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    #184556 - 03/11/14 02:50 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: JonahSinick]
    Zen Scanner Offline

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    I'm not sure what experiences you have with your kid(s), Thomas, but my eight year old has taught me to never underestimate him. He plans to dress as a math professor for career day.

    #184558 - 03/11/14 03:24 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: JonahSinick]
    HowlerKarma Offline

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    My DD has also taught me never to underestimate her-- starting very very young. I think that I've told the story here before about her interpretation of people (en masse) ignoring rules-- even posted ones-- as "those poor people must have a reading disability," rather than selfishness or entitlement.

    Well, so just goes to show that she was THINKING quite deeply about the human condition and motivations even then, and she was around 4 at that time, as I recall.

    She began reading pop sociology/psychology/political science when she was 6-8yo.

    She didn't LIKE econ, but she certainly took the course as a high school freshman. Now, that's your typical micro-macro-mashup which is almost entirely qualitative, and she loathed the subject and found it intellectually dishonest as a "science" and morally bankrupt as a humanitarian matter, but still-- she certainly UNDERSTOOD it.

    I'd say that she is far more gifted on the social science side than in mathematics. Oh, to be sure she is gifted in mathematics-- at least EG there. But that is nothing compared to the ease with which she understands cause and effect in human systems, or can devise experimental design or critique someone else's. She's better than some grad students I've known in those disciplines.

    As I see it, a parent or teacher with sufficient (graduate) training should be able to explain the nuances of economic theory and intuition to an interested young child. Note that the binding constraint is on the instructor side, not the student side. I'm of the opinion that virtually any subject can be brought down to the appropriate level of the student, provided that the instructor is knowledgeable enough to know where simplifications are being made in teaching. An instructor also needs to be able to explain why simplifications are made and how they are or aren't representative of reality. Anything less is an injustice to the student. In the absence of a good instructor, the student, IMO, is better off learning the math alone, as it can be difficult to un-learn sloppy or incorrect thinking.

    VERY nicely stated. I agree wholeheartedly-- and the entire reason to have expert subject instruction is to avoid that nasty business of needing to UNlearn things that weren't actually true. It's a matter of seeming semantics or trivial nuance unless you truly understand at that higher level, but-- it's a real effect nonetheless.
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

    #184559 - 03/11/14 03:32 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: Thomas Percy]
    HowlerKarma Offline

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Originally Posted By: Thomas Percy
    Since you quoted me, I will write a bit more.

    I think a subject like economics is beyond a young child no matter how gifted this child is. I am not talking about the Freakonomics type of cutesy economics, which I think it is both more accessible and not parcicularly important.

    Most of the economists actually believe very similar things. Supply and demand, free market, and so on. Mostly, economists disagree about the degree of something. For exampole, how important is market failure in a certain market? If you think it is very important in health care, then you would support national health insurance. Not too important, then you would be against the Affordable Care Act. Much of these arguments are not based on theory but on how you read the evidence, which requires understanding of statistics and institutional knowlegde. This is before you bring in things like efficiency versu equality and how do you put a price on human life and suffering. Two very well respected economists could disagree and this seperates social science from science.

    I am not saying there no gifted children who can handle ambiguity. I just simply don't see this kind of subject as a good use of their time. High school will be the earliest. But from what I see, there aren't many high school econ courses that are worth the time. Might as well wait for Econ 101 in college.

    With all due respect, I think that it depends (strongly) upon the child.

    Ambiguity is what makes problems interesting to my daughter. She has always been like this. Ambiguity slows her down enough to promote retention of what she's doing/thinking, honestly. At least that is how it seems to me.

    Perhaps this is so in STEM. I'm not sure that I completely buy into it even there-- because I think that it promotes a rigidity in thinking that (probably) doesn't serve them so well in the long term.

    But in the humanities, certainly, a fluent level of comfort with ambiguity is essential for any authentic study at all.

    I think that schools fail children like my DD profoundly in this regard. She is much like her +3y classmates who are HG/EG otherwise, but in terms of her ZEAL for dissection and exploration of topics without "right" answers, she stands out among them even now. She also stands out among STEM undergraduates for her ability to take multiple perspectives, often simultaneously.

    It's a valuable skill, and it is one that I think is well worth cultivating in those that have the innate gift for it.
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

    #184579 - 03/11/14 06:46 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: JonahSinick]
    Thomas Percy Offline

    Registered: 11/18/12
    Posts: 206
    My son is five. So we have not discussed economics other than I have to work so someone will pay me so that he can have shelter, food and toys.

    I guess I personally was very comfortable with literature as a child but wouldn't have been with economics. I have seen students who somehow got indoctrined in a way of thinking that is hard to unlearn. I also have never really met many or any who claimed they liked econ as a child. It is very possible that the dearth of good econ teacher at that level was the root cause. I still don't think anyone will miss much by waiting until college, whether that is 14 or 18, simply because the quality of the course is likely much higher.

    #184641 - 03/12/14 12:38 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: JonahSinick]
    jeimey Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 06/19/10
    Posts: 19
    Loc: Northern California
    I definitely think that kids can and should learn about social sciences if they're interested. DK has a wonderful series for kids (maybe aimed at ages 8-12) that introduces social science topics. One of the books is called "Show me the money: How to make sense of economics." My DD7 loved reading this book because it introduces complex and interesting topics that are not covered in school. It's got beautiful charts and graphics that help make it accessible and interesting. She's definitely able to relate the ideas to what she's experienced in her life. She also enjoyed "What do you believe?" (in that series) which has a very contextualized overview of different religions and discusses the idea of belief and non-belief in general. There's also a book on psychology (What goes on in my head?) and Government (Who's in charge?). These books introduce ideas that get her wheels spinning. I really wish there were more of these kinds of materials available, but there are some amazing YouTube channels that my daughter loves that present complex concepts in an accessible way: SciShow, Vsauce, CrashCourse, Ted-Ed, CGP Grey, etc. At this age (7) I don't think she'd be interested in the books recommended by JonahSinick, but I will make note of them for later.

    #184648 - 03/12/14 01:00 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: JonahSinick]
    Quantum2003 Offline

    Registered: 02/08/11
    Posts: 1425
    Originally Posted By: JonahSinick
    [*]Study of Exceptional Talent has found that many more children qualify based on the math section of the SAT than on the verbal section of the SAT. This suggests that gifted children can, on average, excel more in math than in subjects that require verbal reasoning. (On a recent thread it was suggested that the modern SAT's verbal section isn't a good measure of verbal reasoning, but many more people qualified for Study of Exceptional Talent before 1995 as well.) It's been hypothesized that this is because high performance in math can come either from strong verbal reasoning or from strong abstract pattern recognition (of the type that the Raven's matrices test measures).
    [*] The case for learning the other subjects that I mention is stronger for verbally gifted children than for gifted children whose strengths are nonverbal.
    [*] It may be that life experience enables one to understand economics more deeply. But it's equally true that learning economics early could prepare one to learn more from one's early life experiences, on account of seeing relevant economic concepts in them.
    [*] I think that for children, improving reading and writing skills is more important than learning the subjects that I mentioned. But one can pick up reading and writing skills through them.

    Thank you for posting such an interesting series of questions. It took me a long time to determine that DS10 really had strong math talent in part because he also was strong verbally and does tend to approach math with verbal reasoning more than through strong abstract pattern recognition. Of course, he is only +3 rather than +10 years ahead in math as he is just finishing up Algebra I in school. However, he was capable of more acceleration (at least Algebra I at age 9 instead) at school if that would have been our preference. Had I been aware of this hypothesis sooner I might have been less confused a few years back!

    I do agree with you that learning those other subjects (econ, etc.) makes more sense for verbally gifted rather than non-verbally gifted kids as they are the ones more likely to pick up various non-fiction sources out of curiousity. However, everything is inter-related. DS has some rudimentary understanding of economics due to his interest (driven by interest in stock markets and math applications) that are more properly labeled of a non-verbal origin.

    I also agree with your last two points quoted above as applied to DS. His understanding is more sophisticated than one might expect but his interests were self-selected and he had someone somewhat qualified (me: degrees in Econ/Math & actively investing) with whom to bounce his ideas. I would not limit a child's interest in areas that presumably require more life experience but I also would not push them on a child unsolicited either.

    Edited by Quantum2003 (03/12/14 01:02 PM)

    #184691 - 03/12/14 09:10 PM Re: Is math privileged for gifted children? [Re: JonahSinick]
    JonahSinick Offline

    Registered: 07/28/13
    Posts: 51
    @ Thomas Percy — But it's not necessary to learn in the context of courses, one can learn on one's own.
    @ jeimey — Thanks for the reference!
    @ Quantum2003 — Glad to have helped :-)

    Edited by JonahSinick (03/12/14 09:11 PM)
    Advising for gifted children available at Cognito Mentoring.

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