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    #20609 07/19/08 11:46 AM
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    Val Offline OP
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    Just found this on the CNN website. It's a piece about a conceptually based approach to teaching maths. I guess these approaches are seductive on the surface, but they break down when you look at them more closely.

    For example, why must this method exclude long division? Isn't long division simply another valid approach? If so, then why can't they teach it? I don't understand this at all.

    Also, their "conceptual" approach to multiplying may work for 88*5 (see article), but will likely break down for almost everyone for 59877.26*6475.458. <sigh> The gifted kids will have figured this out on their own, and the others won't have learned how to multiply the old-fashioned way and so won't be able to solve the problem without a calculator.

    Math Fad

    It's like they're going to the other extreme from too much drilling.

    Val


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    Yes, Val. I'm so happy that someone else saw this.

    I read this article on CNN and had to laugh. I thought I was a lone, secret rebel in teaching my kid math the old-fashioned way. DS8 has Everyday Math in his PS. While it is not too terrible for most subjects (fractions are introduced in 1st grade, lots of geometry and 3-D shapes, and tons of word problems for math.. to name a few), it does a horrible, horrible job of teaching division in 3rd. The emphasis is on getting a "ballpark estimate" first, before explaining to the kids how do actually do division. For example, if the problem was to divide 529 by 13, they would emphasis that it is about 40. (in a very hand-waving way). Our problem arose in that DS had to have a firm understanding of size and scale, or he would start out trying out too small of a number for the ballpark estimate and get frustrated and quit. (13x5, no too small... 13x7, no too small.. this was a long, long approach to get to 13x40!!)

    So after about 25 minutes of sheer frustration, I finally said look... here is the easy way, and showed him long division. He could do all of the problems easily after that.

    I understand the importance of being able to do rough math in your head quickly. But maybe this should be a refinement AFTER the basic concept has been mastered.

    Oh and Everyday Math teaches multiplication using two different method (as an extra way to confuse the kiddos!)... the lattice method and the partial products method. Neither are made for multiplying large numbers.

    Is anyone else stuck with this type of math program? Our school has been using it for 4 or 5 years now, and the scores on the state achievement tests appear to be going down in math proficiency.


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    I try to expose my dd8 to as much math as I can from different sources. She is currently working on CTY's Math Olympiad (approaches to problem solving), Life of Fred (beginning Algebra), CML sample problems etc. She is also working on probability and statistics.

    Although it seems like we are all over the place, the truth is that we for the most part follow the classical path in mathematics and we always come back to the core. She is free to explore and taste higher level math than what she is currently working, but not at the expense of the basic skills, but rather in addition to.

    As much as I like some of the aspects of Conceptual Mathematics, I also believe in memorizing times tables, learning long division and learning how to multiply as well as other basic arithmetic. I try to expose my dd to number theory and higher concept math, but basic arithmetic is still the foundation on which everything else is built upon. I have tried to make sure that foundation is strong. I think it gives her more freedom to explore new ideas.

    One of the benefits of being highly gifted is the ease with which they understand and absorb new things. They don't have to be limited to one method over the other. The fact that they learn everything so much faster than ND kids, gives them a lot of extra time to play with new concepts/ideas. They just have that much more time.

    Last edited by bianc850a; 07/19/08 03:42 PM.
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    Dottie,
    I like the word problems that Everyday Math seems to emphasize. They do a wonderful job of getting kids used to picking the facts out of a story in order to solve a math question. That is a skill which will become very useful when planes start flying at 550 miles per hour with a northwest wind blowing 15 miles per hour <smile>... or with physics word problems. And they do a great job of introducing ideas early on in a very general way... like fractions. But sometimes I think they have decided that the whole, big picture for something like division is too complex for the wee little minds, and that they need to approach the topic from a circuitous manner. That is the only issue that I have.

    DS's school does a fair amount of time drills. I don't know if this is supplemented by the school or if it is part of the Everyday Math curriculum.


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    I'm not sure I love "Everyday Math," and I can't imagine not teaching long division at all. That's weird. But I do like conceptual math for my conceptual kid. I'm glad that I can teach him how he learns best as an individual. Memorizing times tables at 6 was killing his love of math. Learning concetual geometry got him excited to do math again, so I see the benefits of the big picture.

    BUT (and it's a BIIIIIIG "BUT"), I think teaching a roomful of kids at all levels of ability is a TOTALLY different animal than teaching one GT kid at home, where we can adapt as needed and fill in gaps when we need to. I think the more methods the school can use to reach kids, the more like they are to reach all of 'em. Not all kids respond well to "big picture" math, and I think teaching algorithms is necessary, too.


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    I just don't understand the false dichotomy of the "math wars". The standard algorithms are just methods for solving problems. I don't think we should be teaching kids ANY algorithms without explanation. We can explain the standard algorithms just as other methods in Everyday Math are explained. What's different? They should be a part of everyone's problem solving tool box.

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    I agree CathyA. They make a false dichotomy. But as in everything, it has to be polarized...there is never a middle ground. Well, some schools have found it by modifying EM. A friend's school does that and that district has had great results w/ EM and the kids love it. OUr district modifies it (well at least his teacher did, I didn't find other teachers who did what she did) so there was only the standard algorithms in 2nd grade anyway.

    The problem I've seen w/ EM is that they are using mental math algorithms used in Asian countries for written work. It's just plain incorrect. Many of the algorithms in EM are the basis for mental math in RightStart and Singapore Math but they are for mental math, not written math.

    Example:
    56+32 - mentally you'd do 56+30=86, 86+2=88

    EM algorithm:
    56
    +32
    ______
    80
    8
    ______
    88

    That makes no sense to me. Rather than giving kids a strong foundation in place value, I think it's confusing after you've just spent a year looking at:
    6
    +2
    ----
    8

    so now the kids see:
    6
    +2
    ---
    0


    Here's a link to the EM algorithms.
    http://www.math.nyu.edu/~braams/links/em-arith.html

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    Originally Posted by Cathy A
    I just don't understand the false dichotomy of the "math wars". The standard algorithms are just methods for solving problems. I don't think we should be teaching kids ANY algorithms without explanation. We can explain the standard algorithms just as other methods in Everyday Math are explained. What's different? They should be a part of everyone's problem solving tool box.


    Sing it, sister! I especially like this sentence:

    Originally Posted by Cathy A
    I don't think we should be teaching kids ANY algorithms without explanation.


    Kriston
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    Also, EM is not EM is not EM.... in the article the mom complained they got no books home or any explanations. We got sheets home explaining it as well as the Homelinks book which the homework sheets comes from. I think as in any curriculum, it may not necessarily be the curriculum but it's implementation. As good as Singapore math is, many drop it b/c it doesn't work for them either b/c they are not implementing it correctly or it's not a suitable fit for that particular child. The big thing w/ EM is supposed to be the games...that's where the kids practice and cement the facts. Well, guess what the teacher cuts out b/c of lack of time? the games. In one district, the parents received a letter saying it was the parents responsibility to drill the math facts at home and play the games. We also got a book with game ideas to play a few times each week. I hear the same story with RightStart math - it's too conceptual, my kid doesn't get it etc but when asked if they play the games "Uh no, we don't have time to play the games."

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    Good point, Dazey. You're not the first I've heard to proffer that criticism of the EM implementation. You can't cut out the practice opportunities and then be surprised that the system breaks down.


    Kriston
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    Originally Posted by Cathy A
    I just don't understand the false dichotomy of the "math wars". The standard algorithms are just methods for solving problems. I don't think we should be teaching kids ANY algorithms without explanation. We can explain the standard algorithms just as other methods in Everyday Math are explained. What's different? They should be a part of everyone's problem solving tool box.

    Someone here recently responded to a post that I wrote asking a similar question. Her answer was that many of the teachers don't fully understand what's behind the algorithms they teach. I agree, and think that this sad fact forces many of them to follow the recipes in the books.

    Also, many teachers with a good understanding of the subject teach the old algorithms behind closed doors. Many of them are frustrated with conceptual mathematics too. Here's a good perspective from a math teacher.


    Val


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    Originally Posted by Dazed&Confuzed
    The problem I've seen w/ EM is that they are using mental math algorithms used in Asian countries for written work. It's just plain incorrect. Many of the algorithms in EM are the basis for mental math in RightStart and Singapore Math but they are for mental math, not written math.

    I agree completely (hence my original post).

    Here is yet more insight on questions surrounding elementary mathematics education and what prospective teachers learn. Or don't learn.

    Kriston was right about the challenges of teaching a group of kids with different abilities and learning styles --- and of course, this is prima facie evidence of the need for ability grouping. But I guess ability grouping diminishes self-esteem or something. Though I don't know how, as constant struggling/constant boredom because it's too hard/easy don't seem like self-esteem builders to me.

    A lot of the mental math stuff is really important --- after all, it's great to be able to multiply 88*5 in your head. But using these approaches as the only way to learn multiplication seems silly, because they break down when you have to do complex calculations. Even with a calculator, setting up such calculations is difficult if kids (and adults) don't understand the foundational stuff.

    <sigh>

    Val

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    Is anyone familiar with the McGraw-Hill high school math sequence called, Contemporary Mathematics in Context: A Unified Approach?

    This is a highly conceptual approach as well. I just wondered if anyone had run across it and, if so, what they thought of it.

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    Did anyone see this article from the New York Times back in March? Here is a quote from what the Bush administration wants to do to improve math...

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/14/education/14math.html?_r=1&em&ex=1205726400&en=43d6c2db14891c1f&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin

    Quote
    It offers specific goals for students in different grades. For example, it said that by the end of the third grade, students should be proficient in adding and subtracting whole numbers. Two years later, they should be proficient in multiplying and dividing them. By the end of the sixth grade, the report said, students should have mastered the multiplication and division of fractions and decimals.

    Does anyone else read this and think, "Adding and subtracting whole numbers by the end of 3rd grade????" I think I read somewhere??? recently that, over the last 25-30 years, American textbooks have been dumbed down by two complete grade levels. I wondered what other people thought of this? I distinctly remember becoming proficient in long division in 4th grade. (and 35 years ago I was in a very backwoods, southern, small town that was not known for its stellar educational results. Gifted was a completely foreign concept.)

    Another link that I wanted to share about the future of math is from the Washington Post entitled, Accelerated Math Adds Up To a Division Over Merits. It describes D.C.'s goal to accelerating math for everyone so that 80% of kids get algebra 1 by 8th grade.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...ml?nav=rss_print&sid=ST2008060303480

    Quote
    Public schools nationwide are working to increase the number of students who study Algebra I, the traditional first-year high school math course, in eighth grade. Many Washington area schools have gone further, pushing large numbers of students two or three years ahead of the grade-level curriculum.

    I was not a part of this group discussion when these articles were published, so maybe they have been already hashed out. But I thought they were relevant and was curious as to what others thought.

    acs: Sorry... I haven't heard of the McGraw-Hill sequence. I did have "Unified Math" a very, very long time ago... back in the dark ages of the 70's.


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    California is going to require that all students take algebra I in 8th grade soon. It's a ridiculous idea; 56% of them take it now and a woefully low percentage manage to pass. I have to get the kids in a few minutes and so can't find the number now, but will look later.

    The problem is that the maths courses in 3rd - 7th don't create students who can work with numbers. They emphasize memorization at the one extreme and the conceptual stuff we've been discussing here, and very little middle ground. Of course, this approach falls to pieces in algebra, which is easy if you have a solid grounding in the basics and very difficult to impossible if you don't.

    I remember doing multiplication in 3rd grade, long division in 4th grade and fraction manipulations in 5th. Each topic was previewed the year before. My son's 2nd grade class was still doing basic addition last November. <sigh>


    Val


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    Dottie and Val,
    Not to play devil's advocate or anything... I'm just woefully ignorant and terribly naive... But could this new algebra requirement actually be a good thing, in that it may force these schools to see how shaky a foundation they have laid for math?
    Quote
    The problem is that the maths courses in 3rd - 7th don't create students who can work with numbers.

    Maybe this will be a wake-up call to the schools that they need to revamp their 3rd-7th math in order to get those kids ready for the challenges of algebra?

    Quote
    That's my nightmare...I only have 3 more years to get my last child through that hurdle before the inevitable hits these parts as well. Our top adminstrators see this as a good thing. I see it as a watering down of algebra, .

    Am I giving them too much credit for assuming that, if there is a problem, the solution is to strengthen the math skills, instead of watering them down? Or is this another instance of the schools mandating something without the faintest idea of the how to get from point A to point B?


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    Or is this another instance of the schools mandating something without the faintest idea of the how to get from point A to point B?

    That's my take on it. Our district sees a problem with math instruction at the elementary level but they are just flailing around and likely to grab onto the latest fad...

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    Originally Posted by Cathy A
    Originally Posted by ebeth
    Or is this another instance of the schools mandating something without the faintest idea of the how to get from point A to point B?

    That's my take on it. Our district sees a problem with math instruction at the elementary level but they are just flailing around and likely to grab onto the latest fad...

    I agree. And given that too many teachers don't understand the foundations of mathematics, the problem isn't likely to improve anytime soon.

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    And the US marches on further into Mediocrity-land.

    I read somewhere that Algebra I is now what pre-Algebra I used to be. By extension, Algebra II is what Algebra I used to be. So kids who take Algebra I only, get to college w/ Algebra I on their transcript, take an Algebra college level class (which you need REAL high school ALgebra I) and are woefully unprepared.

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    Some states are worse off than others in regards to their math curriculum. Illinois is apparently the absolute worst for low math standards on their state standards test by 8th grade according to at least one comparative study.

    Here is the contrast between a question deemed *proficient* for 4th grade from IL and one from MA.


    http://www.illinoisloop.org/trib_dumb_isat.html



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    Oh no, Delbws, we are in Illinois!
    Oh the terror!
    DD6 could do the 4th grade math quesion for the ISAT.
    I should consider myself lucky that I've already figured this out and have been taking math matters into my own hands since last year.
    I think our school is reaching for higher standards than that, but still the math is lagging their ability.
    I see Dottie's point, but it's easy to be less concerned........she's in PA, not IL!!!

    sick- not for you Dottie, for Illinois education standards......

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    Thanks for the insight, Dottie. (and everyone else!)

    When I read reports like the Washington Post article, I mistakenly assume that they are going to teach the material (algebra for example). I get all excited that maybe someone, somewhere has decided that we need to beef up our math curriculum and make our kids stretch that unused muscle in their head. Silly me! What was I thinking?

    And it never occurred to me that pushing the average kid up a notch in math by challenging him/her would necessarily mean dragging the above average kids down. In my mind, if the average kid are being challenged, then they could do some really awesome things with the gifted kids. I was assuming that both groups would rise together. <Sigh>

    I hate it when reality rears its ugly head!


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    Hi CFK... You snuck in your reply while I was busy typing.

    I so desperately wanted to see this positively!! Challenging kids is a good thing. The school just needs to realize that all kids need to be challenged!!


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    No Dottie... I'm just hopefully optimistic! And I haven't been fighting this fight long enough to have the optimism driven out yet.

    I still have visions of writing my congressman, sending letters to presidential campaigns, and writing an essay for Newsweek's My Turn, and marching on Washington. Or at least running for the school board of education. <evil grin>

    I worry that if all of the gifted students get fed up with the school system and bail to the safe confines of homeschooling, then things will never change. I'm still in the "up-in-arms" stage of denial. Give me a few months or a year and I will simmer down a bit. wink

    Last edited by ebeth; 07/22/08 07:58 AM. Reason: typo

    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    Just straddle the middle, ebeth. All school officials have good intentions. I do think they believe in what they do. Our principals and sup.s are VERY smart people.
    They are responsible for a group and I think they do a great job. I've gotta do what I've gotta do at home for mine.
    DD6 has said for over a year that she wants to be a scientist. When asked what kind she says: "the kind that blows stuff up"
    Everyone thinks this is very cute and funny. Unfortunately, I know that she really does want to blow stuff up!
    That's chemical engineering, people. The math base I see at school isn't going to cut it. She's going to be too far behind by high school if we don't carve an alternative path for her.
    Of course she's free to change her mind from now til then..........but just in case she doesn't......................

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    And oh by the way, how pathetic am I. I've given up trying to influence the system. Now I'm going to figure out how to work around it for my kids.
    I'll be an education reform activist after my girls get off into the world................

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    Thanks Dottie. grin

    98th, 99th percentile. That is a tiny part of the population. The school's responsibility is the whole group. They can't expend massive amounts of time and resources catering to 2%. I don't even think that would be right.
    But, I am a taxpayer and they do have to be flexible with me in my quest to properly educate my child.
    If they can do that, I'm more than happy.
    My child, my responsibility. DH and I have the largest stake in that process, it's good to be realistic.

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    I have to continually remind myself to straddle the middle.. so it is good advice. I just get very passionate when I believe so fiercely in something. But anyone who knows me would laugh. I'm quiet and shy enough that I go into a school meeting and silently get walked all over. I'm really only up-in-arms when I'm alone in front of the keyboard. blush

    And I didn't mean to place any unintended blame on those of us who homeschool. We might be there sooner than I had imagined. <sigh> It just seems that we are spread out so thinly that none of our voices are being heard by the local powers that be. We need to find a way of raising these discussions to a national level. If people can push through these other math fads, we should be able to start a new math fad for gifted kids. I'm personally thinking of framing it as "We need all of the bright young minds we can get to solve all of the future global problems".

    'Neato: Tell your daughter from me, that as I scientist, I say blowing things up is way cool!!


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    Backtracking a bit in the topic, I wanted to give a shout-up for DEVELOPING MATH TALENT by Susan Assouline and Ann Lupkoskie-Shoplik. They cover conceptual/computation balance by saying, in essence, that precocious children often move ahead much more quickly in conceptual math than in computational. They advise that the conceptual tendency should be given rein, but provision be made to do some work along the way to back-fill in computational skill areas and drill them.

    I would recommend this book to anyone, by the way, whose child has an early inclination towards mathematics. It's very good.

    Last edited by fitzi; 07/22/08 08:56 AM.
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    Fitzi, I'm on my over to Amazon. Been meaning to pick that book up and if Amazon has the Singapore I want to order I'm going to throw that in my cart.
    I don't know if this is good or bad, but I'm requiring DD8 to master 1-12 multiplication and division facts to instant recall status before we move on. I've had recommendations both ways. I am however, letting her move on in geometry and diddling with fractions. Maybe this book will tell me I am wrong!
    BTW she was very much resisting memorizing the facts till Aleks put Quick Tables up on their program. Now she's breezing through because that time/game element is making it more fun for her.

    Ebeth, take all my advice with a grain of salt. I really don't know what I'm doing! This is all uncharted territory for me as well.
    And I'd like to revise my statement a little. Even though 1-2% is a minority, they should be taken care of in the public education system. Being able to totally individualize curriculum for them is because I stay home which is a luxury these days, not an option for every parent of a child who is underserved at school.

    And I will tell C-dog what you said....from one scientist to another! She'll love it!

    Last edited by incogneato; 07/22/08 08:46 AM.
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    I'm sure that you guys have heard the sports analogy, but I will persist.

    If you have a child who has a rare gift for swimming, say, and has the potential to become an Olympic athlete, then you don't tell him (or her) that he can swim fast enough. You don't make him sit on the sidelines and watch while the other kids try to catch up. If you have a kid who can make baskets from the three-point line, you don't park them on the bench during the game so that other kids can improve their basket-making skills. And if you have a child who can paint or play the violin, then you don't make them sit quietly and watch while the other kids practice. Why should academics be any different?

    It is because we value individual talents in all areas, except in academics. In academics, you are expected to be part of the herd.


    Mom to DS12 and DD3
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    You couldn't be more right. I'll never tire of hearing that analogy because it's relevant.

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    Okay, I will go back to being mild, mannered me now. I just feel that there is a letter to Newsweek that is trying to get out. I'll have to sit down, write it out, and I will feel better. (even if I don't mail it off!)

    The book that you mentioned, fitzi, looks really interesting. I will have to investigate it. My DS definitely fits in the category of loving the big concepts enough that he rushes over the small details.


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    ROFL!!!

    Okay, bye all, I'm over to Amazon now.


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    Neato:

    I didn't know Amazon had an actual store. By the way, Singapore math has its own site (you probably know), though their shipping charges are criminal.

    FWIW (and I am the opposite of an expert), the book I just mentioned advocates not holding mathematically-avid kids until they master factual knowledge and computational skill. Rather, they advise letting the children run with the concepts, and circling back as required along the way to fill in gaps. I suspect, though, that the dynamics are different if you are teaching at home than they would be in a school setting.


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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    No Dottie... I'm just hopefully optimistic! And I haven't been fighting this fight long enough to have the optimism driven out yet.

    I still have visions of writing my congressman, sending letters to presidential campaigns, and writing an essay for Newsweek's My Turn, and marching on Washington. Or at least running for the school board of education. <evil grin>

    I worry that if all of the gifted students get fed up with the school system and bail to the safe confines of homeschooling, then things will never change. I'm still in the "up-in-arms" stage of denial. Give me a few months or a year and I will simmer down a bit. wink

    I'm in the same state. I've visited my congressman, written letters, etc. I'm probably not going to give up.

    My cynical side fears that the schools are happier without the gifted kids, because they're so much more work. And teachers don't get bonuses or rewards for doing more work, so there's very little to motivate them.

    Val

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    Originally Posted by incogneato
    Thanks Dottie. grin

    98th, 99th percentile. That is a tiny part of the population. The school's responsibility is the whole group. They can't expend massive amounts of time and resources catering to 2%. I don't even think that would be right.
    But, I am a taxpayer and they do have to be flexible with me in my quest to properly educate my child.
    If they can do that, I'm more than happy.
    My child, my responsibility. DH and I have the largest stake in that process, it's good to be realistic.

    I respectfully disagree. Those 2% of kids are the ones with the highest probability of being the inventors, leaders, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. They're the ones with the most potential to do beneficial things for society and we ignore them. Helping them excel will ultimately help everyone. Ignoring them harms their development AND sends a bad message. Other developed nations see this and group by ability. We don't in the name of phony egalitarianism.

    Val

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    Yes ebeth!!! I loved that part in "The Incredibles"

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    smile

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    Nope, CFK, I am right with you!!!! smile

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    Originally Posted by eema
    And I also agree that the resources should go for the majority of the population.

    Well, I don't. Children on the other end of the bell curve have to be given an appropriate education by law, why should the other end of the courve not have the same rights?

    I have to pay property taxes, some which end up in my local public school, yet I don't get anything back from them.

    I am not even asking for them to give more to my child. I would be happy with a voucher for the amount they spend per child at PS. I would happily supplement the rest. My neighbor has a child who is disabled. The goverment spends $40,000 a year providing appropriate schooling which includes a shadow teacher full time.

    This country is wasting its most precious resources in the name of equality.

    And by the way, when the school has to comply with the law for disabled/delayed students, they don't ask if they are kind and considerate. That is for the parents to teach. The school can't even teach them academic subjects. I don't think I want to trust my daughter's moral character to them.




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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    I worry that if all of the gifted students get fed up with the school system and bail to the safe confines of homeschooling, then things will never change. I'm still in the "up-in-arms" stage of denial. Give me a few months or a year and I will simmer down a bit.

    I hear you, but I have to admit that I feel ABSOLUTELY NO GUILT about HSing my son, regardless of what that means for the schools. If they want my son, his scores, the money for his presence, my energy and time, and all that stuff that people (like my mom) say that I "owe" to the system--or even to other GT kids--then they have to EARN it! mad

    If they aren't going to teach him, if they're going to kill the light inside him and make him believe he's a bad kid simply because he's bored--and they did all that last year, for as long as he was in that classroom!--then I'm yanking him out and I'm perfectly fine with that.

    My only worry about our choice is that maybe I didn't work hard enough to make it work, but that's still not a concern about what *I* owe *them*, rather a concern about what *we* could have *gotten* from the system if we'd tried harder. Even that's a fleeting worry though. I'm pretty sure this is the best path for us.

    Ultimately, my job as a parent is to raise my OWN kids the best way I can. It's all I have the energy for. I'm active in a parent group to try to fix the school system, but I just can't sacrifice my child for the machinery to grind him to a pulp.

    ...Not that you were suggesting that I should, of course! wink


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    Crossposting galore!

    I am torn about what the schools can actually do for an HG+ child. As things stand, I'm not sure that much is even doable.

    Does it sound like I've given up? I think maybe I have a little. I don't want to, but the realist in me sees that SOOOOO much would have to change to make things work well for HG+ kids in any systematic, systemic way, that I just cannot see it happening. They can never be anything but exceptions, square pegs in round holes. It's always a slog, a battle.

    I just can't find it in me to think that it's worth it for us. Not to discourage others who can manage--like Dottie, say--to whittle out a good fit for her square peg from that round hole. To people like Dottie I cheer loudly! laugh But I just know that was NEVER going to happen for us. And banging my hard head against that horrible wall was NOT how I wanted to squander my child's life and joy and intellect. He'd have been squandered. I saw it happening. Fast.

    I think every parent has to weigh her/his resources against the fight faced and place those resources where they make the most sense. For us, it wasn't even a quandry. Easy choice.


    Kriston
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    That certainly helps. OTOH, I feel like the deck in our system has been stacked against us from the get-go.

    Maybe a victim complex, you ask? But no, honestly, I think it's just reality. I'm not usually a whiner about how cruel "fate" is to me. LOL! I tend to look at what is and see reality. Spock and all that...So I think I have a pretty clear view of just what we're up against, and I think I am pretty honest about my own abilities to deal with it.

    Could I be one of those "older" families paving the way? No, I don't think I have that in me, nor do I think my child has it in him. I wish we could, but I don't think we have that to give. It is my fervent hope that someone else will give it. I am still an optimist who wants very deeply for the system to serve HG+ kids. But I'm quite thoroughly convinced by now that our system is not going to serve our particular HG+ kid. It just can't work.

    And that makes me sad.


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    I believe that if this country can devote a fortune to special ed --- including individualized education plans, personal teacher assistants, and so on --- it can provide similar attention to gifted students.

    There are public schools for gifted students: the Davidson Academy, in the LA public school system, in Florida, etc. (And there are many private schools.) If these districts can manage, so can others. The problem is a lack of will on the parts of the school boards and state authorities. I'm not saying these schools are perfect, but they're better than forcing a kid to do 2+2 when he can do 54288/54 or 2x(4x2 + 3x + 8) = 100.

    Finally, I had said that high IQ greatly increases the probability that someone will become an inventor, etc. Although an IQ of 130/98th percentile isn't a requirement for being a scientist, etc., the simple facts are that it makes things a lot more likely in that regard.

    Also, the higher the IQ, the more a student is being damaged by a system that caters to an IQ of 90-110. This is unacceptable.

    Also right now, almost NO resources are devoted to gifted students and most GATE programs don't honestly address their needs anyway. Right now, I don't think that even 0.5% of public school expenditures go to GT students.

    I don't want to rant, but seriously, this is a huge disaster in our system.

    Val

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    I agree, Val. Seriously, I agree a LOT! If it's a rant, it's a good rant.

    I think I'm just beaten down by how bad it is. I hate that, but I think that's the truth. frown

    GT kids get no resources, and that's not okay. I just despair of that changing in the current faux-egalitarianist atmosphere that has overwhelmed our schools. I hate it, but I don't see a way to change it in my child's lifetime. So I'm doing what I must to survive the bloodtide. I don't know what else to do.


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    Originally Posted by Kriston
    I agree, Val. Seriously, I agree a LOT! If it's a rant, it's a good rant.

    I think I'm just beaten down by how bad it is. I hate that, but I think that's the truth. frown

    GT kids get no resources, and that's not okay. I just despair of that changing in the current faux-egalitarianist atmosphere that has overwhelmed our schools. I hate it, but I don't see a way to change it in my child's lifetime. So I'm doing what I must to survive the bloodtide. I don't know what else to do.

    I agree COMPLETELY. Thanks also for the kind words.

    What's saddest is that GT education could be less expensive than ND education because the GT kids would likely finish school 1, 2 or more years sooner than others. If the schools scheduled the same subjects to run at the same time in different grades, moving kids to the levels most appropriate for them (up or down!) would be simple. And when they top out in upper grades, they could go to the next school up the chain.

    <sigh>

    Val

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    Agreed, Val. There are such simple fixes available. The same-time scheduling you suggest is the best, I think. Easy as pie on teachers--and easier than in-class differentiation!--no more expensive than what they do now...It just seems like a no-brainer to me.

    But is it happening? Nowhere I see. And to do it requires a complete change of attitude about what education means, what its purpose is: to teach kids based on where they are intellectually instead of based on what their ages are. But schools just place way too much value on age and not enough on ability. I don't see it changing. I don't even see how to change it.

    *double sigh*


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    Originally Posted by eema
    I do not see my child as any more precious than my autistic niece

    I am not saying that an autistic child should not get services. What I am saying is that a HG child needs the services just as much. Their needs are just as important.

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    I heard this adin the car today.

    http://www.edin08.com/Participate.aspx

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    I just think this sort of thinking is a false dichtomy. The question isn't really even about money, and it CERTAINLY isn't about taking money AWAY from disabled kids. That's just not reality. It's a way to avoid talking about the real issues.

    The honest truth is that some of the very best things that can be done for GT kids are free to the schools. The real issue is the way schools approach (or DON'T approach!) GT education, in a philosophical, systemic sense. That's not even about money.


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    Amen! (And I use the word advisedly! I think that's gospel truth you speak there, Dottie!)

    Last edited by Kriston; 07/22/08 05:55 PM. Reason: Nor do I think there's any reason to go to special ed. for the argument, BTW. It is a red herring to the argument we really need to be making, which has ZERO to do with disabled kids.

    Kriston
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    Wow. I didn't mean to set off a fire storm by commenting on parents who bail on the school system. I truly respect all of the people who dedicate so much of their time, energy, and passion to teaching their child outside of the system. Please forgive any misunderstanding.

    I was thinking about this all afternoon and wondered if our parents had any of the same discussions? Not many of us were homeschooled, were we? Somehow most of the people on this web site made it through the system without losing the light and joy that learning brings. It made me question whether the school system has changed over the last 30 years or so.

    If I think back to the 50's and 60's (okay that is a little bit before my time... but not by much), as a country, we were focused on winning the space race to the moon and the cold war. We viewed all of our resources as vital to beating the Russians and chief among those resources was the education of our children. They literally believed that the country depended on the next generation of kids, and schools made sure that the kids were given all the tools they needed to contribute to the welfare of the country. It was a time of tremendous leaps in inventions and medical breakthroughs, where great emphasis was placed on science and math. But our schools were seen as the foundation for all of those advances. Does any of that sound like our current school system? I thought not.

    My point is that if the schools could do it in the past, then they can do it now.


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    Our school system today is about bare minimums. They have succeeded in distilling out what is the bare minimum needed to pass tests, the bare minimum for the majority of the kids. And very little is left for the 1% or 2% of gifted kids. It is sad that so little is left that we have to argue over who deserves it more: a disabled kid or a gifted kid.

    There has got to be a better way.


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    Quote
    Not I my friend, not I. I have a public school horror story.

    Twenty percent of high school drop outs are gifted.

    Yes... I was going to put in a disclaimer about that... but I type so slowly, that you guys would be five pages ahead before I added that.

    My brother, who is easily HG+, almost didn't graduate from high school. But we were in a tiny, Appalachian, back-water public school. I was hoping it was better elsewhere.


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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    Wow. I didn't mean to set off a fire storm by commenting on parents who bail on the school system. I truly respect all of the people who dedicate so much of their time, energy, and passion to teaching their child outside of the system. Please forgive any misunderstanding.


    Oh, of course you do! No misunderstanding whatsoever! I didn't take it as an attack in any way. We're good! smile

    But you did hit on something that is commonly said to those of us who pull out of the schools. Seriously, I'm not kidding when I say that my own mother, the grandmother of my child, told me that she thought I was doing a disservice to the schools and to GT kids by pulling him out. It's a common view. And, frankly, it's one I understand and sympathize with. I'm not at all upset with you.

    But I think it hits at the heart of some very important issues, ones that I personally have been wrestling with. What do the schools owe HG+ kids? What do we have the right to ask for? How much effort should we be required to put into the schools, and for what amount of result back from the schools?

    These are big, important questions. It's a good discussion. It matters. If we can't define these for ourselves, then how can we define them--argue persuasively for them!--with the schools?

    I do think the system has changed. Grouping used to be better and more common. There seemed to be a greater respect for individual abilities and less concern about "stick with your age group or else." I personally knew several kids who were grade skipped when I was a kid. I know only one personally in my hometown. The whole town!

    Things ARE different. And I see them getting worse, not better. I'm not sure where I fit in the scheme of things, but I know that I had to get my child out of that toxic environment. That was the only thing I was sure of. Everything else, I'm still trying to figure out.

    You did fine, ebeth! Promise! smile


    Kriston
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    You know, I just glanced over at new members and saw the screen name hopefulinoregon. I think my recent posts could be a little discouraging to newbies, so I'm gonna go back and delete mine. Hope no one is offended.
    Don't want hopeful to come back hopeless. smile

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    Kriston... I'm not upset with the people who pull their kids out. I respect that. I'm mad at the system that drove you out.

    Big difference.



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    ooops too late blush

    For the record: I ALWAYS agree with Dottie!!!

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    I worry about that, too, 'Neato. In fact, Dottie and I had a PM conversation about this exact topic not long ago that we kept a PM because I don't want to discourage people.

    Where I stand: my heart is optimistic, but my head is pure pessimism. I don't like it. But that's where I am right now.

    I understand your deleting posts, but I don't know whether it's the right thing to do or not. I think this is an important conversation.


    Kriston
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    Well than don't delete yours! I respect your thinking.
    I'm just soft!!!!!
    You know me!!!!!!

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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    Kriston... I'm not upset with the people who pull their kids out. I respect that. I'm mad at the system that drove you out.

    Big difference.


    Indeed. I am, too.

    But you're really asking the same question I am: what does the parent of an HG+ child owe to other HG+ children and to the schools themselves?

    I don't have a good answer to that right now. I only know what I owe to my child. Everything else, I'm still trying to figure out.


    Kriston
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    Okay... I know I'm slow in entering posts... but I just looked up and saw that Kriston is entering posts on another thread...

    How do you do that?????


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    Originally Posted by incogneato
    Well than don't delete yours! I respect your thinking.
    I'm just soft!!!!!
    You know me!!!!!!


    And love you, ya' ol' softie! laugh

    Of course, big scary meanie that I am, all wrapped up in giant philosophical questions about the nature of education and what constitutes duty...

    Perhaps I spent too many years in graduate school and I just need to get a life! wink


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    Originally Posted by ebeth
    Okay... I know I'm slow in entering posts... but I just looked up and saw that Kriston is entering posts on another thread...

    How do you do that?????


    I'm a REALLY fast typist! ROFL!

    Keep in mind that I'm a writer (or want to be) so I compose at the keyboard a lot. I spent <mumble mumble> years in grad school writing English papers, most composed--you guessed it!--at the keyboard the night before they were due.

    I'm FAST!

    Last edited by Kriston; 07/22/08 06:20 PM.

    Kriston
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    Kriston, if either of had a "real life" right now, we'd have never have e-met! Tragedy!

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    I bow to your superior posting speed!!

    I think I sit and think too much before I type. I would do miserably on the timed sections of the WISC-IV. LOL


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    LOL, ebeth! Yes, I don't bother wasting time with thinking. I just go straight to the typing. <smirk>

    Actually, the ability to form cogent thoughts and put them into words fast is one of the only things grad school taught me. Oh, and I wouldn't have met my husband without my time there. So it was a win-win for me, really. laugh

    And 'Neato, you make an excellent point! Thank goodness for no lives! grin


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    hee hee hee

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    Did I mention I'm also Internet shopping at the same time?

    If I couldn't multitask >and< write fast, I truly would have NO life, as much as I write here! I don't spend nearly as much actual time on this forum as it looks like I do.

    No, really. I don't! I'm sure of it! blush


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    laugh


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    ROFL eema!!!!!!!!!

    Yes, no easy answers. frown

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    Delbows... Thanks for the link to ED in '08. I just fired off an email to friends and family to pass this along. Maybe if enough people respond, it will gain some traction and become an important election issue.

    See.. I'm still optimistic. grin



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    Good. The world needs optimists. I'm definitely pro-optimist!


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    This thread has been really interesting to me because it pretty much has summed up our experience with the school system- all 7 months of it. And the realization that I finally came to was that no matter what they did, it was never going to be "enough". After 4 months of fighting bureaucracy and being passed from person to person with the answer always being "wait and see, wait and see, after this or that random date maybe we'll be able to do something". And this with a child sitting in a classroom slowly withering away on the inside. It occurred to me that if they didn't understand now, no amount of me pushing was going to make them really *see*. What I was going to be able to accomplish was to get them to give me just enough to shut me up. Until that stopped working and then we were back at square one, except now I would have the "but we've already accommodated him" line. With all that effort and energy, I could just homeschool him.

    I went to a public GT middle and high school in FL, I *know* it can be done successfully on a large scale (this was in a huge city, it drew students from all over the county). The thing is, there were too many *messed up* kids that this school was just too late for. It scares me to think of that being my kids- or anyone else's for that matter.

    So, IMO, it's not just that the school owes GT kids a "fair" education, it's that they owe these kids not to screw them up beyond belief. I think from the schools perspectives, doing nothing isn't hurting anyone- but my experience says that is a very, very false notion. It's just that by the time the harm becomes evident the kids are long since gone from elementary school so they are never forced to deal with what not doing anything really does.

    And that's my little ray of sunshine to add to the conversation, lol.

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    And don't you wish you didn't feel that way? That's what guts me personally. I WANT it to be different. Heck, I want to do what it takes to make it be different! But how?

    I wish I knew. I wish I had an answer.


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    Great discussion! I've been reading with interest. I too am struggling with should I fight harder? I haven't really fought very much. I've only dealt with the teacher, being trying to wait for that magic grade where everyone says it gets better for GT kids. DS is now going into 3rd. Is this the year I fight? Go beyond the teacher? Meet w/ the Principal? I've met w/ GT coordinator...nothing happened. i've worked closely w/ the teacher. she tried...not enough. I've been told by a mom in my son's school that nothing much will happen until 5th grade. then I can get the ball rolling w/ having him take the 6th grade end of year tests to show he's mastered that and fight for subject acceleration. So what do I do until then? HS?

    My personal opinion is that it doesn't really matter who may do something great for the world. Plenty of average people do great things. It's a matter of school is supposed to be a place to learn, to grow, to develop in mature adults. We all pay taxes. it does work. I have friends whose kids are in excellent schools...whose HG+ kids are in excellent PS schools. But by and large, change is very slow on a large scale. So unless you're lucky enough to be in one of the rare schools, you have a fight on your hands. WHen resources are perceived to be limited, there will always be those that are sacrificed. Some schools sacrifice the bottom and some sacrifice the top. And from what I've heard, some sacrifice the middle.

    Until, we as a country, see academics the same way we view athletics, not much will change.

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    I do really wish that I didn't feel this way. It's hard to give up on an entire institution, especially one that is such a part of our shared cultural experience. It's hard to be this person who says "We homeschool, not because we *believe* in it, but because the schools failed us." It makes us the odd-balls in our homeschooling co-op, it makes us the odd-balls in the general public. But, I'd rather think of it as showing my kids that there's nothing wrong with forging your own path, that if something isn't working you should change it because the only person you can control is yourself. I try to keep all the doom and gloom on the inside (except for when I post it to unsuspecting message board readers, lol).

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    Is there any way to change the subject of this thread? So that someone looking for a discussion about math doesn't inadvertantly fall into this? I agree it is a good discussion. I don't know what the policy is on changing subjects, but I have seen it happen.

    I am deeply in the middle of "I chose private school because public wasn't meeting his needs but should I have fought harder for changes?". But, while I fight, what happens to the child? He asked me yesterday if, in a class of only 4 kids, would there be less teasing about being too smart? First I'd heard of it but he had to have heard it at school. Kids will always be teased about something but shouldn't there be some social more that "being smart" is both acceptable and appreciated? After all, these kids don't come out of the womb with prejudices. Someone said earlier that society doesn't value academics and that's true.

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    For better or worse, we're actually not all that odd in our homeschool group. As ebeth correctly notes, there are more and more of us choosing this path. I'd say that in our secular homeschooling group, we're probably in the majority. Not a large majority, but leading by a (disjointed) nose. wink

    I'm pretty sure it's not for better...but I can't imagine worse than what was happening to my son either. So there we are...

    And yes, perhaps I should really have bottled up my gloom tonight instead of thrusting it out there into cyberspace. LOL!

    But I say again, I think we are asking the big questions. I honestly do. This is the heart of the matter, whatever we decide to do about it or whatever the path it takes us down. Everything else is details. This is where the stand has to be taken, decided, nailed down if we are to make improvements to the system. We must each know what we think a school must deliver and why, and we must be able to argue that position with vigor and persuasiveness, whether on the large scale--the national or state stage--or on the small scale--in the school or classroom. It is what must be if things are to improve. I am certain of it.

    Okay, I really must shut up. You must all be sick to death of hearing me soapboxing tonight! Sorry! blush


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    It is nice to see such a healthy debate. I cannot comment on how it is to deal with schools yet. However, I first came to this board seeking answers because I was worried that the school system would not work for my child, because I was so woefully bored in school, and he seemed more advanced than I was as a preschooler. And if the curriculum is dumbed down from what I had in the 1970's, then he may as well not even go to school. But I have seen so many different viewpoints on this board, and advice on what has/has not worked, that I have much more hope for DS4, whether he ends up in PS or not. My opinion about public schools: their job is to teach every student, including HG+ kids. I will optimistically try to work with the PS next year, but I know that I will quickly pull my child if he's not learning anything.

    (Incidentally, i don't really think DS4 has a clue about what happens in school. He said the other night before he fell asleep "I think when I go to school they will teach me how to figure out how big a water bottle I need to fill my tummy.")

    This is certainly an interesting discussion on conceptual mathematics! wink

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    Originally Posted by mamaandmore
    So, IMO, it's not just that the school owes GT kids a "fair" education, it's that they owe these kids not to screw them up beyond belief. I think from the schools perspectives, doing nothing isn't hurting anyone- but my experience says that is a very, very false notion. It's just that by the time the harm becomes evident the kids are long since gone from elementary school so they are never forced to deal with what not doing anything really does.

    Oh, amen to that.

    Val

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    Originally Posted by st pauli girl
    But I have seen so many different viewpoints on this board, and advice on what has/has not worked, that I have much more hope for DS4, whether he ends up in PS or not.

    smile

    That's such good news. That really is the strength of the forum, that we have room for lots of views.

    It is clear to me that the individual schools, the individual teachers, and the personalities of the kids and parents all play hugely into this. Yes, there are lots of kids who have been burned by the system. Some have thrived in spite of it (or even to spite it), while others have withered under the weight of a bad situation. And then there are schools that are set up for gifted kids and do a good job (and others that don't). And schools that just turn out to be a bad fit for one kid, but if it's yours it's a big deal. Then there are the families who are able to work with a school to improve the fit, sometimes with gentle pressure and sometimes with more intense advocacy. We managed to stumble into a pretty ordinary public school, that, while below average on paper, turned out to be filled with teachers that have loved to watch DS learn and have bent over backwards to make sure his brain is fed.

    All these stories are true. It's a big country. And our kids, even if all HG+ need different things. One perspective just isn't going to tell the whole story. That's why I love it here.

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    I guess I just don't understand how we (the public) lost control over the school system. It's now this huge juggernaut of beauracracy with a will of its own. Why can't there be options? Why can't we have different styles of public school instruction within the system? I guess the charter school movement is based on this idea...but why aren't there more gifted charter schools? I can't find anything like that in my area.

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    Originally Posted by Kriston
    Okay, I really must shut up. You must all be sick to death of hearing me soapboxing tonight! Sorry! blush

    I think this discussion is a vital one. At the very least, it's getting everyone to think about the problem and see it from different angles.

    Like Kriston and others have said, the schools are supposed to be educating students, and they aren't. The minimum- standards based approach and focusing only on what's on the test are destroying the educational system for everyone. Few or almost no students in public schools are getting breadth of subject coverage, and (especially in elementary schools) many get little or no exposure to music & music history, art & art history, geography, history, literature etc. etc. This situation is particularly hard on the very bright ones, but it's still bad for everyone.

    And that just sucks!

    Val

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    Originally Posted by Cathy A
    I guess the charter school movement is based on this idea...but why aren't there more gifted charter schools? I can't find anything like that in my area.

    I don't know about your state, but in Texas you cannot have a true functioning gifted charter school because you have to accept all students who enroll. If more students enroll than there are spots, you have to have a lottery. Our gifted group discussed starting a gifted charter school but we couldn't get around that minor detail.

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    Originally Posted by Val
    Like Kriston and others have said, the schools are supposed to be educating students, and they aren't. The minimum- standards based approach and focusing only on what's on the test are destroying the educational system for everyone.

    And that just sucks!

    I agree that there are real problems with the system. I dislike NCLB as much as anyone.

    But I guess I wouldn't go this far. My DS is getting a much better education than I did. The demographics of his district are similar to where I grew up. My DS likes school and is getting a good education. It is a poor community, but they try do do the best with what they have. For example, they put a priority on music. The teachers go out of their way to put history and geography in the curriculum, even when it is not mandated. Our school board does a good job of supporting the teachers and parents. Perhaps they are doing a good job in spite of a broken system, I don't know, but I doubt they are the only ones.

    I mention all this, not because I don't think there are things wrong, sometimes seriously wrong, with the schools, but because I get a little nervous around overgeneralizations.

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    Originally Posted by Dazed&Confused
    Until, we as a country, see academics the same way we view athletics, not much will change.

    BRAVO - national mentality would have to suffer a MAJOR shift!

    Originally Posted by Squirt
    I am deeply in the middle of "I chose private school because public wasn't meeting his needs but should I have fought harder for changes?". But, while I fight, what happens to the child? He asked me yesterday if, in a class of only 4 kids, would there be less teasing about being too smart? First I'd heard of it but he had to have heard it at school. Kids will always be teased about something but shouldn't there be some social more that "being smart" is both acceptable and appreciated? After all, these kids don't come out of the womb with prejudices. Someone said earlier that society doesn't value academics and that's true.

    Do not feel bad, we had to take our kids from what was being hailed as the "most difficult, highest academics" private school because they were being dumbed down (is this even a word???)

    I am off camping ....

    P.S. And I agree that we should move this entire thread somewhere, since it has nothing to do with math, LOL smile

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