Thursday, July 10, 2014

To Label or Not to Label Gifted Kids

There is an active debate about labeling gifted kids going on right now in The Brain Cafe on Facebook.  I gave my opinion to start with and it is similar to the opinion I expressed in a recent blog hop.  (See May posts.)

I am a bit dismayed that we keep having this debate over and over and over again.  Should we use the word gifted?  Should we identify gifted kids?  Shouldn't we just give services to anyone who needs them?

Well, yes, ideally, we would just give services to anyone who needs them.  But, in case people haven't noticed, that isn't the way most schools work.  Funding isn't just allocated for some amorphous program to help kids with their needs.  That is regular school and it isn't really adequate for gifted kids.  I have complained loudly and frequently about the fact that regular teachers can't and don't differentiate enough for gifted kids.  And, no, it is NOT just a matter of more training.  You can come up with all the "should"s that you want - it isn't happening.  Teachers SHOULD differentiate for their outlier kids.  They don't.  There SHOULD be resources available for teachers to use with their outlier kids.  There aren't.  Teachers SHOULD take time to help the outlier kids with their specific needs.  They don't HAVE the time.  So which outlier kids actually get services?  The kids with labels.  BD, ESL, ELL, LD, etc.  Maybe it SHOULDn't be that way, but it is.  If you want a gifted program, you need labels.  Within those labels, there can be a huge range of flexibility. 

Personally, I am staying out of the theoretical argument now.  I can see the theory both ways.  But I want results and I want to see them across the board, not just in the best or most exemplary schools.  From what I can see, you need labels, you need specific identification, and you need specific programs - programs targeted to labeled kids.  We need specific programs to target the kids who are labeled GT, in addition to all of the other labeled programs. 

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