A Nation Deceived
Like many of you, I’m relatively new to the advanced and gifted education arena. I became involved because I want my children to be educated at a pace appropriate to them. Learning about advanced education has been eye-opening. One of the best introductory texts to advanced and gifted education is A Nation Deceived. It primarily focuses on acceleration as an inexpensive method for providing advanced education. Take an hour and read it and then pass it on to others including parents of gifted children, teachers, principals, and school board members. Many myths found in current thought are exposed by this report and it needs wide distribution.
I had initially thought that the largest barriers to gifted education would be lack of funds and lack of teachers. Unfortunately, I discovered that much of the opposition comes from prevailing attitudes found in colleges of education in regards to educational equality and acceleration beyond one’s age group.
Educational equality is a noble goal, but it must be implemented correctly. Educational equality should mean that each student gets the education that fits their needs. It should not be educational sameness. Educational sameness, where everyone receives the same curriculum at the same pace, is not educational equality for either the upper or lower ends of the spectrum. Expecting all students to learn the same curriculum at the same pace is like expecting all students to wear the same size clothes. Providing each student with a medium size shirt will leave some feeling constricted and some feeling like they are drowning in their clothes. Providing each student the same curriculum at the same pace will leave some feeling constricted and some feeling like they are drowning. We need to focus on providing the right size education for students. This is educational equality.
The second attitude that needs to be examined is in regards to acceleration through grade-skipping or subject matter acceleration. Many teachers, administrators, and parents feel that grade skipping will be detrimental to a child’s social, emotional, and academic needs. However, studies have shown that children who skip grades usually fit in better with their new peer group because they are more academically and emotionally similar to older children than children of their own age. In fact, it is the children who are held back that suffer. They are bored in the classroom, lose interest in learning, are ostracized for being the most intelligent, and many begin to suppress their gifts so they will fit in better with their peers. A Nation Deceived explores many of the myths that surround grade-skipping and will help ease the mind of any parent considering grade-skipping for their child.
Take the time to read this excellent report. Consider it homework for parents of gifted students.
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