What Should Be on the Tombstone of Gifted Education? Part 5: Writing the Tombstone

In Part 4, the focus was on extracurricular activities and their lack of use in gifted education today. While all students would benefit from the extension of knowledge into social issues, gifted students are those that are most likely to attain positions of influence and their ability to solve social issues should be at the heart of their educational plans. These experiences could take several forms from shadowing doctors or engineers, conducting research in any number of areas, reporting that research to the professional community, or aiding in the design of urban planning or alternative methods of planning. Any experience that forces gifted children to incorporate learned knowledge and integrate this knowledge into their moral structure solves the issue of whether or not the knowledge learned is truly understood and can be utilized effectively.

As the facts in Part’s 1-4 are examined, it is not hard to figure out why gifted education programs are not being funded or being closed completely. The education of gifted students actually requires more time and resources than the traditional student. If those resources and money were spent on the traditional school, many more students could have their test scores raised and their political clout (test scores) would remain intact. Not only are resources an issue in teaching the gifted, the administrator’s attitudes toward them also is changed by these very same test scores. It is assumed that the gifted will do well on their own so they are left to their own devices to prepare for state tests.

Identification of the gifted student also raises issues in housing these students, how districts will pay for their education, and what types of special curriculum will be used to train these students. Since most districts house gifted students in a single facility rather than providing each school an individual program, many students go unidentified as gifted. This limits the resources that are spent trying to educate these students. Identification of the gifted also raises issues involving just how far a district curriculum or teaching resources will go to be sure the student is educated. Extended experiences are required to be sure that knowledge is processed and incorporated into the student’s foundation of understanding.

So, what should go on the tombstone of gifted education? Gifted education is not dead yet but with the overreliance on state testing the allocation of resources into its preparation, gifted education has one foot in the grave and a headstone should be carved in anticipation of the end. In preparation, I suggest the headstone read as such:

Here Lies Gifted Education

Shot in the Back by State Testing

Mourned by Everyone, Missed by None