Thursday, February 4, 2010

Special Kids

I was in the "gifted and talented" program in my elementary school. I liked it for the most part. We played games, built stuff with toothpicks, did logic puzzles - all in the safety of a trailer outside the school. This trailer was like a mobile home cast aside from our large, concrete elementary school. Teachers kindly called this FEMA-shack "the portable." As if this class room could take off and go at anytime like my portable phone. Our "gifted and talented" trailer was shared with the special needs kids, which made for an odd combination of folks under one roof. For a while, I thought that us G and T kids were also special needs kids, and that people were just being nice when they said that we were Gifted. As an outsider, I don't know if anyone could pick out which class was special or gifted. We were all coloring and doing weird things - no one was sitting in their desks. And why did we all get banished from the "real" school to a "portable" school? Maybe it was so that the regular kids had one more thing to throw at us for insult?

I'm now thinking about schools again because Sparky is pretty smart and it has crossed my mind that he might benefit from some expensive, private G and T school. But the benefits aren't clear to me. I was educated in a trailer, so should he!


Hope said...

JP, I don’t have kids, but many of my good friends do, so I think I understand the urge to give your kid the best of everything. But, how old is Sparky? I think that as long as he’s in an environment where he is safe and happy and developing a positive relationship towards learning, that’s really all you need out of elementary school. What else does one learn at this stage, aside from the 3 R’s? By the time he’s in 5th/6th grade, you will have a much better idea of whether he’d thrive in a competitive magnet school environment or not.

I, too, was in a G&T program in elementary school and largely found it a waste of time. Having gone to an academically challenging high (and perhaps middle?) school would have better prepared me for my top tier college experience than did my large, barely average, Southern public high school. But worrying about this stuff at the pre- and elementary school level, in my opinion, is way too soon.

BTW, love the blog – been a lurker here for quite some time. Very brave of you to share your experience w/RA.

Anonymous said...

You've written my story. Some of my happiest days as a kid were spent in the portable in TAGS (Talented and Gifted Students) class. We even made our own special if we needed to ostracize ourselves even more. I loved that's where I learned to play chess and Battleship and some game with colored marbles that I don't even know the name of because you never see anyone playing it anymore. We did art projects, put on plays, studied other cultures (I remember a special presentation we did for the entire 4th grade all about Spain). It's also where I stapled my finger...maybe not all the memories are happy :). But we did it all without computers, cell phones, video games, apps, etc. I feel sorry for today's kids...they don't know how to have fun without involving some electronic device. I have a 5 year old myself, and I am trying my best to direct him toward the same games and toys I enjoyed. Luckily, his preschool is still stuck in about 1990, so he spends most of his time on art projects and learning French in a workbook. But, I wonder/worry about what his learning environment is going to be like in K next fall.