Making Room for the Gifted ; Schools Often Can't - or Won't - Provide an Education That Keeps Up with Children's Drive and Ability to Learn

By Marjorie Coeyman, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, April 11, 2000 | Go to article overview

Making Room for the Gifted ; Schools Often Can't - or Won't - Provide an Education That Keeps Up with Children's Drive and Ability to Learn


Marjorie Coeyman, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Joshua Feldman was only 2 when he announced one night, "You don't need to read to me anymore, Mom, I can do it myself now." Soon thereafter, the small boy was playing the piano with remarkable skill, and his intellectual development blossomed.

His parents were delighted - until Joshua turned 5 and began attending public kindergarten in their Long Island, N.Y., district. "Joshua could read and write while the other kids were all just drawing lines," says Margaret Feldman. "He was so bored. I asked if they could give him a book or something, but the teachers basically said, 'This is public school. We can't do anything for him until the third grade.' "

The Feldmans' plight is far too common, say advocates for gifted children. The federal government gives states about $7 billion annually to help children with disabilities. But funds earmarked for students labeled "gifted" amount to only about $6.5 million a year (although Congress is debating boosting funds for such students to $155 million).

The result can be a failure to provide such children with learning experiences that keep pace with their ability. Too often, they struggle in environments that don't nurture or even accommodate their special gifts. What it amounts to, say some advocates, is a colossal waste of natural talent among children who have the potential to make a significant contribution in a wide range of fields.

"The pressure from the public just hasn't been there" to provide special educational opportunities for gifted students," says Peter Rosenstein, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association for Gifted Children.

While parents of children with disabilities - estimated to be about 12 percent of the population - generally meet with sympathetic reactions from school officials and the public, Mr. Rosenstein says the parents of gifted children - about 5 percent of the population, or 3 million - often receive the message, "Your kid is lucky, what do you want?"

Some advocates for the gifted suggest that the whole notion that these children possess abilities beyond those of their peers is difficult for a democratic society like the United States. "There's a philosophically weak muscle here in terms of education for the gifted," says Karen Israel, a Long Island, New York, mother who has two sons designated as gifted and has created a program for advanced students in a public school district near her town. "We don't like the idea because everyone wants to be egalitarian."

Debate continues as to what constitutes a "gifted" child. Although the approach is often criticized, many schools rely heavily on IQ tests. But there is a general consensus that gifted children are a relatively small group who take an interest in topics above their grade levels and display an exceptional ability to focus on and commit to matters of interest to them.

But the gifted label has subsets. In addition to "ordinary gifted" children, some are considered "exceptionally" and "profoundly" gifted. For parents of the latter two types, frustration with schools that can't - or won't - offer education at an appropriate level has even prompted lawsuits.

Indeed, finding the right school can be a difficult and often frustrating experience. Ms. Israel, for instance, looked into private schools, but says she's not sure that's the way to go. "I very much realized how much time my boys spend not being challenged and, in effect, being punished for being gifted.

"But," she adds, "I don't want them to lose out on the breadth and depth that being with different kinds of kids can give them. I don't know that I want them with all gifted." She's sad, though, that her kids "are frequently among people who don't understand them."

Working with children who have exceptional talents is anything but easy for a school system designed to accommodate the bulk of children by focusing largely on the middle ground. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Making Room for the Gifted ; Schools Often Can't - or Won't - Provide an Education That Keeps Up with Children's Drive and Ability to Learn
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.