A recent study found that as much as three-fourths of the state schools were holding back the most talented and brightest students because they wanted to combat the scourge of “elitism.” These students were not being given more advanced work even though they were not being sufficiently challenged by grade-level material.
Instead of being allowed to progress at their own pace, the students were often asked to simply mentor the other students. The Ofsted study found that the school treated academic gifts as “not a priority” for teaching and that allowing them to work to their full potential would “undermine the school’s efforts to improve the attainment and progress of all other groups of pupils.”
Stephen Hawking, it appears, would have been a threat to the educational mission and told to eat glue with the rest of the kindergarten kids. Shakespeare would be told that he needs to return to those word group “mix and match” exercises and stop composing sonnets on the school computers.
What is interesting is that England has a gifted and talented program for the top five to ten percent, but these schools are choosing to ignore that policy.
With kids in the gifted and talented program in Fairfax, I can say that this view is inimical to the development of such children. These kids can actually do worse over time in standard lessons because they are not challenged and they tend to slip in their skills and interest. More importantly, by holding them back, you are denying them the opportunity to develop to their full potential. It is not more “elitist” in the pejorative sense than selecting the fastest kids for track and field competitions. Children have different skill sets and aptitudes. Finally, while such kids can be viewed as an elite group for their area, it does not make them elitists in the sense of people who believe that they are superior to others.
We have previously discussed the dangers of a “nanny state” with our close cousins in England. This would appear another such example of those dangers.
When talented children are not challenged, they can turn to less productive activities:
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