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