The gifted program is used in many schools to test the knowledge of each individual student by classing them into groups based on their knowledge. While they separate kids into these two different groups, teachers tend to underestimate the kids into the group that didn’t test as well. When doing this, the kids that were not placed in the gifted program felt left out. Often students reflecting on this way of schooling speak about how the gifted program only helped the kids that were placed in it.
From a young age, I knew that I wasn’t as advanced in writing and reading as other people in my class were. This was caused by an assessment to the whole class that separated the students based on if they were good at reading and writing. I learned that I was not placed in the “gifted program,” while a new student that wasn’t assessed was automatically placed in the gifted program. Making me feel awful about myself being that I tried so hard to be accepted. Now as I am older and reflecting the big ordeal of the gifted program I wonder what exactly does it take to be placed in the gifted program? I also wonder why the kids who aren’t placed in the gifted program aren’t specially taught so they could learn as much as the students in the gifted program?
Many people who weren’t in the gifted program have written about how they weren’t taught as much just because they weren’t in the gifted program. In, “I Just Wanna Be Average,” he talks about how he was supposed to be in the gifted program but got his tests mixed up. He says, “But mostly the teachers had no idea of how to engage the imaginations of us kids who were scuttling along at the bottom of the pond. “ This shows that when kids were not placed in the gifted program, they weren’t being taught nearly as much as they could have. This is partly because of the idea that teachers have no other way of teaching these kids. So, it can be concluded that the gifted program only helped the kids that were in the gifted program.
Another text called, “Chapter 2: Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” also talks about the problem with the gifted program. Usually, When people talk about the gifted program, they talk about the successes for the kids that are “gifted,” but they don’t talk about the kids that aren’t in the gifted program. The author of the text gives perspective for the kids weren’t placed in the gifted program. He says, “The solution is not to 'integrate" them into the structure of oppression, but to transform that structure so that they can become "beings for themselves." This shows that you shouldn’t separate the gifted kids form the non-gifted students, instead you should be teaching all the kids but in a way where all of the kids will be able to learn.
The same text talks about how if kids were put into these environments where they simply won’t learn, they think that that is okay. “The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.” This talks about not only the effects the gifted program had on the gifted students, but also on the kids who were not. It shows that many kids that were not placed in the gifted program felt left out, like learning is a competition.
I know that as a kid who was not in the gifted program, other kids didn’t mind it because they didn’t mind not doing much in class, but I felt like I needed to prove the teachers wrong. I remember once when I was in the third grade, we were reading a book called, “Dumb Bunny”, by Junie B. Jones. We were reading it as a class, both groups of students. That was my first opportunity to prove that I belonged in the gifted program. So, I brought the book separately and decided to finish it on my own.When I decided to talk to the teacher about it, she said, ”Oh that’s nice, I am so proud of you.” It hurt knowing I went out of my way to finish the book to impress her and maybe have a chance of assimilating into the gifted program, but instead she kind of shrugged it off.
It didn’t make any sense to me and to this day I still don’t understand what it takes to be a gifted student. I still feel as though one should be placed in the gifted program based on effort. One is better off when knowing they will do good in school because they put effort into it rather than knowing they will do good because they know a lot of information. This causes a competition for the students that feel like they needed to be in the program to be confident about themselves. As if they need to fight just to get to a better education.
I Just Wanna Be Average by Mike Rose
Rose, Mike. "I Just Want to Be Average." Lives on the Boundary: The Struggles and Achievements
of America's Underprepared. New York: Free Press, 1989. 162-67. Print.
Chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire
Freire, Paulo. "Chapter 2." Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 1993. N. pag.Webster University. Web.