Thinking About Genius – Saving Our Brightest Minds and Our Future

May 8, 2017

I’ve often spoken and written about how factory-model, time-based schools keep bright students from moving ahead.  We bore these students, they often find other “games” to play (which may not be constructive and helpful), and we waste their potential. We let them down, and we lose them.  I’d seen it and experienced it, but hadn’t read or studied much about it in depth.

I recently found that there is a lot of information to support my observations, and my brief review gave me even more cause for concern.  It is clear to me that factory-model schools stifle creativity and genius, and limit humanity’s search for solutions to the problems which plague us. I found (but had not yet read) a book Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting our Brightest Young Minds.  The book’s site tells it all:

“With all the talk of failing schools these days, we forget that schools can fail their brightest students, too. We pledge to ‘leave no child behind,’ but in American schools today, thousands of gifted and talented students fall short of their potential.”

Authors Jan and Bob Davidson (creators of Davidson &​​ Associates, the educational software company) founded the Davidson Institute for Talent Development to assist gifted children and schools.  From the book excerpts and summary, I can tell that they tell a great story.

They “describe the ‘quiet crisis’ in education: gifted students spending their days in classrooms learning little beyond how to cope with boredom as they ‘relearn’ material they’ve already mastered years before. This lack of challenge leads to frustration, underachievement, and even failure… At a time when our country needs a deep intellectual talent pool, the squandering of these bright young minds is a national tragedy.”

I didn’t know the numbers – in the US alone, there are hundreds of thousands of highly gifted children – and millions more of above-average intelligence.  At the site you can read excerpted stories of genius and in some cases, how their needs were finally met, and how society benefits when these geniuses help us solve the tough problems.  It also helps to know that gifted students are often misdiagnosed as having the mythical ADD because they are being forced to “learn” things they already know, or get in a flash.  One story told of a girl who could read and fully understand a literature book in one night that the class was reading paragraph by paragraph for weeks on end.  Cruel treatment of our best and brightest.  The bottom line – proficiency-based education benefits all students.  Geniuses can move at their own pace as well as other students who need more time in some subjects and less in others.

I found a great quote about teaching gifted students: “Teaching those types of voracious minds in a regular classroom without enhancement is like feeding an elephant one blade of grass at a time. You’ll starve them.” (Elizabeth Meckstroth)

What would the world be like if we let all students reach their full potential – including our young geniuses?  Would major illnesses be eradicated, hunger cured, and poverty and the energy crisis  things of the past?  We’ll never know until we leave the factory-model behind, along with the many other outdated technologies and ways of thinking.

 

Originally posted by Dr. Mark Siegel at www.Delphian.org

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