Thursday, June 28, 2012

STEM, Gifted Children and the Clinton Global Initiative

This post was originally published on June 12, 2012 at ArduinoMom. For my archived thoughts on gifted education, see the Gifted Kids tab above.

Last week I was a fly on the wall during a STEM working group session at CGI America. You can read about my experience here. In general, the conversation was stimulating, with much discussion geared toward STEM for all, or more generally, opportunity for all. That was all fine and good, but the more I reflect on my day at CGI America, the more disturbed I am about the lack of discussion about gifted and talented students.

Opportunity for all is code for helping disadvantaged children from low socioeconomic backgrounds graduate from high school and find jobs or go to college. It doesn't mean helping white, middle class kids (boys!) like mine and challenging them to develop strong study skills and sound work habits that will lead to success in higher academics and in life. (Not that I'm against the former; please don't think I am.)

One of my commenters hit the nail on the head when s/he wrote: So many parents of high ability kids hear "STEM" and think their prayers have been answered. The sad thing thing is that blended learning and STEM do provide great opportunities for self-paced or independent learning and deeply diving into subjects of interest- but will our schools embrace these opportunities for high ability students or simply continue to use them to provide assistance to other students? I hate that I even have to ask the question.

My boys' school uses a science curriculum that would leave many of the folks in that STEM discussion drooling with envy--it's inquiry-based and it allows for active discovery, yet it's not challenging or academically rigorous. Supposedly the curriculum has the ability to flex to meet the needs of various learners, but I don't think it served my older boy well and I've heard a similar reaction from other parents of high-ability kids.

The STEM working group was sizable and there were many discussions going on simultaneously, so maybe somewhere, someone in the room talked as much about raising the ceiling as everyone else did about raising the floor. I can only hope.


On a related note, there's an important national education vote coming up tomorrow. There are many important items on the chopping block. Not gifted ed, though.

Why not?

The budget can't go any lower than it's current level of $0.

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

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