Immagine a classroom where everything depends on you. If you mess up, it’s as if the sky is falling.
You are the bar for other people’s marks, everyone is constantly comparing their marks to yours and if you are surpassed, you lose everything. You are supposed to be smart all the time because you’re different. You are gifted. Gifted is a program for kids who think differently from everyone else and need a place where they feel normal. But this is not how kids see it. They feel put down because they aren’t as “smart” as the gifted kids. They need to realize that that isn’t what’s going on, that’s not what gifted is for. For the students in gifted, this program is nearly essential for students to learn in a way that suits them best.
The gifted program helps students enjoy learning, find people like them and stretch their thinking in new ways, and that’s why it must be implemented in all school boards. For gifted kids, learning in an enjoyable way is very important. This is because, for kids who can learn very fast, regular school lessons seem like they are moving in slow motion and become very boring after awhile. 25% of gifted kids end up quitting or dropping out because they feel no satisfaction in getting a good grade anymore.(1) This causes kids to stop listening to what is being taught. Gifted programs move at a rate that keeps these kind of kids engaged and excited to learn. Gifted has challenging tasks with a time limit where they have to use all the knowledge they’ve learned and put it into a large project.
It is also taught in a way that gifted kids understand. It isn’t taught like the teacher is speaking to someone who has no idea what these concepts are. It’s presented in a way that uses kid’s prior knowledge of mathematical and scientific concepts to better understand a new, more complex concept.
Another reason why school may be boring for gifted kids is that when they already know the answers and no one else seems to get it, your hand is constantly up, making school repetitive and therefore boring. At gifted, everyone is on the same level and they can help each other understand things that may be too complicated for other gifted students. For gifted kids, this is extremely important to do in order to keep these kids engaged and happy at school.
Another reason why gifted must be implemented in all school boards is because gifted kids often feel weird because of the way they think. The percentage of kids who are gifted is from 2-5 percent, (2) so you could see why a gifted kid might feel like there’s no one like them. Huge figures in science who are considered to be geniuses like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and sir Isaac Newton were considered dumb or stupid because no one could understand how they were thinking.(3) But in gifted, those kids get to see that there are people like them, and they will meet those people at gifted. Also, gifted is a place where everyone is in the same boat and you can feel normal for once. When you are surrounded by people who understand you, it’s ok to mess up because they feel the pressure of always being the smartest too. Also, when you are thinking faster and in a different way from other people, you sometimes feel like you are the answer manual for others’ work.
At gifted this doesn’t happen. No one person is the smartest at gifted because everyone thinks the same way. For kids who always feel different, knowing other people like you is extremely helpful. For these kids, having this environment is a necessity to learn. The last reason why gifted is an important program for all school boards, is because gifted kids need a place where they can stretch their thinking. Gifted kids often think that learning is too easy and that they know everything already.
In high school and university, this has caused kids who had previously been getting good grades to start failing classes because they thought they had nothing to learn and therefore don’t try.(4) Gifted shows kids that there is always something to learn and has been proven to increase the number of gifted kids who pass high school and university, and end up with a good career. In another study, it was proven that 320 gifted students who received services of the secondary level went on to pursue doctoral degrees, more than 50X that of the base rate.(5) Gifted provides difficult problems that require kids to stretch their thinking in new ways that they haven’t ever tried before. This helps them to realize that some things are really challenging, and that you are in an environment where it’s okay to mess up because the challenge is new for everyone. In a gifted classroom, the structure of learning is very different from how it is done in regular school.
This provides an opportunity to prove to gifted kids that they don’t know everything. There’s always something to learn, no matter how “smart” you are. Gifted helps kids who may feel different because of the way they think to be themselves and accept their mistakes, and that is why all school boards should have a gifted program. It helps kids to enjoy school and learning new things by teaching them new, interesting concepts in different ways. It also allows kids to be themselves because there are people around them who will accept that and can relate to you. Finally gifted teaches kids that they still have a lot to learn by stretching their thinking to different levels. The biggest misconception of the gifted program is that the gifted kids are smarter than non-gifted kids. Really, gifted kids think in a way that people don’t understand.
In fact, if people feel different and weird because of their thinking, doesn’t that make them just like the kids who need special programs because they are struggling in their learning? If the rest of the world could realize what happens in a gifted kid’s brain, they would realize that gifted isn’t a place where smart kids do grade 12 math in grade 6. In the words of Ellen Winner, “Keeping a child who can do sixth-grade work in a second-grade classroom is not saving that student’s childhood but is instead robbing that child of the desire to learn.”(6) The gifted program is a place for kids to grow, learn and be who they really are, in a way that they understand and enjoy. One has to wonder as the funding for school boards starts to dwindle, will the gifted program remain, or will the school board overlook the needs of kids who need help.