For most students, school provides an opportunity to learn. Unfortunately, this is not true for all students, particularly the gifted and talented. As the school year commences and words like remediation and accountability take center stage, now is the time to consider the quality of education for all students -- those who could be left behind AND those who want to get ahead.
Although gifted and talented students have great potential to make positive contributions both as children and as adults, educators and policy-makers often fail to recognize that for genius to thrive, it must be nurtured. It is a commonly held misconception that intellectually gifted students can and should fend for themselves.
It is a fact that gifted students not only think and learn differently, but also have in-depth knowledge of many subject areas. But our nation's brightest young people often are stuck sitting through class after class covering information they already know. What an awful waste of time and potential! All children in America should have access to an education appropriate to their abilities, whether they are struggling or achieving. As it is now, we are failing our most gifted students.
Research indicates that 1 out of every 5 high school dropouts tests in the gifted range. Almost 40 percent of states have no laws requiring that gifted students be identified, and even fewer require that they be served. The picture is just as bleak at the federal level. Out of every $100 of federal funding allocated to public education, less than 2 cents is dedicated to gifted education.
Recognition of genius is the first step toward meeting the needs of our nation's brightest young people. As students start back to school this fall, the Davidson Institute -- a nonprofit organization that supports profoundly intelligent young people and their families with free services -- urges teachers and parents to be on the lookout for these common characteristics of highly intelligent young people:
Identification is the first step in providing bright children with an appropriate education. Students who demonstrate these traits should be offered educational opportunities commensurate with their abilities. Assessment of both their intellectual capacity and their academic achievement also would be appropriate in many cases. Students who are not challenged can become bored and often become underachievers.
If we are truly a country that cares about its most valuable asset, we will see to it that all children are encouraged to develop their gifts and talents, whether it's on the ball field, on the stage or in the classroom.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.