Friday, February 24, 2006

We've considered the problems ...

... facing newspapers. Maybe we should turn our attention to the schools. Dr. Helen ponders: I'm Not Really Talented and Gifted, I Just Play One for the PC Crowd.

My wife taught gifted classes before she retired. I actually don't think they're such a good idea. The schools I went to (all parochial) had classes with a mix of kids, some interested in academics, others less so. Among other things one discovered that indifference to academic subjects is no indication that a person isn't smart (and certainly no indication that a person isn't interesting). And learning to get along with a variety of people is good. The problem really is the assumption that what is good for anybody must be good for everybody. The assumption is false.


  1. The question that arises is, What does your wife, the retired teacher of gifted students, think?

  2. I will ask when she returns from NYC. As I recall, she enjoyed teaching the gifted kids, but also thought that segregating them from other students (as it were) had its disadvantages.

  3. That Dr Helen site is a cool site! I bet she stirs a few pots. I've added it to my rss reader, thanks for the pointer.

    I won't get onto writing about the particular posting you have identifed, as this is a subject I can write about for shockingly long lengths, even for me ;-)

  4. Too bad, Maxine. I'd love to know what you think about this, because education is so important and -- in this country at least -- has fallen prey to the soft-brained. Let's not make anything too hard for little Johnny or Janie. Learning should be fun, fun, fun, and nothing but fun. If it's not fun, it's out. What a way to prepare anybody for life.

  5. Yes, state education in the UK is pretty much the same. I live in an area where there are a couple of grammar schools left, ie where you have to pass the "11 plus" to get in. But these schools are so popular that you have to score about 95 per cent to get a place. They are regarded as politically incorrect by the government, but they are very popular with parents.

    Our government is busy introducing "specialist" secondary (age 11-18) schools -- languages, maths, IT, sports etc. But children with aptitude for these subjects can't apply to these schools. Each school applies its own critria (usually distance lived away). Isn't that crazy?

    It is all like this, the better schools have teachers who are trying so hard against the odds, most particularly rotten "infrastructure" (old buildings, equipment etc). Plus a high proportion of thuggish, yobbish children who aren't interested in learning, but becuase you can't select on "ability", they pull down the average just because the teachers have to spend most of their time on behavioural issues.

    Sorry if I sound like a reactionary old ranter. Just a concerned parent who wants an education, dammit, for the next generation. (fun yes, but not entirely!)