Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Gifted" Children

I happened to run across this Time magazine article on the subject of gifted children and skipping grades.

It's a balanced article that describes how the preponderance of research shows that most gifted children who skip grades do just fine, though some do not.

Unfortunately, as the article points out, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of gifted children, and seize upon the examples of troubled kids to argue against grade skipping.

My own perspective is biased; I went to a school for gifted children, which means that most of my childhood friends were of genius-level intellect. Of course, even at a gifted school, there are relative jocks and nerds.

I had classmates who were taking Calculus at age 10. When I returned to the normal public school system, I was miserable. Being forced to take classes below my grade level was sheer torture.

After a miserable year punctuated with many fights with school administrators, I was allowed to skip two grades and head straight to high school, which was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Today, I and the rest of my old classmates are doing just fine. We work in a wide variety of fields, ranging from teacher to chef to rock star, and everything in between. Time is a miraculous thing--everyone gets old. Ultimately, it's irrelevant whether you skipped a grade or two. What's more important is that you have a chance to be happy, and that's what acceleration offered us.

2 comments:

Ben Casnocha said...

Interesting thoughts. I've certainly seen both groups of kids - folks who turned out fine and those for whom it was emotionally/socially tough. The only thing I do know, however, is that *I* am not going to be skipping grades anytime soon...I'm struggling in junior year as it is!

Chris said...

The interesting thing, Ben, is that you have a harder problem. You are a business prodigy, yet our formal educational system does absolutely nothing to recognize your gifts. In fact, it penalizes you for them!

I continue to be amazed by how our educational system doesn't teach people about business--I think the country would be a lot better off if folks understood basic economics.