April 28, 2011

All Children are gifted, are Gifts and have Gifts.

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
  --  Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Fortune of the Republic

Fetus study by Da Vinci, my favorite genius.
Yesterday, in school, we had to do an assignment in which we had to decide what we would do with an "academically gifted" student who didn't want to do his math homework as he didn't need to do it to get good grades on tests.  Many students believed that he should not be required to do the homework because he was, well, "gifted."

I dislike the term "gifted." I think that all children are gifted, are gifts and have gifts. But more importantly, it is not what gifts you start out with but the gifts you develop and share. Gifts are great but effort and gumption is equally valuable. I also think we tend to have a narrow view of what gifted is and forget that even truly academically talented students typically excel in one area and perform around average or below average in others.  

Also, academically gifted isn't the only type of gifted. Remember very few "academically gifted" students go on to be "gifted" adults because we judge adults not just on test scores or how quickly they can answer a math equation but by a plethora of other values, measures and accomplishments. 

Just think of all the " academically average" people who made an impact on the world and those who have made an impact on your life. You probably know some gifted artists, musicians, inventors, athletes, writers, actors, parents, dancers, ect. who never made the science and math based "gifted" cut. I have always been drawn to homeschooling because I believe that talents, interests and a willingness to learn have a better chance of being fostered at home. Curiosity and a  personal exploration of interests are traits that great minds have in common. We shouldn't quell curiosity and a love of learning in students by attaching labels to them.

Some great people who were told they would never amount to anything:

Albert Einstein-- We think of him as a genius today but as a child he was quiet and didn't get along with the other students in his class. He eventually learned through reading at home.  

Thomas Edison-- He was a curious student whose teachers described as being dull and confused. He tried many schools but was primarily educated at home by his mother.

Louisa May Alcott-- Although she was highly educated at home by her father, she did a variety of jobs before her literary success which included being a servant and an army nurse.

Madame CJ Walker-- The daughter of two freed slaves. She had very little education while she was young and got most of her formal education in church. When her daughter started elementary school, she learned along with her. After her hair product line was established, she hired a tutor to improve her reading and writing skills. 


I don't think it matters so much that they were homeschooled but they all succeeded when they studied and focused on things that interested them. Interests, curiosity and persistence really do count for something!


  1. I completely agree. That's all I can really say. You hit the nail square on the head!

  2. The idea of a student - gifted or not - not doing their homework seems completely preposterous... I doubt any teacher here, when they issue homeworks, would tell a single student "You don't have to do it" just on basis of their talent. I think students would acually hate such a teacher, because he would be playing favourites. And no one likes a teacher who plays favourites - well, no one who's not a favourite, and that's usually the majority.
    The only exception I ever got from a teacher was when the thing we had to do was a general punishment for the class not doing the work previously and I had actually done it. When our philosophy teacher collected our notebooks, because nobody was taking notes and the noise in the class began to be unbearable; he told me he knew I was taking notes, so I didn't have to give him my notebook - good thing, too, because it was, outside of notes, full of silly drawings and doodles. :-)
    The only other exception I can think of is when the student is somehow limited - like, when he's injured and taken to a hospital, the teacher would naturally not insist on him doing the homework.
    Otherwise? Pah, forget it. Homework is homework. It's issued to be done. I wonder whether this is a difference between the Czech and the American educational system... from what I know, the Czech system is much more compulsory. But then, it works that way even on university, which is more optional - but when you take a course, you take a course and you're supposed to do it.
    When you don't do it, it's more of your own problem than in the compulsory education, but you still can't be surprised if the teacher draws conclusions and, for example, gives you more work to do. The homework is part of the course you chose in the first place, so there's no reason not to do it!
    Well, that's the way it works here. :-)

  3. I completely agree. I totally suck at math and science, but I would say I am "gifted" in English and literature. I hate that term because it makes it sound like the ones that are not above average in intelligence or have a handicap are not "gifts," but trash.

  4. Thanks Mary!

    Hana, I agree.

    Jess, I agree that it makes everyone else sub par. Also I don't believe that above average is really that big of a deal unless they are leaps and bounds above average and that number is very small compared to the number of students who have been labeled "gifted."

  5. I totally agree that everyone is gifted! People need to develop their own interests and talents, not what somebody else thinks is "educated".

    I think the underlying problem with any student not wanting to do their homework is,
    they're probably not interested in the subject. If they're not interested, then no amount of homework will get the necessary information through to them. The important thing is to get kids to care about learning. Not doing homework is just a symptom.

    You might want to check out the Charlotte Mason method. She was a British school teacher who believed that education is a science or relations, one of which is our relationship with knowledge. Sir Ken Robinson is also an inspiring educator.

    Thanks for the opportunity to stand on one of my favorite soapboxes.

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