results in you being passed over? What makes one more valid than the other, other than one is a supporting rhetorical device, and the other isn't, for your argument?
There is a lot to do in a classroom if you feel you have mastered the material. There is of course teaching other students. You could be working on material for other classes, asking your teacher to get you material to learn more on the subject, doing the research yourself to learn more in the subject in class time, create a project where you apply that knowledge to demonstrate your mastery of the material and show to other students how this knowledge is practical.

If you are sitting there in a classroom bored, you either have a shitty teacher or take your learning into your own hands. While it sucks to have a shitty teacher that is true for everyone, but expecting the system to give you significant resources (a teacher and a classroom) is no where close to just. Not only do you want those things but we have no evidence that staying in that classroom hurts the development nor performance of these individuals asking for extra resources, and significant evidence suggesting it hurts the development of other individuals even if we disregard the lower amount of resources they will get.

My theory is that you put "eliminate privilege" as your primary goal prior to the justifications, and not (as your rhetoric claims) as a derived claim.
Then sir, you would be incorrect. Your welcome to read through the rest of this thread. My goal is much less about eliminating privilege and very much about creating an environment that creates the most success for the most people.

And given the degree to which you express certainty in the domain of a social science (and hence, a really really hard science -- nothing easy like physics), there is strong reason to doubt that the evidence is nearly strong enough to back that level of certainty.
I've have not once ever made the claim that physics is easy, nor have a made the claim that social science is a harder science except in the regard of isolating variables. I have made claim that social sciences are harder to apply in practice (for a large variety of reasons, but this has nothing to do with the acquisition of knowledge. Take your red herrings elsewhere please.


doogly wrote:Also, you talk about "inequality" in way which suggests you might currently think the amount of resources currently spent on remedial / mainstream / gifted programs are already equal, and someone is lobbying for a disproportionate amount of resources to go to gifted students. I don't think this argument is being made.
No...that there is student tracking at all is a inequality in school resources. An inequality that has little to no impact on improving student performance (for the gifted) and significant impact on decreasing other students performance.

I'm not saying that our educational system isn't amazingly broken, It certainly is. But adding Tracking programs do nothing to actually fix what is broken. It does create significantly more problems, if the goal is to create the most success in the most possible students, and unjustly divides resources enhancing the Matthew Effect. We are much better off trying to spend our resources to fix the real problems in our system, rather than lobbying to create more Gifted programs.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:53 pm UTC

@Zcorp
You seem to talk extensively about the Matthew Effect. Trying to correct for that seems like it would only have effect in the earlier years, such as the first couple years of elementary school. However, what should be done with the students in those years who already know how to read? Trying to teach them again is a waste of everyone's time, and just letting them do their own thing may or may not work out great for them or cause regression in skill. Assuming academic ability is distributed normally, we already spend way more on the lower end of the spectrum (per student) than elsewhere, due to NCLB (among other things). Why not consider educating the higher end students a (perhaps better) investment and invest in their education early, so it can be compounded, like interest.
I know we shouldn't neglect the students who aren't at the top of the spectrum, but trying to make the students equal by not providing the top students with opportunities to excel is as folly as failing to help students who need it to keep up.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:06 pm UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:You seem to talk extensively about the Matthew Effect.
Extensively? I've mentioned it twice.

Trying to correct for that seems like it would only have effect in the earlier years, such as the first couple years of elementary school. However, what should be done with the students in those years who already know how to read? Trying to teach them again is a waste of everyone's time, and just letting them do their own thing may or may not work out great for them or cause regression in skill. Assuming academic ability is distributed normally, we already spend way more on the lower end of the spectrum (per student) than elsewhere, due to NCLB (among other things). Why not consider educating the higher end students a (perhaps better) investment and invest in their education early, so it can be compounded, like interest.
You could do that, you would also then have a very different goal that a good social program should have. If are not trying to allocate resources to create the most success in the most people, but instead trying to allocate a huge amount of resources on a few specific individuals to try and achieve maximal progress in fields of study that would be a very different goal. You would be right in like with Milton Friedman and how he thinks we our economic policies should behave. Although I'd argue that the social unrest created by this inequality will likely lead to great conflict that will very likely threaten the progress made by those few to increase knowledge and human well-being.

I know we shouldn't neglect the students who aren't at the top of the spectrum, but trying to make the students equal by not providing the top students with opportunities to excel is as folly as failing to help students who need it to keep up.
My point is largely the 'students at the top of the spectrum' are generally there through a fortunate aspect of their existence. That students not at the top of the spectrum could be at the same level of achievement within a year, but if they are tracked so they never get the opportunity to reach that level of achievement we are not maximizing our educational goals. Student Z might excel at understanding and applying concept A, but then hit a hard roadblock at concept B. While Student Y might of hit at roadblock at concept B, but when they are past that block they might find that they sail right through understanding concept B. However, if we allocate significant resources to to Student Z because they excelled at understanding concept A, they will likely even pass Student Y at completing concept B if we give less resources to student Y because they struggled with concept A. However, often if we gave them equal resources they will both achieve understanding and application of concept A and B at the same time.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:19 pm UTC

I was mostly responding to your (now) 2nd to most recent post.
I agree with other posters that there isn't enough modularity in our education system, so that students who are brilliant mathematicians, but bad at writing can be both in the remedial writing class and the advanced maths class, especially when the disparities in ability show in the earlier grades, when students are either generally gifted, normal, or behind.
Also, spending equal resources on al students gets tricky once you account for that fact that different students require different amounts of resources and of different types. Some might need advanced textbooks (middling initial cost, almost no recurring costs) while others need tutoring (high cost).
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yakk » Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:46 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Yakk wrote:If school should teach people how to sit in boring and slow classes (for them) and be taught nothing in the subject area (that they don't already know) and have to make that productive, why shouldn't it also teach that being left behind results in you being passed over? What makes one more valid than the other, other than one is a supporting rhetorical device, and the other isn't, for your argument?
There is a lot to do in a classroom if you feel you have mastered the material.

Yes, there is lots to do if the teacher is not willing or able to teach you the subject covered by the classroom.
There is of course teaching other students. You could be working on material for other classes, asking your teacher to get you material to learn more on the subject,

This last one might be covered under "gifted education", where you do work and are evaluated for work that is outside of the standard curriculum.
doing the research yourself to learn more in the subject in class time, create a project where you apply that knowledge to demonstrate your mastery of the material and show to other students how this knowledge is practical.

If you are sitting there in a classroom bored, you either have a shitty teacher or take your learning into your own hands. While it sucks to have a shitty teacher that is true for everyone, but expecting the system to give you significant resources (a teacher and a classroom) is no where close to just.
What if there are 30 students in a school board that are bored by the speed at which regular classrooms move? Because that is what most Gifted education programs that are more than a token "here is some extra work" kind of material act like. A full classroom of students that push forward faster.

Same resources -- a classroom with a teacher, with a modest amount of pupils per teacher. Different constraints, because the students are able to advance through the material faster, and consume harder material.
Not only do you want those things but we have no evidence that staying in that classroom hurts the development nor performance of these individuals asking for extra resources, and significant evidence suggesting it hurts the development of other individuals even if we disregard the lower amount of resources they will get.


My theory is that you put "eliminate privilege" as your primary goal prior to the justifications, and not (as your rhetoric claims) as a derived claim.
Then sir, you would be incorrect.
Then where does your certainty come from? Ignorance? Faith? Revealed knowledge?

The fact is that the educational pedagogy has fluctuated wildly over the last century. Each time, people have put forward that their method is the one true scientific method, and that the last folk where misguided. Why should whatever pedagogy you have chosen be the right one, and be so right that everyone else is certainly wrong?

I'm not saying that you are definitely wrong -- I'm just saying that your faith in your own beliefs sure undermines any faith I have that you are reasonable. People who are certain they are right are not the kind of people to trust with something as important as education.
Your welcome to read through the rest of this thread.
Why are you talking about my welcome? You're welcome to talk about your welcome, but you're not welcome to talk about my welcome, thank you very much.

Unless you mean "you are welcome to read through the rest of this thread", in which case, no thank you. I already have, and your insinuation that I have not seems to be nothing more than flame bait. And your grammar skillz are the sucks. :)
My goal is much less about eliminating privilege and very much about creating an environment that creates the most success for the most people.
What about an environment that, for each student, creates the most success, within the bounds of fair resource allocation?

Then students who, for whatever reason, "deserve" more resources, get access to them. (In particular, educating people with disabilities)
And given the degree to which you express certainty in the domain of a social science (and hence, a really really hard science -- nothing easy like physics), there is strong reason to doubt that the evidence is nearly strong enough to back that level of certainty.
I've have not once ever made the claim that physics is easy, nor have a made the claim that social science is a harder science except in the regard of isolating variables. I have made claim that social sciences are harder to apply in practice (for a large variety of reasons, but this has nothing to do with the acquisition of knowledge. Take your red herrings elsewhere please.

Social sciences are ridiculously harder to generate facts for. The number of variables you have to control for an isolate in even a simple psychology experiment is beyond what the LHC has to deal with, because human beings are ridiculously complex things compared to fundamental particles, even fundamental particles being smashed together at near light speed.

Say "I don't know, but studies suggest" is reasonable in the social sciences. Saying "X is true", where X is anything but a tautology or a statement hedged by a ridiculous number of qualifications, is a demonstration of colossal arrogance and a sign of ignorance or deception.

Ie, the research on the "Matthew effect" -- the closest you could come to proving it as being absolutely true would require controlled studies where you teach some children to read at a young age, and teach other students a variety of other skills. The variety of other skills would produce a myriad control groups (to deal with the attention problem -- ie, the attention given to the child being taught to read confounding the experiment). The children would have to be randomly assigned to a control group, and not told what the study was about, and you'd have to somehow prevent the possibility of children dropping out of the study.

The above constraints are simply ridiculous.

Instead, you have observational studies (or at best rare natural experiments), from which you derive correlations and you decide on causation based on hopefully reasonable "just so" stories. Hopefully you get effect sizes larger than the drop out rate of participation (in case the drop outs are far from random). What comes out is a strong suggestion.

Another name for the Matthew effect might be a "virtuous cycle", where students who successfully master material at one level end up with a boost when learning material at the next level. Then, instead of aiming at relative performance (which the Matthew effect concentrates on, as derived from the sociology model), it concentrates on the internal benefits of mastery. Which would suggest a mastery based education model, where people aren't advanced until they have mastered the previous cycle, instead of a social promotion system, where even abysmal learning performance is ignored, and the student is moved onto the next level of subject material with no support to learn the old material.

Under that argument, we'd throw out the grade system and social promotion completely.

Now, the effect of this would be a Matthew's effect of advancement of students through the education system. Those that start out with a head start would always stay ahead: so if your primary goal was equality, such a system would be bad. In a sense, it is an individually streamed system. It would also be a really poor babysitting system, as you'd need to mix both 10 year old fast learners and 18 year old slower learners in either the same classroom, or being taught the same material (or at least, so I'd suspect).
No...that there is student tracking at all is a inequality in school resources.

Sorry, what? If each student receives near to the same resources, there might be inequality in outcomes, but not in resources.
An inequality that has little to no impact on improving student performance (for the gifted) and significant impact on decreasing other students performance.

And once again, what about the MIT/Community college calculus argument. I've asked you it once. And then twice. And now a third time.

How is splitting engineering students taking calculus at MIT and business students at community college not similar to "tracking"?

You could do that, you would also then have a very different goal that a good social program should have. If are not trying to allocate resources to create the most success in the most people, but instead trying to allocate a huge amount of resources on a few specific individuals to try and achieve maximal progress in fields of study that would be a very different goal. You would be right in like with Milton Friedman and how he thinks we our economic policies should behave. Although I'd argue that the social unrest created by this inequality will likely lead to great conflict that will very likely threaten the progress made by those few to increase knowledge and human well-being.

But you said your first goal wasn't equality, yet here you are saying that "good social programs" are evaluated by the degree they create equality?

Puzzling.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:20 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:My theory is that you put "eliminate privilege" as your primary goal prior to the justifications, and not (as your rhetoric claims) as a derived claim.
Then sir, you would be incorrect.
Then where does your certainty come from? Ignorance? Faith? Revealed knowledge?
The certainly about my own motives? Unfortunately over the internet there isn't much action I can take the demonstrate the truth of my claims about my motives to you.

The fact is that the educational pedagogy has fluctuated wildly over the last century. Each time, people have put forward that their method is the one true scientific method, and that the last folk where misguided. Why should whatever pedagogy you have chosen be the right one, and be so right that everyone else is certainly wrong?
We aren't taking about pedagogy, that hasn't entered this discussion once. Can you demonstrate to me that you've actually read and understood this thread, because it seems to me you are just picking fights. We are talking about educational systems and allocation of resources to achieve certain system goals.

Unless you mean "you are welcome to read through the rest of this thread", in which case, no thank you. I already have, and your insinuation that I have not seems to be nothing more than flame bait. And your grammar skillz are the sucks. :)
My insinuation comes from your seeming lack of understanding about my argument. And yes they do, but more specifically I'm a terrible editor/proof reader.


My goal is much less about eliminating privilege and very much about creating an environment that creates the most success for the most people.
What about an environment that, for each student, creates the most success, within the bounds of fair resource allocation?
That I do and have advocated as much. Due to changes in technology we are also going to have significantly more resources to devote to each student in the near future (5-10 years). We even have significantly more resources to devote to each student than we did 5 years ago. However, most educational systems have not utilized them, nor are they likely to use the ones we have available now in that next 5 years with the system we have now and the cuts to that system.

How is splitting engineering students taking calculus at MIT and business students at community college not similar to "tracking"?
The differences relate to best dealing with the reality of scarce resoureces. MIT posts many classes online. They are continually trying to improve access to information, and learning materials. They are actively trying to make their resources less scarce. A school Tracking program is specifically decreasing the availability of resources despite the reality of the situation. It also has not been shown to have a net decrease on the proficiency of students.

But you said your first goal wasn't equality, yet here you are saying that "good social programs" are evaluated by the degree they create equality?
My first goal is to create the most success for the most students and ever progressing most in both uses of it. As it turns out we can be reasonably certain that separating students based on ability and allocating resources to those students differently does not achieve that goal. I hope, but do not yet have an evidence to suggest (as to my knowledge no one has ever tried), that if we separate students based on their learning style in relating to a teachers teaching style we can improve it further.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Meem1029 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:46 am UTC

Since when does separating students into different groups inherently mean that some have more resources? Assume we have a school with 60 kids. Which do you think will result in better performance: Two classrooms of completely mixed abilities or one classroom of higher abilities and one of lower abilities? I'm fairly certain that the separated rooms situation would work better. The higher level classroom can teach to the average level of those students as can the lower. Will the students in the lower level classroom be behind those in the higher level? Yes. Is this bad? Probably not. If they are behind due to giving them inferior resources (less of them, lower quality teachers) then this is a problem. If they are not behind what they would have been and instead the higher level classroom is just ahead, I see no problems with this. Would you have a problem with this?

I am not going to say that this would be the results with 100% certainty because I am not an expert, but I can say that this is mostly true due to my experiences. You can't assume that gifted kids are going to be motivated enough to teach themselves during classes when they are bored. You also can't assume that they are going to be able to. Most teachers expect the kids to be paying attention to what they are teaching, even if the student already knows it.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yakk » Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:53 am UTC

Pedagogy includes "should we separate advanced students", "should we hold back slower students", "are there actually significant differences in learning styles". The entire question of how to deal with "gifted" students is about educational pedagogy in a sense.

Possibly I'm not using the term in the correct technical sense?
How is splitting engineering students taking calculus at MIT and business students at community college not similar to "tracking"?
The differences relate to best dealing with the reality of scarce resoureces. MIT posts many classes online. They are continually trying to improve access to information, and learning materials. They are actively trying to make their resources less scarce. A school Tracking program is specifically decreasing the availability of resources despite the reality of the situation. It also has not been shown to have a net decrease on the proficiency of students.
The posting of MIT classes online is not relevant to what I was trying to illustrate. If this causes you problems, replace MIT with Harvard or Cambridge or some other school that doesn't post such classes online.

Does the advanced high school student who takes MIT engineering calculus gain significantly greater benefits than the same student taking a business calculus course at a community college? Your claim is that "tracking" does not generate a significant benefit to more advanced students. If that is true, then why doesn't it apply at the college level? If it does apply at the college level -- if tracking generates significantly different results at the college level -- then why should someone believe it would do nothing of any significance at the high school level?

Now, there is an alternative explanation. That tracking -- separating more advanced students -- can generate significant benefits, but these are benefits that you choose to consider unimportant via your choice of success metrics. Is that the case?
My first goal is to create the most success for the most students and ever progressing most in both uses of it.
That actually doesn't describe a goal in any measurable sense of the word. The first part of the sentence has enough degrees of freedom to drive a bus through. The second part looks like it is a grammatical error.
As it turns out we can be reasonably certain that separating students based on ability and allocating resources to those students differently does not achieve that goal.

So is it your claim is that students who go to MIT for engineering (or any other advanced university and math-heavy program) and take Calculus classes from them end up knowing about as much calculus as if the same student went to a community college and learned calculus from a course that was taught at the business school level?

Or, is it rather that any reduction in education that advanced students gain from your choice of pedagogy does, under your choice of success metrics and averaging algorithm, end up not mattering? Because you choose not to feel that it is important enough to bother?

To pull out some really basic economics, in the event that one situation does not Pareto dominate another, the ordering of those two situations is determined solely by your choice of metrics. In effect, you are choosing which one is "better", either out of ignorance (that you don't know that your choice of success metric is determining which is better) or by choice (if you are aware of the power of how you weigh success measures).
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:37 am UTC

Yakk wrote:Does the advanced high school student who takes MIT engineering calculus gain significantly greater benefits than the same student taking a business calculus course at a community college? Your claim is that "tracking" does not generate a significant benefit to more advanced students. If that is true, then why doesn't it apply at the college level? If it does apply at the college level -- if tracking generates significantly different results at the college level -- then why should someone believe it would do nothing of any significance at the high school level?
Realisiticaly the factors in that question could completely change the result. But to answer the question if Student A takes an class that teaches more advanced math will they be better off than student B who takes less advanced math assuming they both need to take the math to perform their jobs well or it assists with understanding something of value then yes. But in the instance of Tracking you are preventing student B from gaining access to the more advanced class, you are also likely giving student A more resources.

Access to knowledge at a college level is something we are actively trying to proliferate. Which is why I mentioned taking classes online, for free btw. They are actively trying to remove the tracking inherent to the system. We are trying to destroy tracking systems and increase the accessibility of knowledge. Setting up a system in high school or earlier is in direct conflict with that goal.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:15 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Realisiticaly the factors in that question could completely change the result. But to answer the question if Student A takes an class that teaches more advanced math will they be better off than student B who takes less advanced math assuming they both need to take the math to perform their jobs well or it assists with understanding something of value then yes. But in the instance of Tracking you are preventing student B from gaining access to the more advanced class, you are also likely giving student A more resources.

Access to knowledge at a college level is something we are actively trying to proliferate. Which is why I mentioned taking classes online, for free btw. They are actively trying to remove the tracking inherent to the system. We are trying to destroy tracking systems and increase the accessibility of knowledge. Setting up a system in high school or earlier is in direct conflict with that goal.


I think you're sidestepping the real point here - can everyone do MIT level classes? Even given perfect backgrounds with all the advantages in the world, not everyone is going to be an MIT student. Intelligence is partially a nurture thing, but more and moreit has been shown that intelligence is quite hereditary.

So, the question is, do we ignore that and have every student take the community college course because that's what the average student can do? Or perhaps do we make every student take the MIT course and have loads fail and question their ability to learn, or do we have some students take the community college course and some take the MIT course based on the ability that those students have? Having different courses for different paces of learning does not mean that knowledge is inaccessible. it simply means that students will learn the knowledge they can at the speed they can.

Finally, I want to point out something that I believe would be a tragedy. Geniuses, in general, will have the drive to learn on their own about what they need to complete ideas. However, most gifted students are not geniuses - they simply grasp concepts faster than the average student. They are no more mature, no more driven, and no more independent than the average student. They need teachers too. But, if we were to never have honors or gifted classes, everyone would learn the same thing and be at the same level, including those who could have performed calculus in 5th grade, and those who could not add until 3rd.

Where does this leave us in the future? If everyone's at the same level, there cannot be a Harvard, and MIT, a Yale. There cannot be people who will become doctors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, and so much more that needs a college-prep class in order to get into the college. So basically, we're just mediocre overall. That doesn't sound very good for the world. We need top minds to be working on the problems of energy, food distribution, and so many other things important to human life. So what if a huge chunk of those people who could have excelled with those problems have been told their entire life that learning is boring, that you never have to try hard, that you will just automatically know the answer because it's obvious, that you're not allowed to get ahead. We've just wasted that potential for a better world.

Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But this is what I see you attacking when you attack gifted education, Zcorp.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:41 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:
I think you're sidestepping the real point here - can everyone do MIT level classes?
No, but all evidence suggests that if we Track prior to College less people will be able to do MIT level classes.

Even given perfect backgrounds with all the advantages in the world, not everyone is going to be an MIT student. Intelligence is partially a nurture thing, but more and moreit has been shown that intelligence is quite hereditary.
It has also been shown that [irl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)]g[/url] factor intelligence, while most strongly correlated with fluid intelligence, does not hold a significant correlation with any type of intelligence. Meaning that someone could have a high g, high quantitative reasoning but low spatial reasoing, and someone could have a high [i]g[/] with low quantitative reasoning and high spatial reasoning.

It has also been shown that we are capable of increasing our 'IQ' over our lifetimes and that increase seems to effect the genes we pass on. So if we want to create a more intelligence population we should be advancing the opportunities for everyone to increase their knowledge and processing.

So, the question is, do we ignore that and have every student take the community college course because that's what the average student can do? Or perhaps do we make every student take the MIT course and have loads fail and question their ability to learn, or do we have some students take the community college course and some take the MIT course based on the ability that those students have? Having different courses for different paces of learning does not mean that knowledge is inaccessible. it simply means that students will learn the knowledge they can at the speed they can.
And again the goals of high school and college are quite different. We are also not talking actively restricting someones access to knowledge. We are talking about spending fairly significant public resources to increase the knowledge of the already proficient when there are many that are not proficient. We are talking about spending resources to increase the ability of an area of knowledge in a group that is already proficient in it when they are very often not proficient in other areas of knowledge and behavior that they would be working on in a class with students not as adept in the courses primary study as they are.

Finally, I want to point out something that I believe would be a tragedy. Geniuses, in general, will have the drive to learn on their own about what they need to complete ideas. However, most gifted students are not geniuses - they simply grasp concepts faster than the average student. They are no more mature, no more driven, and no more independent than the average student. They need teachers too. But, if we were to never have honors or gifted classes, everyone would learn the same thing and be at the same level, including those who could have performed calculus in 5th grade, and those who could not add until 3rd.
Most 'gifted' individuals grasp some concepts faster than the 'average student' (and lets be clear that no almost no student is average) and fail to grasp other concepts as fast as the 'average student.'

I've mentioned ways in which they can work within the confines of a system that does not have a gifted program to be more mature, more driven and more independent. Everyone needs to learn things outside of what they excel at. Specialty is good, but to engage in civic responsibilities we also need a strong understand of a variety of subjects, including ourselves and controlling our emotions.

Where does this leave us in the future? If everyone's at the same level, there cannot be a Harvard, and MIT, a Yale. There cannot be people who will become doctors, lawyers, engineers, physicists, and so much more that needs a college-prep class in order to get into the college. So basically, we're just mediocre overall. That doesn't sound very good for the world. We need top minds to be working on the problems of energy, food distribution, and so many other things important to human life. So what if a huge chunk of those people who could have excelled with those problems have been told their entire life that learning is boring, that you never have to try hard, that you will just automatically know the answer because it's obvious, that you're not allowed to get ahead. We've just wasted that potential for a better world.
???
More people are learning more things. Ideally everyone is capable if achieving the requirements to get into Harvard, MIT and Yale. Heck ask their administration offices they are already sorting people based on entirely arbitrary things because their are so many outstanding students. Getting all of those students access to the knowledge on teaching of those institutions is the goal.

We aren't striving for mediocracy, nor are we getting that. We have increased not only 'average' individuals education we have also greatly pushed each specialty field.

We need top minds to be working on all of those things, and if you want a democracy to work we need 'average' citizens to understand all of those things and vote and engage with then accordingly as well.

Who said nothing about not trying hard or learning being boring? No straw-men please.
Of course people will get ahead, the very goal of the system is to help all individuals get themselves ahead. Not just dragging some to the top.

Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But this is what I see you attacking when you attack gifted education, Zcorp.
I know but thats because you don't have a high enough vantage point to understand the effect of what you want. Nor are you understanding what I want.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Meem1029 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:21 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Most 'gifted' individuals grasp some concepts faster than the 'average student' (and lets be clear that no almost no student is average) and fail to grasp other concepts as fast as the 'average student.'


I want to call you out on this line specifically. Can you please give evidence of some sort (preferably a link/article, but I don't know if people have done studies on this sort of thing) for this claim?
All I have is anecdotal, but is from several people (myself included).

Most of the people that I have known that are gifted grasped pretty much every concept faster than the 'average' student. Now, performance relative to other fields for them was lower than their main specialty, but compared to other students was at or above average. I'm not sure I explained that as well as I could have, so I will focus on myself. I am a math person. I get mathematical concepts quickly. In high school I took the most advanced math classes offered just about as quickly as possible. I went to class each day, paid attention, and spent about 20 minutes between class time and mornings doing the homework. I then took a test in Calc 2 that nobody in the teachers history had gotten more than 48/56 on and got 56/56 (without studying). (Speaking of which, do you honestly think that a classroom with the people who failed to comprehend algebra as seniors (I was a junior at this point) would have been beneficial to me?) Anyway, I don't mean to be bragging, just saying that I'm a math person.

But I also do well in other areas. In English and Social Studies classes (my worst areas), I routinely do assignments and essays the night before they're due and get good grades on them. Some people just get scholastic learning more than others. I am blessed to be one of these people and I don't attribute that fact to myself, but to my parents (and God, but this isn't the thread to discuss that in).

And these things aren't just me. I know many of the other people who were in AP classes and are now in Honors classes with me at University have similar situations.

Also, your system discourages people from becoming top minds, not encourages them. If we limit the amount of learning they are officially doing, we are teaching them that everybody should be the same despite the fact that we are born differently. Is this something you want to encourage? If they teach themselves advanced material, they are only condemning themselves to being failed by the system even more in the future!
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yakk » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Yakk wrote:Does the advanced high school student who takes MIT engineering calculus gain significantly greater benefits than the same student taking a business calculus course at a community college? Your claim is that "tracking" does not generate a significant benefit to more advanced students. If that is true, then why doesn't it apply at the college level? If it does apply at the college level -- if tracking generates significantly different results at the college level -- then why should someone believe it would do nothing of any significance at the high school level?
Realisiticaly the factors in that question could completely change the result.

Yep.
But to answer the question if Student A takes an class that teaches more advanced math will they be better off than student B who takes less advanced math assuming they both need to take the math to perform their jobs well or it assists with understanding something of value then yes.

No, this isn't the question I asked. Yet again you aren't answering it.

Would student A be better off (in the sense of calculus knowledge) under the MIT engineering calculus class than under the business major calculus class?
But in the instance of Tracking you are preventing student B from gaining access to the more advanced class, you are also likely giving student A more resources.
The two theoretical students are the same student, with the same level of preparation.
Access to knowledge at a college level is something we are actively trying to proliferate.
So it is your position that we are trying to "hide" the knowledge from students unable to get into gifted track courses? If you took a sufficiently fast-track course, and stuck every student into it, almost all of them would fail miserably.

The ones that wouldn't fail miserably would be the ones you'd want to "track" into the fast-track course.

If I took a random university graduate, and exposed them to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Math_55 they would burn out. You take the smartest, most prepared high school students in the country, and you expose them to that course, and half of them burn out. There are significant benefits to the education of the students who are taking that course -- they burn through an entire theoretical undergraduate curriculum in two semesters.

In this case, we are talking rather extensive resources -- but I'm trying to demonstrate that you can have "fast track" courses that go through material much faster than the standard pace.

You can also do this with a standard size classroom, with no more than a standard number of students to the teacher, and not consume "extra resources", yet still burn through the material faster. Claiming that this wouldn't have benefits for the people in the gifted classrooms is pretty ridiculous on its face.

Is your only problem is not letting people "switch tracks"?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Tirian » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:26 pm UTC

I didn't attend Harvard, but I completed Carnegie Mellon's version of Math 55. (Actually, in my day, it was a four semester course -- the first semester was essentially the Principia Mathematica, the second semester was abstract linear algebra and real analysis, and the third and fourth semesters were abstract metric topology and differential geometry.)

Yakk wrote:If I took a random university graduate, and exposed them to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Math_55 they would burn out. You take the smartest, most prepared high school students in the country, and you expose them to that course, and half of them burn out. There are significant benefits to the education of the students who are taking finish that course -- they burn through an entire theoretical undergraduate curriculum in two semesters.


I fixed that for you. The benefits of the students who survive the whole day at the chocolate factory are undeniable and valuable, but in my experience the majority of students who burn out drop out of school and not just out of the class. I know of a nervous breakdown among my classmates, and one shouldn't understate the suicide risk. (I don't know of any suicides, but then again schools aren't in the habit of advertising them.) Let me be clear that these are students who would have excelled at the math and engineering programs at the normal pace, so there is a heavy loss of utility there that should be balanced against the gain. And Carnegie Mellon's program was mellow in comparison to Math 55 -- we were only expected to spend 15-20 hours per week on problem sets instead of 24-60.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:28 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:It has also been shown that [irl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_factor_(psychometrics)]g[/url] factor intelligence, while most strongly correlated with fluid intelligence, does not hold a significant correlation with any type of intelligence. Meaning that someone could have a high g, high quantitative reasoning but low spatial reasoing, and someone could have a high [i]g[/] with low quantitative reasoning and high spatial reasoning.


Yes, nearly everyone here has been suggesting gifted programs based on subject. That accounts for that

Zcorp wrote:It has also been shown that we are capable of increasing our 'IQ' over our lifetimes and that increase seems to effect the genes we pass on. So if we want to create a more intelligence population we should be advancing the opportunities for everyone to increase their knowledge and processing.

And again the goals of high school and college are quite different. We are also not talking actively restricting someones access to knowledge. We are talking about spending fairly significant public resources to increase the knowledge of the already proficient when there are many that are not proficient. We are talking about spending resources to increase the ability of an area of knowledge in a group that is already proficient in it when they are very often not proficient in other areas of knowledge and behavior that they would be working on in a class with students not as adept in the courses primary study as they are.


But, those public resources are the ones gifted students are entitled to as well. Remember count days? When the school would determine how many people where there officially so that they could record that amount for getting funding? Guess what? Gifted students also are part of that number, and they deserve to get the same amount of education as every other student.

Zcorp wrote:Most 'gifted' individuals grasp some concepts faster than the 'average student' (and lets be clear that no almost no student is average) and fail to grasp other concepts as fast as the 'average student.'

I've mentioned ways in which they can work within the confines of a system that does not have a gifted program to be more mature, more driven and more independent. Everyone needs to learn things outside of what they excel at. Specialty is good, but to engage in civic responsibilities we also need a strong understand of a variety of subjects, including ourselves and controlling our emotions.


However, we are simply talking about academic interests here - not athletics, not social issues, not anything like that. JUST ACADEMICS. Many students who excel in one area of academics will excel in other academic areas as well. While I've always been more of a math/science type person, I also was above average in English and social studies. But, even if someone could just learn English faster than the average (and yes, there is no actual 'average' student, but it's a useful abstraction) student, I want them in a gifted program for English.

Zcorp wrote:More people are learning more things. Ideally everyone is capable if achieving the requirements to get into Harvard, MIT and Yale. Heck ask their administration offices they are already sorting people based on entirely arbitrary things because their are so many outstanding students. Getting all of those students access to the knowledge on teaching of those institutions is the goal.

I don't know where you've been living where everyone is magically above average in their academic abilities (Lake Woebegone perhaps?) but if everyone can get into Harvard and such, there's no point in having Harvard. The standards are too easy. It is an elite school for a reason - to pull already good students to do even better things.

Zcorp wrote:We aren't striving for mediocracy, nor are we getting that. We have increased not only 'average' individuals education we have also greatly pushed each specialty field.

We need top minds to be working on all of those things, and if you want a democracy to work we need 'average' citizens to understand all of those things and vote and engage with then accordingly as well.

Who said nothing about not trying hard or learning being boring? No straw-men please.
Of course people will get ahead, the very goal of the system is to help all individuals get themselves ahead. Not just dragging some to the top.


You seem to not comprehend that some people will always just be better than others academically. Populations, in general, tend to follow normal distributions in most things. Intelligence is one of them. I fully encourage bringing up the average - and I believe that is done by creating more specialized attention on everyone. Ideally, everyone would have a private tutor to work at our own pace, but that's impossible, so sectionalized classes are the best option for students, and for the poor teachers who have to teach 3-4 lessons at once due to the great disparity in learning abilities within one classroom.

And I really don't believe those are strawmen - personal anecdotes certainly, but not strawmen. Until I hit college, I didn't know how to solve a problem that didn't come to me instantly. I wasn't interested in learning anything they taught in schools, but I was too proud to have anything less than straight A's. So I learned how to take tests, not how to learn.

I have read the articles you posted previously (long time ago...) about how a class of only 'average' students did worse than a class of all ability students. To me, that reeks of students simply riding on the coat-tails of those more academically gifted. Perhaps that works for the immediate tests, but how does that effect the learning ability and ability to solve problems? I remember just giving answers to other students because I wanted them to leave me alone. So perhaps that simply happened more.

Zcorp wrote:
Kess wrote:Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But this is what I see you attacking when you attack gifted education, Zcorp.
I know but thats because you don't have a high enough vantage point to understand the effect of what you want. Nor are you understanding what I want.

I can simply say that you're not actually seeing it from my even higher vantage point. Maybe I'm thinking about the future of the entire world while you're just thinking about the future of a class of students. Please don't insult me. I assure you, while I have tons of personal bias in this area, I am not 100% convinced that what I'm proposing is the best. And please, try to make it clear what you want. Sometimes I'm surprisingly open minded!
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Vangor » Thu Dec 08, 2011 1:35 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:And again the goals of high school and college are quite different. We are also not talking actively restricting someones access to knowledge. We are talking about spending fairly significant public resources to increase the knowledge of the already proficient when there are many that are not proficient. We are talking about spending resources to increase the ability of an area of knowledge in a group that is already proficient in it when they are very often not proficient in other areas of knowledge and behavior that they would be working on in a class with students not as adept in the courses primary study as they are.


This line of argument angers me significantly. Gifted receives the smallest recognition in education and education policy and the smallest share of resources. Few states mandate Gifted programs, and few states give consideration for Gifted programs. However, in every single state learners on the opposite end of the exceptionality continuum must receive diagnosis, accommodations, modifications, and additional services in order to provide appropriate education. Teachers by and large have little concern for receive no education concerning Gifted learners, but teachers are required to accommodate disabled students and, in most states as far as I know, have exposure to exceptional education focusing on disabled students. Within several schools I work with, there is one teacher for the Gifted (most schools have no one with education concerning Gifted learners, and those which do possess perhaps one), disabilities are given priority for diagnostic assessments, general education teachers are able to deny hours from Gifted students for testing (aside from state standardized testing periods), and there exists several general resource teachers for self-contained or inclusive instruction accommodation and several specific resource teachers for pull-out instruction such as for speech and reading.

Do not dare suggest Gifted learners have received an appropriate education by being proficient in grade level materials. This ignores potential of the student and accelerated development. Gifted learners have not received an appropriate education unless proficient in developmentally appropriate materials. The same standards are given to learning disabled students because this is a better measure based on developmental appropriateness of materials.

[quote=Zcorp]Most 'gifted' individuals grasp some concepts faster than the 'average student' (and lets be clear that no almost no student is average) and fail to grasp other concepts as fast as the 'average student.'[/quote]

Please provide evidence of this. Gifted learners tend to grasp all concepts faster than non-Gifted learners and excel in narrow areas. Your representation of this suggests an advanced ability in say mathematics would detract from an ability on writing or something for the majority of Gifted learners, and this is flatly untrue.

[quote=Zcorp]Everyone needs to learn things outside of what they excel at. Specialty is good, but to engage in civic responsibilities we also need a strong understand of a variety of subjects, including ourselves and controlling our emotions.[/quote]

There is no reason we cannot provide an appropriate education which includes the acceleration, additional conceptual/problem-solving services, service learning, and more. Gifted teachers tend to rely on service-learning and broad exposure alone, but this is not to the greatest benefit of the child, especially as approached in most programs.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby supkttn » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:29 pm UTC

I would like to point out that while where one starts in life has a significant impact upon his/her abilities later in life, there is a level of intelligence that cannot be changed. I have many friends whose early lives were very similar to my own; however, they constantly tell me that I think SIGNIFICANTLY faster and more clearly than they do. Simply stated, level of affluence/early experiences being equal, there ARE differences in intelligence based upon genetics. By removing tracking you significantly harm the educations of students like myself. Without tracking and level skipping, I would never have been able to learn all that I have learned. Furthermore, some of the more advanced courses that I have taken have been courses that better taught creative and critical thinking; however, without knowing the basic facts from lower level courses (math specifically), no student can learn or understand these skills. In order to get to these higher classes before completing high school, a student simply must not only be in the "advanced track" but also be more intelligent than the average "advanced" student, thereby skipping levels WITHIN the advanced track. I am 4 years ahead of the "advanced track" at my school and 5 or 6 years ahead of the "average" track. Without tracking, there is absolutely no way I could possibly understand the concepts necessary to learn the most important intellectual skills. It is ridiculous to advocate that our brightest students should be forced to learn nothing because then our future is a mediocre one. Finally, laws (and principles) like No Child Left Behind end up functioning as "No Child Gets Ahead" which is horrendous for not just the brightest students but also for society as a whole because we then lose our brightest minds (or our potentially brightest minds do not fulfill their potential).
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Catmando » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:30 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:I have read the articles you posted previously (long time ago...) about how a class of only 'average' students did worse than a class of all ability students. To me, that reeks of students simply riding on the coat-tails of those more academically gifted. Perhaps that works for the immediate tests, but how does that effect the learning ability and ability to solve problems? I remember just giving answers to other students because I wanted them to leave me alone. So perhaps that simply happened more.


This is an interesting point. I know roughly half of my Pre-Cal class at school (maybe a little more) doesn't understand what we're doing in class at all, but are passing the class because the people who do understand help them. I've tried to help Algebra II students who don't even know what a graph is and are in the advanced class. I've tried to help Calc students who don't know how to distribute and are in two math classes at once in their senior year of high school. I've tried to help Algebra I students who don't understand the difference between inverses when simply listening in class would've given them the ability to distinguish between the kinds of problems given with ease. And still they go on, "advancing."
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:59 am UTC

Meem1029 wrote:Also, your system discourages people from becoming top minds, not encourages them. If we limit the amount of learning they are officially doing, we are teaching them that everybody should be the same despite the fact that we are born differently. Is this something you want to encourage? If they teach themselves advanced material, they are only condemning themselves to being failed by the system even more in the future!

We've discussed a single element of a systems I would create. One aspect of that system would be removing student tracking, I would also increase the potential for individualized learning.

Yakk wrote:Would student A be better off (in the sense of calculus knowledge) under the MIT engineering calculus class than under the business major calculus class?The two theoretical students are the same student, with the same level of preparation.
Unfortunately we don't have infinite resources, we can not give everyone a MIT class that would like one, but again MIT is trying to. Answering your question is pointless as better off isn't something we can answer. Do we know for a fact that this individual would benefit from presumed knowledge they would learn from the MIT class over the business class? What if they finished that business calc class in half the time it takes them to finish the MIT class and they never needed to apply the extra knowledge of the MIT class. With this extra time they went completed another class. What if that student would of succeeded in fulling understanding the business level class but struggles with the MIT level class. What if that student would of learned more due to how the business calc class prof teaches in relation to their learning style? Your hypothetical is absurd as there are far to few factors you are leaving out of it.

Would a student that can ignore all of these factors, those not mentioned and have a place to apply this presumed superior teaching gain a better understanding of the concepts not covered....well of course. But we currently are really bad at knowing all of those factors.

So it is your position that we are trying to "hide" the knowledge from students unable to get into gifted track courses? If you took a sufficiently fast-track course, and stuck every student into it, almost all of them would fail miserably.
No my position is that there is no significant gain by Tracking students for the Gifted but there is significant loss for everyone else.

If I took a random university graduate, and exposed them to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Math_55 they would burn out. You take the smartest, most prepared high school students in the country, and you expose them to that course, and half of them burn out. There are significant benefits to the education of the students who are taking that course -- they burn through an entire theoretical undergraduate curriculum in two semesters.
Education programs and institutions shouldn't be measured by how many people can't learn what they teach, or how many people they reject from even trying. Instead we should be focusing on how to improve the skill of individuals so that more people can succeed in classes that cover a lot of hard content.

In this case, we are talking rather extensive resources -- but I'm trying to demonstrate that you can have "fast track" courses that go through material much faster than the standard pace.
Sure, and I'm trying to state that I'm all for giving more access to knowledge to all students. I'm also stating that we have a finite number of resources, and in the near future the most scarce resource is going to be a learning facilitators not the ability to access the knowledge. Hell, access to knowledge now compared to just 10 years ago is astounding.

Is your only problem is not letting people "switch tracks"?
While it is difficult to switch tracks, tracking itself creates an effect where some students get more resources various things. These resources further proper these students creating a wider range between them and other students. I'm all for creating an environment that allows students to proper themselves but we should not be spending extra resources on those already more proficient, it is a poor use of resources if our goal is to create the most success for the most people.


KestrelLowing wrote:But, those public resources are the ones gifted students are entitled to as well. Remember count days? When the school would determine how many people where there officially so that they could record that amount for getting funding? Guess what? Gifted students also are part of that number, and they deserve to get the same amount of education as every other student.
Agreed, I'm even arguing that we should give them more access to information. They are not however entitled to more scarce resources than other students. Creating a Gift program, which frequently results in fewer students per class (forcing more students upon the teachers with the non-gifted) and more proficient teachers teaching them is not equality.

However, we are simply talking about academic interests here - not athletics, not social issues, not anything like that. JUST ACADEMICS.
I'm still not. School is not just meant to teach individuals academics. We've covered this before.

I don't know where you've been living where everyone is magically above average in their academic abilities (Lake Woebegone perhaps?) but if everyone can get into Harvard and such, there's no point in having Harvard. The standards are too easy. It is an elite school for a reason - to pull already good students to do even better things.

Yes we should be threatening the well-being of the Ivory Tower. We should not be keeping access to knowledge away for those stupid average people because us awesome gifted people are so much more elite than them.

If the standards raise and more people meet them your argument is that the standards are to low? That our goals for 'elite' education should be based upon how many people can't meet the expectations rather than increasing the number of students who can?

Ideally, everyone would have a private tutor to work at our own pace, but that's impossible, so sectionalized classes are the best option for students, and for the poor teachers who have to teach 3-4 lessons at once due to the great disparity in learning abilities within one classroom.
All evidence that we have found, and that I've provided you gives us reason to believe that you are wrong on both of these points. They are worse for both teachers and students, not to mention society.

I have read the articles you posted previously (long time ago...) about how a class of only 'average' students did worse than a class of all ability students. To me, that reeks of students simply riding on the coat-tails of those more academically gifted. Perhaps that works for the immediate tests, but how does that effect the learning ability and ability to solve problems? I remember just giving answers to other students because I wanted them to leave me alone. So perhaps that simply happened more.
Perhaps you should actually read the book I suggested. I could write you another but, hey luckily someone did that for me.

I can simply say that you're not actually seeing it from my even higher vantage point. Maybe I'm thinking about the future of the entire world while you're just thinking about the future of a class of students. Please don't insult me. I assure you, while I have tons of personal bias in this area, I am not 100% convinced that what I'm proposing is the best. And please, try to make it clear what you want. Sometimes I'm surprisingly open minded!
Milton Friedmans argument in a nut shell. If we just give a ton of resources to the top, they will create all sorts of wonderful things and it is just going to trickle down to the bottom as these wonderful things will raise the standard of living for those way down there anyway.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Yakk » Tue Dec 13, 2011 5:18 am UTC

ZCorp, your stated goals are frankly next to impossible to measure with any accuracy or precision. "Most success for most people" leaves enough degrees of freedom that you can take nearly any pair of realistic situations, and change which one is "better" by that criteria.

Yet you have a ridiculous level of certainty that your method is right.

I am calling Bullshit. You are either ignorant or dishonest.

Assertions to disagree with:

1) Having faster moving classes for people capable of handling faster moving classes does not require extra resources on a per student basis.

If so, you can have "Gifted track" programs that do not "take" resources from other students.

You repeatedly assume that any such "faster" or "gifted track" course must use more resources. I find that claim ridiculous. Can you back it?

2) Learning material faster, with more rigor, and covering more material does benefit students.

There are problems in this world that actually require a fuckton of education to be able to solve. Getting to the point where you can solve them isn't easy, and it takes a really long time. Being able to do so in less time is very useful, as people grow old and die. Being able to solve certain problems in society faster is of immense benefit to society in general.

In a world where the only problem is "how do we cut up the pie that magically exists", holding back people who are running faster is of benefit. The claim that "fast track" courses is of no benefit seems very ridiculous, because people can actually learn things of use to themselves and others in an academic environment, and in my personal experience I've seen the vast differences between the rates faster and slower courses cover material.

You continually dispute this, dismissing any benefit that a student could possibly gain from a faster course. I find your position to be ridiculously wrong.

Spoiler:
I mean, suppose you have a society where almost all of the economic resources are in the form of oil that you need only minimal competence to extract from the ground. The per-capita income implied by these resources is so large that the productive abilities of the citizenry is relatively secondary: what matters is how you slice up the pie. In such a society, achievement would be very close to zero-sum. Hmm.

So I could see a situation where academic learning is nothing more than a status symbol, and as such non-egalitarian sharing out of same is a social problem that might be best solved by cutting the heads off tall flowers.

So I can imagine a situation whereby "fast track" courses wouldn't be of significant benefit -- what matters in such a society is your relative position, and the fast track courses wouldn't actually change your relative position. So I guess there is that.


3)[b] There is no choice between "make everyone able to do the hardest material" or "teach a few elite students the hardest material". We do not know how to teach students to be "Gifted", or able to handle stuff as fast as some students can absorb it. The choice is actually to ignore the faster learning speed of those students and teach them material at some "average" pace, or teach them faster.

[b]4)
"keeping knowledge away for[sic] those stupid average people" -- I mean, really? Is that the best you can do?

Really?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Vangor » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:39 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:They are not however entitled to more scarce resources than other students.


Yes, they are, assuming those resources are allocated based on needs in order to provide an appropriate education, which all students are entitled to. Gifted students have different needs than other students. Similarly, cognitively disabled students have different needs than other students. Accommodations and modifications made for those students based on an IEP are not to assure a minimum progress but to provide an appropriate education.

Zcorp wrote:Creating a Gift program, which frequently results in fewer students per class (forcing more students upon the teachers with the non-gifted)


I assume you assume a lower class size in Gifted program or equivalent courses due to screening and therefore expect were the Gifted instructor to be a general education instructor there would be more teachers and students allocated more evenly between teachers. In the majority of acceleration or enrichment types, Gifted students are with general education instructors a majority of the time. In several of those, enrichment primarily, the Gifted instructor is an additional position which periodically reduces class sizes by working with specific grades of Gifted students. Without the need to provide an appropriate education, the position would not exist, and there would be no additional teacher all the same to reduce class sizes.

Zcorp wrote:and more proficient teachers teaching them is not equality.


The teacher is more proficient in teaching them because the teacher is trained to work with Gifted students. I am more proficient in working with my Gifted students because of my experiences and education which targeted Gifted students. However, this is a weak argument because the majority of acceleration or enrichment types have Gifted students with general education instructors a majority of the time, instructors who have no training with Gifted students.

The concerns you seem to have about resource allocation are unfounded and inaccurate for several reasons. Besides, early entrance, telescoping, condensed curriculum, early exit, advanced placement, concurrent enrollment, etc., are all resource saving means of servicing the needs of Gifted students. However, Gifted services are almost never Gifted services alone but are open to any student demonstrating above-average ability. The only instances I have seen are enrichment programs which are not appropriate by themselves.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Tirian » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:59 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:1) Having faster moving classes for people capable of handling faster moving classes does not require extra resources on a per student basis.

If so, you can have "Gifted track" programs that do not "take" resources from other students.

You repeatedly assume that any such "faster" or "gifted track" course must use more resources. I find that claim ridiculous. Can you back it?


It seems to me that it depends on how many gifted students you have in your institution. If you're an elite college with a renowned program, then you have a sufficiently large pool of prodigies that you can fill a fast-track class. If you're a neighborhood high school, then it's a much more significant accommodation to ask for a teacher to be assigned to an accelerated class of 1-3 students instead of a typical one that serves 25-30. That's more resources, because that gifted student is using 1/3 of a teacher-period instead of 1/25 of a teacher-period.

I think that we should explore the degree to which there are reasonable ways to accommodate gifted students. Perhaps we allow a gifted student to enroll in a summer school course to gain a year. In some fields, we might find a way for a student to attend chemistry classes on even days and physics classes on odd days and every day do the homework and take the tests of both classes. That isn't as feasible in math, but we could somehow let students do independent study along a discrete math track and build a portfolio that would encourage a college to grant accreditation. But asking for ten hours of professional one-on-one care is unreasonable when you notice that the disadvantaged students get maybe one or two.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:19 pm UTC

As an educator of all levels with many years of experience, I am in favor of tracking.

There are a lot of other factors the degrade the learning experience in a mixed classroom.

State tests, political pressure about failure rates, parental pressure, grade inflation, comparisons from teacher to teacher.

Its all greatly simplified, and more importantly more enriching if you fill a classroom with the best and brightest. When you throw lower performing/potential students in the mix, it greatly complicates grading and depth/volumn of information you can cover.

Its hard to hold the brightest students accountable at a level that doesn't decimate the lower performing students. If you 'dumb' down your course your just limiting the potential for the 'better' students.

Throw too many 'less apt' students in a gifted class and your now dealing with numerous distractions from learning. I dont' want to waste time in my class picking up cell phones, waking people up, or asking students to be quiet when I am trying to convey a sohpisticated level of understanding for some students with unlimited potential. (6 former students now attend MIT)

I can see a lesser need for tracking at lower levels, but once you hit high school, many students due to environmental circumstances beyond anyone but their parents control are on a 'track' and frequently its not to college.
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Zcorp » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:41 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:As an educator of all levels with many years of experience, I am in favor of tracking.

There are a lot of other factors the degrade the learning experience in a mixed classroom.

State tests, political pressure about failure rates, parental pressure, grade inflation, comparisons from teacher to teacher.

Its all greatly simplified, and more importantly more enriching if you fill a classroom with the best and brightest. When you throw lower performing/potential students in the mix, it greatly complicates grading and depth/volumn of information you can cover.

Its hard to hold the brightest students accountable at a level that doesn't decimate the lower performing students. If you 'dumb' down your course your just limiting the potential for the 'better' students.

Throw too many 'less apt' students in a gifted class and your now dealing with numerous distractions from learning. I dont' want to waste time in my class picking up cell phones, waking people up, or asking students to be quiet when I am trying to convey a sohpisticated level of understanding for some students with unlimited potential. (6 former students now attend MIT)

I can see a lesser need for tracking at lower levels, but once you hit high school, many students due to environmental circumstances beyond anyone but their parents control are on a 'track' and frequently its not to college.


I'm happy that you have had success and it is wonderful that you have stuck with teaching for so long. The turn over rate is quite high right now.

But it would seem you believe our duty should be to our best and brightest. It makes their lives better and it makes your life easier. I greatly disagree that our sense of duty should lie there.

I assume you work in a gifted track, how many students have you taught? What percentage of those students are the 6 that matriculated to MIT? How many gifted students are in your class? How many of those are just 1 standard deviation from the mean? How much did those students hold back the progress of the students 2 and 3 away? And how about the the students 2 away, how much did they hold back the students 3 and 4 away? If your example of ability as a teacher comes from your students that go on to MIT or similar schools why not just focus on students with a relatively high chance of getting into those schools? Why not just have you teach 6 students a year and do your best to make sure all of them get in to MIT?
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Re: Gifted Education

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:28 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:[But it would seem you believe our duty should be to our best and brightest. It makes their lives better and it makes your life easier. I greatly disagree that our sense of duty should lie there.


Strawman.
My duty is to help everyone in my class master new material that will hopefully not only benefit them educationally, but as a citizen, human, and member of society.

My argument is that helping the 'gifted' kids achieve their potential becomes harder and less likely when mixed in with 'reluctant learners'.

You are wrong when you say "[teaching all gifted classes] makes my life easier". Yes, I will spend zero time on discipline, but I will spend more time grading/preping. Smart kids ask smart questions and frequently challenge me, which requires constant 'upkeep' in my own education. Additionally you can spend a lot more time on higher order activities which requires a lot more time and thought when grading.
Where a class of 'reluctant learners' won't challenge me intellecutally, I will spend more time on discipline and class room management.

A more accurate description would be that teaching all gifted kids is frequently more rewarding intellecutally. But in reality my favorite class this year is my 'lowest' class. They are an eager bunch and I love the constant side discussion we get into based on their curiosity, even though its not particularly challenging.


I assume you work in a gifted track,


I have worked with all levels of students, including the poorest school in my state, which has no AP program. Stop assuming.


how many students have you taught?


1000's

What percentage of those students are the 6 that matriculated to MIT?


Meaningless question. While working at an inner city student: Zero, with a small small portion even attending college.

While teaching "regulars" at a wealthy school: Zero. 86% went on to a 4 year college.

While teaching AP classes: Probably 2% make it into the most competitive schools. (MIT, Harvard, Cal Tech, etc) with 80% making it into a top 50 school.

How many gifted students are in your class?


Changes year to year. This year I have 4 AP classes and teach 6 "gifted" classes and 1 "regular" class. All at a wealthy high school, that is slowly becoming more... urban.

Blah blah


Your boring and your agenda is boring.

If your example of ability as a teacher comes from your students that go on to MIT or similar schools why not just focus on students with a relatively high chance of getting into those schools?


Like 99.999% of all teachers, I don't get to pick and choose my populations, much less my schedule. I get, am rewarded, with a lot of "gifted" students because of a long track record of kicking ass in the class room.


Why not just have you teach 6 students a year and do your best to make sure all of them get in to MIT


Do you know anything about education?

Kids sign up for my course, I don't get a veto... nor would I want one.

In "gifted classes" I have the political and administrative backing to let students move to a 'lower' course if they are not successful in mine. Not all teachers do. Also, this is not an option in a regular classroom. There I will be held responsible for every student and there is no schedule change available. Luckily for me (its not luck) I kick ass and this isn't a problem.

100% of my "challenging" students will pass the State exams this year. They may not pass the class, but that will be after countless interventions by numerous adults including their parents. (Admittedly this has a large part to do with my schools population and I would not have the same success at my prior inner city school)

Ixtellor

P.S. Its hard to teach kids math when their parents force them to sell drugs or they are in constant fear for their life from actual murderers. The skills that help you survive in the inner city are not condusive to doing well in school, and are in fact a detriment. "School Boy" = Beat down.

I would retort with questions about you and your student populations, but I wager you don't have any real world experience.
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