Saturday, February 13, 2010

Linda Silverman on Gifted Children: There's more to school than academics

I'm reading: Linda Silverman on Gifted Children: There's more to school than academicsTweet this!

Just as my Twitterfriend was prepping a Linda Silverman post on her new blog(!), I was digging through old blog fodder notes from this same woman. My friend heard Linda speak, whereas I merely heard someone speaking about Linda's work in the context of highly gifted children.

I have been meaning to publish these notes as well as additional posts on Linda's work on visual-spatial learners as it relates to gifted children since my days at BabyCenter's Momformation blog. Clearly, like so many gifted issues that weigh me down, this one has been on my mind for a while.

I cringe when I hear teachers and administrators patiently (patronizingly?) reminding me that there is more to school than academics. In general, I agree. I think extracurricular activities can add a lot to an education (in fact, sometimes they are more beneficial than the curriculum), but what the folks don't realize is that these "life lessons" or take-always from the classroom are not always what they would expect and certainly not what they would want.

Back to Linda Silverman. As I heard it, she says this about a child who is, say, chronologically six, but academically nine-years-old and placed in an aged-based classroom.

That child's life lessons include:

How to live without real friends on the playground or "fit in" by joining uninteresting games with unfair rules.
How to wait patiently.*
How to explain things so that their peers will understand.**
Delayed gratification at pretty much every turn.

The lessons are not taught by a single instructor, but nonetheless are pounded in relentlessly, class after class, day after day.

Based on experiences I've had as a mom, I'd add these:
Classroom rules often go unenforced.
It's more rewarding to be a troublemaker who reforms his ways than it is to follow the rules from the get-go.

What lessons would you add?

*The corollary is "If everyone else takes so long to do this, I must be a lot smarter than they are."
**Arguably a lifelong skill, LOL.


Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

One lesson not to teach: The other kids are mean because they're jealous.

I got that the whole time I was growing up. You know what? They weren't mean to me because they were jealous, they were mean because I thought I was better than them. Because that's what certain grown-ups kept telling me.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Actually, kids are probably mean to the smart/geeky kids because they CAN be without repercussion. Somehow geeks and nerds are under the radar of PC behavior. At my son's school a teacher reportedly dressed as a nerd for Halloween a few years ago. Can you imagine someone rolling through through the halls in a wheelchair, just for fun (though now with that guy on GLEE...) Anyway, geeks and nerds are easy picking.

Re-reading your comment, grown-up told you you were better than other kids because you acted that way or you acted that way because grown-ups told you that you WERE better than others?

Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

You're absolutely right about the "because they can" part. But what I'm talking about is in my house it was perfectly normal to correct someone's pronunciation, grammar, or anything else you thought they were wrong about.

As an adult, I understand about being a know-it-all, and I don't specifically remember times doing it as a child. But I can't imagine the first time I started a sentence with "Don't you mean ... " was in my 30s.

Oh, I just remembered another lesson we teach gifted kids having them in age-based classrooms: Pride in your accomplishments is actually "showing off", and not acceptable. Better to not accomplish anything.

Amanda said...

I'm with Drew. I was told all the time that I was so d*m smart (see recent research about the effects of that; I had 'em all). I was told the other kids were just jealous of me being so smart.

Who came up with this idea?

I came to believe I was a pure victim. This somehow made me incapable of causing harm or hurting feelings. It was many years before I could understand that I was really quite rude and inconsiderate. Granted, it was because I was bored stiff and they had nothing interesting to say, but I was hurting feelings nonetheless and I was not made to understand that.

(Of course that doesn't excuse the bullying.)

Meowmie said...

As a gifted child I learned:

Nobody likes a smart alec.

If you finish your work early, you'll end up doing other people's work or rubbish set by the teacher.

You're at a greater danger of being bullied.

If you were stupider, you'd have more friends.

OK, these aren't 'true', but they are the lessons I learned.

RL Julia said...

The problem with being statistically an outlier is that you are well.... an outlier. Six on the outside, nine on the inside isn't going to necessarily be happy with other six year olds (who are dull) or other nine year olds (who don't know what to make of him/her).

I am with Amanda about the bad habits. I have encountered any number of children (including my own)whose incredulity and impatience with other's abilities to pick stuff up quickly has not always expressed itself in the kindest ways.

Basically, I am of the firm belief that being a grown up is much better than being a kid - every one has some cross to bear.

As a non-gifted child I learned:

Kids in general (especially in groups)act like monsters.

School was a terrible place to be creative.

If you wear glasses and are relatively quiet, people will think you are smart.

As an adult I realized (hindsight being 20/20 and all):

Being terrified and distainful of other kids is probably not the best way to make lots of friends.

It wouldn't have killed me to have loosened up and had a good time every once in a while. Life doesn't have to be taken quite so seriously.

Maybe it wasn't the glasses. I was a lot smarter than I thought I was at the time.

Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

Seeing other people had the same experience as I did is making me wonder: Who is doing more damage to gifted kids, the schools that don't know how to deal with them, or the parents who don't know how to deal with them?