Education Week Commentary

One of my articles was featured in Education Week–“Gifted Education Is About the Whole Child“.

2 Comments on “Education Week Commentary

  1. Hi Celi;

    4solutions posted this comment on your edweek blog post: “Every child has unique gifts. All students need personalized education. Visit one of my websites to see how this proven approach can be administered. Place into your address bar.”

    That prompted me, in my long-winded way, to write this:

    Dear 4solutions;
    With respect, I must disagree with your statement that “Every child has unique gifts.” This is akin to saying all children are gifted, which in turn is the same as saying “all children are geniuses in their own way”. It’s very lovely, very feel-good, and very politically correct to say “Every child has unique gifts. ” The problem is, it isn’t true, Every child is indeed unique (except for identical twins, who, while different from each other, are more alike than not). Every child has their own constellation of talents, strengths, skills, weaknesses, faults and foibles. But as politically INcorrect as this is to say, most children are average. That’s not surprising; that’s how medical and other development professionals mark whether a child has met, fallen below, or exceeded developmental markers that MOST CHILDREN achieve at various points in their lives.
    There are many who love to believe that every child (usually THEIR child) is a budding Albert Einstein. And if that child shows ANY talent in ANYTHING whatsoever, the modern tendency is for parents to glom onto the idea that their child deserves a gifted designation (There are those who deny the existence of giftedness and genius, for their own personal or political reasons, but that’s for another post).

    But that’s absurd.

    Think about it this way: Why is gold so valuable? Is it because society *says* it is? No, it’s because it’s rare. Gold is mined and measured in troy ounces, which aren’t even full ounces. Now, think about Lead. Why is lead currently selling around $0.20 per POUND? Because it’s quite common. If a law were passed saying that Gold = Lead = Gold, then you’d be able to mix Lead ($0.20 per pound) with Gold ($1200 per troy ounce) and call the resultant product “Gold”. But it wouldn’t be gold, would it? At $0.20 per pound, lead is worth about 1.2 cents per ounce. Gold is literally a thousand times more valuable than lead (i.e., rarer), which is why people pay 1000 times as much for an ounce of gold as they do for lead. If you were to mix in lead and gold at that ratio, then less than 1/10th of one percent of the resultant product would be pure gold, but the whole thing would be called, according to the new law, “Gold”! Would anyone pay thousands of dollars for the new “gold?” Of course not, and the price of gold would plummet to the point where it would destroy the economy.
    Analogously, if we call everyone “gifted” or “genius in their own way”, we dilute and adulterate the value of giftedness and genius to the point where the terms “gifted” or “genius” become meaningless and worthless. Joe Schmoe Lunchbucket, who, no offense to him, digs ditches for a living, becomes a genius on par with Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking or Steve Jobs! Why not just mint billions of Nobel Prize medallions and hand them out to everyone?
    It’s very lovely, very nice, very “feel good” and certainly VERY politically correct to say that every child has their own gifts, or, in other words, is gifted.

    Problem is, it just ain’t true.

    The genius of an Einstein or a Hawking or a Jobs or a Lovelace or Curie is QUALITATIVELY DIFFERENT. These were people who thought (or think, for the ones still alive) differently — radically differently than other people.

    I am in computing, professionally. The difference between a regular person and a truly gifted one is the radical difference between a classical supercomputer and a Quantum computer. The latter computer can do literally BILLIONS more calculations at one time than can a classical supercomputer, precisely because the way it does computing is entirely different than does a classical supercomputer. Now, obviously, the brains of geniuses have a lot of overlap with the brains of other people. Geniuses aren’t their own species (not yet, anyway!). But they are sufficiently different to be qualitatively, and substantively different than regular brains.

    It is completely inaccurate to say, as you do, “all children have their own gifts”. Much better to say, as I did, that every child has their own constellation of talents, strengths, skills, weaknesses, faults and foibles. Then, design an educational system that does not go to either extreme, treating every student as either a gingerbread cut-out, or that all students are budding Einsteins.

    Your thoughts?

    • I read both, John, and I so appreciate your support and your reply to him. Your analogy about gold and lead was the clearest and most concise way I’ve seen giftedness and “all kids are gifted” parsed out.

      Thank you so very much for all you do to support gifted people!

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