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Acceleration for gifted students - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Acceleration for gifted students
I'm watching L&O:CI, and the plot deals with a genius child who was applying to a college program, and they've just discovered that he's horribly depressed and suicidal, and his father just oppresses him and so on and so forth.

And I'm thinking, just once, can they have the messed up kid be the one that they kept holding back for "socialization" reasons rather than challenging him and letting him fly? It's not like there's not already a huge social stigma against acceleration--it doesn't need any damned help. Kids can accelerate academically without being suicidal angst machines.

I am, of course, not at all bitter about this. I just loved being bored to death at school. Made my life.
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Comments
From: anatomiste Date: May 10th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
One of my dearest friends, probably the most intelligent person I know, was held back in school for socialization reasons. By his parents. And he is (and was) horribly depressed, and certainly being held back had very much to do with it.

I'm not even sure that I know anyone who suffered psychologically from being accelerated.

Nrgh.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure there are cases, but honestly, I've never met someone psychologically scarred by it either.
From: anatomiste Date: May 10th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I've seen some legitimate concern that intellectually mature kids will be pushed into social situations and responsibilities that they aren't emotionally ready for. But there's a big difference between taking measures about that, and what really goes on in some of those situations.
From: marciamarcia Date: May 10th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd agree that acceleration doesn't equal OMG!AWFUL! I'm sure there's a lot of people it's helped significantly. As it stands, all my gifted friends and I were left in our respective age groups, except for one girl who had been skipped in grade school.

I met her in high school. Almost ten years later, if you question her authority on a topic she's decided she knows everything about, she will still indignantly remind you that she was tested at a genius IQ and skipped a grade. During college, it was kind of like she expected to just get good grades, get good opportunities, and get into her choice grad school because she'd been certified as a genius when she was 9...and when none of that happened, it was somebody else's fault.

I doubt all grade-skippers end up like this (I know her parents had a lot to do with her specific issues), but these are definitely things that parents/educators of gifted kids have to watch out for and work to counteract if they're going to skip the kid up.
mschlock From: mschlock Date: May 10th, 2006 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not even sure that I know anyone who suffered psychologically from being accelerated.
OK, I'll own up to it. I skipped kindergarten and went to first grade when I had just turned 5. Being younger was problematic in elementary school (you *always* lose the "who's oldest" game, so important in second grade), but the real trouble kicked in when I was 10 years old when everyone else was 12.

My same-grade-level friends all started going through puberty, and began referring to me, to my face, as their "little" friend. They spent 7th thru 10th grades condescending to me because I didn't have my period yet, and watching me like a hawk to see if I was getting boobs. This was hugely scarring, with long-lasting effects -- I wore plain, unflattering, baggy clothes until I was 24 years old, and I'm still working on body image issues and trying desperately to learn that you *can* receive attention from friends without there being a knife hidden in the middle of it.

This doesn't mean I think all girls would be damaged this way just by being younger than their schoolmates. I did have the extra whammy of parents who, shall we say, lacked social skills of their own -- we did not have the kind of relationship where I could say, "Mom, the other girls make me feel bad," and know that I would receive useful advice. Obviously, this was scarring in itself. But the socialization thing was completely affected by my intellectual peers being so far ahead of me physiologically (followed by them being condescending about it, and me not knowing their behavior was unacceptable).

Anyway, I would think long and hard before skipping my child, and I would only do it if I had that kind of relationship with my kid that I would be dead sure I could tell if they were having trouble for psychological and social reasons. But yes, I believe the risks to socialization, for girls who skip grades in particular, can be very real.

[lurker -- stalking Shades -- but this is a hotbutton issue for me, for obvious reasons.]
anj1290 From: anj1290 Date: May 10th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
If I may--I also skipped kindergarten, and I didn't have the problems you're describing. Of course, I also went to a small private school where most people were (relatively) sheltered. I'm fairly sure that I would have had a bad time of it had I been held back. As it was, I didn't have to expend much effort at all into my schoolwork until I hit maybe sophomore year of high school, and developing study skills was hard enough then...I shudder to think how much more apathetic I would have been if I had been held back. Of course, it's very much an individual thing, and I also had the benefit of a close relationship with my parents.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: May 10th, 2006 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Suddenly, I'm reminded of Screwtape Proposes a Toast
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: May 10th, 2006 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Accelerated classes were basically my only social life. The same group that was doing the ... what did we call it? Don't remember ... gifted work in first grade was together in the Special Group (no, that's not the right thing either, but I totally can't recall) in third grade and Young Scholars in fourth through eighth, and then accelerated math from eighth grade on. And they were really my whole social group.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
God, yes. The gifted kids all stuck together for dear life. If it hadn't been for OM, drama club, the writers' guild, band, chorus, and Friday nights hanging out with everyone, I think I'd have been absolutely raving by the time I was seventeen.
alchemine From: alchemine Date: May 10th, 2006 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I find the socialization argument illogical. What sort of social experiences will a ten-year-old with the mental abilities of a college freshman have in a class full of other ten-year-olds? Not the good kind, that's for sure.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Bingo. The kid is never going to fit in socially--not with the other college students, either, but certainly not with the other ten year olds. Ideally, a class full of very gifted ten-year-olds is the way to go, but my own take is that, when that's not available (and schools keep cutting gifted programs), you may as well deal with only the social frustration, rather than having social frustration and intellectual frustration.
cleindori From: cleindori Date: May 10th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
...and sometimes, the 17-year-old in her graduating year of an honours program in university can find that she fits in just fine with her academic peers, and that many of her good friends in her volunteer organisation are several years older than she is. Or the girl who turns 16 in the December of grade 12 can stop and realise that the people in her classes she's competing with for the top marks don't actually remember that she's almost two years younger than they are.

If you give us a chance, sometimes you'll be surprised by just how well we do fit in. The problem is that so many adults who are supposed to be the caretakers of our intellectual growth are intimidated by what we could do, and so they don't give us a chance to try....
From: heartsncraftslb Date: May 10th, 2006 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Hello there!

I'm actually wrestling with making decisions, albiet on a smaller scale, in terms of my own child's education. J is five and a half, and is what's known as "twice-exceptional": Highly gifted, with special needs (behavioral/emotional) as well. Academically, he's able to do work three to four grade levels above where he is, but due to his age and maturity level, he'll be going into a second year of Kindergarten next year.

It's hard to be the parent of a gifted child. Some parents see their child's performance as a reflection of themselves, and pretty much get off on their kid's brilliance. I figure my little guy has enough to deal with without my making him do tricks, like a trained seal. ;)

I hope we never have to deal with J being as bored as I was in school -- or as bored as you were, too, LOL. We're lucky in that our district's public Montessori K-6, with the gifted program also housed in the same facility, is both nearby and free.

It's a fine line to walk -- how much is what the child needs, and how much is what the parent thinks the child needs (or even wants)?

(And now I'm kicking myself for having missed that show, LOL.)

Here's to gifted kiddos! - LB
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
The trained seal thing can be fun. My mother was very concerned about not parading me around like a circus freak, but honestly, I wouldn't have minded hitting some national spelling bees and so on. (Of course, it's occurred to me since that we couldn't have afforded to do most of that, so maybe the kind excuse was better than, "Sorry, sucks to be poor.")
cleindori From: cleindori Date: May 10th, 2006 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
See, yeah...sometimes, if it's what a kid enjoys doing, a little bit of showing off isn't all bad. My best friend's little brothers enjoy the occasional bit of showing off their algebra skills (they're nine). I certainly enjoyed playing Schoolreach throughout high school, particularly the years we won medals at the provincials -- the quintessential smart kid "sport", especially up here in Canadia where spelling bees aren't such a big thing. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 10th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

spelling bee

Just chiming in on the spelling bee comment...

I was a spelling bee competitor in elementary school and went to the National Spelling Bee. It was great fun, though I didn't get very far. My point, though, is that (at least nowadays) the trip to the National Bee is all-expenses paid for the speller and one other person, their "official escort" (in my case, my mom). And boy do they do it right... you get to stay at the Grand Hyatt Washington and go on all these fun little tours around the DC area... it's definitely worth it.

Sorry if this is completely unrelated to anything...
cleindori From: cleindori Date: May 10th, 2006 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Cheers to the gifted ones! :)

Twice-exceptional is such a fine line to walk. My younger sister is gifted-LD, and has had a much harder time making a space for herself than even I did, a lot of the time. At least most of my teachers could see I was smart, without my intelligence being hidden behind sequencing problems like my sister, or behind extreme emotional fragility or like some of my friends from my accelerated-program year.

I think your son is really lucky in the school he has available, if it's Montessori and has a gifted program right by. Far more likely that his teachers will be sympathetic, not to mention knowledgeable. :)
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: May 10th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Things like that are why I'm a big supporter for homeschooling if it is possible. Then you can work on all the levels that they need.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's one distinct advantage to either homeschooling or private tutors. The teacher can look at the work and say, "Okay, you've mastered this, let's move on" without worrying about leaving the other kids behind. And, if there's something the student is having trouble on, you can stop there for as long as it takes, and try several approaches until you find one that works. That's just the individual attention factor, which even the best public school teacher in the world can't possibly do, because you do need to think about the whole class.

This is why my favorite school set-up of all is plain old gifted classes. Or, conversely, free-range grades, where a student can just move up at the teacher's will.

I had one horrendous "mainstreamed" English class in which the teacher's theory was that the kids who were ahead of the class could tutor the kids who were behind the class, while she taugh the average students. That was long before I developed any skill as a teacher, and I don't think my "student" got a damned thing out of it, and I know for a fact that I didn't.
galaxianomiko From: galaxianomiko Date: May 11th, 2006 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
had one horrendous "mainstreamed" English class in which the teacher's theory was that the kids who were ahead of the class could tutor the kids who were behind the class, while she taugh the average students.

I think I hated this situation even more than the "split up the A-students for groupwork so the others will do better" tactic. During the time that I was thinking about becoming a high school teacher, I was sort of horrified to find the professors RECOMMENDING this. "It will give the gifted students who are bored something to do!" What. No.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 11th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, my mother (God bless her) marched in to the school to ask that English teacher exactly what we were meant to be getting out of it. "Er," the teacher stammers, "well... they get... review! Yeah. Review time." La madre: "Right. As they'd demonstrated to you that they'd mastered the concept, you naturally assumed they needed more review. Uh-huh."
galaxianomiko From: galaxianomiko Date: May 11th, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whoa, your mom rules! Mine was just like "eh, what can you do" about it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 11th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Mom's got her set of faults, but letting people mess around with my education was never among them. She was doing, like, 28-hour days when she was in nursing school, but when she found out that we weren't getting anything worthwhile in geography, she started doing home lessons. These days, she volunteers at a science museum, showing lots of neat stuff to people. :D
cleindori From: cleindori Date: May 10th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Seconded, thirded, fourthed all at once...why does fiction so rarely show gifted kids as being happy with their intellectual peers, either their age or older, in academic and social situations? And why do so many people not realise that holding a child back to keep them "socialised" with their age-mates means nothing and worse than nothing when their real peers are either in higher grades, or spread out at different schools because there are no gifted programs in their district? Or maybe it's just some sort of strange coincidence that most of my best friends, the ones that I stay close with even when we live across the country from each other, are the ones I spent a year in a gifted accelerated class with.

Yes, that's right, academic acceleration ruins lives. And stifling the natural creativity, curiosity, and intellect of gifted students, particularly the highly gifted and therefore more "different" ones, is the right thing to do. School isn't for learning all you can to the best of your ability, it's for learning that if you let people copy your homework, they'll pretend to like you for a little while. *rolleyes*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Or maybe it's just some sort of strange coincidence that most of my best friends, the ones that I stay close with even when we live across the country from each other, are the ones I spent a year in a gifted accelerated class with.

I have the same coincidence. danaedark, chienar, and the rest of our gang were all gifted program, arts-obsessed geeks. I was looking through my high school yearbook the other day, and reading our messages to each other. They all boiled down to, "Hold on, hold on... we've almost survived this. Sure glad we're here for each other."

I have no idea where this comes from. It's an old prejudice--it shows up at least as far back as Little Men, where little Billy was born a genius, but his father worked him so hard that he got brain damage (!).

And yeah. Heaven forbid school should be involved in intellectual development.
torturedbabycow From: torturedbabycow Date: May 10th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
A-FUCKING-MEN

Although, in all fairness, I did somewhat enjoy my schooling experience - just not the incredible boredom. I do feel like being forced to socialize with the 'normal' kids my age was probably helpful; by the time high school rolled around, I'd pretty much got the hang of it. I feel like I could very well have ended up less well-adjusted if I went the crazy acceleration route.

However. I'm also pretty sure I've permanently lost some of the joy I could have taken in academics. In being bored out of my mind at school, I learned how to be LAZY. I did not, however, learn to deal with the frustration of not understanding things. Attempting my first independent research project as an undergrad (admittedly a project rather over my head - my advisor can probably take some of the blame for this too) has been really, really frustrating as a result. And did I mention the 12 years of BOREDOM?

Sometimes I just have to daydream about what if - could I have been like that 13 year old who's applying to my college? The youngest person to ever ____? I mean, you can't have your cake and eat it too, I guess.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2006 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I was totally not ready for college, because I coasted through high school, and junior high. Skipped classes, didn't do homework, because I knew the stuff and could test in my sleep. I got to college and it was this huge culture shock. I mean, yeah... it was fun to be the one who didn't need to work at anything, and I don't blame that on anyone but myself--there's no reason I couldn't have knuckled down independently--but it didn't exactly serve me well in later life.
miss_eponine From: miss_eponine Date: May 10th, 2006 04:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, me too. College was so different from high school and it was quite a shock.
From: underaloggia Date: May 10th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, amen to all of it.

I was supremely lucky not to suffer from either forced acceleration or socialized deceleration, and zoicks it was hard enough to negotiate that balance between being smart and being cool... Basically, I failed, and always ended up being the smart one that everyone kinda hated. Unfortunately, in retrospect I can't be that surprised--I was horrified recently when my best friend recalled how I used to correct our teachers' pronunciation...

BTW, Fern, I only use this journal to read fandom stuff, but I've started a different LJ which I'll actually post in, in case a) you'd happen to want to check it out [plug; grin] or b) there's any confusion and I ever post here as eulistes.
avendya From: avendya Date: May 10th, 2006 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
(Got here via friends-of-friends)

As an acclerated gifted child, AMEN. I spend little time with my age-mates now, and I thank god for it. My friends are three to five years older than I and that's OK by me - that's who I fit in with.

Thank god my parents let me acclerate. I don't know what I would have been like if I hadn't.

*loves you for this post*
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 10th, 2006 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, my own social experience is a little weird on this one.

OK, on the one hand, I'm LD-gifted. There's nothing like getting stuck in the next to lowest reading group because of your spelling while having the highest reading level of anyone in the whole grade (not an entirely bad thing, however. I spent ten minutes on the work and the rest of the class reading). My school wasn't going to promote me early regardless of what the policy was.

On the other hand, a lot of my LD falls into socialization skills. Now, if they'd TAUGHT socialization, I could see the point. However, school system in my experience are addicted to social Darwinism. If the weak members are cut of from the rest of the herd and brought down, well, that's the point of the exercise (OK, I'm a little prejudiced and I really don't function well in large groups, especially chaotic ones. Kindergarten was and will remain my idea of the worst circle in Dante's inferno). Anyhow, the whole socialization argument falls a little flat with me since I don't see schools as promoting it.

On yet another hand, my grandmother went to college at fifteen. She has very strong feelings against anyone else in the family ever doing the same.

I also knew a kid in high school who had a 160 IQ who was flunking all of his classes his senior year because he couldn't pretend to be interested in them anymore. He also attended religion classes after school hours, and that's where he had a teacher who realized what the problem was and FINALLY convinced his parents and the school (although I think it was mostly the school that needed convincing) to give this kid some challenging material.

Oh, but guess what? He'd gone through twelve years of school without ever having to work. When he got into coursework that actually challenged him, he didn't know how to cope. No, I don't know what happened to him after senior year.

And, yes, I caught part of that episode and just turned the channel. Yes, there are parents who want to get their preschoolers into the right program to put them on the fast track to Harvard. Maybe some of them could be pushed to murder. There are also kids whose parents start training them for the NBA when they're two. Goodness knows what they'd do to get a kid there.

The difference is that we watch sports shows and admire atheletes. Most of us have played sports and, whether or not we were good at it, we probably accept it as normal that there are lots of people who love them. But when was the last time a school pulled all the students out of class to have a pep rally for the math students?

Sorry, ranting, and this is your space to do that.

Ellen
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 10th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel like I should add one of the pressures my grandma had was that she was very big on her friends in college NOT knowing she was younger than them, so I can see it depending on how child deals with that issue.

Also, if friends a child's own age are so important, there are other ways of doing it. There's scouts, baseball, and a dozen other things. Look, if you put a kid who's already five feet and weighs 120 lb of pure muscle in a boxing ring with a 60 lb kid who isn't four feet tall yet and that's the ONLY way you let them socialize, don't expect them to be friends. Even if they do become friends, don't expect it to be an equal friendship. For that to happen, you'd want to put them in a setting where size and muscle don't matter as much or working together on the same team where the small person still makes a contribution others recognize (and where maybe the big kid realizes size isn't everything and can even be a drawback).

It's the same with being gifted. Put the kids in an environment where the comparison is intellectual, and the heavyweight always wins.

Ellen
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: May 10th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Ditto on that. They wanted to advance me a grade in elementary school but didn't because I had a brother in the next grade up. As a consequence, I didn't really have to try at anything until an AP Biology class in high school. By then I was like, "What's this work thing?"
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: May 10th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I suppose I'm lucky in that I am one of many gifted students at my high school. Sometimes it seems like everyone's father or mother is a professor of neurobiology or applied linguistics. We only have GATE here, and only in some elementary schools (not mine because it was Spanish Immersion, which is why I didn't transfer) and in one of our junior highs, and who's to say GATE is right for ALL the numerous intellectually gifted students we have here anyway? But we have so many Advanced, Honors, and AP classes all through our secondary schools that there was always plenty of options.
I can't think of a classmate of mine in advanced courses who is desperately unhappy because of them, but we (as in the students) all agree that our parents have an acceleration fetish in Davis. "Davis Parents" want keep their kid going, going, going, from soccer to Youth Symphony to Math Modeling and heaven forbid they slip from a perfect 4.6 GPA. It can be a bit oppressive at times, but on the other hand, you're more ostracized for underachieving (or even average achieving) than for overachieving.
As to socialization, I skipped a grade and sometimes I forget it and sometimes I feel my age rather strongly. I'll never get to sign myself out of classes and I can't legally drive people until I'm seventeen and a half (or, after I graduate...curses). I don't get to vote this year either. Other than that my skipping-a-grade is almost a non-issue *shrug*.
other_girl87 From: other_girl87 Date: May 11th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, and none of your friends care (or even notice very often) that you're younger. But I've always been bored in class, and even GATE didn't do me any good. I actually had a very bad experience with that, but it was mostly because I came into the program in the middle of it and everyone had already formed cliques. I was...well...not welcome. But I do think that children should be challenged - if there's no accelerated program, or if it doesn't work for them, they should be challenged at home.
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: May 11th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, OtherGirl, I rather suspected that was the case :p.
tartanshell From: tartanshell Date: May 10th, 2006 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Kids can accelerate academically without being suicidal angst machines.

Amen! I started college when I was 14, and while I did end up being a suicidal angst machine for awhile (senior thesis + mono + extracurricular stuff out the wazoo? ow!), it had nothing to do with being in college. In fact, were it not for the fact that (for the first time in my life, thanks to being "the smart loser" in elementary and junior high) I had good friends, and I had a life (music and stuff), and I loved my classes, I probably would have been much more angsty and depressed. I don't think I could have handled high school.

Our society is so scared of smart people, though. There is a huge social stigma--"geniuses" (however you define that) are scary. No matter how much parents might hope for a highly gifted child, I think half of them are probably scared to death that they'll actually have one. Being on the honor roll is fine, a good achievement, but say to someone when you're 16 that you're a junior in college, and automatically, you're as "different" and "threatening" as you would be (to Average Joe) if you were physically handicapped or retarded. The conversation just dries up.

And I think that's where what you're talking about comes in. People want to think that highly gifted people who skip one or several grades must have been forced to do so, can't fit in, must be these little robots who are under incredible pressure from their parents. I think the idea that some people do very well with this kind of challenge and do fit in is too foreign. Too threatening. People want to see the very smart kid fail. Because what happens if there really ARE kids who could kick your honor roll student's ass academically, without batting an eyelash?

I think the "acceleration leads to angst and failure" idea makes everybody (except gifted kids who are bored to tears in the grade they "belong" in) feel better. And it sucks.

Sorry to rant! I get worked up on the issue, too. Particularly when I tell parents of gifted girls about the awesome program I went to, and they say, "But if Suzie skips high school, she'd miss HER PROM." *sigh*
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: May 10th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having people look at you incredolously because you can't do a simple math equation isn't easy either. Someone said I was Gifted once, I think they're wrong.

But, yeah, I get what you're saying.
From: octobersnow Date: May 10th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Quick comment. Socialization for the non-accelerated gifted in my experience: Making 'friends' that are only using you for help on their homework.

That was a fun lesson to learn. The reveal that these were not really my friends was so embarassingly public, that I still remember it to this day (13 years later) as one of my worst moments.
matril From: matril Date: May 10th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is an issue just fraught with emotion for me. Entry into my school district's gifted program was based on a single IQ test, and my score was just a few points below the cut-off point. My siblings were all in the program, as well as most of my friends (well, I liked the company of smart people, being moderately smart myself, whatever my IQ). They left class to learn photography, calligraphy, make fun little movies...and I stayed in class, downright bored a lot of the time. Worst, the gifted program was named a dreadful acronym; I have no idea what it stood for but it was called VITAl. That's right. And I was a non-VITAL student. Thanks. You going to use this arrow again or should I just leave it here in my chest?

I don't know what kind of effect an accelerated track would have had on me, but not having one was crushing. Still the story has a fairly happy ending - my parents knew I needed challenges, IQ score notwithstanding, so when I entered junior high they insisted that I be allowed to take honors classes. The administration hemmed and hawed, saying they didn't want me to be in over my head, but I went ahead with it. I didn't always get perfect grades, but I actually learned and stretched my skills, and by the time I got to college, I was ready for it. VITAL wasn't that vital, as it turned out, but it still makes me angry everytime I think of it.

Now, I'm on the other side, with my son needing "special education" for his autism. For all we know he may be gifted as well, but he's not going to move up a grade any time soon. I only hope I can be his advocate as much as my parents were.
in_a_tizzy From: in_a_tizzy Date: May 10th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
My brother and I were both kept back for socialization reasons. We were both terribly bored. He developed a huge attitude problem from being smarter than everyone around him. He started refusing to listen to the teachers he knew he was smarter than. He ended up dropping out and getting his GED. And now he doesn't want to go to college because he finds school boring and unpleasant. I on the other hand sailed and bullshitted my way until it was pretty much too late for me to learn to be a real student. It wasn't until I got to college that I realized that I didn't know how to study history (my major) because I'd been capable of teaching every other class history class I'd ever taken.

I don't know if more challenges in elementary school would have helped us there are too many other variables.

But I tell ya hitting puberty last may get all the press but hitting it first can also be very scarring. Youth is scarring the only way to protect your kids from that is to talk to them.
tannim_ From: tannim_ Date: May 10th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hated school because I was bored out of my mind. My parents (mainly my mother) refused to let me skip any grades because she said I needed to stay with the kids my own age. And that it would make my brother feel stupid *rolls eyes*.

So I took accelerated courses any time they were offered, but I never got along with the kids my age anyways. All of my friends were either several years older than me, or younger.

Every time the principal or my teachers approached my mom about letting me skip a grade, she refused. I spent more time being depressed because I hated being stuck in class with my peers, than if I had been allowed to skip grades and be with my intellectual equals.
soonest_mended From: soonest_mended Date: May 10th, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
WORD TO THE YES.

I grew up homeschooled from Day 1, and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. We faced the same issues, and guess what?

a) Everybody freaked out about my 'socialization,' especially when they realized what an awful little nerd I was. What they didn't realize, apparently, was that my mother took great pains to socialize me-- she was just selective about my influences. I needed that selectiveness, too. I had attention problems and OCD-- which evaporated as I grew older, leaving me without the labels of 'weirdo' and 'freak' that my fiancee, who had the same problems in his childhood, grew up with in public school. Now, in college, I'm a 'gifted communicator' (for what that's worth) and one of the most stable, popular people I know.

b) I was heavily accelerated in many areas. Honestly, I probably wasn't accelerated enough, and I'm still kind of bored in my sophomore year of college-- but up until my last year at home, I managed to avoid boredom and mental stagnation. I LOVED IT. Education was one of the best parts of my life. Even my relatively slack final year was bearable. I can't *imagine* having been forced to 'stay with my grade'. I'd be sullen, depressed, and mentally atrophied by sixth grade. Instead, I have a 4.0 *and* a social life.

My kids WILL be homeschooled. Probably not all the way through, depending on how they grow up, but there's no way I'll force them to slog through an educational program the consistency of cold oatmeal to reach the shining goal of mental indifference.

Have none of these people read 'Matilda'?
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: May 10th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't imagine that accelerating education could really have such adverse affects on anyone. Perhaps there's an extreme circumstance in which it would, but the majority of people probably benefit from that acceleration.

That said, I can see how it might be damaging in some circumstances. Not damaging enough to cause major depression and/or suicidal feelings, but there are cases where I can see situations in which the option of accelerating education doesn't have anymore pros or cons than keeping the child in their current grade.

For example, I was declared gifted in grade 5 because of a standardized test I took the year before. My score was higher than most gifted students (enough to qualify me for "mode 3" rather than "mode 2") so I was given the option to go a middle school which would provide a specific program for me (mode 2 students don't get this option until high school). I declined. I declined again when the option came up as I finished grade 8.

It's not that I wasn't frustrated with school, because I was (and still am, in many classes), but there were other priorities which were weighing on my mind. I was very shy when I was younger, though I'm fairly outgoing now for whatever reason, and I used to have difficulties making friends. Perhaps it was because I was an only child and had few cousins my own age, so I didn't have a lot of interraction with peers when I was very young. Anyways, I was very attached to the friends that I had made and wasn't willing to go to another school.

Frankly, as much as I enjoy hearing that other people have had good experiences with gifted classes and have benefitted from being around similar students, I highly doubt that my experiences would have been the same. I couldn't stand the other gifted students that were around me. While I could recognize that they were very smart, they constantly seemed immature and I much prefered the company of my own friends. I would hate to be in the company of the other gifted students most of the time.

Now, I do think that some sort of acceleration in education could be beneficial, but I'm just saying that actually removing a student from an ordinary classroom and placing he/she with older or gifted students isn't always going to have a positive effect. In my experience, it would be just as helpful to offer more challenging work to the individual, but keep them with their peers. Not offering any challenges can have a really adverse result, as I've noticed numerous times. A guy in my math class whom I went to elementary school with is also gifted and he's getting a D right now, which I suspect has a lot to do with the lack of challenging material (my own C in the course has less to do with lack of challenges and more to do with my attitude of "why am I in an advanced math course when I never plan to take math in university?").

Anyways, I'm just saying that I think a happy medium would be very useful in a lot of circumstances. Not giving any challenges to students is terrible because it'll just make them bored and lazy (which I suspect will be a problem for me when I start university), but placing them in a completely different class from their peer group can have bad effects sometimes, too.
lorelei_lynn From: lorelei_lynn Date: May 11th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
My town didn't organize a "gifted and talented" program until I was in the fifth grade. I hated it because it actually made me WORK. Before that, I'd gotten into the habit of keeping my textbook on the top of the desk and my library book in my lap because I was bored. (Yes, I got caught a few times.)

I moved to a different state the summer before high school (1984), and I ran into problems when I tried to enroll in Algebra 2 (along with the 10-11th graders) because I'd already taken Algebra 1 and Geometry. One of the assistant principals was against my accelerated program because "Then she'll have to go all the way through Calculus. What if she falls in love and wants to drop out?" My mother, who had a PhD in Math, quickly set him straight, and I was allowed sign up for as many honors classes as I could fit. In those classes, I found a peer group where I fit in & was fairly happy. And in the end, I was very well prepared for college.

To sum up - I'm in favor of whatever it takes to keep a student interested, but being the "smart kid" is hard. I was bullied in junior high and therefore was fortunate to have the chance to start fresh among strangers in a new high school.
tigermouse88 From: tigermouse88 Date: May 11th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Word. Just...word. My teachers tried to hold me back in school, but I got lucky in that my parents supported me wholeheartedly in thumbing my nose at the administration and doing as much as I wanted. I am probably more grateful to them for that than anything else they have done for me, as that's the only reason that I learned early on that being academically gifted was somthing to value, not just something that the other kids would hate on you and the teachers would punish you for.

And yeah, being bored to death at school is just the best, isn't it? Oh, the glory days of thumb-twiddling...
verdenia From: verdenia Date: May 13th, 2006 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)

sing it, sister!

[here via you posting a fandom thing or comment?]
The first thing I thought of when I saw this post was the classic bit from the movie "Heathers":
"[when I was younger, they wanted to skip me ahead cuz I was so brilliant and] blah blah blah. Now blah, blah, blah is all I do: I use my grand IQ to decide what color gloss to wear and how to hit three keggers before curfew"
(the character is a junior in HS, I think)

I certainly experienced the "what's this work thing?" feeling when I went to University.
I had actually originally started Kindergarten at four and a half, and then moved and transferred to a different school district in March of First grade, finished out that year & started Second, then decided that I should repeat first grade in this new place. [I do kinda wonder now, how much of that was me, and if my parents had anything to do with it, but eh]
My 2nd grade teacher [this time with my 'correct' age group] recommended me for GATE and so I got to go for a day every two weeks, I think. We learned a ton of cool stuff, and the program really saved my life and kept me from being a totally emo 4th grader. That teacher was a complete biatch, couldn't just allow me to learn the math, no, I had to do the homework too, nevermind that my youngest sib was and infant and I was watching over my two year old brother...So she forced me to sit outside the principal's office and do my hw during recess. It sucked soooo much ass! She even managed to get me pulled from the school-sponsored flute lessons I was taking during recess to do her stupid hw. Grrrr! ;P [I laugh now...but I've certainly cried about it plenty]
So 5th gr I got to go to a small private K-6. Ten of us in 4-6, I let the teacher know in no uncertain terms that I would not be doing hw. It was fine, I did little math workbooks with the sixth grade girls, life was good.
Then in sixth I went to the public school near our new house, to re-integrate with public school in prep for jr high. I got to do GATE again, which was nice, and then we had GATE social studies for jr.h...and I managed to get a spot on the fast track math, which was cool.
Mostly coasted HS, did so little hw that I got some bad grades, sent down to the slower track of math [still doing alg2 in 10th grade, but now the slow version with the older kids, rather that the fast one that included statistics]. Fine with me! The only AP I took was Spanish; I just didn't care about working enough to be in the other ones, of which there were plenty. [Instead of doing hw, I read novels and played with my sibs, mostly...and made dinner for us all] I got into Peer Counseling and directed my listening skills in a healthy and fun manner. (we got to go to a statewide conference once a year: squee!) Found some oddball friends from 'the wrong side of the tracks' mostly, went to RHPS and Ren Faire. It was great. I definitely had the most normal-ish HS exp of any of my sibs.
Learning to really work and write in Uni was a shock, but I managed to pass enough classes that I was never barred from enrollment, and graduated five years after I started.
verdenia From: verdenia Date: May 13th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: sing it, sister!

[split due to length constraints]
My middle sib had Issues with her peers--accelerated from 2nd grade, made friends, and then was forced to re-do 3rd when the class sizes changed again, oi! Then HS was the suck for her, she left halfway thru tenth, got her diploma equivalent, and started at the community college at 16. Took it slow, took electives, ended up getting her BA the same time she would've if she'd done the four year plan after HS.
#3 had all kinds of issues--smart, ADD, abuse we found out about later--and eventually got the GED. Hung about a long time in the parental house and has finally moved out at age 22 to live near friends met online, and work and/or go to cooking school. Things are looking up!
#4 was shoved into K when the school recced pre-K because Dad just couldn't stand having a kid reflect on him as less than brilliant. Naturally, it didn't work and a grade later had to be repeated. Stupid dad. Actually, that happened to 3, also. Hrmpf. Poor kids!
And then he had to go and die and many schools were gone through and ..yeah.
Anyhow, 4 was allowed, through this messed-up mechanism to actually be put in with the right grade emotionally [starting with an 8th gr Montessori program], went through some more semi tough academic times of private school and public homeschooling, before finding a Really Awesome small private HS, which has been a Rock for these past 2+ years--and now, at age 19.5, it's a month till graduation, and off to Uni in the fall.
I am so proud! [I'm nearly ten years older, and definitely took some part in the raising] Especially since dad died right before my last year of Uni, so after graduation, I moved back home and helped with the kids and played emotional mom to all three of them [youngest sibs and mom] while Mom took care of the paperwork Dad left behind. ;S
I left the family home about fifteen months after I graduated...but still lived close for a few years, and I still visit quite a bit, even though I live farther now (hour and a half drive, not too bad)
We went through some shit, but overall, I'm really good friends at this point with all of my immediate family. Closest to 4 and mom, though.
I share areas of temperament with them more--mom and I are adventurous, 4 and I are chill, good listeners, love reading and fandom and...yeah. Now that I've written you a novella. ;D [it really was a novella! 5500~ characters! I've never had a comment rejected for length before!]

so, thanks again for posting on a topic that obviously is important to so many people!!! [and that I omg splurged on]
Cheers!
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