Monday, January 13, 2014

Smart is the New Invisible.

Actually, Smart kids have always been ignored in most schools.

Joanne Jacobs passes on this about Smart Kids:
Exceptionally smart students “are often invisible in the classroom, lacking the curricula, teacher input and external motivation to reach full potential,” writes Science Daily, citing a Vanderbilt study that followed gifted students for 30 years.  The 320 high-IQ students went on to become business leaders, software engineers, physicians, attorneys, and leaders in public policy, reports Who Rises to the Top?, published in Psychological Science.
Despite their remarkable success, researchers concluded that the profoundly gifted students had experienced roadblocks along the way that at times prevented them from achieving their full potential. Typical school settings were often unable to accommodate the rapid rate at which they learned and digested complex material. . . . This resulted in missed learning opportunities, frustration and underachievement, particularly for the exceptionally talented, the researchers suggest.
 This has been a constant irritant for me, for many years. We focus on the "bubble" kids, the weaker students who might pass if we give them a little more attention, and we tend to ignore the very weak as well  as the motivated and the smart.

"Heterogeneous classrooms" is the mantra where I teach, resulting in the kid up front twitching in boredom while the weaker students nod off, zone out, and then need the retakes and the constant nudge to hand in work, finish work, start work, etc.

Honors classes were replaced with CP "College Prep" because Everyone Must Go To College.

"That's the way those One-Room Schoolhouses did it. Why should we single out and spend more money on those kids? They'll be fine. They'll get their As."

It makes me cringe. Yes, they'll get a A, but the weaker kids don't get what they need, and neither do the strong. If you're going to have 5 sections of Algebra 2, why not simply let one of them be comprised of strong students?

Is it wrong of me to note that the people who ask why we should single out smart kids are invariably the parents of, or who were themselves, weak students?

Is it wrong of me to note that I haven't been able to get a whole class to participate in the Norwich Bridge Building Competition, only a few here and there?

"The smart kids can help the weaker kids ... collaboration is 21st Century teaching, you know, and it's the way the Real World works."

Let me channel my inner teenager ...
What if I don't want to do the teacher's job? What if I don't like many of my classmates. Why should I be forced to "teach" my classmates stuff they couldn't be bothered to learn in class the normal way?  Why should my grade depend on someone else's motivation?

Don't give me that "It's Real World" crap because I know that in the RealWorld, the dead-beats would be fired. No one pays people to sit around and wait for the one team member to do all the work. No one gets to wait until someone else is finished and lean over, "So, what did you get on number 1? And how about number 2?"


  1. oh my gosh, I am going to be late for school ,b/c I am replying to this post!
    I am the luckiest girl around b/c our school created a school with in a school....gifted kids( who test in) go to the same core classes throuout the day. I have the honor of teaching these kids algebra 1 and algebra 2 to 7th and 8th graders. And there are huge differences even with in these classes! It is a joy to get to actually teach! The kids want the challenge. I could go on and on....
    It is absolutely the way to teach these gifted learners. And this is a public school!

  2. This is why I feel lucky to teach two sections of advanced English and I give them a curriculum that is truly advanced. And yeah, some slack off and tune out but most respond well because I'm working at their level and they DON'T have to worry about me ignoring them for the sake of the students whose test scores will determine my fate.

    Your "inner teenager" is DEAD ON and something that is completely ignored in the blogosphere/twitterverse. In the "real world," those students WOULD have been fired LONG ago, but I'm not allowed to do that.

    Bravo, sir!

  3. Teaching is a skill that takes a long time to learn. Why would a teacher expect an 11-year-old to know it, no matter how mathematically proficient he is? I speak from experience.