Gifted and Talented

Guess what? 3 colleges here…I also never learned any “study skills” or whatever. Weird! I thought it was just me!

I was in the G&T program from 1st grade through 9th in Louisiana. The early years (1-7) were great–all math and computers. It was fun, the teachers were enthusiastic, and I learned (aside from all the details) how to apply everything I know to a problem–unlike the “there are two boxes in my brain; one holds science and the other holds math, and I don’t mix the two” mindset that our educational system so often creates.

Then in high school we got G&T “enrichment” (generally boring and pointless stuff) with a teacher who felt threatened by intelligent, creative kids. I dropped the program and took regular English classes. I didn’t have any trouble with the transition to college–but then, I’m naturally studious. I never studied for my high school classes, but I studied other stuff all the time.

I’m another one from California. They did the MGM to GATE thing when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I loved it, we got to ditch class and go play in the local marine museum lab. I think we had a special reading group too, but I don’t remember what we covered. I got booted in Jr. High school because I refused to do my homework. I still got 'A’s on all of my tests but they failed me.

I ended up bored, depressed, and dropped out of school at 15. I took the CHSPE (California’s GED) and enrolled in a junior college. 7 years, (including 2 dropped semesters) another junior college and a university later I got my BA.

It’s so nice to know I’m not the only Gifted F*ck Up.

I was in gifted and talented/honors programs. They were a bunch of bunk. Except the one that let me take college courses in place of HS english.

Interestingly enough, more and more school budgets lump G&T with special education. They spend far more money on spec ed, so G&T is shafted. Which is no fault of the spec ed program- it’s a bad decision of the administrators.

G&T programs still exist, but they’re being filled with “less gifted” kids whose parents threw a fit or were put in there because there aren’t enough kids to justify the program.

Best class I ever had was second semester junior year… It was the extra AP history class. Six kids. We were the top six in our class. Damn, that was fun.

This was the case with the Gifted and Talented Program I attended in elementary school when I moved to Tennessee. The lady who ran it was sweet but she didn’t work with me at all. Her attentions had to be focused on the Special Ed kids so she sent me to the library to work on projects that I found completely boring and annoying. I just wanted to be left alone to check out and read books from the high school section of the library–I was a big Kurt Vonnegut fan in fifth grade.

However, my first foray into any kind of GT program was in North Carolina when I was in kindergarten. The school was in a poor district and couldn’t afford an actual GT teacher and program so they would take the gifted students from each grade during one subject or another for an hour or two and send them to the library.

Did we get to read? No.

Did we get to watch educational films? No.

Did we work on projects? No.

We helped check in returned library books. Yep, a group of about 10-12 kids ranging in ages from 6 to 12 (I was always the youngest) sat around a big table, each of them with a stack of returned books, the librarian sat at the head of the table and went through the cards and called out the name of the book and we each looked through our stack and whoever had it passed it to her so she could put the card back. Then she put the books on carts and sent us to put them back on the shelves.

This “Gifted” program went on for for my kindergarten and first grade years. Then, in second grade, we got a Gifted and Talented teacher who worked with us on word problems, logic puzzles and “advanced” things such as money calculations and large arithmetic problems. I was actually intellectually challenged for two years until we moved to Tennessee (see above story!)

Okay, so I quoted the wrong part of andygirl’s post! It should have been this one:


Don’t get me started.

Oh, I already am…

TAG (Talented And Gifted, or variations) are a plague. It mostly translates into labelling people.

Know what my experience is? TAG programs damage all involved. I’ve seen too many frantic yuppie parents doing homework for Jason/Tiffany etc. (who are in tennis, piano, track, soccer practice) while almost ferally bright poor kids are systematically thrown away.

I’m not saying privileged kids are weak; they’re just not weighted realistically.

Anyone who thinks playing fields are level better check into a reality clinic. And the “labelling mechanisms” serve no one in the long run.

It truly sucks: the labels are way too narrow and expression too limited. Forcing kids into slots doesn’t work; for them or society. Fact: people aren’t that easily pigeon-holed; rich/poor, expected or dizzying variations.

“Talented and Gifted” programs have more to do with categories and expectations than actual worth. It’d make so much more sense if kids were allowed to follow their actual selves.


Slackergirl, if you don’t mind my asking, how old are you? I’m trying to remember when they changed over. I believe it was while I was still in elementary school but it’s possible it was when I was in Junior High.

If you’d rather not say your age, no big thing. I’m just curious when the changeover occured.

Also, when they changed over, do you recall if they did any retesting or if the number of kids in the program changed? My recollection is that they added some kids. Lowered the standards, perhaps?

Right on, man… lemme see that doobie. Gotta stick it to the man, right? Power to the people. Age of Aquarius. Make love, not war.

Sorry, TVeblen… I get what you mean, it just sounded… odd. Especially the “their actual selves” part.

Anyway… I was put into the GATE program, and I’ve always been an idiot. I mean, I doodled in class, but I wasn’t any smarter scholastically than half of the kids in my class. But it was nifty being stuck in the same group as all the smart kids in my class… sort of… actually, it was nifty getting out of class.

FOUR colleges here and it took me ten years to get a degree, which I did do eventually.

I do believe you’re right, orestes. Though, this was not in place when I went to school. I have since remembered the name, it is I.B., which is International Bacaloriate(sp?). I, however, was not in these classes. My school only started giving these classes the year after I left. My high school had set up a special program for gifted and artistic children. The Thom Advance Program, or TAP. I forget the name of the program it was modeled after, but it’s apparently world renouned.
Basically we would take a somewhat larger course load much faster, with more liberties, and pulling more to the artistic side. Then, for the rest of the year, we would get to do an independent project of our choosing. This was fairly broad, but to give you an idea of what kinds of things we would do, one year I found out how to make and made a short film from scratch (I did everything except act, which my acting friends were only to happy to do), and one year I created a board game and drew up a report on the best ways to market and sell it. We didn’t really have any guidance on this, we just had to check in with our progress every once in a while. We would get a mentor to get us started and help us with any problems.
My interview for it was fairly interesting. What I can recall was about a political cartoon, what books and movies I liked, what my interests were, how I felt about different things. We also had to write an essay, but that was rather secondary.
I was also in many advanced math classes all through school, but I would not consider these to be for gifted or talented children. TAP was more for that. For my advance math classes, basically we’d be paired with a class that was one year ahead (if I was in Grade 11, I’d be with Gr. 12’s in a Gr. 12 class). This insured that a certain group of the older kids didn’t like me.

In elementary school, we got pulled out 1 and a half times a week to do stuff. It got me away from my stupid classmates, but the kids in gifted in my class were terrible. i couldnt stand them. we all had major personality issues with each other but our stupid regular teacher kept on making us work on projects together.
But it was good, since one of my best freinds through elementary school and middle school i met through gifted, since she was in a different class.
In middle school, I got into a math program for gifted kids, and all my classes except electives were considered “gifted.”
I also got to go to “gifted/nerd” camp during the summer. DUKE/TIP WEST CAMPUS TERM 2 98’ & 99’ RULZ!! I met alot of my close friends there, but unfortunately they all live in different states.
Now in high school, I go to private school, where every kids is “considered” gifted, but on some I beg to differ.

You forgot, “Turn on. Tune in Drop out.”

I hated school, but I tested well. I was placed in the advanced math and English courses…and promptly did what Dr. Leary advised.

See what happened
I didnt learn how to use punctuation

I was in G&T classes both in 5th & 6th grade in Missouri (where it was referred to as LEAP–Language Education and Advancement Program), and in 7th & 8th grades in Ohio. While the Missouri program wasn’t bad (and had the advantage of being part of the military’s dependent schools), the Ohio program, IMHO, only served to further marginalize kids who were already “different” in some way and make them targets. Plus, Perry, Ohio was at the time (1983-1987) an extremely underfunded school district, meaning that the high school had little to offer G&T kids. No AP classes, no computers to speak of, not much of anything. Given the chance to do it all over again, I’d skip it.

It was called Target here in my neck of the woods. It basically took the place of Reading and Spelling - instead of going to either class, we went to Target Class for twice as long as one class period. We did a quick, token “reading and spelling” overview (but no real work), and then worked on various projects, either in groups or as individuals.

In high school, there was no program per se, but three different leves of classes: 91, 92, and 93 (91 being the smartest, and on down). I was always in the “1” level classes, which assured that I would never have any classes with any of my friends. But I kept it that way and took the AP courses my senior year - it looks good on a college application, and I got to skip English 101.

Incidentally, the kids in the smart classes weren’t ostracized in our school; they were also, by some strange coincidence, the popular kids. I’ll never forget one day having a substitute teacher take over one of the particularly “smart” classes (only the “1” level kids could take it). We gave her a lot of trouble, and the top student in our school almost got sent to the principal’s office.

That was a fun class in general. I don’t even remember what it was; that’s how much actual work we did in there.

The gifted & talented program at my elementary school doesn’t differ too much from the descriptions I’ve heard here. It was called Project Expand and our teacher was a lot like the one on Malcolm in the Middle.

My most distinct memory is of playing this computer game on an Apple IIE computer called the Search for the Most Amazing Thing - sort of a role-play/choose your own adventure game. It sucked - you were in this spaceship (and by spaceship I mean “enlarged cursor”) blipping across the screen supposedly looking for treasure but never, ever, ever, ever finding it. The Search for the Most Amazing Thing became a translation for “getting out of class and fucking around.”

There was a failed attempt to teach us to speak French, followed by this lame research project cum book report. I did mine on Jane Goodall.

Was it Valerie who said that the gifted program actually undermined her study skills? Yeah, same here - not that I ever had any study skills. I turned in my 4th grade book report on Jane Goodall half-assed and late and I turned in most every high school and college paper half-assed and late. The curse of those to whom everything comes easily, I guess. Project Expand was only mildly less boring than plain old elementary school.

In high school, I took the 3 Advanced Placement classes that were offered - history, calculus, and English. The year I took calculus was weird - they put the regular calc. class in with the smaller group of us who were preparing for the AP exam. The kids in the other class were way behind us in their preparation, so our teacher spent most of her time with them. She would come go over stuff on Mondays, then the 6 of us in the AP class would work together through the week’s lessons and the homework problems, then we’d have a quiz on Friday. We basically taught ourselves calculus with once-a-week question answering from the teacher. It was the first time anyone had actually made me work my ass off in order to learn - I couldn’t just skate by on having a good memory and being a good speller. Sad that I was a senior at that time! All of us passed the exam.

My English classes were unique and wonderful and I was lucky to have them. They weren’t part of any gifted & talented program, they were just part of my school. I’d put my public high school English education against most people’s undergrad one. My brilliant and wonderful teacher, Mr. Taylor, was a modern languages major and a professional actor - Shakespeare, musicals, you name it. He made us write and write and write and use primary sources and value our own opinions, not just repeat other people’s opinions of a poem or story. He always knew the kinky back stories about writers, and he could make all the jokes in Shakespeare funny. He would also point out the creepy stuff - like Gertrude’s description of Ophelia’s death in Hamlet - when you read it, you realize that she just stood there and watched the girl die without doing anything to stop it! See, I still remember and get excited about all this neat stuff 8 years later.

I took American Literature, English Literature, Epic, Shakespeare, and AP English with him. His test questions were designed to make you really think about what you’d read, not just parrot something back:

*Pretend you are Dante, and create a Hell of at least 5 levels. Whom would you put in each level and why?

Describe how Hamlet is responsible for each death that occurs in the play.

The following passages are written by authors that you have studied in this course. Identify the author and justify your choice. If you choose incorrectly but justify it well you will still receive points.

Read the attached poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens. What is the significance of the blackbird in the poem? Be sure to support your answer. *

Sorry to go down memory lane with this teacher - he was my favorite and I would be an English teacher myself if I could do it half as well as he did. I worked harder in his classes than in any Gifted Program because he made it not seem like work.

Hello Dry,

I’m 28, so I’m guessing the switch happened around '78-9? I think we were MGM for a year before we switched, but I don’t remember how old I was when I was tested the first time. I don’t recall being retested either.

I want to a very small school in the 'burbs and there were only 6 or 7 of us in the group. I think they might have done the testing/induction thing every other year at my school, because we were so small. There were 2-3 others in my grade and then the rest were from the year ahead of us.

I guess that sounds about right–I would have been in Junior High around then.

I’m fairly certain I WASN’T retested, so the standards certainly didn’t get raised–if anything, they got lowered (I seem to recall a few more kids getting let in.)

Oh, and given that you are a Quality Engineer, and I’m a very bored and somewhat frustrated Paralegal, I think we know who put our education to better use! :wink:

meephead- where were you when you were in PEAK?
I was in 4 different elem schools all over the country who called it GATE or TAG, and then in TX I was in PEAK - I can’t believe you remember the acronym!

TAG/GATE/PEAK’s damage to me was minor-

  1. I don’t know much grammar beyond the basics (and acc’d to a quiz given by my 11th grade PEAK eng teacher neither did most of the other kids in my class)
  2. my study skills are severely lacking
  3. I am a procrastinator
    however, those last two are more my fault than any teacher or program - when a student manages to do well on tests and turn in quality work on time, then there is no signal that something is wrong

I think labeling for the sake of labeling can be detrimental, but I don’t think that is what gifted programs are about. Call me an elitist, but I shudder to think what would have become of me academically if I had to sit in a classroom where teachers had to focus their energies on disciplining the students who didn’t care about learning. I’d rather have my expression limited by a somewhat narrow “label” than by the obnoxious delinquent next to me who won’t shut up and sit down, or by the students in the class who don’t get it after the 2nd or 3rd time.

Of course it is not a bad thing when you don’t “get it,” but why not have separate classes to accomodate the different learning speeds of students? Do you propose to do away with the “special ed” label? Maybe those kids really could keep up with the rest of their peers- the label makes them slow, right?

No, people aren’t easily pigeon-holed. But I think we can all agree that there are basic lines that can, and should, be drawn (too many commas? I’ll never know! :slight_smile: ). The program absolutely needs some changing, but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.