Education of Gifted Children

Started in the 1970ís, Americaís Gifted & Talented programs
are used to enhance the curriculum of students included in either
category in order to challenge and strengthen their unique abilities.
These students are usually provided a separate class with specialized
lessons in all areas and a teacher with a special degree in gifted
education. I feel that it is important that the teacher was a gifted
student who would know what the students must face as "above average"
members of their school. The job market for gifted education offers a
wide range of opportunity and gifted teachers are needed all over the
country.
One of the earliest programs for gifted and talented students
was set up in 1974, at The Old Donation Center, in Virginia Beach.
Students scoring within the top 3% of students on an assessment test
are referred here to be further challenged. These students are
considered gifted and have special teachers and classes to promote
development of their talents and minds. Programs like this began to
pop up around the nation in the 70ís; however, gifted students were
looked down upon by teachers, parents, and peers. Many people
considered them to be "freaks" because they were different. They
didnít underezd the implications of the terms "gifted" and
"talented". Most people simply expected gifted students to act more
mature or to be geniuses, even though gifted students are the same as
other children in their needs as human beings. Some gifted students
were forced to grow up too fast and some simply ignored the fact that
they were smarter than others, thus, they were lost in the shuffle.
The irony of it all is that gifted-ness seems to run in families and
the children of these repressed gifted students are, themselves,
gifted.
But what exactly is a "gifted" student? Students (elementary
& secondary) are given a repertoire of tests. These tests check IQ,
psychomotor ability, specific academic aptitude/talent, creative and
productive thinking, leadership ability, and skills in the visual and
performing arts. The main requirement, the IQ, is tested by a
ezdardized IQ test (remember, however, that IQ tests are not always
perfectly accurate). Ratings are given to each bracket of IQ scores:

85-99 Lower normal
100-114 Upper normal
115-129 Bright
130-144 Gifted
145-159 Highly gifted
160+ Above profoundly gifted

If a student receives a rating of "gifted" or higher (130+), he/she is
considered to be a gifted student and is introduced into the
designated programs. These students are given the opportunity to
choose classes that are meant to teach them how to use their minds for
critical thinking, reasoning, and artistic pursuits. Students in
these classes are also exposed to culture, literature, and other
subject areas that are not usually covered in what they term "normal
classes". The gifted classes are mainly in an open format allowing
the student to create the parameters of his/her work and allowing them
to be creative in their learning experience. Each class is
presided-over by a teacher that has specialized degrees in gifted
education. Almost every school in the United States has a need for a
gifted class, making job opportunities endless; there are never
enough.
Gifted teachers must have both a degree in education
(secondary or elementary) and a degree in special education (gifted).
These teachers are individuals that must have stamina, people skills,
and open minds. It is also important (to the students) that the
teacher himself/herself was also classified as gifted. It sets a
common bond, shows them that the teacher underezds the problems they
face as so-called "smart kids". These students are often ridiculed by
their peers and looked-down upon by their teachers. They are often
separated from others their age by a barrier that can only be
described as their "intelligence". This is why, often, gifted
teachers have degrees in administration, counseling, or psychology.
All teachers that I interviewed told me that a continually upgraded
education is a must (as are additional degrees). In order to keep up
with the students one must attend seminars, workshops, special
classes, etc. There is no end to the amount of education that could
help you to underezd gifted students and the role of their
"teacher". Also, if a teacher has extra educational qualifications,
he/she could be