My kids’ school sent a letter home recently saying that they wanted me to allow my oldest kid to be tested for the gifted program. His teacher wants to nominate him and see if he’ll make it. The “gifted” kids from all over the county are put into classes together and given an accelerated curriculum. To be honest, I don’t know all the ins and outs of the education they receive and how it is different from the rest of the population, but I am flattered. Feeling flattered I also feel a bit guilty because part of me wishes that the rest of the population got the best of educations as well… Anyhow, it seems kind of funny that they would ask me permission to see if my kid is some kind of genius, I mean, doesn’t every parent think their kid is some kind of genius? And wouldn’t every parent want their kid to be tested for “genius-ness” even if they were pretty sure their kid was an idiot? Although I do have some misgivings about whether I want him in some kind of gifted program and I am pretty sure he is not all that gifted anyway, would I dare deny him the opportunity to be labeled gifted by his teachers if that’s what they think? My wife is all for him getting into the program although she is distrustful of the entire academic process and how they determine, much less predict, academic performance for kids when kids are coming from so many different environments. I am already anticipating her flipping her lid if any of our other kids are not afforded the same opportunity to be tested for being gifted. The thing is that I can see that my son would do well on this test and in school in general because he is very comfortable in that kind of environment whereas my daughter is equally as bright but just cannot flourish as much in an environment that is all about sitting down and completing tasks on your own. She is much more collaborative, shall we say… But I suppose all these factors come into play when one tries to measure intelligence, but the truth is that there are many kinds of intelligence, just certain kinds of intelligence are valued over others in various settings.
Along with the letter asking permission to test our son, there is a list of attributes of the gifted learner as opposed to the bright learner. For example, the bright learner learns quickly while the gifted learner already knows… or, the gifted learner will asks lots of questions while the bright learner will just ingest the information given… and so on and so forth, and they also add that a gifted learner will often be a sort of social freak who cannot relate to his/her peers because they are just so out of their league… so, after noting these many differences they ask whether I think my child is bright, or are they, in fact, gifted, and require special schooling. And the truth is that after reading through these guidelines it seems pretty clear that my son is very bright, not gifted. A gifted child seems like one in a thousand according to this description and I feel like they are just filling a quota because they have these slots but there can’t possibly be that many little geniuses floating around this neck of Virginia. But, anyhow, like I said, how can I deny my son access to a better education? No doubt this wrangling over whether to sign the paper or not will end in my son being tested for the gifted program, and if the test shows that he is some kind of genius, then so be it… I guess I’ll just have to accept it!