Continuing the Discussion of Gifted Education

Last week’s post began an important conversation about gifted education. Let it continue.  Project Bright Idea is showing that gifted education works for all children. The moral of the story is: “Treat students as if they are gifted and they will show up as gifted.” Take a look at the video and see what you think.

“All students can learn gifted behaviors?” “All kids can be taught to be smart?”

Do you agree?

PS and BTW: My publisher tells me that “The Genius in Every Child: Encouraging Character, Curiosity and Creativity in Children” will be coming out next week.


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9 thoughts on “Continuing the Discussion of Gifted Education

  1. Great concepts.
    I would like to spread the news in Australia since we are currently undergoing education reforms. I am a full time teacher and doctoral student interested in differentiated curriculum. Could the program be introduced for teachers in the middle school as a starting block initially? What does the teacher training program look like?
    Gabrielle Baker
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

  2. Good Golly! What kind of teaching is this? Worksheets? Rubricks? This is teaching children to be smart? No! It is teaching the children to please adults. Makes me sick.

  3. ‘Is My Child Gifted?’ … what a charming oh-so Rick post that was well fleshed out in 23 comments!

    To my mind Angela struck pay dirt off the bat with her simple reminder and urging; “This philosophy lends itself to the Montessori education! Check out a Montessori school* in your area.”

    Maria Montessori became Italy’s first female doctor despite every obstacle placed in her path. Upon graduation her peers shunted her aside to babysit mentally deficient slum children. She observed very much what you all express in this blog, the genius in children, and she developed a unique and meticulously crafted pedagogy (think ‘Japanese tea ceremony’) that provides exactly the right environment, techniques and tools to enable all children to each express their own genius. Montessori thrives today because it works and works well, as is confirmed by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of, in this short clip;

    Really I think Rick is to be whole heartedly congratulated on all he has done in two short years to focus attention on The Genius In Children and In Every Child; to inspire us, encourage us and help us to bring out the Genius in our own child. The word ‘Montessori’ appears only three times in his writings in this blog which suggests that he has done all of this in parallel with Doctor Maria … I’m thinking that when one philosophy independently validates another, as in “Great minds think alike”, one has real usefulness.

    Now we move from Gifted Children to Gifted Education, from The Genius IN Children to trying “to put (some of someone else’s apparent) genius INTO children”, and I groan. Kate’s words, above, resonate; “This is teaching children to be smart? No! It is teaching the children to please adults. Makes me sick.”

    While I don’t upchuck that easily, I do get headaches and as upset as Kate when I see authoritarian stupidity beating down on vulnerable innocent children. Such is a form of child abuse and one sad part of it is that parents typically don’t recognize it as such largely because they endured the same thing when they were that age; it was normal for them so they figure it’s still normal in schools today.

    Another sad part of this particular “education” (!) initiative is that it labels the new fangled curriculum- and teacher-imposed ‘geniuses’ (more !! marks) as special “gifted education” for “gifted children” and, as every parent knows that their child is gifted, such amounts to an insidious invasion.

    Of course, Project Bright Idea and this 40:22 minute video are not all bad. There are flashes of sunlight in the opaque dark clouds; those three politicians masquerading as educators acknowledge now and again that, yes, water does flow down hill, but too often they have their up’s and down’s confused.

    Having gotten my rant out of the way and made some big-picture points, I guess that calmer more-expert and influential minds than mine could filter through the Project and video, extract the sanity and re-package the thing in ways that mitigate the madnesses yet convince the politicians not to give up on Genius and Children.

    * Not just any old Montessori school; be sure the one you choose is AMI-based (Association Montessori Internationale) and ask them to explain why.

    Humbly offered by,
    Montessori-AMI Parent of three
    Peter in Toronto, Canada

  4. Thanks, Peter, for putting me up there with the great Maria. I actually don’t think that AMI has a monopoly on best practices. I have learned that most practices where the teachers show their respect for the children by acting as if they are the origin of their own learning, (maximizing internal motivation, learning by doing, etc.) are good. Teaching as if the mind constructs knowledge, rather than is a vessel for collecting it–that is education. If teachers and programs are flawed–and of course most are–kids are designed to eat the wheat and discard the chaff. If we are focused on leading the child out, we are educating. We don’t have to be perfect–the children will be forgiving.

  5. Sorry, Rick; educator-professional that you are, I can’t let you slip off the hook that easily!

    Of course, no one has a monopoly on common sense. Mankind has been parenting and educating for some 100,000 years and Maria’s wisdom is a mere 107 years old, and her methods are very specialized (‘elitist’, I don’t mind confessing).

    Clearly “respect the child/person” is paramount in all personal interactions (incidentally, I own and intend to use it to celebrate and aid all those who do just that; but that’s another story). There are some who extrapolate this respect to all life forms and inanimate objects too.

    Your wheat and chaff analogy is useful as long as the child can differentiate between the two; often, especially in today’s busy and crowded world, this is difficult even for the adults in her life.

    Sure, a child will be forgiving however, unless she understands what she’s forgiving, why she is forgiving and what is to replace the forgiven, then the fresh blade of grass that is her mind will be trampled down another notch, her Genius further dulled.

    In my comment above, indeed in all my comments, I try to think forward, to suggest what can and should be done today to make the next 100,000 years of parenting and education that much more effective and easier for children.

    I hope no one is too offended by my blunt way of expressing what I feel is important.


  6. Peter, you seem to be reacting to my apparent tolerance of less than great education. Once all teachers become constructivist in some form, then we can quibble over the relative merits of ami or ams or Dewey progressivism. I am just saying that I would gladly send my children to the Reggio College School in St. Louis or Baker Demonstration school in Evanston, or Chiaravalle Montessori (AMI) or Sycamore School for the Gifted and Talented in Indianapolis.
    I am not sure what you are saying other than an oblique put down of montessori schools that aren’t AMI.
    Thanks for your argumentativeness–finally some sparks here. (It is so unAmerican.

  7. PPPS–Actually, some Montessori programs come across as elitist. To that extend, I think they should make some changes. I don’t think Maria would approve–she got her start with poor, inner city kids.

  8. Thank you, Rick, for your gracious acceptance of my
    “argumentativeness”, my style of expression.

    No, I am not reacting to your apparent tolerance of less than great education; quite the contrary, I am complimenting and confirming your recognition of the principle of The Genius IN Children and IN Every Child.

    I am picking on the principle I espy – as Kate did too – in Project Bright Idea and its video that, while they (thankfully) recognize the concept of genius / giftedness as it relates to children, seem to want to impose curriculum-driven giftedness upon the child; to insert The Genius INTO Children.

    We’ve had many discussions in these pages about “the tail (our education systems) wagging the dog (the child)”; of educators trying to “push water uphill.” We, your readers, accept that Genius, giftedness, knowledge, empathy and all those other good things CANNOT be imposed upon a child, injected like a shot of vitamin B12. This is what worries me, and Kate too, about this Project,
    “bright idea” though it says it is!

    I led off with Montessori because I spotted it in Angela’s early post and Dr. Maria espoused innate genius and giftedness long before anyone alive today. What is not commonly known and understood about Montessori – and, in fact, AMI – is that the good doctor failed to protect her franchise. Thus any Tom, Dick or Harry can – and does – open a childcare his front room and call it ‘Montessori’ (even to see ‘Montessori-AMI’ on signage calls for further investigation; but that’s another story).

    Remember too, you and I, and readers here, are not typical parents of the 21st Century; you may be happy sending your child to this school, that school or the other. It is not us who Project Bright Idea addresses, it is the millions of Americans who do not have our knowledge and resources and (must) blindly accept what the local school offers.

    What brings us back to your previous two posts on Bus Monitor Bullying and my point that a child’s Home World and School World are way too separate and seem to be getting more so in today’s frantically paced universe. To me, that is the real problem in education today.


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