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May 25 2007

Lord of the flies

fly.jpg

Having heard that I am the world’s foremost authority on genius 10-year-old girls attending high school, Blamer S recounts her disheartening tale:

Twisty,

I’m sending this in your direction, not so much because I expect you to break off photographing wonders of Austin wildlife to read my issues, but because even being in the cybervicinity of a brain that understands will help keep me from driving into Luby’s cafe- with high school boys attached to the bumper.

I have a daughter. That alone is enough to make the world of patriarchal peril keep me up at night.

Last year, as a nine year old, N started attending the local high school and found the honors classes to be a good fit. The child who never found a place to fit in started singing over her chemistry equations. I, having been to high school, nodded happily and sent her to karate class where she learned how a tiger’s claw to the groin can be a useful move.

Something happened this year, now that she’s 10. You caught that, right? 10? Because it seems that every creep in the school has decided that 10 year old girls are just their thing.

She was asked to prom. She was stalked in the library until the librarian set up a sign-in system to nab the cretin. She was asked out to the school dance, and had little balls of crumpled paper thrown at her until she opened one up and saw it was covered with hearts.

Guess what the counselors’ responses were. “But she’s sooo cute!” “She’s adorable.” “Wow! She’s a heartbreaker.”

No. She’s 10. She likes cats, dogs, and ponies. She does not like sausage talk, date talk, or rape videos posing as music videos. She has a prepubescent body and a heart to match. And she’s sure as hell not responsible for male reactions no matter how fucking “cute” she is. 10. Jailbait.

Yesterday one boy cornered her and spewed vile stuff during a day long classroom and field trip. While the teacher removed him from the classroom three times he did not stop the next time he came back in. We’re talking gross, sexual stuff, nonstop. He has Aspergers and didn’t pick up on the subtle cues like, “Get out of here until you control that mouth.” Oddly enough, I don’t feel that’s my problem. The idea that kids get to go to school in a harassment free environment doesn’t have an asterisk with fine print saying “except in cases of cute 10 year old girls and older guys with issues.”

Yet the upshot is that N is supposed to deal with having this kid around, because removing him would disrupt his education. Plus, he can’t help himself being a male with impulse control issues. And don’t forget, she’s so cute and all. She just needs to learn to deal with it because she’ll be getting that response all her life.

This morning the counselor asked if I wanted to talk about it some more, as though talking was supposed to relieve some feminist tension I have about her beauty. I want a restraining order.

Thanks for listening, or at least not letting me know if you just deleted this.

S

I’m confident that the Blametariat will have some trenchant remarks on this development. For my part, it seems an ideal moment to plug my highly unpopular views on the American public school system. Those views are:

Smash it!

Public education in this country is a hideous joke. The American public school system is nothing but male dominant culture’s incubation system. It is purposely designed to imbue its inmates, through equal measures of patriarchy-centric curricula and atavistic social structure, with chauvinist doctrine.

The result? An underclass of docile, barely-literate labor drones who will serve the interests of the megatheocorporatocracy. If the system, with its permanent ‘underfunding,’ inadequate instructors, politicized curricula, and perpetually ‘improving’ test scores, did not precisely meet the demands of the megatheocorporatocracy, it wouldn’t be compulsory, and it wouldn’t exist (note that for upper class elites, it doesn’t).

Unfortunately, it works perfectly as a delivery system for culture-of-dominance brainwashing. Products of this indoctrination emerge* with no thought but to replicate the insidious nuclear family model, which locks down their dependence on women’s unpaid domestic labor, on cheap crap from China (i.e. ‘Third World’ oppression), on foreign oil, on genetically-modified, drugged, tasteless, and crappy food, on bleak, depressing jobs, on religion, on ‘the government,’ on porn, on drugs, on ‘medicine’, on xenophobia, and, by happy coincidence, when their kids are old enough for it to be a godsend, on the public schools.

Not only that, but the bizarre conceit that imprisoning children in concentration camps for 6 or 8 hours a day somehow ‘socializes’ them** can only proceed from insanity, and taxes to the utmost the obstreperal lobe’s highly unstable containment field.

The end.

Oh hell, I forgot to offer a solution. I’ve been told that if I don’t come up with happy-ending scenarios to counteract the dispiriting hopelessness of my depressing posts, I am nothing but a nattering nabob of negitavism. So here it is:

Home-school those kids!

Can’t home-school?

Overthrow patrirarchy! ¡Vive la revolución!
____________________
* If they emerge; those who don’t are sucked underground, to populate the megatheocorporatocracy’s equally lucrative criminal branch.

** See post title.

351 comments

3 pings

  1. Ms Kate

    I’d be happy to have my husband homeschool my kids when somebody dies and leaves me a verrrrry large trust fund.

    And who, exactly, usually gets to do the homeschooling? The same people that get to do the home care of elders, the home care of small children, etc. of course!

  2. Sniper

    This is why teachers need the summer off. Between indoctrinating children to be barely literate labor drones on one hand and brainwashing them into radical socialism on the other, we’re plumb worn out.

    That being said, S should strongly consider the legal route. The school administration is ignoring a clear-cut case of sexual harassment so a restraining order and at least the threat of a lawsuit would be completely appropriate.

  3. Jodie

    That is obscene. 10 years old and those guys think she’s fair game.

    Child molesters and perverts; just because they’re high schoolers doesn’t mean they’re not pedophiles.

  4. Hatchet

    S,

    WHAT

    THE

    FUCK?!

    What is WRONG with those school administrators? How can they possibly find it acceptable that your daughter is stalked into the library? So much so that it became apparent enough that the librarian took action? Is there any way that you can press charges, either within the school system or outside of it?

    How can ANY teacher or counselor consider sexually approaching a 10 year old acceptable behavior? I don’t give a rat’s ass about Asperger’s. That boy should be suspended.

    Twisty, unfortunately home schooling doesn’t take in the need for one or two paychecks within the home. We have no idea if S is a single mom or not.

    Good luck, S.

  5. Carolyn Bahm

    As the mother of a 10-year-old, I know what I would do:

    Have my attorney set up an in-person meeting that includes:
    - the school counselor
    - the principal
    - the school board member who’s responsible for the geographical area where I live
    - the school board president
    - the teacher

    And I would invite my attorney to explain to them the dreadful expense and publicity that a sexual harassment suit would cause the school.

    If that doesn’t work, I would quietly contact a reporter at the local newspaper and/or TV station and explain to them what an interesting story idea this is, with broader implications than just my own child’s issues.

    But quietly just expect my child to deal with it? Oh hell no. NO 10-year-old is emotionally or socially equipped to deal with this. I know grown women who would have difficulty in dealing with this situation. There’s no reason the child should have to develop a dislike of school, ulcers, or other signs of stress just because the school system fails to provide a safe, neutral learning environment. It’s inexcusable to let the disruptive elements run the school.

    Where does this child live? This definitely falls into the “shit I would not put up with” category.

  6. Ms Kate

    Interesting how a local school enrolled a boy with Aspbergers. They caught the boy with a knife, and didn’t tell his parents. The boy had a history of violent outbursts, and was highly obsessed wih guns and knives and murder methods.

    Earlier this year, he went into a restroom and murdered the first person who came in with a huge knife.

    So tell me about his right to an education again? Why does that right have to include unchallenged harassment of other students?

    He has a right to an education that should be guiding him toward being able to function in society. That may or may not mean a mainstream classroom. My husband has a kid in his classes that really cannot handle the environment but is still there and NOT learning what he needs to learn academically or socially because of the level of denial among the parents and administration. His presence doesn’t even serve HIS needs, yet he is free to destroy the learning environment without sanction because his particular brain damage problems mean he is not capable of understanding the “I do something stupid and get punished” equation.

    I think restraining order or lawyer meeting is the best route – there is precident for harm by obsessed kids, and it will certainly get the school’s attention. Having a lawyer contact the school about a restraining order might have a similar effect.

  7. Silence

    This girl is a child and the boys who are stalking her are just plain sick. That this very obvious fact is not recognized by the school counselors is just more evidence (as if we needed it) that society is a very dank, rotten environment for children to be raised in — or for anyone to live in, plain and simple.

    Sick, sick, sick. I am so tired of children not being allowed time to be children before they’re expected to become dutiful slaves of the pornocracy. Cats and ponies are much more healthy interests.

    I second the idea of homeschooling, but I’m all too painfully aware of how much time and energy that such a solution would require on the mother’s part. It just may not be possible, althoug if you look around online, there are groups that pool their resources to homeschool. Then you have to worry if their methods agree with what you want for your child, of course, but at least the molestation problem is lessened. (I won’t say vanishes, because it never does for women.)

    And Twisty is absolutely right about school. Why anyone thinks that setting children into dark, nasty-smelling schoolrooms and sitting them in rows while a boring grown-up drone on about things that do not interest them is an effective way of teaching eludes me. There are some good teachers out there; I’ve had a few in my time. But they were always the ones who broke the rules, threw out the books, and addressed the students as if they were people and not puppets. Education in this country is a sham. I’d rather we go back to some sort of system of apprenticeship — without the built-in patriarchal heirarchy, of course. That way children could actually try things out and learn practical skills, maybe even learn to reason out problems and think logically. I suppose that’ll have to wait until after the revolution.

  8. MedeaOnCrack

    There are men who don’t have “asperger’s”?

  9. TenaciousK

    Dear Blamer S:
    I agree with Carolyn above, though I have another option for your attorney, if you wanted to pursue it. The local school district has some rather stingent requirements about the types of services they are required to provide your child: protection from sexual harrassment, particularly at her age, is certainly one of them, as are educational opportunities commensurate with her abilities (thus her advanced placement, I imagine).

    If they are unable to provide appropriate services for her, you can obtain those services privately and pursue funding for them from the local district. It will probably require a court hearing, but my understanding is there are attorneys who actually specialize in this type of case. Though it’s another example of monied people having a greater range of options (not everyone can afford an attorney), it is something I’ve seen people with less means succeed at as well.

    Not pursuing these options in a case like this enables the school district to keep on providing the least amount of service, protection and education they can get away with. At the very least, the threat of such an action will probably result in moving the asperger’s kid to a more appropriate venue (or setting him up with a one-on-one, or something). I’d have a hard time sending my daughter back regardless.

    Anyhow, this sometime lurker just thought to mention it. Good luck.

  10. Birdy

    Actually homeschool can be done in a two paycheck family. Home education can be done in so many creative ways–once you get out of the public school formula you will find kids can get all their daily education in just a few hours. There is also online schools that families can use. That’s the beauty of home education–it can be molded to fit your family’s needs. It may be harder than just sending them off to someone else to educate, but then why have kids if you just hand them over to someone else to raise and educate.

    And yes I do homeschool–mainly because having gone through the System–I know I could do a better job. Not to mention keeping my kids from the insanity the PS system seems to enjoy dishing out to young, impressionable minds.

    However, I do belong to a nuclear family and I do not work outside the home (although I am working on opening a business that I can do from home—and no it does not involve jobs you find advertised on hand written signs or in classifieds)–so it IS easier for me to homeschool with out having to rely on child care from an outside source. I think if enough two income families got together they COULD work out situations for child care during working hours, esp. if shift work was available. In any case, I do think it’s workable if one thinks outside the box.

  11. Sara

    I’m not a parent, and I sadly sympathize to some degree with everybody involved, so I don’t really have anything useful to add to the general blamery.

    However, some all-girls private schools with very high academic standards offer scholarships. S, is such a thing available for your little girl?

    I believe in inclusiveness and giving everybody a chance; I do, really. But I think in your shoes, I’d be looking around for this option rather seriously.

  12. MedeaOnCrack

    The governments of Nunavut and some areas of Australia have complete home school curricula which isolated families have been using for years.

  13. TP

    Whenever anyone tells me my little girl is beautiful I shudder. Because most people measure beauty by porn-worthiness rather than something higher.

    I think she’s not beautiful enough to draw too much attention. I hope and pray. She’s not blonde, which is an American signifier for slut – thanks, Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe! And she seems very strong willed.

    But the way things are going, I expect by the time she’s ready to go to school that gang-rape will be compulsory as gym classes, and grade school girls will be graded on their porn skills, rather than book learning.

  14. Twisty

    Sniper, I trust you’re not indoctrinating anybody. Maybe we can bring it down from the inside!

  15. Lisa

    This is one of the many, many reasons that I plan to homeschool my boys. I don’t want them being “socialized” in an environment where this kind of behavior is considered acceptable. They are young yet, but if you want to call preschool years homeschooling then we are doing it. On a single income. And that single income being my own as I am a single mom.

    I am lucky in that I have pieced together an income from a few different sources that do not require me to pay for much childcare. I can take my kids with me to one job (as an in home CNA) I have some work-at-home writing gigs, and then I take care of a little boy too on the side. And then we don’t live on a whole lot of money. So, it is possible, though not easy to homeschool on one income. I can’t gurantee that I will be able to do this forever, but I am going to try as long as possible. Perhaps by offering my services to other families who want to homeschool but can’t. (I am a certified ex-teacher who has worked in the public schools. This being the number one experience that brought me to homeschooling. There are a lot of us ex-teachers out there doing it.)There are a variety of ways to homeschool and still have some kind of income.

    There are a lot of excellent teachers out there. Well meaning and highly skilled and really trying to work miracles in a system that doesn’t support them. But I agree with Twisty, the over-all assembly line approach to education that we provide here is not about getting the best out of each child, it is about producing worker drones in cheapest way possible to tow the megatheocorporatocracy (did I get that right?) line.

    As for this little 10 year old girl, I agree about getting the lawyers involved. And then the press if need be. Nothing scares the school system more than a parent who knows their rights and is willing to fight for them. Good luck.

  16. Whoknows

    I’m here on a mission of mercy from the folks in question, who want to let you know she found a VERY responsive counsellor who is taking this most seriously indeed. This particular incident is under control. However, not wanting to lose the opportunity of gaining all the collective wisdom of the blamers, said parties would like to redirect your brains to the following questions-

    1. What is up with males that they feel entitled to view every female in their visual range as mating material, regardless of age?

    2. How do they stop #1 so she can live a regular life?

    3. Seeing as #2 is about as likely as Dawkins finding God, what should they do from here on out? Shall they make up a standardized form to send home to the budding pedophiles’ parents? Shall they hire body guards?

    4. WTF?

  17. tpurplesage

    Blamer S,
    I have to wonder what state you are in (assuming you are in the US). My partner is a behavioral therapist that actually works with boys like you describe, and she would _never_ tolerate the dismissive attitudes of the school in this case. Even the most developmentally disabled person can learn to control and manage their own behavior. In California you can request that the boys counselor set up an IEP (Individual Education Plan – that’s what it’s called in Calif) with the school to address his behavior problems. I assume that no matter what state you live in, this boy has a counselor that is paid for by federal and state funds, therefore you can demand that the school contact the counselor and set up a plan for how they intend to manage his behavior.

    BTW, Ms. Kate, disciple is effective, punishment is not, especially for people with developmental disabilities. They have to learn that their actions have consequences, but positive behavior support is the most effective way to truly change behavior.

    No matter what, good luck S!

  18. Twisty

    Dear Whoknows,

    There is no ‘regular life’ for female persons, if by ‘regular’ you mean ‘free of male oppression’. Our position on the sexbot continuum precludes it. This is why I always suggest revolution. It is the only thing that will eliminate the sex class.

  19. LouisaMayAlcott

    Hi S,

    Throwing in some encouragement for homeschooling here.

    I had to withdraw my daughter at the age of 10 from public school, and for the very same reason as what you are now experiencing.

    She was being violently stalked and harrassed by male schoolmates *of her own age*. Now, this was back in the 70′s. 1978.

    I was then a single mother living in poverty. At that time, homeschooling was a very marginalized phenomenon, restricted to a few hippies and “eggheads”- academic types. It was also illegal except under very particular circumstances. (I’m in Canada).

    Since then, I have observed that homeschooling in the USA has become massively popular with the Xtian Right because of what they denounce as the sinfulness and liberal bias of the public school system. This leads me to seriously imagine that you will not face the obstacles that I did in implememnting homescooling. In fact, there are vast networks of support and interaction in the realm of homeschooling.

    Our daughters have a right to their childhoods, and an unmolested journey through puberty. At 15, my daughter opted to re-join the mainstream world, and spent the next 10 years discovering to her sorrow what that world was all about.

    The time that she was able to spend in peace, privacy and safety in her own home during the years from ages 10 to 15 have served as a bedrock upon which she has been able to build her life, and to survive many harrowing experiences along the way. (She is a bit of an adventurer). She often thanks me now for having done that for her.

    Don’t think that she is home-free when she gets to University. That’s where my daughter encountered the worst of her experiences.

    I bless you both.

  20. Sniper

    Sniper, I trust you’re not indoctrinating anybody. Maybe we can bring it down from the inside!

    I’m pretty basic with the reading and writing and whatnot, but I try to devote as much time as possible to the Godless feminazislamosociohomosexual agenda.

  21. Klutch

    I was finally brave enough to say out loud, to anyone that would listen, that the American public school system is highly overrated and based on an archaic industrial model created only to make more efficient factory workers (now known as modern office drones in cubicles).

    People were shocked, bothered, infuriated, and I was accused of being a bad mom. So exhilarating was THAT, that I furthered my conviction by allowing my daughter (14 at the time) to leave school. Just leave and stay home. I had to sign a form saying I was homeschooling, but I am lucky to live in a state with pretty lax homeschooling criteria (NM — they’re just happy if the kid doesn’t end up in the juvie system).

    I don’t homeschool; I work full time. She is free to do whatever she feels like doing, go to the library, rent videos, read, ride the bus from one end of town to the other. She is home by 6pm every night and as a family we honestly enjoy each other’s company, she is media savvy and has not been mentally sexualized like other girls her age (she is now nearing 16). She is still very much a goofy funny kid that gives me glimpses of mature adulthood more and more these days. And although the powers that be do not allow her to take the REAL GED test until she is 16 years old, she took a couple of preliminaries last year and got above 90% in both.

    Fuck the school system. I work in academia and the patriarchy is alive and breeding here, believe me.

  22. Erin

    At 10, this little girl is still young enough to buy into the messages that this is something SHE causes, especially if those are the messages she’s getting all day at school. Kids believe that they make things happen in ways that adults realize aren’t actually possible, so adults don’t always notice a child taking on personal responsibility for a situation she finds scary or threatening. That’s why child victims of trauma are given constant messages that nothing they did caused the traumatic event and that nothing they might have done could have stopped it.

    She needs to be encouraged to externalize all of this; to realize (1) that she’s being forced to deal with things that are other people’s garbage, and that (2) that is an unacceptable thing people to do, and that (3) adults will address the problems because (4)a 10 year old can’t be expected fix them on her own and “getting used to it” is not an option (see #2).

  23. Calabama

    If there’s a college or university near S, she may be able to enroll her daughter as a special student. As a homeschooling parent, I’ve found that even community college is a much less dangerous learning environment than high school for girls of any age.

    Happy to hear you sing it for homeschooling, Twisty! After our older daughter’s first day at kindergarten, which occasioned her tragic overnight conversion from adventurer to minx, her dad and I concluded exactly what you’re saying: “The American public school system is nothing but male dominant culture’s incubation system.”

    Maybe I’m an elitist pig, but as time went on, we were shocked to realize that we were worried not just about the warehousing, the brain-numbing curriculum and the exhausted guards — er, teachers — but the smallest victims: the kids. Most of ‘em were so soaked in toxic gender-typing, religiosity and consumer-crap worship that they truly constituted that most stereotyped parental terror: The BAD INFLUENCE! We winced to think of our two tender sprouts having to slog through all that toxic sludge quite so early on.

    So of course after happily homeschooling through elementary school, the older girl suddenly got sick of being “weird” and chose to go to junior high and high school — to our chagrin. But those early years did help, I think. At 22 she works as outreach and education coordinator for a pioneering feminist women’s health clinic (Plug: Check out Women’s Health Specialists for an inspiring story of 30 years of radical feminism in action, speculums and all).

    And every kid’s different: Our younger daughter homeschooled all the way through and loved it, including her fights with the fundie kids.

    But class counts plenty: In our poor, rural small town, 95% of the homeschooling parents (they are legion here in Jesusland) are fundie Christians with a huge social network as backup; the rest are wives of the few professionals in town.

    Being neither, Ed and I were lucky to cobble together some part-time and at-home jobs to stay afloat over the years, but most people aren’t so lucky. In America today, homeschooling is largely the domain of the religious fanatic and the wealthy. I’m leery of the charter-school voucher solution because it could sap funding from inner-city schools that need it the most. It’ll take a revolution to create the social structure that enables homeschooling to be a viable alternative for every parent. For that, as for a lot else, IBTP.

  24. ttrentham

    This a tough one and something my wife and I have been struggling with here in Austin for the last couple of years. We’re not the only ones. We hear the same things from a lot of parents.

    The public school system is definitely f’ed. I went to private school until attending UT for college and my wife went to public school in the DC area.

    We can’t afford private school for our own kids (a boy and a girl), so we’ve tried out a couple of charter schools as alternatives and ended up at a public school. They’ve all got problems. We’ve considered homeschooling, but aren’t sure that we could pull it off. The jury’s still out on that one.

    I did want to point out the the upper class elites avoiding the lowest common denominator public schools by going to private school gets them a better education, but doesn’t save them from the patriarchal indoctrination. I’d say it’s as bad or worse at private schools from my own experience.

    This does seem to leave homeschooling as the only viable option if you want your kid to get a decent education these days and many more people seem to be turning that direction.

    One thing’s for sure. If you are in the system, you have to advocate and push like hell for your kid b/c the system isn’t going to look out for them. They’re not going to protect them from the advances of mental defectives and they’re not going to go out of their way to challenge the bright kids.

  25. Gansumina

    As a professional in education, I’d go for the revolutionary route. It really is the only way to go about it.

    In the current system (damn the patriarchy!) it is very difficult to access an educational environment that is not what Twisty so aptly describes OR to have the resources to homeschool. Of course, money always seems to be the solution for these kinds of problems. IBTP!

    As for blamer S and her daughter, I say raise some hell, put a restraining order and sue the pants off the school administrators and counselors. Every time that happens, your daughter’s sense of self is being stolen- fuck the boys educational opportunities! We are talking about something so personal and fundamental as one’s humanity. All these years later, I still remember the sexual harassment I went through during my own schooling- your daughter (and any and every other woman on this planet) does not deserve to have those. In fact, all of us have the right to be protected from that.

    Once again, the Twisty Law would prove useful.

  26. Virago

    I agree with Carolyn Bahm, above, who suggests legal intervention. I might also consider including the boy’s parents so that they know that they could suffer legal consequences for the actions of their child. If that doesn’t work, I would second the homeschool and girls-only school options. (Depending of course, on your financial situation and personal beliefs.)

    It must be difficult, now that your daughter has found some small bit of peace and happiness, to consider moving her out of that space. I’m so sorry that you are in this situation.

    Klutch, I also went through the NM PS system. I agree wholeheartedly with your solution for your daughter. I learned nothing in high school, except how to combat boredom with drinking and drugs. Anyway, if you’re near a CNM or even UNM campus, you might consider enrolling your daughter in a class or two that she’s interested in. Even a continuing ed class would be helpful if you’re interested in keeping her college-tracked. (A big assumption, I know.) That would’ve saved my life at that age, but my parents, both HS dropouts, didn’t know enough about the university system to exercise that option.

  27. pdxstudent

    Although he wasn’t specifically talking about patriarchy, Louis Althusser was spot on some 30 years ago when he pointed out that “the Church has been replaced today in its role as dominant Ideological State Apparatus by the School. It is coupled with the Family just as the Church was once coupled with the Family.”

    I’m skeptical of institutional education, but just as much I think one throws the baby out with the bathwater when they categorically reject socialized education broadly conceived. I don’t think Twisty is quite going down this alley though, as she admits: “Can’t home-school? Overthrow patrirarchy!”

  28. slythwolf

    I know people with Asperger’s. That is not Asperger’s. That is something else in addition to Asperger’s.

    The people I know with Asperger’s are female, and they would never act like that. Meanwhile, there are lots of men without Asperger’s who act like that all the time. The kid’s particular syndrome is irrelevant.

  29. Twisty

    “I did want to point out the the upper class elites avoiding the lowest common denominator public schools by going to private school gets them a better education, but doesn’t save them from the patriarchal indoctrination. I’d say it’s as bad or worse at private schools from my own experience.”

    No shit. I didn’t mean to imply that prep schools are patriarchy-free. I should know; I went to one for 12 years without ever coming into contact with a single book written by a person of color. But the cafeteria food was definitely better!

  30. mi-voz

    I was homeschooled. Secular homeschooled. Very important distinction to make: there are many godbags who are not to be trusted with homeschooling. I heart John Taylor Gatto, too – recommend “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher” as follow-up reading to this post.

  31. MedeaOnCrack

    Yeh sure Erin. Except it is ADULTS who are causing this child’s problems. Adults.

  32. yankee,transferred

    Having three daughters who have struggled through the patriarchy that is the public school system, I can empathize. My youngest daughter has been told by countless high school boys that they want to fuck her. Nice. We are constantly hammering home in our lesbo-centric family that this is unacceptable behavior. We have reported one boy to the high school administration who explained to him that he was not to be seen near her, and to his own mother who remarked that “he couldn’t help it if she was so pretty.” This particular 15 year old boy already has a baby by a 13 year old girl who has since dropped out of school to care for this child with whom the boy has no contact.

    Here’s my assvice: take legal action against anyone and everyone who refuses to protect your child.

  33. Bex

    My (and many other peoples’) fantasy: Voluntary learning centers, where people of all ages can meet to hear lectures, work in groups, meeting with teachers & tutors…

  34. RadFemHedonist

    “How can ANY teacher or counselor consider sexually approaching a 10 year old acceptable behavior? I don’t give a rat’s ass about Asperger’s. That boy should be suspended.”

    Yeah, I have aspergers, I don’t sexually harass people of any age.

    “Sick, sick, sick. I am so tired of children not being allowed time to be children before they’re expected to become dutiful slaves of the pornocracy. Cats and ponies are much more healthy interests.”

    No-one should be a dutiful slave of the pornocracy. Can we please not use “protect teh innocence” type language? I would have liked not to be sexually repressed during childhood, stalking is an entirely different matter, what is happening to this child is stalking and objectification.

    If someone had done this to me at the age of ten I would have insisted that the school get them away from me and the other children. In fact there is someone at my college now who harrasses people, they always walk up to women and talk to them when they haven’t met before and have no interest.

  35. Artemis

    Remind me again – why do people bring children into this violent, miserable world?

  36. norbizness

    I will admit, public schooling for me beat child labor or having my mother kill me.

  37. Feminist Avatar

    I was homeschooled between the ages of 9-11 and I loved it. My mother was terrible at enforcing an education so I spent all my time reading- I lived opposite the public library. When I got to high school age my parents decided that I needed to go back to school as my mother (who was our educator) barely had a highschool education herself and didn’t think she could give us a decent standard of education. This is actually a serious consideration for some parents, especially if you have ambitions for your children to ‘have a better life’ (i.e. go to university, get a graduate job, be middle class etc).

    On the Aspergers issue, my partner worked in a public school in Scotland which had a unit for children with autism (many had aspergers). The idea was that the autistic children would be mainstreamed over time and had special support in supporting this goal. It was the school’s strict policy that children could only be in mainstream classes if they did not hurt or harrass other students.

  38. RadFemHedonist

    “As for this little 10 year old girl, I agree about getting the lawyers involved. And then the press if need be. Nothing scares the school system more than a parent who knows their rights and is willing to fight for them. Good luck.”

    They are the child’s rights, not the parents’ surely?

    “I was homeschooled. Secular homeschooled. Very important distinction to make: there are many godbags who are not to be trusted with homeschooling.”

    Precisely, the difference is a deeply important one, homeschooling must never be a veil for inescapable religious indoctrination.

  39. delphyne

    You’d think the rule of not hurting or harassing other pupils should apply to all pupils, not just those with Aspergers/Autism, FA.

    How about reducing the size of schools? Large schools with large classes are very impersonal and alienating.

  40. Erin

    She’s still got to know that there are adults on her side (family, friends, attorneys if it comes to that). Kids are used to accepting things from adults without question. If a scared or traumatized kid doesn’t learn that there are both responsible and irresponsible adults — and she learns to distinguish between the two by learning to question authority — the world is a much more threatening place.

    To be able to question authority at that age (particularly in an environment in which she is the youngest and probably the smallest and least strong), she’s got to know that there are adults who have her back. A lot of grown-ups get mad when kids don’t automatically accept what they’re told, and the anger of adults in authority can be terrifying to children.

    You give the same messages to children who are raped by adults: that adult/those adults hurt you, which is wrong; there are adults who will actively work to protect you and keep you safe. The comfort for the child is in the distinction between adults/groups of adults, which takes her out of the equation of who is in charge and who is at fault. Her only other option is not to believe that any adults can really help her, at which point she’ll take on the responsibility by herself. No 10 year old can adequately care for her own safety AND her own mental health at the same time.

  41. Nick

    This reads to me like a case of “you don’t belong here” suppression harassment. I don’t think it’s about attraction as much as the fact that skipping ahead grades threatens these boys’ ideas of their own intelligence. It sounds as if the other girls in the school are only dealing with the normal level of harassment, whereas this is above and beyond what’s normally pater-approved.

    This is not better, though. If anything, the fact that these boys are clearly threatened by the presence of someone who is younger, female, and clearly much smarter than they means that this is an actively dangerous situation. I wish I had advice beyond “make the school do something”, but the description of the situation makes me frightened and makes my skin crawl.

  42. lawbitch

    Hubby and I were both identified as gifted. We have 2 gifted boys. I hate the whole “gifted” label thing. My favorite quote is that normal is a setting on a clothes dryer. It’s difficult to rear a gifted child. Gifted girls (and women) have an especially hard time in our society.

    There is nothing that the antiquated public school system hates more than accleration. School administrators grant accleration only grudingly, then blame the accelerated student for any problems, including their own omissions. It sounds like that’s going on here.

    The situation is further complicated because gifted education is not federally mandated. Most states fail to require and fund gifed education. When public gifted education does exist, it is typically underfunded and underutilized. Parents are forced to fight for any accomodations. Often, acceleration is the only option.

    My own parents refused to accelerate me. I was a small girl and already a year younger than all of my classmates. They realized the situation and tried to protect me. Instead, I was stuck in a working class public education system until I was 17, which I hated.

    If hope that you have some local resources, If you need more resources, try:
    http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/

    You can contact me privately if Twisty would pass on my info.

    Good luck!

  43. cocoschmoco

    my fave memory from my public education days was in middle school choir when the music teacher/choir director would make 6th/7th grade boys dress up like women and stuff balloons down their shirts while performing some stupid-ass song I can’t remember. It was horrific, and after telling my mom about it, she raised enough of a stink to have the performance dropped (the teacher had been doing this schtick for years). The choir director was a woman by the way, and this was the early 1990s. Looking back, it was even more fucked up than I thought it was while it was happening. Gar.

    I taught art for a few years in a large urban school district, and while I am trying hard to devote my career to poor kids, i’m not sure if doing it via public education is the best route anymore. Though I know more than a few people who went to school to be teacher because they wanted to start a revoultion. we’ll see about that…

  44. stacy

    As the adoptive mother of a teen boy with multiple behavior issues I’m here to tell you that it is possible for boys like him to attend public school and be safe but it takes loud, continuous, strident advocacy on my part, with liberal amounts of threats from my lawyer. Every state has to provide every child with a free and appropriate public education (fape law) and every school has to come up with a plan. The schools don’t want to because plans are costly. My son’s school told me when he was in first grade to just keep him home – he wasn’t ready for school. I had my lawyer call a meeting and he’s been in school ever since. He has a safety plan that the school staff are required to follow and it says in his iep that staff are responsible for keeping him safe. I’ve told staff repeatedly that I consider them at fault if he hurts another child because the safety plan works great — if they follow it. As soon as they get lazy, he goes out of bounds and hurts someone (in his case, very mild – for instance, he’ll grab a kid’s arm or throw a pencil or fall down in front of someone to try to trip them — but neverthelss, not ok behavior in school or anywhere else.)
    Get a lawyer on your team, call a meeting, put everything in writing. As the tax payer employer of public school personnel, you and your child have rights. And you have a responsibility to exercise those rights, imo — not ok to just let it go — stand up and make a BIG NOISE!

  45. Feminist Avatar

    Too true Delphyne.

  46. Spinning Liz

    I didn’t send my boys to school, and I worked, so we never sat around the kitchen table doing workbooks or anything. We did what’s called “unschooling.” I just surrounded them with books and art supplies and musical instruments and interesting people, gave them a library card, computers, and bus fare, and said go find things you feel passionate about and learn what you need to know to do them; holler if you need help from me. Long story short, the older one graduated from UC in two years, Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors, and is now supporting his fiance while she attends grad school. The younger one opted to go to high school but dropped out, graduated from Harvard, and is now teaching self defense classes to women and doing volunteer work at a sexual assault center. Both excellent young men.

    But back to ten year old girls. It’s funny because I’ve been on a kick lately, watching movies with strong smart defiant rebellious pre-teen heroines, mostly in the 9-12 year old range. Because I’ve decided I want them to be my role models, girls who’re still at an age where they are passionate about their own lives and interests because they haven’t yet been indoctrinated to believe that their worth lies solely in their ability to be desirable to males. Movies like Whale Rider, Carol’s Journey, Rabbit-Proof Fence, Antonia’s Line, and that hippie homeschooling classic (actually they all contain some degree of homeschooling), Off The Map.

    So anyway I’ve been watching and watching, and the gentle Netflixians send me new recommendations every day, and I watch. And here’s the thing that just bowls me over: here are these feisty, smart, amazingly resourceful young heroines who know exactly what they want to do, but inevitably they’re forced to spend 95% of their time and energy fending off a deluge of patriarchal bullshit. Wars, rapes, imprisonment, restrictions, men who can’t treat them like human beings. Every single one of these kickass strong girl movies is really about how she has to bang her head repeatedly against the damn patriarchy in order to survive, much less do her thing. It is to despair.

    Please, Blamer S, keep us posted on your daughter’s situation. She is my new hero du jour.

  47. lawbitch

    Thanks for that smack down of the current state of public education, Twisty. Delphyne astutely proposes a great solution–smaller classes. Of course, that requires funding and more teacher. While we’re at it, let’s pay the teachers what they’re worth.

    It doesn’t matter if you propose the perfect solution, Twisty, because society (a/k/a the patriarchy) doesn’t want to fix it. We’ve got to funnel the $$$ into war mongering.

    As a disclaimer, I’m a former math teacher.

  48. lawbitch

    Nick says:

    This readsThis reads to me like a case of “you don’t belong here” suppression harassment to me like a case of “you don’t belong here” suppression harassment.

    EXACTLY!!!

  49. Patti

    I have 2 minutes, being a stressed-out single mom – my son is “on the Asperger’s continuum” and I have been really troubled by the villification of Asperger’s. Asperger’s is expressed in many ways. My son has a very hard time reading people, but he’s aware of it and works very hard to figure out the appropriate responses to different situations. He’s one of the sweetest kids ever. Doing the right thing is incredibly important to him. (I explained political lobbying to him recently and he was horrified that it was legal.) He’s only just 13, but has spearheaded several fundraisers at school in the last 2 years to benefit Kiva and Heifer. He’s brilliant, and full of compassion, and is easily moved to tears by injustice. Why people are cruel to each other is mysterious and confusing to him. He’s been bullied horribly by non-Asperger’s boys.

    Asperger’s does not equal asshole. I’ve known lots of total asshole men who do not have Asperger’s. Quit with the Asperger’s crap.

  50. Repenting

    a great soundtrack to this discussion could be rage against the machine’s “take the power back”

    the public school system, secular private schools, and religious schools ALL include mandatory patriarchal brainwashing on the curriculum, and what happened to that 10 year old girl coulda happened at any school. (although at an all-girl school, at least a girl could avoid being sexually harrassed by boys her own age)

    the disgusting thing to me, in this situation, was the negligence on the part of this little girl’s public school to take any action.

    oh, and to add something new, no one else has pointed out yet that home schooling, other than sometimes being economically unfeasable, is also a bad situation for children whose parents specifically want to brainwash their kids with religious doctrine.

    i agree with twisty’s bottom line. the only solution is revolution!

  51. Twisty

    Nick: “I don’t think it’s about attraction as much as the fact that skipping ahead grades threatens these boys’ ideas of their own intelligence. ”

    By the time high school rolls around, boys have had ample time to interalize the message of the pornocracy: attraction = nail that = dominate it. There’s little distinction between aggression and sex in our culture, of which S’s kid’s situation is a case in point.

  52. Scott from Baltimore

    In not any particular order:

    My journey through public middle and high school was the most miserable time of my life.

    My mom read to me and my siblings for years, and my dad showed us math or looked things up in the encyclopedia when they came up at the dinner table. That gave me a head start; home schooling on that level is within reach.

    I learned some math, chemistry, biology, latin, computer programming, and carpentry in school. That part was good.

    This site helps me deconstruct what I learned about gender there and everywhere.

    Beavis and Butthead are real.

  53. Twisty

    “Asperger’s does not equal asshole. I’ve known lots of total asshole men who do not have Asperger’s. Quit with the Asperger’s crap.”

    Hey Patti, for what it’s worth, this is an Asperger’s-friendly blog. If anyone has villified Asperger’s, I must have missed it. Is it possible that you take exception to S’s inclusion of Asperger’s as a descriptive detail about her kid’s harrasser? I give S the benefit of the doubt and trust that she alludes only to that one kid, for the purpose of illustrating the competing interests of the two special-needs parties; nowhere does she suggest that Asperger kids as a class are psychos.

    None of the pyschos I have known — and I’ve known plenty — have had Asperger’s.

  54. Nick

    By the time high school rolls around, boys have had ample time to interalize the message of the pornocracy: attraction = nail that = dominate it. There’s little distinction between aggression and sex in our culture, of which S’s kid’s situation is a case in point.

    No argument here. I’m just pointing out what I think is expressing itself through harassment here, that the equation is running the other direction: dominate it = nail that = attraction. The impetus is domination.

    Of course, I may not be telling anyone here anything that they didn’t know.

  55. Roov

    Also secular homeschooled! Up until I got to college (at 21, when I was good and ready to leave home, and grown-up enough that I had mimimal response to peer pressure).

    Like Klutch, my parents had stuff to do, and essentially taught us (my sisters and I) by telling us where the library was, answering our questions and letting us generally do what we felt like doing. We didn’t have ‘class time,’ ever. We had some chores, and occasionally my mom would collar us and insist that we learn basic math, but honestly, looking back we mostly just did whatever the hell we wanted, almost all the time. (With, again rather like Klutch’s situation, understood policies of always being home by dark, looking after the younger ones, not burning down the house, etc.)

    And somehow we all turned out to be functional adults, some of whom have graduated from college and some of whom chose to pursue other things, and all of whom are doing OK and can manage to hold our own in a conversation despite tragic early lack of ‘socialization’.

    You don’t necessarily need formal schoolin’! Not even formal homeschoolin’!

  56. Nick

    The impetus is domination.

    Expanding on myself here, this is a repudiation of the counselor, “But she’s sooo cute!” “She’s adorable.” “Wow! She’s a heartbreaker.”

    It’s not happening because she’s cute. It would almost certainly be happening no matter how pedophile-attracting her looks were. It’s a matter of these boys trying to show her that her place is not here.

    A 17-18 year old boy asking a 10 year old girl to prom is, if not harassment for intimidation, then pedophilia that needs to be addressed clinically–or both.

  57. SusanM

    Man. The school district wanted to skip me several grades when I was young and my parents forbade it. I always sort of resented them for that, but no more! BTW, gifted high schoolers are allowed to take classes at colleges and community colleges here (California) are especially welcoming– or at least they were a decade or so ago when my youngest sister took almost all her main HS courses at a junior college. You might check that option out, and at least get her out of the classes in which she suffers the most.

  58. Charles G. Koch

    High School is a nightmare that most teenagers have a hard time getting through. Enrolling a 10-year-old in one is child abuse to begin with.

    A moment’s recollection will remind anyone that the net impact on anyone’s life, caused by all levels of schooling, is more social than educational. So you’re eliminating a curricular mismatch for a far more damaging social mismatch.

    Skipping kids ahead is a dumb idea. What is it in aid of? So they can make a million dollars and retire before they’re 30? I say leave the kids in an age-appropriate grade, and let them satisfy their curiosity at the library.

  59. delphyne

    I have to agree that the academic achievement at all costs is a patriarchal idea. I’d have been terrified to be put in a secondary school when I was ten. It was pretty damn scary at twelve.

  60. Ms Kate

    They have to learn that their actions have consequences, but positive behavior support is the most effective way to truly change behavior.

    1) my brother is Aspy. He NEVER did this shit. That sort of harassment isn’t a feature of Aspbergers per say, but fixations are common. I do remember my mother sternly lecturing my brother about “not bothering Francy any more because he liked her”. If the little girl in this case is a fixation and the boy’s only role models are inappropriate, guess what happens? Add in the “he’s disabled” cop out and things get fun.

    2) I’m sorry if I equated discipline and punishment. I don’t in practice, nor does my husband. Many baby boomers with kids older than mine seem to have made that mistake big time, resulting in neither discipline nor punishment and now their teens are horrendous! I remember when I was pregnant seeing the kids of people I know and standing around with friends my age and saying NEVER! and “the word NO works okay!”.

    My husband disciplines his students, he doesn’t punish, but one student with brain damage is incapable of making that fundamental connection between action and consequence. Positive behavior building would be a nice thing to be ABLE to do, but try to pull that off in an already disrupted class of 25 students, many of whom scored

  61. sylvie

    a small note for schools and school adminsitrators, though. I’ve seen the inside of school workings, too, and every student has a right to be there with an education plan that works for them. if a school is trying to get out of this, it is in some real sense illegal. But its not that they are just being cheap, trying to skimp on helping out kids who obiouvsly need it. Give the people in schools enough credit that on average, they also see that someone needs this kind of help, and that an expensive educational plan would accomplish this. but for every extra dollar they spend on that, they are literally taking money away from some other ids’ education. there isn’t enough to go around, and so taxpayer or not, at least recognize the dilemma of doing right by one kid in the case where that entails having to do wrong by one (or three, or five) other kids. they don’t get enough funding.

    this is by no means a defense of letting any high school kids treat anyone like this, much less a tenyear old. and other commenters are right, this is not a case os asberger’s causing it, and even if it is, letting him get away with it only compounds the problem for him, too. but the school system is imperfect in a way that asserting one’s rights to have extra considerations and procedures in place for one child means there are literally a couple other kids who lose their rights to get basic features of their education. the money is a zero sum game.

  62. Ms Kate
  63. Ms Kate

    (continued) less than the 5th percentile on standard exam and several others of whom have obvious but unidentified and unaddressed developmental issues and NONE of whom have parents who want to deal with it. That’s why they put them in a Catholic school because MaryMagic will solve all their problems!

    And monkeys will fly out of Mary’s butt!

    3)My children are in a (horrified gasp) Public School where this shit is NEVER tolerated. They were hassled on the bus and in the bus line because my elder son comforted his younger brother with a small kiss. The homophobic little dipshits who harassed them lost bus privileges for a week and their parents had to come meet with the principal for a little talk about innappropriate behavior likely seen at home not being tolerated at school. The teacher who was supposed to be supervising the line was also disciplined for not intervening in an obvious teasing situation.

  64. HistoricUpstart

    Well, as a faithful blamer currently working at an inner-city public school, close to getting my license to teach high school social studies, I sort of want to cry right now after reading some of this. I honestly don’t think the answer is giving up and everyone home schooling. Very few of the parents in my district could even begin to consider that as a viable option. I’m going for option #2 – staying and fighting. Smashing the patriarchy from within!

  65. Rebecca

    Am I the only one here who actually had a positive, relatively trauma-free PS experience? K-8 I went to tiny private Jewish schools; my largest grade before HS was 17 kids, and until I switched schools for 8th grade, there was no “dating,” no dances, no separate activities for boys and girls. Perhaps the fact that the school sought to create a gender-equal environment in which to impart a traditional religion led the school’s founders and staff to more closely examine the messages they sent about gender and equality than do most schools.
    When I started a public high school, I thus had far less exposure to the terrifying gender socialization that most schoolkids (including my younger siblings) get in PS, but I managed to avoid being too caught up in it by 1) being as obnoxiously obvious about my feminism as the football team was about their footballism, and 2) being a rabble-rouser who got 2 teachers suspended for sexual harassment of other students and got in students’ and teachers’ faces when I thought they were out of line or wasting my educational time.
    I was lucky enough to be in a good school (high grad rate, high college attendance, low violence), where many teachers actually responded to students’ intellectual interests, but I think the most important tool that I had for surviving HS, and later law school, was an understanding of the systemic nature of patriarchy. This understanding helped me to separate what happened to/near me from how I understood myself, and it gave me a context in which to view my activism as part of a massive struggle, thus reducing the sense of isolation that I sometimes felt.
    So how about we infiltrate public schools and instead of the “sex” or “abstinence” lessons that kids get, we replace them with lessons on the systemic nature of patriarchy?

  66. Virago

    Smashing the patriarchy from within is all fine and good (and I would also pick that option) but when the battering ram you might have to use is a 10-year-old girl, well, I’d opt for what’s best for the girl and not what’s in the best interest of eradicating the system. The first concern should always be for the safety and well-being of the child.

    That said, I would like to ask the writer of the letter if she’s spoken to the child about these options. I mean, I know she’s ten, but perhaps she’d like to have a say in her defense–that is, whatever tact you decide to take in defending her.

    And, geeze, while I’m at it, get off the gifted and skipped ahead kids already. I am one of those gifted, skipped ahead kids, and, like delphyn, began HS at 12. It wasn’t that scary for me, and I was glad to be finished with the system and living on my own and supporting myself financially when I was 16. Not skipping ahead kids who can deal with it is really just damning them to extra years in a hellish system. “Age-appropriate grades,” my shiny gifted ass. I was reading at a third-grade level in kindergarten, so tell your story walking.

  67. S-kat

    I’m a huge proponent of the homeschooling/unschooling/deschooling movement myself. Barring that option though you should definitely take out a restraining order.

  68. LT

    Another vote for John Taylor Gatto – his essay “Against School” comes up if you google it. I’ve had great discussions about it with my community college students.

  69. thisisendless

    This is why I am going to be a high school teacher. (if they let me)
    A social studies teacher at that. I only have one more semester before I work on my credential.

    I am going to unbrainwash as much of the brainwashing as I can.

    Teach them youngins a thing or two.

  70. Twisty

    “Smashing the patriarchy from within is all fine and good (and I would also pick that option) but when the battering ram you might have to use is a 10-year-old girl, [etc]”

    If you’re alluding to my response to Sniper, Virago, you misconstrue my meaning; I was suggesting that radical feminist teachers subvert the public school system from within. Not little girls. And I was also joking.

  71. Twisty

    Ah, I now see, Virago, that you were responding to HistoricUpstart. Sorry.

  72. Emotenote

    I have two ‘gifted’ daughters, on of whom is advanced in grades. I’ve been wondering about the home school options, in part, not because of the other kids but because of the teachers who admit to being threatened by a smart girl. One thing I can’t emphasise strongly enough is that your daughter needs to know that she has advocates and champions all around her for support. She’s only 10 (mine also) and needs to feel the pressence of a safety net.

    Also I strongly agree with Carolyn; you need some hefty legal muscle and possibly (though I hate to say this) publicity muscle. I’ve found that sympathetic reporters with their head where it belongs can be very powerful allies.

    You are in a very unique situation and it may call for some very different approaches to your daughter’s education but there are tons of excellent web sites for support of very advanced kids. My first instinct in reading your note was get her the hell outa’ there and begin legal action immediatly. Hell, if she needs to go private because of what the school has allowed, let the bastards pay for it.

  73. lawbitch

    Charles asked: So they can make a million dollars and retire before they’re 30?

    No, I don’t want my kids to be adults at 16. There’s a local community college that they can attend while I guide them.

    It may seem freakish to some, but by the time my kids are 30, tney may have multiple degrees. I have 4 degrees and hubby has 3 degrees.

    The goal is not $$$. In fact, many so-called gifted people choose to pursue academic pursuits rather than more profitable careers.

    Freakishly yours,
    LB

  74. lawbitch

    I would also like to point out that I’m not promoting elitism here. My parents both dropped out of high school. I am the first person to graduate from college in my family, let alone the first person to earn a doctorate. I’m the product of the public school system, too.

  75. egalia

    When you encounter teachers and administrators who think it’s appropriate to teach 5 year olds to sing songs about sucking the eyeballs out of little birdies and drinking their blood through straws, well homeschool can look like the only viable option.

    In my experience, you can persuade them to stop this week’s outrage, but for sure there will be another one next week.

    It took far more time and energy for me to fight the school system than it did to homeschool. If you start early, before the school system convinces your children that learning is a chore, homeschooling is not that difficult. The kids do most of the work.

    In the ideal world, schools would be drop-in centers instead of prisons, if they weren’t great places, no one would drop in.

    Twisty, thanks for one of the best assessments of the state of our schools that I’ve seen.

  76. Amy

    I am currently in shock at S’s story.
    A 10 year old girl?!?!?!
    A fucking 10 year old girl?!?!?!

    What the fuck is the matter with the fuckwits in this world!
    It is inexcusable that her “cuteness” is used to legitimise that crap.

    What about disrupting HER education?!?!
    Although, I guess, if she’s pretty or whatever, that’s all she’ll ever need, huh. Psch!
    It’s all bollocks.

    Grr.

  77. Patti

    I think I didn’t like the association of Asperger’s with the whole scenario – it seemed irrelevant to the real story, but like it was significant to the teller – like when people mention how old and wrinkled someone is, or how fat. I’m sure I’m oversensitive about it.

    I’m often led to think about my raising sons in the context of this blog. There was a recent “all men are assholes, end of story”. My older son is often an asshole, very similar to his biological father (my college professor), who was not involved in his raising. My younger son has pretty much no asshole in him. I think of the adult men that I consider to not be assholes, and they’re all men who very much have not fit in to the general scheme of things, men with learning disorders who have been brutalized by the “real” guys while growing up. My younger son goes to private school, as my ex can afford it and has agreed to pay for it. The school has a no-harassment policy, is supposed to be a place to be safe to be who you are. They’ve achieved this for the girls, but not yet for boys like my son. The other boys would never treat the girls like they have treated “N”.

  78. Ginger Mayerson

    Feh. I went to public school and all I got out of it was the ability to read, write and operate a pocket calculator. I had to do jr. college and community ed to learn to type and other marketable skills.

    Just teach everyone to read, adults, too, and whatever else they want to learn. 12 years of slavery is stupid and stupid-making.

  79. S-kat

    “Why anyone thinks that setting children into dark, nasty-smelling schoolrooms and sitting them in rows while a boring grown-up drone on about things that do not interest them is an effective way of teaching eludes me.”

    Ahh…but as Twisty has so eloquently pointed out, it is a *very* effective way to teach them to be drones which is exactly what the public schools are designed to do.

    In addition to John Taylor Gatto, I highly recommend Grace Llewellyn’s books on unschooling or non-schooling or however you want to term “allowing your kids to learn what and when they want.”

    Making learning a chore is a sure-fire way to kill the human’s natural love for it. That’s exactly what our schools are for and they do it extremely well.

    All of this does not address, of course, the issue that N enjoys her classes and has every right to be there if and when she so desires.

  80. the opoponax

    i would guess that the reason the school has done little or nothing about this is that they simply don’t want a 10 year old girl there, and the sooner she’s harrassed out of the place, the better for them.

    having slogged through the nightmare we call “the gifted childhood”, the main thing that got through to me is that the educational system we have now, and the administrators who run it, are not in the business of ‘educating’ young people to their full potential. they are in the business of, as Twisty said, creating mindless labor drones. your 10 year old daughter does not appear to be on an unremarkable path to labor drone-hood. this teenager with a learning disability probably is. they’ll pick the future drone over the exceptional case every time.

    the fact that she’s a girl probably isn’t helping, either.

    from the standpoint of the boy or boys who’re stalking her, it probably comes from the same place — they’ve zeroed in on someone who is “different”, who probably “thinks she’s better than them”. and they’ve decided to do the school’s dirty work, to shame her away, preferably into drone-hood, but y’know if she ends up in some silly private school or special program or something, sure, whatever, as long as she’s out of their hair.

    there’s something fascinating that happens to girls around this very age, and i’m interested to see how it manifests in your daughter’s case. around the time puberty hits, all the wonder and fascination and brilliance and interest in intellectual pursuits starts to get beaten out of girls, in order to fit them to the ‘drone’ mold. and a lot of that is done through things like prom, makeup, clothes, boys, etc. and most high school boys will mainly encounter girls who’ve already undergone this process. so i also think an exacerbating aspect of this, from the guys’ point of view, is that she doesn’t act “right” for a high school girl, who is supposed to be far more interested in prom than chemistry.

    in my own experience as a gifted kid, the one thing that helped when i faced situations like this (from boys closer to my own age, but no less traumatic), was the summer programs i attended with other gifted kids who were around my age, and then ultimately a transfer to a magnet school for my own age group. mainly in discovering i wasn’t the only 12 year old girl who’d rather read sci fi novels and explicate sonnets than put on makeup or talk about boys, but also because most of the boys had been through comparable levels of bullshit and weren’t nearly as mouthy as the boys at my other schools. i don’t know where you live or what your circumstances are, but something like this might be a much better fit for your daughter than simply skipping her ahead.

  81. S-kat

    “I think I didn’t like the association of Asperger’s with the whole scenario – it seemed irrelevant to the real story, but like it was significant to the teller…”

    Actually, I think it was totally relevant to the story seeing as it was the school’s excuse for not protecting N. Hopefully S can now clearly see that it is just as lazy an excuse as “boys will be boys.”

  82. the opoponax

    i should also add that i started getting behaviors like the above when, as a kindergartener, i was skipped ahead into some first and second grade classes. the girls didn’t much care; it was the boys who intimidated me into fear and confusion and hatred of my new position — mainly via proto-sexual harrassment, including being branded a “dyke” at the age of 5 or 6. needless to say my time in second grade reading and spelling was short.

  83. Virago

    Twisty, yes, I also think that teachers and parents should, must, absolutely have an obligation to direct a portion of their energy to smashing the system from within or without. Just smash it. (Whatever rises in its place can’t possibly be any worse.) I, in my time as an elementary school teacher, tried. It killed me to see it from within, that system. Killed me dead.

    Anyone who thinks public schools can or should be rehabilitated should sign up at their nearest public elementary school to sit in on classes for a week. No matter how low your expectations, you’ll likely still be shocked at what passes for education these days.

  84. OM

    I am a long-time veteren of the IEP (individualized educational plan) struggle, and I am still in that system, but have mostly won that war. I would like to point out that, in the US, fape (free, appropriate public education) only applies to the disabled, as narrowly defined by the IDEA laws, no one else has a right to that under the federal laws as they exist, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) notwithstanding. There may be state exceptions to this scenario. NCLB, as I understand it, makes a provision for schooling of kids in underperforming school districts. Some parents of disabled kids find it easier to enforce compliance and get things done using ADA instead.

    In every case, disabled, underperforming schools, gifted, unexceptional, there is under-funding of breathtaking proportions. The laws pay a lot of lip service, but not much money.

    It can be a regular part=time job to navigate and fight for your kid, and an almost impossible task to do without knowledgeable help.

  85. the opoponax

    to add to what OM just said, i’d also add that you’d be surprised which states actually have perfectly good options for “gifted” kids — you generally have to sift through a lot of BS to find out about them and get access to them, but it’s not as simple as civilized blue state = good, icky red state = hopeless.

    i grew up in Louisiana and am an alumni of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, a school that is extremely well-funded and open by a very transparent application process to any student in the state (if you are lucky enough to hear of the place). Mississippi, Arkansas, and several other states at the extreme bottom of the public education barrel have comparable high schools.

  86. Miranda

    I wouldn’t bother with the school. I’d go straight to the police and press charges of pedophilia and assault.

  87. the opoponax

    shit, i’m not an alumni, i’m an alumnus! wow, that gifted education was so worthwhile, wasn’t it?

  88. LouisaMayAlcott

    opoponax,

    you’re an alumna. plural alumnae.

    a male is an alumnus, plural alumni.

    I date from the compulsory-Latin days.

  89. Red Queen

    Dear S.

    I have a son who is highly gifted but with special needs (motor skills issues) I have found that lawsuit threats are the only way I can get public schools to provide the minimum in what is required. In my case the issue is not sexual harassment (kid’s a boy) but economic discrimination- they never expect the poor parents to fight back.

    First- know your school district’s policies. Your daughter has a right to be safe and it is a failure of the school that she is not being kept so. I do most correspondence with the school via email so there is always a paper trail of what has been said. Since I am in a large urban school district we also have a department specifically for equity and race relations- I include its director on any important emails.

    Second- since she is 10 and in high school- I assume she has an IEP (individual education plan). If she doesn’t, request one. A student doesn’t have to be special needs to get one and it is a legal contract with the school stating what services the school will provide. You can have her safety and what specific actions the school will take to protect her included in the IEP. When the school fails to follow those guidelines, they are breaking a contract. IEPs are renewed every year and parents get a lot of input into what an IEP includes.

    Also- if they are not protecting your daughter they are not protecting any of the girls at the school. Doing anything to improve her situation will (hopefully) improve the situation of other girls. I managed to get a teacher fired and all the other teachers at my kid’s elementary school to go through training on economic discrimination, which did wonders for changing behaviors at his school. It is now one of the few schools in the district that is closing the testing gap between rich and poor kids. Not all my doing, but I like to think that I helped some. The kid is in middle school now (aggggggggggggggg) and I’ve had to start the process all over with a new set of teachers.

    I second everyone that says your daughter needs to see adults who support her and will fight for her. How else will our kids ever learn to fight for themselves and others if the adults in their lives don’t.

    Good Luck!

  90. kathy a

    lot of issues here. the primary one presented by S is the harassment her daughter is enduring, and seems like we are all agreed that the school has a responsibility to stop that.

    doesn’t matter that her main stalker has an educational difficulty — working out a plan where he can’t disrupt her is HIS problem, and the problem of his parents, his teachers, whoever does the special educational plans, his therapist, etc.

    twisty, while i don’t disagree that the educational system fails kids in a lot of ways, i personally would have rather poked my eyes out with pencils than tried to homeschool. i’m not cut out for that, 24/7, even though i love my talented kids to pieces. i needed to work, for myself and my family’s support. we were basically homeschooling in all the off hours, anyway. i didn’t think the public school was right for my kids, so we went with a small private school that was really fabulous for them — low on the patriarchy scale of doom, big on music, art, experiments and field trips, reading, multicultural and international stuff — very good about understanding each child.

    my son sunk like a rock when he began the local public high school, and i didn’t begin figuring out the system [or the problems] until it was too late. he looked about 11 and was quiet in class, so he was bullied by kids and ignored by teachers. anyway, i’ll skip the rest of that sorry story and get to the point, which is that kids need to feel safe and have the chance to learn new interesting stuff, and i think that is more likely to happen in smaller schools with smaller classes. by some remarkable coincidence, smaller classes let the teachers be in better contact with parents, which makes the world go ’round.

  91. elm

    My advice to Blamer S is to call her county Bar Association to find out if there are free or sliding scale legal clinics in her area. The Bar Association can also provide a list of local attorneys who specialize in that area of law.
    Good luck, Blamer S. My daughter was harassed via text messaging by an entitled dude at her school. We had many discussions about how it is not “not a big deal.” On the bright side, I’m now the proud mother of an apprentice blamer!

  92. Hatchet

    Folks, I think we’re getting away from the real issue at hand, here.

    Escalating to lawyers before the principal has been called in seems premature. Also it assumes the principal won’t react properly to the situation. It also costs money that we don’t know if S even has.

    Removing N from the school system also doesn’t address the issue. It is not her fault that these boys are harassing her, thus she should not be the one that is corrected or removed or hidden away from society. While I can appreciate that some number of you have or have been successfully home schooled, it’s again an issue bounded by money that we do not know if S has.

    Also, it just avoids the issue at hand: what is to be done about the boys that harass girls in school?

    Regardless of her age (and clearly she must be exceptional if she’s in HS at 10), stalking and sexually harassing girls in school is not acceptable behavior at any age. The fact that it seems to be an underlying assumption of our society – that boys are going to harass girls in school – is wrong. This is the issue that needs addressing. Personally, I think a conversation with the principal about having an assembly that discusses sexual harassment is what S should do. This, however, assumes that the principal responds appropriately to the situation. After that first hurdle is cleared, then it’s time to get proactive. Then, not only will S be protecting her daughter, she may also be helping to protect someone else’s daughter.

    Charles: calling S abusive for her child being exceptional enough to warrant being enrolled in HS? You’re out of line. You don’t know her particular situation, how can you judge her parenting by the fact that her kid is enrolled in HS? Do you think she beats the intelligence into her? How is being bored to tears in classes far too easy for N not abuse?

    Anyway, let’s put the blame squarely where it belongs: with the boys doing the harassing and push the school to respond appropriately first. If that doesn’t work, then it’s time to look for a lawyer. Hiding N from the world until she’s old enough to go to college doesn’t solve the problem, it only postpones it.

    As usual, IBTP.

  93. kathy a

    i also agree with working the district’s policies and threatening legal action, by the way.

  94. j

    One of the problems with public schools is that their quality depends so much on the district in which they are located. In my state, there is a notoriously good public high school in the richest neighborhood of the biggest city in the state. That school is safe and air-conditioned, has several PhD teachers, and enjoys a complete lack of students of color. On the other hand, there are public schools in my state that are little more than jailhouses for juvenile delinquents who openly smoke, drink, carry guns, and deal drugs on school grounds. I suspect the latter situation is far more common in our country than the former.

    Another one of my huge problems with public schools is their lack of support for gifted students. Administrators are almost proud of their neglect of gifted students; they think it means they have the right priorities. Gifted students are expected to fend for themselves and essentially become autodidacts, yet the district continues to take credit for the students’ hard-won achievements.

    Finally, public schools are fraught with godbaggery and patriarchy. Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a public school that offers a class in feminism or anything of the sort?

    I hate public schools. I’m just afraid that if they are eliminated, 80% of the children of the next generation will be godbaggedly homeschooled.

  95. emjaybee

    Public schools have problems, and many of them stem from the pervasive sickness of patriarchy.

    But.

    Access to free education–to reading, writing, math–is a privilege fought for and bled for by a lot of good, progressive, intelligent people who understood that public education is absolutely necessary to prevent every poor person being doomed to permanent serfdom. Why is school so badly funded and attacked by conservatives? Because education can be a powerful tool of liberation. Even a bad school is doing a necessary service when it teaches a child to read. 200 years ago, hardly anyone BUT the elites could read, and that change is not something to sneeze at.

    Has the system been subject to constant attack and co-option? Absolutely. Is mass illiteracy the answer? Absolutely not.

    We need public schools, because there will always be students whose parents are unwilling or unable to educate them sufficiently. And for some kids, they are actually an escape, not a prison. Unschooling/homeschooling is great, if it works for you. But it will never work for everyone.

    The problems of educating so many children–a mind-bogglingly enormous task–are myriad. Because educating everyone means taking into account all the problems of our country; patriarchy AND racism AND classism AND treatment of the disabled AND economic disparities AND confusion about what, exactly a good education entails anyway. Enormous amounts of money are involved, attracting vultures; enormous amounts of human capital are involved, attracting ideologues and saints alike.

    There are many things that need smashing, but public education is one of the few fragile threads keeping at least some kids from permanent ignorance and illiteracy. It deserves preservation and improvement.

  96. Jezebella

    Personal point of view: I was skipped ahead a grade, started high school at 12, and I think the only reason I got out of high school relatively sane was it was an all-girls’ school. I was sexually harassed & groped in co-ed junior high at 10 and 11 years old, and never told any adults about it. I figured it was my job to avoid the boys that did that.

    My high school was Catholic, and therefore drenched in patriarchy, but if the Catholics don’t get ahold of you until you’re twelve, they have a hard time with indoctrination. They had no luck with me. It’s unfortunate there are so few all-girls’ schools that aren’t religious, because freedom from boys eight hours a day is a glorious thing for a teenaged girl, whether she knows it or not. Separatist? Yes. Equal? Depends on the school.

    Let me also second the poster who recommended looking into magnet schools. The boys who were mean to me in junior high didn’t like me because I was smarter than they were. If everybody is smart, it’s a whole different ball game.

    The school thing is another one of my reasons not to have children: I could never home-school because of my career, and I’m not willing to give up my career to home-school, but pretty much all elementary schools I’ve come into contact with are vile in one way or another.

  97. the opoponax

    @ Louisa Mae Alcott: i date from the “trying to help forge a gender-neutral language” days.

  98. LouisaMayAlcott

    ahhhhh!!! OK

  99. josie my source of most frustration

    My 2 cents is that this public school district is not meeting its obligations to provide this 10 year old girl with a free and appropriate public education by sending her to a high school. Maybe she is intellectually bright enough to be in high school but she certainly is not emotionally or socially ready for it. The school district should be footing the bill for her to attend a program that intellectually challenges her and is filled with other kids her age.

    That said, the school district should be protecting her now that she’s in high school. I’d get an attorney and raise hell about everything everyone said above, and also that the district is not meeting its legal obligation toward this child.

  100. OM

    Per Red Queen:
    A student doesn’t have to be special needs to get one and it is a legal contract with the school stating what services the school will provide. You can have her safety and what specific actions the school will take to protect her included in the IEP. When the school fails to follow those guidelines, they are breaking a contract. IEPs are renewed every year and parents get a lot of input into what an IEP includes.

    This is inaccurate. The IEP is not a legal contract and is not available to students that are not special needs. It is a legally binding document that is made to outline how a student with special needs will be provided fape, and must detail the existence of a qualifying disability as part of its content.

    And, j, your little recap on the educational system in your first paragraph is incredibly racist – “enjoys a complete lack of students of color,” indeed.

  101. the opoponax

    “she should not be the one that is corrected or removed or hidden away from society”

    i know you’re saying this in reference to homeschooling and not an alternative situation like a private school, charter school, magnet school, etc. but i don’t see how it’s “correcting” someone to take her out of a really fucked up situation and help her find one that would be a better fit for her. the harrassment this girl is getting is not an exceptional case, one of a few boys who are completely out of hand and can easily be disciplined into proper behavior. it’s a systematic problem that exists at all levels, probably for all female students (and i’d say almost certainly for all gifted female students or female students who show talents and/or interests above and beyond what is expected of the typical high school girl). even if she were at her age-typical grade level or only a year or so ahead, she would still be subject to this, because it’s a symptom of the school system as a whole — beating down students that show exceptional potential, especially girls. the sexual harrassment is just the preferrred beat-down method for the girls.

  102. shitflinger

    I have to agree with emjaybee on this one. A lot of priveleged people tend to forget just how much a saving grace public school can be for kids from fucked up homes, and that education is really too important for survival to leave it up to parents, who are almost universally worse than parents. There’s a reason why the right wingers want public school abolished, and it isn’t because they’re concerned about the well being of the children. I’m surprised to see so many people here playing into the same logic that they use.

  103. shitflinger

    Err, education is really too important to leave it up to parents, who are almost universally worse than TEACHERS when it comes to knowing how to properly raise children.

  104. Patti

    Actually, there are some very good teachers and some very shitty ones, and some very good parents and some shitty ones. I’ve gotten all sorts of crappy “advice” on raising my kids from really stupid people who happened to go into teaching. One of my son’s teachers personally disliked him, and had him convinced he was really bad at math. He’s in 7th grade now, but they put him in 8th grade math because he’s good at it. We’ve had a few teachers who are incredibly wonderful. I still don’t need parenting advice from them.

    My older son went through the public school system and it stank for him. If he’d drawn different teachers, he would have had a different experience to some degree. My younger son would not make it in the public school system, and I’m grateful that my ex can afford tuition for him.

  105. the Omphaloskeptic

    Chiming in from the trenches here. I can talk for approximately forever about school, so I hope no one will mind if I ramble on for a bit.

    In my experience, the size of the school is more important than you’d think. My middle school was around 700-800 students, with three grades, and the social order was keenly and oppressively felt. It was extremely easy for the “popular” guys to pick a girl or two and harass them for however long they wanted. While I was the target of the month, I couldn’t find any way to express just how shitty is was. For example, one particular boy’s favorite was to come up to me in the hallway or cafeteria and give a big wave and a loud, mocking hello.

    What could I say in that situation? On the surface, it was harmless, and I didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate what was really going on. I vividly remember telling my mom about it. The first thing she asked was if he was just trying to be friendly. Friendly!

    However, at my high school now there are more than 2000 students, and I can only remember hearing about a single instance of that kind of bullying. In middle school it was a fixture of daily life, whether or not you were directly involved. The size of my high school makes it possible to keep your own choice of company, and makes constant harassment much harder.

    I know this isn’t very helpful to those who are or have kids stuck in small, insular schools, but I think it gets overlooked too often. The smallness that is touted as offering greater individual attention to students really does – just not always from the teachers.

    As regards the horrible situation of S and her daughter, I’d absolutely agree with the commenters who have said it’s about intimidation and not attraction. Stupid intimidation, though; teenagers on the whole don’t have enough empathy to understand exactly what the psychological effect of their assholery will be. (It’s a toss-up whether that makes it more or less depressing.)

  106. Twisty

    I’m guessing that j meant it sardonically, but even so, whoa, crappy execution, dude.

  107. SusanM

    j:

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a public school that offers a class in feminism or anything of the sort?

    I don’t know if this is what you had in mind, but this class is offered at my kids’ public high school (which they love, btw)(in the sense that any kid can be said to “love” school– that is, as opposed to vacation):

    Course Title: Women’s Literature Course No.: 0113 Length of Course: 1 semester Grade Level: 12 Prerequisite: English 5-6 CP or Honors Fulfills UC/CSU: Pending Meets District Graduation Requirement: English; students receive credit for one semester of English 7-8 CP or Elective

    This course will expose students to a wide variety of women’s literature in its historical context, with an emphasis on shifting gender roles. Readings will represent the traditional limitations that created boundaries for women in general and female authors in particular. However, other selections will emphasize strong female protagonists, and the authors who succeeded in expressing their unique voices and visions. Contemporary women’s issues will also be highlighted through the reading of modern fiction and the completion of a research project. In addition to this research project, writing assignments will include literary analysis, personal reflection, and creative expression.

  108. the opoponax

    yeah, i’ve heard of courses offered that would fit into certain aspects of a women’s studies curriculum (women writers, women’s history, etc), but not necessarily a Women’s Studies 101 type course.

    and my better humanities teachers made sure to include that sort of thing in the general classes, anyway. which i think is more important — the only high school kids who are going to voluntarily take Women in Lit are the ones who are already interested in the subject. and not all students would usually have access to such a course, anyway.

    i do, however, think that there needs to be more social sciences material covered at the high school level, especially stuff like Women’s Studies, anthropology, sociology, etc — things that teach us about the world as a whole, which we can use to frame an approach to more specialized material in Literature, History, etc.

  109. j

    OM: Yeah, I meant it sardonically. I am a woman of color. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

    And that’s really interesting, SusanM and the opoponax. I wonder what it would take to start such a course in the school district here. Probably wouldn’t happen.

  110. kate

    I skipped the posts because I can’t wait to post. I have to tell S that she MUST IMMEDIATELY begin legal action against these bastards pronto!

    Talk to an attorney immediately, go yourself and file a restraining order.

    Fuck the school administrators, they are worthless, lazy, lying minions of the the municipalities, which across this country are run by brown nosing sycophants who spend their entire lives and everyone else’s money hoping to get a chance to rub up to the upper classes (term being relative there) of the town.

    Your daughter has a legal right to be protected and the school has a legal obligation to protect her, the boy’s needs be damned, he can be removed from that school district, that class, whatever. Solutions exist.

    Please do this NOW!

    My son, who had emotional problems due to sexual abuse by his father was abused regularly by classmates while teachers sat idly and did nothing to protect him or even inform me and unfortunately, my self esteem was shot, I was overwhelmed, overworked and too exhausted to know what to do and no one gave me a fucking clue.

    Once I woke up and the rage set in, the very limited statute of limitations had set in and there was nothing I could do. My son should be in college now, but has had to make up for years he missed by dropping out.

    Please don’t let that happen to you. Don’t listen to anyone but an attorney who will listen to and understand you and don’t stop calling until you find one you like.

    And any asshole who won’t meet you for free in there office, or represent you on contingency doesn’t deserve your time on the phone.

    Wow, if I can’t help my son recover what he lost, maybe you can help your daughter and your own sanity. Holy crap.

  111. Twisty

    Kate, I’m usually more of a B. Dagger Lee chin-raiser type, myself, but the blamers have been giving out virtual tacos today, and I think you should have a big fat one.

  112. kate

    Might I add also and I apologize if I am repeating others here without acknowledgment, but verbal harrasment of a sexual nature is criminal, albeit not easy to prosecute and something that would probably get cops to the school, but still, it is a criminal act and thus I think a restraining order and a talk with some advocates familiar with stalking and sexual abuse in your area might be in order (assuming you haven’t already done this).

    This really strikes a nerve for me.

    Please report back and let us know what develops, good or bad. I for one, offer my support, even if it is just on a blog.

  113. the opoponax

    personally, i feel like an introductory anthropology course would be both more valuable and also easier to sneak past reactionary school boards. the benefit being that you have to cover the actual truth about not only gender but race, ethnicity/nationality, culture, religion, class, family, sexuality, etc.

    i know some schools offer courses in psychology and things like that, so i don’t see why an anthro course would be problematic. the way my high school worked, anybody already teaching at our school could offer any course they were qualified to teach and there was demand for. though my school was pretty unorthodox — i don’t know how others work in terms of how the curriculum is decided upon. and of course the first time you said anything particularly controversial, the school district would be on your ass.

  114. kate

    I meant something that would NOT probably get the cops to the school.

  115. Ms Kate

    Wow.

    As a female grade skipper I am thanking my lucky stars here.

    I had schools that were generally pretty good, at least in JH and high school. I also think my lack of trauma and harassment was the direct result of being a tomboy ox with no tolerance for being harassed and attacked – sure there were the mean girls shit, but that was all passive agressive. Having a reputation for self-defensive mangling of older kids who physically attacked me probably saved me much grief in the groping and bullying department.

    My brother went through several circles of hell, however, as he couldn’t read social cues and he was a boy and therefore expected to be a boy about it or some such bullcrap. We didn’t find out he was aspy until he was 21.

  116. legallyblondeez

    Depending on where S is, there may be free or reduced-fee legal services organizations that focus on children’s rights or even specifically education–call the state or county bar associations to find out. Also, law firms do this kind of work for free if they hear about it from an org like that. I’ve been putting in significant hours on a case for mentally disabled seniors for about 18 months despite being at a large firm that makes its dollars advocating for the megacorporatocracy (no theo-, thank God [or don't]).

    I don’t know what to say about skipping/not skipping grades except that I’m eternally grateful for the awesome gifted program at my K-8 PS district. My mom refused to advance me after suffering abuse at the hands of her peers as an advanced student. I don’t think she realized until it was too late that the abuse comes to smart girls no matter what their age. But if not for the gifted program and teachers who responded to my demands for attention I probably would have caused major problems out of boredom. My parents also did the quasi-homeschool thing, filling our home with reference books and educational games. I hated a lot of things about public school, but I loved many of my teachers and needed their encouragement and direction as a younger person. I hope S and N can get N what she needs to thrive, at her current school or elsewhere.

  117. lucizoe

    I’m horrified for that little girl and really hope that S is able to handle the situation to her daughter’s best advantage.

    And Jesus Christ on a cucumber am I envious of those who attended less-ass-backwards public school districts than I did. Particularly those who were allowed to skipped grades. Public school in my western NY farming community killed my intellectual curiosity dead ’round about age 17 and, as I am 25 today, it’s been 8 years of trying to reawaken it and I’m about ready to give it up for dead. The district cut all gifted programming my first year in it, about age 9, and the next nine years were an exercise in conformity and perpetual boredom. No special provisions for smart kids – especially not girls. There were in fact some pretty clear cases of outright discrimination of which I wish I’d been more cognizant at the time.

    The funding of public schools need to be changed. Wealthier communities have better schools and that’s just flat-out unfair. It’s actually depressing me right now, thinking about how miserable I was in school and how impotent I was to stop it and how overworked my parents were and how no one would fucking help me. I can’t get through college because of my issues with school – which started right in kindergarten. Traumatic and damaging. Okay. I’m stopping now, else I shall go on paragraph after paragraph of expletives.

  118. Bubbas' Nightmare

    MedeaonCrack:

    There are men who don’t have “asperger’s”?

    Yes.

    Granted, it’s often hard to tell.

  119. Danno

    emjaybee:
    “There are many things that need smashing, but public education is one of the few fragile threads keeping at least some kids from permanent ignorance and illiteracy. It deserves preservation and improvement.”

    Here, here! Thank you.

  120. Lucija

    I hope everything turns out all right for your daughter, S.
    Take legal action if necessary. The teachers’ reactions are outrageous and it’s obvious your daughter is not safe at her school. The creeps stalking her are pedophiles and it’s disgusting that the teachers are oblivious to that…

    On another note, school systems everywhere are terrible, from what I can tell. I can name two teachers in my entire life that I’ve liked. On the other hand, I despised, and rightfully so, the majority of them. Just today one of my teachers openly mocked homosexuals causing my class to erupt into a giggling fit, as if homosexuals were the funniest thing they’ve ever heard of. I’d say it’s indoctrination but the entire class have been indoctrinated in countless ways their entire lives. Only two of us out of total 32 declared ourselves not to be homophobes. Others actually take pride in calling themselves homophobes and acting on it. I’m just waiting for them to print it on fucking badges.

    I swear, sometimes I just want to quit school. Brainwashing is constant and it’s not as if I ever learned anything there unless you count the entire family trees of some insignificant 12th century nobles. I believe it’s worse over here than in the USA, from what I know of the American schooling system. We have 15-17 subjects, all of them obligatory. With tons of homework every day, and a curriculum so detailed and trivial that once, for example, we actually had to learn the GDP of every single country in the world, the torture that is school in my country is unbearable.

    Yesterday was graduation celebration day in my country. The graduating classes obliterated six buses in my small city, several graduates got themselves hospitalized for alcohol poisoning and innocent passers-by got flour thrown at their faces. That’s a yearly tradition. And people still ask why that always happens, even though they know perfectly well the rage and stress the school system accumulates in students.

    I just hope I finish school before the Church and the religious right manage to implement their sexual education programme (brief summary of said programme: homosexuals go to hell, masturbation is bad for your spirituality, pre-marital sex is a highway to hell, abortion should be banned, plus the inevitable lessons on a blissful husband-wife union…) I honestly hope so, cause if it happens while I’m still in this inferno, I’ll be kicked out of school for skipping sex-ed classes or disrespecting the sex-ed teachers.

    Homeschoolling is illegal over here. I’m old enough to quit, but then I’d have no future without a diploma.
    I used to mock private-school kids for being rich little snobs (over here there’s only one private high school per city, and they cost a ton). Now I know that, providing I have kids one day, if I ever have enough money for that, they’re going to private school. Definitely not perfect but it’s the lesser of two evils. Also, they won’t have to face the fear of getting pneumonia having PE outdoors during a storm, as I have for years now due to a lack of a decent gym in my 150-year-old school building …

  121. Twisty

    Actually, the phrase is “hear, hear.”

    And there you go.

  122. Mar Iguana

    “My son, who had emotional problems due to sexual abuse by his father was abused regularly by classmates while teachers sat idly and did nothing to protect him or even inform me and unfortunately, my self esteem was shot, I was overwhelmed, overworked and too exhausted to know what to do and no one gave me a fucking clue.” kate

    That took my breathe away. I don’t cry much anymore so it takes some.

  123. preying mantis

    Wow.

    As a female grade skipper I am thanking my lucky stars here.

    I actually had a fairly good look at precisely how an administration can make or break a school. I was 13 when I started high school. I had a fairly wide circle of acquaintances, since I was “the smart one,” and if I couldn’t tell them what they should do about a problem or assignment, I could tell them where to look or who to ask. I’m not very big, I’ve always gotten along well with teachers, and I’ve always been a little on the mouthy side with my peers. Nobody ever said inappropriate word one to me about a damn thing. The girls I knew never had to put up with anything like this shit in school, because the administration came down on any boy who tried it like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t perfect, but there were some problems at least that we really didn’t have to worry about.

    Fast forward four years to when my sister and brother get to the same school with most of the same teachers and the same student-teacher ratio. The new principal and vice-principal can’t give a rat’s ass about anything but their statistics, their salaries, and keeping their names out of the paper. Now there’s a young male teacher openly dating girls he had as students a week after graduation without so much as a stern warning, an older male teacher blatantly ogling female students in class and reportedly skewing the grades of girls who habitually wear revealing tops, routine verbal harassment of female students, non-sexual stalking escalating to threats and outright physical attacks being punished with in-school suspension…the change that’s come over the place in just a few years is absolutely unreal.

  124. lucizoe

    Preying mantis, you didn’t go to a school with a “screaming” eagle for a mascot, did you? Because – sheesh. My high school in every detail. And probably not all that atypical, either.

  125. preying mantis

    No, our mascot was an unusually fierce manta ray. If you annoyed it, it would spend several years getting bigger, then look you up one day and land on you when you least expected it.

    Unfortunately, I’m sure it’s not atypical. Once the idea of consequences for unacceptable behavior is removed from both students and staff, you get a lot of people behaving precisely as they wish, and the inevitable result always seems to be something along the lines of an entitled asshole trying to harass a ten-year-old into a burqa while a bunch of other entitled assholes act like this wouldn’t be happening if she weren’t just so goshdarned cheek-pinchingly oppressable.

  126. Sniper

    Re: schools and home schooling

    Most of “my” kids have parents who are holding down two or three jobs apiece. Many of their parents didn’t finish elementary school and are semi-literate in their first languages and illiterate in English. They would love to have the time and resources to home-school but, damn, there’s just no way.

    And maybe it’s because my school is small – we know the kids by name – but when someone is harassed we call the parents and the cops. I have personally witnessed a boy in absolute shock when he realized that yes, he was facing a fine and expulsion for bothering a classmate.

    I’m not saying we’re perfect or even close. A few years ago I was unable to stop kids from making a gay student’s life miserable – they were just too sneaky and the victim refused to talk. Fucking frustrating. IBTP.

  127. V.

    Red Queen may be thinking of a 504 plan, not an IEP. A 504 plan is a legal contract, and that is why many schools won’t mention it to a parent whose child has some special needs, but doesn’t qualify for an IEP due to the lack of severity of their disability.

    I have so many mixed feelings about this topic.

    Yes, a child has a right to be safe in any school setting, and I agree that legal action should be taken. Far too many school administration condone harassment and bullying.

    However, the 9 year-old ( since 9 is the age that the OP stated her daughter started high school)–the 9 year-old who is emotionally and socially equipped to handle even a non-harassing high school setting is a vanishingly rare creature, no matter how ‘intelligent’ they may be in the realm of academics.

    The fact that her school system could not,or would not, accomodate her child’s educational needs at the elementary school level, and that a high school setting was deemed appropriate, speaks volumes about the inherent fucked-upness of that school system.

    Often, though, parents can be brow-beaten into accepting ‘solutions’ offered by the school district that are untenable, simply because the solutions are presented as the only options.

  128. roamaround

    kate said: “Fuck the school administrators, they are worthless, lazy, lying minions of the the municipalities, which across this country are run by brown nosing sycophants who spend their entire lives and everyone else’s money hoping to get a chance to rub up to the upper classes (term being relative there) of the town.”

    Well put and very true, and as an exhausted prison guard (aka urban teacher) I know about what I am talking.

    I’m one of those teachers trying to break the system from within, but it’s a tough row to hoe. Not only is there the garden variety patriarchal brainwashing described above, but don’t forget that U.S. public schools are becoming military training grounds for imperialism with more and more ROTC programs reaching into the middle grades.

  129. natasha

    I’m an aspie and there are times when I was deeply obnoxious as a child, because I just didn’t get at first that there were things that were done to or around me that were wrong to imitate. This happens to all kids, but in an aspie it’s amplified and often takes longer to grow out of.

    My mom pinched and spanked me to get me to behave; she was the person who spent the most time teaching me how to act, so I imitated her, sometimes pinching and hitting until it was made clear to me that this was an inappropriate way to treat peers. But this was explained to me sometime in the 2nd grade, mind, a point at which not even non-aspies had all gotten that sort of thing out of their systems. My family were members of an evangelistic faith, and it took me until I was a teenager to entirely figure out that it was a bad idea to corner people and lecture them about God. My family still has not figured this out, but they’ve always been more sensitive about which contexts in which it was appropriate. I was often mocked or insulted as a child for my overly formal speech, regardless of content and also by peers in my same faith when talking about secular subjects, and it came to seem normal to me that speech be insulting and sarcastic for rather too long.

    Anyway, my point is, aspies definitely have issues figuring out who to imitate and when. It’s hard. We sometimes can’t figure out, and it’s worse when we’re young, why people do things or how they feel about them, so we copy almost haphazardly and at random. But allowing other children to misbehave and not explaining the appropriate way to act to the aspie (as someone else noted) doesn’t do the aspie any favors, it just means that it’s going to take them longer to assimilate into society, which virtually all of us do at some point – perhaps even to the degree that you wouldn’t be able to spot us anymore.

    It means that the administration of this young man’s school is being grossly negligent out of some misguided idea of helping him, though it would be easier probably than correcting the behavior of the other boys. Most aspies are deeply relieved when someone takes the time to explain in detail how a particular social situation is supposed to work and will often stick with that rule for safety’s sake until we learn enough to appreciate cases of nuance and variation wherein some other course of action might be all right.

    The real problem is that the administration doesn’t see this as an issue. It’s reinforcing behavior in this aspie boy that his peers will understand they can only get away with towards people of lower status, galling but true, while he’ll be oblivious to this nuance and be more likely to get in trouble later on. It’s teaching all of these boys that they’re free to disregard the opinions of girls and women about whether they should continue pursuing them. Because if you don’t even try to teach children the right way to behave, and as juveniles they are recognized by society as having limited responsibility for their actions, then their behavior is partly your fault.

    This mother should sue the dang school for allowing and even fostering bullying, which is precisely what this is. Maybe that’s what it needs to be called for these people to take it seriously, to use a word that describes something that could happen to a boy and see if they get it.

  130. j

    roamaround, so true! I have no idea why Marine/Army/Navy/Coast Guard recruiters are allowed access to high school students’ information.

  131. lawbitch

    Parents may specifically opt out to prevent a school from reporting student information to military recruiting. The problem is that most parents are not aware of this right. I still haven’t figured out how to prevent military recruiters from getting this info while allowing college recruiters to have access to my child’s info.

  132. lawbitch

    Here’s the link for forms to opt out:

    http://www.militaryfreeschools.org/forms.html

    Tell your friends!

  133. mali

    Several commenters above have stressed their concerns about 10-year-olds who aren’t prepared socially or emotionally for high school being placed there for the academic challenge. Regardless of how you feel about putting priority on keeping kids with their age groups as opposed to putting them at the most academically-appropriate level, shouldn’t we be more concerned about the social and emotional maturity of the boys doing the harassing?

    This doesn’t sit well with me and I think the reason is that it feels like another way of blaming the victim. Girl gets skipped ahead several grades, boys engage in sick and pedophilic sexual harassment, school does nothing but blame the victim (“but she’s so cute!”). The reasonable response doesn’t seem to me to be “she isn’t emotionally ready.” In fact, having dealt with serious stalking for all 4 years of high school, the fact that this girl hasn’t had a complete nervous breakdown indicates to me that she’s very mature for being a 10-year-old. (Not to mention that she possesses enviable strength of character.) Why should the response to this situation be to question her right to be there?

    Personal aside about school: lucizoe, when I read your comment I almost thought we went to the same school in western NY, but our mascot was the “saints” and not an eagle. I went to a semi-rural district at the lower end of mediocre with no chance of transferring to a magnet or otherwise unconventional school because I wasn’t in the city district (which would have been Rochester). The gifted program was 4th and 5th grade and consisted mostly of doing book reports and making paper-mache rainforest animals (needless to say, I dropped out after the first year). I’m now in a PhD program and am so envious of others I meet whose public schools had electives, encouraged them to take AP classes, had more than 15% of their graduates attend college, etc. I begged my mom to let me skip a grade and she wouldn’t let me, and I still wish to this day I had, mostly because I couldn’t wait to get out of that place. Maybe this is also why I took some offense at the questioning of the girl’s “readiness”; I was more emotionally mature than most of the other kids my age and would have really benefited from getting away from them in my opinion. Most of my friends were older than me and it was disheartening in my senior year when they had all graduated before me.

    Sorry about the long post. Reading the comments really brought up a bunch of (angry) memories of high school, especially because the majority of my anger was caused by idiotic administrators (yeah, the ones who wouldn’t do anaything about my extremely persistent stalker).

  134. Brianne

    It may have been written earlier in the comments but, it seems to me that a lawsuit might be in order here.

  135. mali

    Correction: anything, not “anaything.”

    By the way, are any others having serious problems with the comment box now that this preview is here? My typing only shows up (in the typing box) about 5-10 seconds after I type it, resulting in unfortunate typos.

  136. kathy a

    my kids’ schools did not have military recruiters, but you had better believe that the selective service knows all the particulars about my son, anyway. and both son and daughter have been recruited extensively by mail.

    hell, the military is so desperate that the navy tried to recruit ME for a year, via email. these people have no standards anymore.

  137. the opoponax

    i don’t really get how “10 year olds should not be put into the noxious social situation that is high school” is tatamount to “blaming the victim”, here.

    i mean, if a bunch of miners get trapped in an obvious death trap of a coal mine, and then they luckily get rescued and survive the experience, and the mining company decides to change its safety standards, is that “blaming the victim”? no, it’s rescuing someone from a scary situation that is going to fuck them up, and then trying to change things to make sure that situation isn’t going to happen anymore.

    being helped into a more workable educational program is not punishment or blaming. it’s what needs to happen. similarly, pointing out that this is a systematic problem which isn’t going to go away if you expell the boys. of course, without pointing out that the problem is systematic and doing something to change things, pulling the girl out of the situation is tatamount to a bandaid. but even a bandaid is better than bleeding to death.

    i know it’s easy to romanticize “what if my parents had let me skip a grade”. but believe me, you really don’t know the half of it. and i say this as someone whose recourse after the skipping was a failure ended up being a cutesy “enrichment” program just like the ones y’all describe.

  138. Rosie

    Jesus fuck, that story made my stomach turn. I think even my toenails are puking. I want to fly over there and smash the holy shit out of each of those crazy jerkwads into oblivion. They are not entitled to her, they are not entitled to her, they are NOT ENTITLED TO HER.
    She, however, has the right to an educational environment that is free from harassment.
    Oh wah, one of the predators has Aspergers. Not a fucking excuse.
    The other predators, well…”boys will be boys”, right? NOT A FUCKING EXCUSE.
    The boys think she’s “cute”?? That’s supposed to excuse their sicko behavior, because attractive girls are supposed to be natural receptacles for male lust? FUCK THAT.
    Those teachers need to be fired or at least have their jobs threatened, because that sort of shit HAS GOT TO STOP.

    Ugh, I’m so disgusted. She deserves to be protected. All women and girls have the right to be protected.

  139. Patti

    My son’s school covers grades 6 through 12. I was concerned about the older kids and how they’d treat the younger, but they are incredibly supportive and it’s a real community. The school works really hard at setting values and reinforcing them. I don’t think it’s an inherently impossible situation to have young children be safe around older children.

  140. Metal Prophet

    I think public schools can work if they’re done right. Problem is, they’re not really done right in way too many places. Running the place like a prison is incredibly infantilizing (asking permission to piss? My god) and does little to teach children about responsibility and decent behavior. And in an atmosphere where obedience is prized over the ability to learn, this just reinforces a patriarchal system, which puts a premium on dominance. What public schools should do is be less like prisons. They should be decent places to learn and should be places where children are taught that it’s not okay to other people.

  141. Lara

    As a part-time assistant teacher I will attest to the absolutely ridiculous and shitty-ass ways we raise boys in this culture to be a bunch of harassing and mentally-disabled jerks. Most of the kids with learning disabilities in public schools are boys, and it’s not genetic or biological. It’s because we raise them to have no responsibility, to act out violently, to not listen to others (especially girls and women). It just makes me sick the way girls are constantly harassed and made to feel unsafe in schools, and I agree whole-heartedly with Mali. The solution is to fix boys, not change what we do with girls. Boys are the ones taught to enact and perpetuate patriarchy, they are thus the source of the problem that we can make right by raising them to respect girls and women and to truly see them as freaking human beings! It is so sad too to see the ways the little boys in my educational program (even as young as 5!) are pressured to reject any natural innocent impulse so they can be “manly.” It makes my stomach turn.
    And I will also attest to the absolutely shitty state that public schools are in as far as “education.” Most of the kids come in with homework directions they can barely even READ! These poor kids are getting screwed over so that they are trained to become complacent hyper-consumers in a patriarchal White Supremacist capitalist country. Minority and African American children are screwed over the worst. Ugh! It makes me so mad and so sad at the same time!

  142. the opoponax

    “I don’t think it’s an inherently impossible situation to have young children be safe around older children.”

    i would imagine that at your sons’ school, the younger kids encompass an entirely seperate grade from the older kids and have different schedules, teachers, curricula, etc. i would also assume that your sons weren’t the only 12 year olds in the whole school when they started 6th grade there. the problem is not that older kids and younger kids can’t coexist, the problem is more with hyper-acceleration (and also being a ‘smart’ girl in general), in the ways we’ve described above.

  143. V.

    I want to state, again, that I was in no way blaming the victim.

    I am blaming the school system, and then the harassing boys, and the school.

    As an educator, familiar with the wily and lazy-assed operating mode of school administrations, I strongly suspect that the school system nudged this child into the high school setting.

    This would be a much less costly solution for them than providing her with the educational content she needed with her same-aged peers.

    High schools, btw, are rotten with misogyny and harassment. They always have been. And until the patriarchy is overthrown, they will continue to be.

    But absolutely, we have to fight this, and ensure that our daughters are as safe as humanly possible, while we also try to provide them with the tools they need to maintain themselves in the face of grinding oppression.

    But you know what? 9 and 10 year-olds, no matter how brilliant, are not emotionally and socially equipped to deal with this. EVen in situations without the overt harassment this poor child has experienced, ( and which absolutely needs to be addressed, in the criminal courts, preferrably.)

    There’s a reason we don’t simply equip automobiles with brake-pedal extenders and adapted seats and let our school-aged kids loose on the highways. Even the brilliant ones.

    Acknowledging that it takes time and experience to develop a wide range of skills, and the judgment about when and how to apply them, is not the same as ageism.

  144. Sunday School Dropout

    I just graduated high school. Yes, it can be a tool of the man, but several teachers and my favorite librarian were all certified patriarchy blamers/smashers, so high school really wasn’t so bad after all.

  145. Sunday School Dropout

    That said… school and I have never gotten along. I’m a brilliant and creative young woman who has well formed ideas and articulates them well. So of course I get called a bitch plenty, a freak/weirdo plenty (I don’t even fit into the porno appearance mold! zomg!), and heard far too many “you ask too many questions” when I was a kid.

  146. mali

    My point was that the girl’s presence is less of a problem than the boys’ behavior, and a few (not most, by any stretch) of the commenters above were wording it as the opposite.

    To go along with the mining analogy, I would see dealing with the boys’ behavior in an effective way as increasing the safety standards. Taking the girl out of a situation that is more academically appropriate for her sounds like removing all the miners that got hurt and not letting them work in the mine anymore.

    Addressing the boys and creating a safer situation overall strikes me as doing more good in general than the adults who are supposedly on this girl’s side kicking her back down to an unchallenging level where she’ll be bored, because other kids in the school can’t control themselves.

  147. RadFemHedonist

    “sexual education programme (brief summary of said programme: homosexuals go to hell, masturbation is bad for your spirituality, pre-marital sex is a highway to hell, abortion should be banned, plus the inevitable lessons on a blissful husband-wife union.”

    This isn’t actually an education, it’s shouting ignorance at people.

  148. V.

    Mali, you are completely missing my point.

    HIgh school is not an appropriate placement for brilliant school aged children, because they are not developmentally equipped to deal with the advanced social/emotional demands of interacting all day long with adolescents, particularly if they are the only child in thatt school placement.

    To quote the OP:

    She likes cats, dogs and ponies…she has a prepubescent body and a heart to match.

    This kind of placement is a cop out by the school system, which does not want to invest money, time and energy into appropriately producing a curriculum that meets the needs of advanced younger students.

    I stand by my point, even in sijtuations where there is not any abuse.

    Andyes, for the third time, abuse should not be tolerated, and those who abuse and harass should be dealt with in the criminal court system.

  149. Former ten-year-old high school science student

    I skipped the second half of second grade and the first part of third grade. I have absolutely no doubt it was the right thing for me; it got me out of the daily boredom of second grade. Boredom isn’t even the right word for it; it was more like depression, like sensory deprivation, like watching someone cut out my brain cells a slice at a time while telling me I was a good girl.

    Did I get shit from fellow students for skipping? Of course. Be intelligent and female in America’s public schools and in all but the most exceptional cases you’ll either (a) get called a dyke, or (b) get put into a situation like this one. Or both.

    And here’s something even more disturbing that I learned: some teachers will blame the victim just because it’s easier. Blame the bully — they might fight back. So you get bullshit situations like the teacher who told me it was my problem that I couldn’t “get along” with the bully who happened to like punching me and hitting me with those metal-and-plastic chairs. (When I refused to sit next to him because I knew he’d punch me, guess who got the demerits? That’s right.)

    So yes, being a smart girl in a normal school is usually a fucked up experience. Absolutely no doubt about that.

    But I refuse to believe that it’s just the way things are, and that nothing can be done about it. Fuck that shit.

    I started taking high school science when I was ten. I was brought over for just that class, and the teacher was firmly on-board with the program and supervised the situation. That was one of the few classes I didn’t have issues with.

    The choice shouldn’t have to be between suicidal boredom or harassment. There are ways to give gifted kids an ok experience, even working within the public school system. I just wish more people in the school systems gave a shit about trying to find them.

    (And as a coda, I second the yay! magnet schools comments from above. Or if not magnet schools, or boarding schools, then at least some kind of summer program for kids who care deeply about something your daughter loves. Doesn’t matter what it is, even — just something they’re passionate about, because kids who are passionate enough about something to go to a summer camp for it generally have a lot on the ball in other ways. Knowing there are other people out there who give a shit is a powerful magic.)

  150. V.

    Former ten year-old:

    If you skipped from second into third grade, how on earth did you end up in high school at the age of 10?

    The math there is not computing for me.

  151. V.

    Sorry, I missed the last part of your post.

    But there is a real difference between taking one advanced class, closely supervised, and being thrown into high school all day long and expected to deal.

  152. Twisty

    Texas blamers with high school age daughters who favor the traditional 8-hours-in-a-prison model might be able to take advantage of one of the new Young Women’s Leadership schools sprouting up in the larger cities. In Dallas you’ve got your Irma Rangel School, and here in Austin there’s the Ann Richards branch. Other versions will be popping up soon in Houston and San Antonio, and I think Lubbock (or was it Amarillo?). There’s talk of starting one in Juarez, Mexico. These are single-sex, college prep public schools. They have high academic standards and expect every kid to graduate and go to college. I possess this seemingly out-of-character information because I am on the board of a foundation that funds them; if the schools stop cutting the mustard, the foundation stops funding them.

    So far my single contribution to the enterprise has been to insist that Latin be offered as an elective. At the next meeting I’m gonna go for Women’s Studies, but since the rest of the board are Republicans who think God is real, it’s gonna be a tough sell. So I haven’t bothered to suggest they just give the kids library cards and ask’em to pop by the science lab every couple of months to look at amoebas.

  153. j

    Ooh, the preview thing is gone, and I can type fast again. I started taking high-school classes at 13 and college courses at 15. I received zero support from counselors and administrators and even less support from the university. They didn’t know what to do to get me enrolled in the proper classes, they sent me back and forth between the same people, and they basically made me figure everything out on my own. The worst part was that I wasn’t the first or last person to dual-enroll in a high school and in a college. Every bright student who attempted dual enrollment had to find out what to do from word of mouth, learning from the mistakes of past students. Plus the whole thing was expensive because they wouldn’t pay for my courses and wouldn’t provide me transportation. Perhaps I will be unpopular for saying this, but why can’t we have ability grouping in public schools? I know that AP classes in high school start to group students naturally, but in elementary school, middle school, and junior high school, there was the most unsatisfactory homogeneous education ever.

    Why are public school systems better in other countries? Why do students from other countries test better in math and science than American students?

  154. pdxstudent

    I second your suggestion for “ability-groupings.” I think it would definitely be trickier than adolescent and adult education. There I think the classes themselves (can) carry the strucuring element to sort out those who can hack it and those who cannot.

    When subject matter is closely and critically engaged, the abilities of students will show themselves more clearly. When they can’t defer to test-taking skills, they show where they are at. It is for this reason that not many Freshman (in college) take 400-level classes. It is for this reason that I (request to) take 500-level classes, because I can be mostly assured that I’m the only undergraduate in the course.

    I haven’t been in grade-school for about 10 years, so it is hard to say how to parse out students of differing abilities. I fear that people would want to do it via some kind of test. I really think that the subject matter itself should be the test. At such a young age, though, you aren’t reading shakespeare and talking about economics in feudal Japan; and if you show an obvious propensity and desire to do those sorts of things, you get moved to where you belong.

  155. Charity

    I didn’t go to public school but I wanted to chime in to say I had a much better high school experience than middle school experience. Middle schools are, IMO, the real breeding grounds for abuse and harassment of girls. My class was extremely small and were stuck with each other from grades 4-8. It was revolting. I remember nothing of the intellectual “match” for me, frankly, but I do recall being miserable because of the small-mindedness, immaturity, and stifling lack of choice *socially*. At least high school widened the social horizon and afforded *gasp!* exposure to different personalities and ideas, and boys who did not regularly attach maxi pads to the outside of their clothing in an effort to humiliate girls (although some still did, lest you think it was just a function of growing out of it). I don’t agree that high school is an inherently terrifying or soul-crushing experience…I think *adolescence* is inherently difficult and tumultuous, sure, but conflating the two is a cop-out and lets school administrators and teachers off the hook. (Although I do agree that schools in general are capitalist / patriarchal training camps; that’s what they were designed to be). It’s not written in stone, though, that the most healthy / satisfying socialization MUST take place among exactly age-matched peers. Nor is it accurate to assume, in the case here, that these high school kids are *normal* for their age and it’s the 10-year-old who’s not at their level emotionally. Prepubescent or not.

    Much more should be done for this girl, and the net effect examined, before anyone should send her the message *you are the problem* by removing her from the school. You know, Charles, a lot of us women have been hearing that *you are the problem* thing for most of our lives…you know, like, oh, you aren’t comfortable in that bar/restaurant/store/workplace/classroom/outdoor space because you’re getting whistled at, come on to, patronized, harassed, groped, etc, etc? Well, then, don’t go there anymore, transfer out, choose a different way home, stay in your safer places, don’t go out alone. Don’t want that kind of attention? This is how you should dress, and act, and speak, to avoid such attention, then. And the aggressors don’t have to change a damn thing. Then our world shrinks and theirs gets bigger. Fuck that.

    I vote we all storm that school and take down names.

  156. MedeaOnCrack

    I’m curious to know what TYPE of schooling the brilliant blamers had? Seems to me the loathsome system turned out some really smart, accomplished and accredited Blamers.

  157. Madeline

    As one of the “brilliant blamers” who was a gifted kid, skipped up a grade and put into advanced classes…

    I went through the public school system very recently, the hurly-burly of IB and AP classes. I was “honors tracked” from the time I was in second grade, which was (if I recall correctly) when I was 6. Although I felt that my education prepared me very well in some ways (I had excellent instruction on grammar, spelling, and how to write papers) it did not prepare me at all in other ways (I was gender-blasted into believing I couldn’t do math; I slept through pretty much every class except English and Anthropology, which was taught by a fabulous feminist that wouldn’t take no guff; I felt alienated from my peers in a way that didn’t go away until I made it to college). I will never, ever subject my children to that — not because my soul was crushed or I didn’t learn (though most of my learning took place outside the classroom) but simply because I had the best of all possible situations (we had Anthropology in high school, for heaven’s sake!) and I was still very miserable.

    I doubled up all my classes in my senior year and got the hell out. In order to do so, I had to take some classes at a high school for pregnant mothers, because they wouldn’t let me take regular summer school. Some of my classmates still, apparently, think I dropped out because I “got knocked up.”

    Ick.

    Anyhow, I sympathize with S’s choice to put her daughter into high school, and I think it’s the best of a bunch of bad options. But I don’t see what the other choices are, if S can’t home school. Even just being one year ahead of my classmates, I wasn’t prepared to deal with some of the things that were thrown at me — but I would genuinely have gone bananas if I had been held back. I don’t think I ever would have read a book again, I would have just turned crazy. My mom always says “we knew we were close to losing you when you were five. That’s why we skipped you ahead.”

    What really needs to happen is just what Twisty said — smash that goddamned patriarchy, get it out of there.

    (Speaking of which: even in the gifted program I only ever had two books, that I can remember, that were written by women in my English classes: The House on Mango St. and Mrs. Dalloway. The boys in my class slagged on them like nothing else. They were too boring, too femme. I don’t remember any teacher ever forcing those boys to confront their hatred of the female author. Even in the highest level English class that the California public school system offers, they were allowed to sit around and tell me I was a nutjob for wanting to read books that were written by my own people. Ick!)

  158. Sunday School Dropout

    “Ability grouping” elementary school kids is the worst idea ever, and here’s why:

    Not everybody develops intellectually, socially, emotionally, or creatively at the same rate or to the same degree. Say I’m in 3rd grade and in the middle of the road class for reading/spelling/English. I could be a great thinker, good vocabulary, good understanding, but still have trouble with spelling and the actual act of reading a word. Over the summer I get much better, but I’ve already been enrolled in middle of the road 4th grade. Now I’m bored out of my mind.

    Leveling classes at older ages makes sense because by the time puberty rolls around, many kids are getting a sense of where their strengths and interests actually are, and whether or not they’re willing to work hard for them.

    At 6? 8? 10? Not so much.

  159. goblinbee

    Just chiming in to say I am loving this conversation. I love hearing from all the parents, students, teachers, former teachers, spouses of teachers, homeschoolers, and unschoolers! I know I should have homeschooled my son–he was a square peg in a round hole over at the elementary school–but when I really thought about it, I was worried I would strangle him. I’m not proud of this. (But I love the comment by Norbizness!) My children are now 27, 24, and 21 (a boy and two girls, respectively). They turned out to be charming, complicated, exasperating individuals all, just like most people I know and love.
    I was tested and designated as gifted in 2nd grade. I loved the daily half hour pull-out program I was in from then on (through 6th grade). But I loved the rest of school too. As a fifth grade teacher, I am always amazed at the bright students who will allow themselves to be bored. I know it’s my job to challenge them, and I do the best I can, but I’m only human. One lesson stands out in particular: divisibility. The students were learning how to determine if a number is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, or 9. I asked them to come up with a 5-digit number that would be divisible by 3. One bright boy wrote, in a very bored fashion, “33333.” It dawned on me that when I was in fifth grade I would have come up with the most complicated number I could possibly think of! Without thinking about it or even realizing what I was doing, I quite naturally made school fun for myself. It always surprises me when students don’t do this.
    I was bright and I was not bored for one minute in school.

  160. 'soup

    I work (maintenance) at a community college that has programs for high school folks and it seems to work pretty well.
    My first memory of college was the shock that people weren’t interested in harassing me like high school; not that it was totally free of it but it wasn’t #1 on the agenda like I was used to. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the administration at my high school appeared to approve of bullying as a social control. I don’t know about the others but it sure didn’t work on me. I wanted to go to the alternative school or graduate a year early (at 16) but my mother wouldn’t let me-she didn’t believe what was going on because her small-town school experience was so blissful.
    Being within the system, albeit “higher ed” and maintenance at that, I can tell you that a lot of teachers are radical but are constrained by the status-seeking, job-jumping, top heavy administration that sucks the life out of every good idea. My friends in the k12 system report the same. We (groundskeepers, custodians, teachers) tend to stay for decades while the average administrator stays 3-5 years. Guess who trains these fools? We usually have to spank them repeatedly with the union contract to make them pay attention and disabuse them of really stupid ideas that won’t fly. Meanwhile the students suffer. We had all these creeps from private business in the ’90′s and after they snuck off with tails between legs as the economy fell, we began getting retired military jerks-gah!
    The work mostly gets done on a horizontal level because of the ineffectiveness of these idiots and we subvert their actions as often as is necessary to provide for our students. If they all went down in a plane over the ocean the place would run just fine.

  161. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I’m happy to learn that the situation is under control. The whole thing blows my MIND. WTF indeed.

    I was a hard case as a first-grader. I was reading at a college level and bored beyond belief, but I had poor spatial abilities: I just didn’t “get” fractions, or rotating triangles, or anything that required me to move things around in my head. I was also super-tiny; I looked like an elf! Skipping grades? Not bloody likely.

    What to do? My teacher and my mother had a meeting and decided 1) they would never tell me my IQ, and they’d encourage me to believe I was “normal;” 2) I’d spend half the day with the “big kids” and half with my peers; and 3) I’d have gymclass, eat lunch and play in the schoolyard with my peers. At first things worked out fine. I learned to wear shorts under my skirts and dresses because the “big” boys would gang up on me in the halls so they could all see my underpants, so that part sucked. However, I had a GREAT teacher who had me sit close to her so that I wouldn’t be bothered in class.

    Then she died, and the substitute teacher never quite got on the Klue Train. She sent me to the back of the class with the “big boys” and wouldn’t let me leave early to eat lunch with my grade. The whole experiment ended when I disappeared one day: Eventually they found me hiding behind the coats in the hallway. Oh well.

    I don’t know the answer, probably because every child needs his/her education tailored to his/her needs. However, I think social considerations are EQUALLY as important as academic considerations. My cousins dealt with their son’s brain by keeping him with his grade, but by giving him different work. Also, his teacher would let him go to the library whenever he got bored. Actually, I think the library was the best part of the deal! So far as I can tell he thrived BOTH academically and socially, and once he was old enough for his size/age not to matter he graduated from college while still in his teens.

  162. mali

    V, I’m sorry that we’re both talking over each other here. I was addressing a different point than you are, not willfully missing yours. For what it’s worth, you are not one of the commenters whose attitude rubbed me the wrong way with instantly jumping to say that the girl has no place there to begin with.

    I agree with you that putting a kid like that in high school in order to address her academic needs is probably not the best solution, or even a particularly good one. What bothered me was the writer’s description of her daughter’s happiness at being in those classes (even amongst this crap), and thinking of how she might perceive being pulled back out of them: that her harrassers were right that she didn’t belong there, and that the right thing to do is appease them. That harrassing someone will have the intended result, and you’ll get your way. I would find that pretty demoralizing at that age (especially because things seem so large and so personal) and it didn’t feel like it’s sending the right message to any of the parties involved.

    I’m upset and frustrated at this girl’s situation because I don’t think the situation she is in is good, but I can’t imagine a school like the one I went to even accelerating someone (I don’t know of anyone who ever was), let alone coming up with a specialized plan of more challenging material for just one student. If she does go to a school that would do it, I agree that it would be much better – but it didn’t occur to me that any school would do that, again because of my personal shitty experience in the past.

  163. lawbitch

    For Texas blamers:

    Texas Tech has a distance learning program for K-12. It is more affordable than private schools, so it might help some families out there. It might be a good option for a gifted student stuck in high school. There’s info about testing out of courses, too.

    http://www.depts.ttu.edu/ode/ttuisd.asp

  164. the opoponax

    regarding my life as a “brilliant blamer” and what kind of education i ended up with: basically a hodgepodge of skipping, gifted programs, private school, honors classes, and magnet school, depending on my age, the abilities of my parents, and what happened to be available.

    oddly enough, standardized testing was a big help, and put me on the gravy train of summer programs and boarding/magnet schools. my private elementary administered the Iowa Skills Test every year, which is one of the tests that the major national-level gifted programs use to find the kids who need their services. due to scoring at a certain percentile in a certain year, i was scouted out by the Duke TIP program, which invites eligible 6th & 7th graders to take the SAT or ACT, and depending on your scores on those tests, you become eligible for all sorts of exciting stuff (and regardless of how you do on the SAT/ACT, you remain on TIP’s radar aka mailing list which means you at least hear about various oppurtunities for academically inclined kids).

    funny enough, i kinda can’t believe i’m actually recommending that people try to run through the gauntlet that is the gifted fast track system in the US — i feel pretty conflicted about the whole concept of being “gifted” and getting preferential treatment for it. but you know, it’s probably better than being a 10 year old in high school.

  165. Lisa

    There has been ability grouping throughout the history of elementary education. It is most often called “tracking.” If you remember being in the “blue” reading group or the “red” reading group or the “cardinals” or the “canaries” math group or whatever, where a small group of students took turns going up to the teacher’s u-shaped table for a few minutes during reading time, then you were tracked. Tracking is often disasterous in that it does just what the name implies: it tracks students into a preconcieved arbitrary rut that they are stuck with for the next 12 years. And, it still usually does not address the needs of highly gifted students such as those who can handle highschool chemistry at the age of ten.

    To give an example: my sister had trouble in reading in 1st grade. Looking back, she thinks it was because she didn’t go to preschool and was a very young kindergartener at age 4 when she started. She was tracked low in everything, and even labeled learning disabled because she flipped some of her letters. This low tracking went on throughout elementary school until 6th grade. Then, the teacher was getting ready to give a test for advanced placement in junior high. She had a list of the high tracked kids to give it to. Then she had a heart attack and the sub who came in had no idea who was supposed to take the tests, so she gave it to everyone. My sister got high marks in everything and in junior high was able to take advanced placement math, science and english courses. This success built on itself in highschool and then college. As one of the top high school students, she was able to get a bunch of college credits and scholarships. As a teacher, I saw kids who were tracked both low and high get pigeon-holed into the prison that wa the expectations of their teachers and parents. Elementary school is WAY TOO EARLY to be making any kind of ‘ability level’ decisions about anyone that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

    In public education, I think one of the main answers is lowering class size to about ten students of mixed ability levels and creating individualized plans for each. This will never happen, but that would go far in solving some of these issues. As for harrassment, the teacher and administration set the tone to either allow that or not. It makes all the difference. I taught Special ed students with multiple disabilities, and sometimes we would mainstream them into a wonderful, supportive classroom. Other times they would go into the classroom of hell, where they were constantly bullied. This was LARGELY due to what tone the teacher set and how they dealt with their own prejudices about my students. This might be why some of my own experiences of being treated unfairly as a girl more often occurred when their was a male teacher.

    One more thing then I’ll shut up. I have a memory of being molested by another student in the second grade. I was seven, and during a fire drill another second grader shoved his hands up my shorts and around my private areas and then laughed about it with his friends. I remember telling my mother about it and being horribly embarrassed. She talked to the teacher and I begged them both to let the whole thing drop because it was so embarrassing. They did. Looking back now, I can’t believe that they let that drop. Or let me go on being so embarrassed by it when I did nothing wrong. That kid, who I’ve totally lost track of, was a little misogynist in the making. If we don’t stop little boys at seven, or ten, or fifteen…what do we think is going to happen to them as adults? Taking a ten year old girl out of highschool may or may not be the answer for that particular girl, but overall it does nothing to stop the issue of boys who treat girls like crap. I got really irritated after the Columbine thing when all these talk shows like Oprah had shows where they talked about freaks and geeks and had them on as guests to talk about why they are being bullied and then never, ever addressed the so-called “popular” kids that were doing the bullying. The whole mentality in school is that if you are getting bullied or harassed, then it means their is something wrong with YOU. Too bad you are smart, or have an individual fashion sense, or god-forbid are a girl. You get what’s coming to you.

  166. Lisa

    Please forgive some of my spelling and gramatical errors and my constant misuse of the word “their.” Really, I know how to write a sentence, but I am visually impaired and use screen-reading software that makes it very hard to proofread in comment boxes. Thanks for putting up with my comments anyway.

  167. the opoponax

    note that i DO think the bullies (in this case and all cases) ought to be disciplined. of course. the problem is that it’s not just a matter of “x girl is getting harrassed, let’s expel y boy and it will obviously be fixed,” because for every boy you expell, another one crops up. when i was harrassed in school, it wasn’t just one boy, or even one small group of boys. in small schools, it was ALL the boys, and in larger schools, it was a complex network of boys who generally ran in different social circles and may not have even known each other (basically “any boy who felt like harrassing me”). so there wasn’t even a ringleader you could discipline. every boy in school would have needed to be expelled for me not to ever be harrassed.

    in order to stop the bullying, you need to create an educational environment that doesn’t teach boys to do this. you can’t raise boys to be harrassers and abusers and then slap them on the wrist when they grow up to do exactly what you taught them. individual punishments don’t do very much, because for every kid you punish, another 5 pick up the slack.

    basically, what i’m saying here is IBTP.

  168. Funambulator

    MedeaonCrack:
    There are men who don’t have “asperger’s”?

    Bubbas’ Nightmare
    Yes.
    Granted, it’s often hard to tell.

    I’m not sure I understand these jokes that are sliding by. Is it that men are assholes, so you can’t tell them apart from people with Asperger’s? I hope not.

  169. Kristi

    My daughter – a stunning large-breasted 9-year-old whom I home-schooled for a variety of intellectual, social, developmental, and religious reasons – sent me the link to your site months ago. Three cheers for this mother’s outrage. What the hell is wrong with this school (this world)? This is a CHILD!

    My own babe (pun intended) enjoyed the wholesome companionship of her three brothers, pursued her many interests, skipped the hell of junior high, and entered an Ivy college in her teens.

    She remains a strong independent woman who still insists that a man talk to her face not her chest. This year, at 24, she moves to the Middle East to pursue the work she loves. K, if you are reading this, you know my respect for you as an amzing woman that I’m proud to have as a friend.

  170. Twisty

    “a stunning large-breasted 9-year-old”

    Seven words I never expected to see in these comments, particularly in conjunction with “sent me the link to your site.”

  171. Jane

    De-lurking briefly to add to the conversation on Asperger’s – so glad, Twisty, that this is an Asperger’s-friendly blog.
    In several provinces of Canada special-needs funding has been cut by conservative governments and many kids diagnosed with Asperger’s are getting less help than they deserve. My ten-year-old brother has Asperger’s and is a really sensitive, gentle little guy who bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. But in recent years the other boys at his public school have been teaching him really nasty stuff, and it’s only going to get worse. Thankfully his mother is a really fierce advocate on his behalf, but she has to fight tooth and nail to get the teachers and admin to tell her what’s really going on in the classroom and the schoolyard. My parents are contemplating homeschooling him because the kids in his class are vicious and the teachers aren’t willing to do anything about the bullying. Every time they talk about homeschooling to the therapists, though, they are told to “leave him in school because he needs to learn how to be social.” Well, if learning to be social means learning to be a frickin’ violent misogynist asshole along with everyone else, I say let him stay home where he’s safe.

    When I read letters like this I’m worried as hell about the public school system, and what nasty little misogynist 10-year-olds are doing to girls and vulnerable boys who just want to get through a day without being harassed. Posters above are exactly right – the educational environment has GOT to be changed to teach kids to respect each other. And if legal action is the only way for S. to protect her daughter, I say go for it. Kick some misogynist ass! IBTP.

  172. MedeaOnCrack

    As a former one of those (SLB 9 yr old) who is considerably older and in the process of reduction mammoplasty (so many years and so mucb pain both physical and emotional too late) I have to say I fear for this child. And not only for what will be visited upon her from outside her family.

  173. MedeaOnCrack

    Sorry I was so shocked by the phraseology there, that I missed the child is now 24. I’m still just as shocked by the word choice and what that means, to me.

  174. sparky

    Preliminary disclosures: 1. First time blamer. 2. I have not yet read all of the comments; I’m on deadline. However, I feel strongly about this issue.

    Single-sex education was the best thing that ever happened to me. After continual sexual harassment throughout private, co-ed middle school, my all girls (private) high school was nirvana. I was introduced to feminist theory in honors English. Nurse practioners taught us to do self breast exams in junior year health class. No it was not perfect or insulated from the general badness of the patriarchy, but it was a fabulous environment. Remove boys and girls get to be people.

    S – If there is any way possible to get your daughter into an all-girls school, DO IT! High school, local college, whatever. Don’t automatically discount parochial schools. 13 years with various nuns didn’t make me a papist. Also, parochial schools often have need-based funding as part of their institutional mission.

    There are also a lot of girls-only activities that your daughter can get involved in immediately. Girl Scouts can be fabulous if you find the right troop. Girl’s Incorporated is a great organization with resources for both you and your daughter.

    Oh, and sue the hell out of the school district that allowed this to happen.

  175. MedeaOnCrack

    clemson(dot)edu/newsroom/articles/2007/february/girlscouts(dot)php5

    “Seventy girls, in 4th-12th grades, from across the state will attend the workshop sponsored by Clemson’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, Lockheed Martin and Girl Scouts of the Old 96 Council. The girls will mix chemicals to create shampoo, conduct weather experiments and create robots.”

    This program is well-known in Canada and the UK and includes mentoring of students by veted women in science, and summer schools.

  176. Spit The Dummy

    V said: HIgh school is not an appropriate placement for brilliant school aged children, because they are not developmentally equipped to deal with the advanced social/emotional demands of interacting all day long with adolescents, particularly if they are the only child in thatt school placement.

    I have to disagree with this. Most studies on this very topic have reported positive results for those gifted children grade-skipped ahead to high-school. Gifted children are developmentally equipped to deal with adolescents who are at their own level of intellectual development, THAT is the most important element that researchers have discovered, and their emotional and social adjustment follows on naturally from there. Those who are satisfied on the cognitive level tend to be better adjust socially and emotionally, even though they are dealing with adolescents when they are 10.

    Of course, the above is predicated on the fact that this is well-behaved adolescents we are talking about and not out-of-control thugs, bullies and rapists. The problem here is not with the 10 year old girl but, as always, with the society or school system that allows sexual discrimination and bullying as part of its regular program of activities. I’m outraged at the behaviour of these boys, the teachers and the school. They have a duty of care towards that girl and should be reminded of it. I only wish I wasn’t on the other side of the world or I’d offer to storm the school with her mother and beat them over the head with a clue stick.

  177. j

    I highly recommend the book Genius Denied by Jan and Bob Davidson. It really changed my life. Before reading this book, I had accepted as inevitable the second-class treatment of gifted students. Now I know we must demand better. If you want to know more, the book has a website: http://www.geniusdenied.com/

  178. Spit The Dummy

    the opononax said: funny enough, i kinda can’t believe i’m actually recommending that people try to run through the gauntlet that is the gifted fast track system in the US — i feel pretty conflicted about the whole concept of being “gifted” and getting preferential treatment for it. but you know, it’s probably better than being a 10 year old in high school.

    I find this very interesting. Can you expand upon why you feel conflicted about being fast-tracked for being gifted?

    I don’t know much about the US system and there isn’t really much of a gifted thing going on here in Australia. There certainly wasn’t when I was going through school in the 70′s in a tiny country town in the middle of nowhere. In primary school I was ostracised when I missed a year of school due to illness and still managed to top Year 6, despite coming back 1/2 the way into the year. In high school I went underground and pretty much hid the smarts so as not to get the same treatment. Being a smart woman is not something you want to be in our society because, in my experience, it can hardly wait to slap you down.

  179. the opoponax

    i mainly feel conflicted about it because i don’t think i am particularly gifted, or really, i don’t think anybody particularly is.

    i’m pretty sure that most of the differences between a “gifted” kid and a “regular” kid are a combination of factors from random accident, to cultural biases playing themselves out.

    i started kindergarten at a montessori which was connected to my family’s church, which is the only way we would ever have been able to afford it (i.e. if we were muslim or jewish or fundie xtian or atheist, none of it would ever have happened). my teacher happened to be working on a masters in ed, specializing in gifted kids. i was white and cute and articulate and clean and dressed nicely and spoke english as a first language, as well as being outspoken and precocious. nothing except for the precocious part is necessarily a “meritocracy” kind of thing. this teacher mentioned to my mother (who was involved at the school, being a SAHM at the time) that she thought i should be IQ tested. my parents were interested and had the time and resources to make this happen. i worked the same magic on the IQ tester (though, ok, i guess i couldn’t have done this if i was a complete moron), and the rest is history.

    other than the extreme harrassment i faced due to being a “smart girl”, i was basically given a free pass to academic acheivement, from the age of about 5. not really due to any inherent qualities about me, and almost entirely due to race & class benefits, as well as a little bit of pure accident.

    that said, by the time i got to the magnet high school, there was a smattering of poor students and students of color who probably acheived it by wits alone. those kids deserved to be there far more than i ever did.

  180. Madeline

    Just wanted to chip in about tracking –

    Tracking is in itself often a very subjective, very biased thing.

    When I was in kindergarten, we were tracked into reading groups. There were several. I was in one of the middle ones. This is not startling except for the fact that I was reading National Geographic at two and a half.

    Turns out, the higher reading groups were entirely male. The teacher was a sexist-against-herself and refused to believe that I was really reading those books, or that my best friend was either. Fortunately, my parents listened to my frustration and called her out on it. This was in a private Montessori school, full of rich kids from liberal to moderate families.

    The thing is, I don’t think there’s any way to fix this tracking problem. Kids who get tracked one way (for instance, as a low achiever in math) tend to perform that way because that’s what’s expected of them. Even if they’re in the “right track” for their initial skill level, I think it’s quite possible that that kind of tracking can impede learning — you’re getting a message that you’re not as good as kid X or kid Y and better than kid Z. And that isn’t healthy, but in the competitive environment of schools it’s going to happen as long as there are tracks.

  181. SusanM

    goblinbee:

    I was bright and I was not bored for one minute in school.

    Jesus. Thank you! I loved school too and, since I’ve since talked with classmates at reunions who ostensibly went through a similar experience to mine yet claimed to hate it, I’ve also chalked it up to attitude. This has carried over to my worklife– I am literally never bored, but realize I make a lot of my own fun. Maybe that’s the lesson I learned best in school?

  182. goblinbee

    SusanM, good to hear from you!
    I was, however, bored to tears in church each Sunday (we went in the morning, went home for lunch, then back in the afternoon for more church). My main diversion was to count and recount the squares and rectangles of different sizes and colors that made up the four tall stained-glass windows in the chapel (“8 small purple rectangles, 4 large yellow squares, 3 large green rectangles…”). I remember wishing, pathetically, that all four windows weren’t exactly the same! I set up other little contests and games for myself as well, but to no avail. Nothing could cut the dreariness.
    Did you fare any better in church, if applicable?

  183. redhead

    I loved school until 6th grade. I started kindergarten at a public Montessorri school at the age of 3 (this school offered 3 years of kindergarten), after crying everyday when my sister left for school because I was too young to go.

    I was able to work on whatever I wanted to, and I remember being constantly busy with all the things I was interested in. This school had multiple grades together in the classroom, and the teacher would let students work on their own, and then have lessons at different levels in various subject matters, and you could choose what level you wanted to work at. I loved it passionately, but then I went to a regular public school for 6th grade, and suddenly I had to sit and listen to someone lecture at me for 7 hours a day, and I still liked it when I could work on what I wanted (i.e. a science fair project I designed, a research project that I chose the topic for) but for the most part I was bored due to the regimentation of the whole thing.

    I think that high school on (including college and the law school I am now attending) is all about learning how to jump through the appropriate hoops. You can certainly get by without learning any substantive subject matter, but you cannot get by without learning how to respect the authori-tay of teachers and administrators and how to play the game.

  184. Spit The Dummy

    the opoponax:

    I can see that I was right to be afraid that you were conflicted because you felt guilty about being fortunate enough to receive the education you, as a gifted child, deserve.

    I’ve been identified as gifted but I received no special education help at all and was bored out of my brain in primary school. In High school it was better because I took books to read into class for when I was finished the work. My two kids have been identified as gifted by the school – I certainly had nothing to do with it as I was in complete denial about the gifted thing until then. Now I’m studying education at university and I’ve just finished a major assignment on giftedness for one of my classes and it helps a lot to be finding out so much about the subject, even at this late stage for me, because it helps me with what’s going on with my kids’ education.

    the opoponax said: i mainly feel conflicted about it because i don’t think i am particularly gifted, or really, i don’t think anybody particularly is.

    This is the “every child is gifted” fallacy. Every child has her own gifts but is not “gifted” in the precise sense used for educational purposes, which includes more rapid cognitive development than is usual.

    i’m pretty sure that most of the differences between a “gifted” kid and a “regular” kid are a combination of factors from random accident, to cultural biases playing themselves out.

    No. Cultural biases and other factors do lead to loss of opportunity etc that effect a child’s access and exposure to education which can have an effect on their development, but gifted children crop up everywhere and there is a difference between them and the “regular” kids, just as there is a difference between someone with a natural talent for sport or art and one without.

    i was white and cute and articulate and clean and dressed nicely and spoke english as a first language, as well as being outspoken and precocious. nothing except for the precocious part is necessarily a “meritocracy” kind of thing.

    I was white and cute and articulate and clean and dressed nicely and spoke English as a first language, although I wasn’t outspoken in those days. But that wasn’t enough in itself because I didn’t receive the same advantages as you did, so I don’t think you should feel guilty because YOU did. I think all gifted kids should have the opportunities you had.

    other than the extreme harrassment i faced due to being a “smart girl”, i was basically given a free pass to academic acheivement, from the age of about 5. not really due to any inherent qualities about me, and almost entirely due to race & class benefits, as well as a little bit of pure accident.

    No, it was due to inherent qualities you posessed – it was because you were SMART. You deserved those chances. So do all the other smart kids, the ones who didn’t get them but just because they couldn’t get them doesn’t mean nobody should. We just need to lobby and work hard until everybody does, yes?

    that said, by the time i got to the magnet high school, there was a smattering of poor students and students of color who probably acheived it by wits alone. those kids deserved to be there far more than i ever did.

    Rubbish. They didn’t deserve is more than you did, they deserved it just as much as you did. Stop feeling guilty for your good fortune! You deserved it!

  185. the opoponax

    It’s not so much that I feel that I, in particular, did not deserve it, but that if all children were given the resources I was given, all children would be “gifted”. It’s very difficult for someone who doesn’t have all those assorted advantages to find themselves the lucky recipient of a fantastic education, almost entirely state funded, a red carpet rolled out before them, in the way it was for me. And I don’t really see why a few lucky kids should get unlimited resources at their disposal, while most kids get nothing. I think all kids should get everything.

    IBTP for this not being the current state of things.

  186. SusanM

    goblinbee:

    Did you fare any better in church, if applicable?

    HA! I am the oldest of eight (Catholic). I figured out early that God hates girls, and nothing the priests said countered this, so I spent most of my time in church seething and gathering evidence on the patriarchy. As soon as I was old enough to drive, I became responsible for transporting the rest of the kids to mass. I started taking them to Winchell’s donuts instead, arguing that God didn’t really care where we went, he just wanted us to talk about him. Talk we did, and now most of my siblings are atheists.

  187. the opoponax

    In fact, I think one thing that contributes to the harrassment of “gifted” kids is the other kids subconscious awareness that we are getting something they’re not, which in an ideal world ought to be theirs. Which isn’t to say that it’s justified, obviously.

  188. Spit The Dummy

    the opoponax said: It’s not so much that I feel that I, in particular, did not deserve it, but that if all children were given the resources I was given, all children would be “gifted”.

    But they wouldn’t. Not in the way “gifted” is used in your case to mean intellectual giftedness. If every child was given your advantages, they would not all become gifted in the same way you are, because they do not have that innate ability in the first place. They would do better than they will now with substandard education, sure, but they will never be able to make use of it in the way you have. That’s why you got the particular opportunities you did.

    Every child should be given the opportunity to develop their gifts to their highest potential, but not all children have the same intellectual gifts that you have. Or to the extent you do, okay? That’s just a fact.

    Look at it this way: an 8 yr old gifted child who is accelerated into Year 6 with 10 and 11 year olds because that’s the intellectual level at which s/he is working is unusual. Not all 8 year olds can do this, and accelerating them all up to the Year 6 level wouldn’t help them one bit. It’d be a catastophre for them on many levels. The whole education system, bad though it is, is set up for the “regular kids” don’t forget. It’s the ones who don’t fit the mould, like the gifted, that need something other than what the regular class offers.

    It’s very difficult for someone who doesn’t have all those assorted advantages to find themselves the lucky recipient of a fantastic education, almost entirely state funded, a red carpet rolled out before them, in the way it was for me. And I don’t really see why a few lucky kids should get unlimited resources at their disposal, while most kids get nothing. I think all kids should get everything.

    We’re in agreement that everybody should get them but how does your guilt that YOU got them help anybody – me, for example – that didn’t get them? Frankly, I’m just happy that SOMEBODY got help and I want to work hard so that everybody else can. But making it all or nothing isn’t the least bit helpful, IMO. Nor is guilt.

  189. the opoponax

    “how does your guilt that YOU got them help anybody – me, for example – that didn’t get them”

    This is very true, and something worth reminding myself of. Also why I feel no qualms about letting as many people as possible know about the resources that are out there, if only you know where to look.

  190. Spit The Dummy

    the opoponax said: In fact, I think one thing that contributes to the harrassment of “gifted” kids is the other kids subconscious awareness that we are getting something they’re not, which in an ideal world ought to be theirs. Which isn’t to say that it’s justified, obviously.

    No, you are getting the same thing they are getting: an education based on your particular needs. I’m sure you could offer the sort of educational opportunites you got to regular kids but what would be the point? They aren’t ready for them intellectually and can’t demonstrate that they are. Gifted kids have demonstrated that they are ready so that get the opportunity. I really don’t see the problem. “Every student has a right to an equal opportunity to receive a quality educational experience; however, that should not be interpreted to be the same experience.” (Barbara Clark: Growing Up Gifted) We agree that each child should get the quality part of the educational experience but I don’t think that the fact that you got a quality gifted educational experience should make you feel so terribly guilty that others didn’t get what they deserve. It wasn’t your fault!

  191. goblinbee

    SusanM: “I started taking them to Winchell’s donuts instead…”

    How completely wonderful. I’m in the middle of six (Mormon). Did none of your siblings ever snitch on you? I’m afraid my younger siblings could not have kept that to themselves.
    My two older sisters are strait-laced Mormon people, but us younger four are infidels.

  192. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    MedeaOnCrack: I “dropped out” of high school too! By graduating early! BORED BORED BORED. Like you I took what I needed to graduate from high school, but I did it by taking correspondence courses from the local university. If my daughter is bored in high school someday I’ll encourage her to do the same.

    Not that anyone asked, but Church? I dealt by cloistering myself on a toilet in the ladies’ room, reading a book on witchcraft I’d hidden in my bag. I don’t think anyone noticed I was missing.

  193. Edith

    Whatever. Look, I’m glad that homeschooling works for some of you, and others of you are able to find awesome progressive public schools or charter schools or magnet schools or private schools for your kids.

    Personally, I went to a bunch of shitty schools. My high school had such a low graduation rate that we lost our cred and was taken over by the district big wigs in order to improve us. We didn’t.

    I went to a Montessori school as a child, and that experience made transitioning to public school difficult, because I didn’t know basic skills like how to work in groups (we were all allowed to do our own thing) or math (my teachers thought it was best that I learn what I was interested in, regardless of what that was, and I was never interested in learning math).

    This blamer is the child of two high school teachers, who have taught in public schools for a combined 70 years. They have taught at some of the worst schools in the nation. And when I graduate from college, I plan on getting my teaching credential and doing the same thing.

    Most people’s kids go to public school. If you want to make a difference in more kids’ lives than your own, be a teacher in a public school. If you want to reach everyone, not just the elite, and not just the kids blessed enough to have parents that really care and go the extra mile to place them in great schools, teach in a public school. I want to teach kids with abusive parents and absent parents and simply clueless parents. I want to teach kids in foster care and kids of immigrants. I don’t want to fucking teach a bunch of kids with hippie parents who know enough to read to their children every night and get their IQs tested and sent them off to highly gifted magnets and specialty charter schools where kids can design their own curriculum because they’re considered “smart enough” to do so. I want to teach kids that are told they are dumb by everyone, and might be the first of their family to graduate from high school if they don’t get pregnant first.

    And if I have to deal with the bureaucracy that goes along with it, so be it. There’s pretty much nothing that I hate more than educational elitism from so-called progressives.

  194. Edith

    Oh yeah, and I totally agree with the opoponax. More kids who are “gifted” come from stable homes, have parents who are college graduates, and all kinds of other advantages. Then they get placed in the best classes with the best teachers and are given more opportunities overall. It’s completely unfair and it reinforces everyone into the haves and have nots.

  195. the opoponax

    As a contrast, one of my most brilliant friends, who is far more talented and accomplished than I will probably ever be, is East Asian, and grew up in the East End of London (basically the ghetto). His parents were poor immigrants who were totally unequipped to figure out the school system, and from their POV he was lucky even to have access to free public education. There was not a book in the house.

    He was as systematically held back and tripped up and beaten down as i was guided ahead and shown the way. He was tracked into special ed (this, someone who today holds an MFA in creative writing and teaches at the university level). He probably would have had no oppurtunity to go to college at all had his family not moved to California when he was halfway through high school, and had his (really abysmal) English school not been leaps and bounds ahead of his (pretty average) American school. He dropped out of high school, got his equivalency, and started college at 16. (on his own dime, his parents refused to pay for it.) The rest is history.

    Contrasting his educational life with mine is an extreme eye opener.

  196. Spit The Dummy

    Edith said: This blamer is the child of two high school teachers, who have taught in public schools for a combined 70 years. They have taught at some of the worst schools in the nation. And when I graduate from college, I plan on getting my teaching credential and doing the same thing.

    This blamer is the child of two primary school teachers who have taught in public schools for a combined 70 years at least, too. My sister and brother and their spouses also teach at public schools.

    Most people’s kids go to public school. If you want to make a difference in more kids’ lives than your own, be a teacher in a public school. If you want to reach everyone, not just the elite, and not just the kids blessed enough to have parents that really care and go the extra mile to place them in great schools, teach in a public school.

    I am currently training to teach and will teach at public schools. My kids go to public schools. What’s that got to do with gifted kids? You think gifted kids don’t go to public school? You think gifted kids aren’t part of minority groups that live in poverty?

    I want to teach kids with abusive parents and absent parents and simply clueless parents. I want to teach kids in foster care and kids of immigrants. I don’t want to fucking teach a bunch of kids with hippie parents who know enough to read to their children every night and get their IQs tested and sent them off to highly gifted magnets and specialty charter schools where kids can design their own curriculum because they’re considered “smart enough” to do so. I want to teach kids that are told they are dumb by everyone, and might be the first of their family to graduate from high school if they don’t get pregnant first.

    I really don’t know how to start answering this diatribe, since it’s obvious you know very little about gifted kids, who they are and what they are about, since you’re under the mistaken apprehension that they are made by hippie parents who read to them every night! Good grief! Since you say you’re training to be a teacher, why don’t you go to the education section of your campus library and look up books on giftedness and have a read? If you like I can recommend some pretty decent books. At the moment you’re merely repeating a lot of society’s misconceptions about giftedness as some sort of elitism vested in the wealthy and privileged and that’s just wrong.

  197. Spit The Dummy

    the opoponax:

    The difference between your story and your friend’s is that he wasn’t identified by a very flawed system. He’s still gifted and he still deserves everything a gifted program can do for him but he doesn’t deserve it just because he’s poor and Asian, he deserves it because every gifted child deserves it. Yes, the system we operate under now is completely, seriously flawed. That doesn’t detract from my point that giftedness is a real issue that needs to be addressed, that it is not necessarily, as Edith suggests, some elitist hogging of resources by the already privileged!

    Frankly, as a teacher I want to help all the gifted, especially those who are slipping through the cracks now, for whatever reason.

  198. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    For what it’s worth folks! If any of you have a child with a turbocharged brain and no gifted-child opportunities, but his/her teachers say they don’t have the time or inclination to come up with a different curriculum for one child, call BULLSHIT.

    A teacher doesn’t need to make up a special curriculum. Curricula already exist: Formally established, standardized, often MANDATED by your district or state, and easily obtained. All it takes is a test (mandated for all kids anyway, depending on the state) and a phone call (or online search these days?) to obtain lesson plans that operate at your child’s level of thinking, up to the 12th grade AND SOME COLLEGE. Sometimes in Spanish! For instance, there ARE established lesson plans for calculus, and any teacher who tells you there isn’t needs to retire, STAT. There were two kids in my 6th grade class learning calculus at their own speed while the rest of us struggled with long division, and that was in the 1970′s!

    Failing that approach, most state-controlled schools have standardized correspondence courses for kids (sick?) who can’t go to school for whatever reason, HS dropouts, and for college students doing the distance-learning thing. That’s how I coped back in the ’80s. It’s 2007 now, so any school that hasn’t hopped on the Klue Train needs to be shut-the-f*#$ DOWN or taken over.

    Crappy schools make me SO MAD. We spend squillions destroying the lives of people in other countries and we can’t even – oh don’t get me started.

  199. goblinbee

    THe Hedonistic Pleasureseeker: “I dealt by cloistering myself on a toilet in the ladies’ room, reading a book on witchcraft I’d hidden in my bag. I don’t think anyone noticed I was missing.”

    How on earth were some of you able to skip church without anyone noticing? If I hadn’t been sitting in the pew with the rest, Mom would have known. For Sunday School classes that were separate from the adults, the teachers would surely have reported any absences. Or maybe that was just an assumption on my part. Okay, I needed to go to church with some of you bad girls, so you could show me the way!

  200. Shannon

    Skipping kids ahead is a dumb idea. What is it in aid of? So they can make a million dollars and retire before they’re 30? I say leave the kids in an age-appropriate grade, and let them satisfy their curiosity at the library.

    Those with delicate ears please close them for a moment, please:

    Go violate yourself with the nearest sharp object, Charles. You have ABSOLUTELY no idea what it is like to be so bored in school that you actually start flunking your classes because you don’t see the point. One of the most vivid memories I have pre-skipping a grade (they wanted to skip me two, but Mom said no) was a 6th grade teacher asking us to write down all the countries in Europe that we could name.

    Other kids: France. Spain. Is England in Europe?
    Me: (wrote ‘em all out, got asked by the teacher if there was a problem, since I was writing much, much longer than everyone else, wondering out loud if we should count the Baltic States or not, etc, and oh, hey, does Luxembourg have one U or 2?)

    I gave up on school. I HATED school. At one point I even asked my parents to send me to a local all-female Catholic school (we’re not Catholic), because I figured maybe less moron boys in class would equal less frustration for me. No dice, we didn’t have the money.

    Not skipping ahead kids who can deal with it is really just damning them to extra years in a hellish system. “Age-appropriate grades,” my shiny gifted ass. I was reading at a third-grade level in kindergarten, so tell your story walking.

    I love you, Virago. Much more polite than me. But oh so true. Stuff like this is the reason I will homeschool any child I ever have, ever.

    Back to the original letter-writer: suing these schools is usually the only way to get any permanent results whatsoever. A friend of mine has two autistic boys and has been to hell and back dealing with their IEPs, etc. She’s a super-mouthy Brit who used to be a high-powered nanny, she knows her child development. And they’re scared to death of her down at the district office. I hope you achieve the same result!

  201. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Actually – is it Charles upthread? – Anyway: Gifted kids usually do NOT make squillions of dollars by the time they reach 20 or even 30 or 40 or EVER. Often things even out in the end. “Normal” kids eventually catch up and sometimes even surpass the gifted child in terms of intellect, ability and income.

    Often gifted children have such a hard time relating to their peers that by the time they reach adulthood they’ve suffered enough so that it’s difficult for them to get by in the hyper-competitive, kiss-ass business world, which actually prefers shrewd socialites, movers and shakers. Many folk with stratospheric IQs end up as some variety of government clerk (like moi), or end up in a technical or artistic field where they can play by their lonesomes. Most of the time the money ain’t so good. Even engineers make less than one might think.

    Perhaps if some of the more resentful/irritated folk upthread reframe their ideas about early precociousness, and see it as (bear with me!) a disability instead of a privilege they’d understand better? Gifted children ARE differently-abled and often a challenge to deal with and/or educate. As a brainiac born of two brainiacs I developed an intimidating vocabulary, not to mention formal operational thought processes, well before I probably should have. My peers simply could NOT relate to me, while their behaviors confused me greatly. I spent much of my childhood thinking WTF WTF WTF???!!!!!???, a social outcast despite my looks. I entered college and adulthood socially retarded, and I really do mean retarded. At the age of 41 I’m still getting over it.

  202. Edith

    Spit the Dummy: I couldn’t give less of a shit about gifted kids. You know why? BECAUSE THEY’RE GIFTED. Gifted kids, oh the poor, poor things, with their scads of privileges right from the get-go do partially, I concede, to their “superior” intellect, and MOSTLY to their “superior” parents, schools, teachers, and general opportunities.

    Give me a break. I was tracked as “highly gifted” myself, for your information. My parents knew the system — they knew after taking the IQ test and maxing out the scores that I would be given scads more opportunities than the other kids. I’d get to participate in GATE activities, I’d get school-sanctioned THERAPY if I fell below a B in any class (because HIGHLY GIFTED KIDS should NEVER be allowed to do poorly, because if they are, clearly there is SOMETHING ELSE going on other than general laziness), I’d be allowed to pick as many AP classes as I wanted, I could take classes at the local college, etc. Are these opportunities available to other kids who don’t have parents that know enough to demand testing? No.

    FYI, I went to a high school that was 70% students of color. My AP and honors classes were AT LEAST 70% white.

    When I worked as a teaching assistant in a literacy program that taught public high school ninth and tenth graders how to read above the second or third grade level, this opened my eyes a bit more. Fact: every single kid in this class was on the reduced lunch program. Fact: all of these kids had been tested for learning disabilites or special needs and none of them had any, hence, why they were in this class. Fact: none of these kids were ESL kids. Fact: out of a class of 45, TWO of them were white. What does that tell me? What does that tell YOU?

    In my experience, scads of funding goes to helping the very top and the very bottom. But kids like these, non-special needs kids, neither mentally gifted or mentally challenged, simply fall through the cracks. Who gives a shit about them? Sad, really, that so many educated progressives care more about “gifted” kids, who, although bored, still are able to go on and use their superior brains since they have such a hard time in school, you know, learning to read. Or wait, not so much.

  203. LouisaMayAlcott

    HP,

    I had exactly that experience. Vocabulary, acceleration, math contest winner, early admission to University with advanced standing, never needing to study to get A’s.

    Complete social misfit. Employment history is wreckage. I was finally able to collapse onto disability as manic depressive. Is it cuz I memorized the diagnosis & fed the symptoms back to the psychiatrist? I dunno. :-)

    I prefer to avoid human contact, and I enjoy thinking my own thoughts and pursuing my own studies. I will for as long as I have to be on this planet.

    But as for acceleration: Yes!!! It was the only thing that made school bearable for me.

    I had good teachers who let me sit at the back of the class and work ahead in my book. Or sit at the front of the class and do math exercises in my notebook right under the French teacher’s nose. It’s easy to think about math & french at the same time.

    A life wasted by patriarchal success standards: advanced degrees but no professional standing or experience (beyond a few years.)

    But by my own standards I succeeded: I succeeded in not growing up. And, I’ve managed to pursue my own intellectual and sociological interests all the way through.

  204. wendyann

    Wow, what a bunch of gifted blamers. So, which came first, the being gifted or being a blamer? The seeing that something is very wrong with our society and looking for reasons (patriarchy) or learning about it and then seeing it? I’m going with door number one.

    I must be lucky since my school experiences were so different than most. I got a wonderful public school education. I grew up in a very blue collar New England town and went to gifted programs starting in third grade.

    My HS had AP and honors classes for those who made the grade and wanted to be there. No godbags to speak of and plenty of opportunities for girls while still having to navigate the frothing waters of patriarchal indoctrination of high school girls. Or I really was completely oblivious to the expectations placed on me for being female. Maybe not being one little bit interested in boys – not caring what they thought of me and not wanting to date them, made life easier for me.

    My parents, both high school dropouts and factory workers pretty much let me do my own thing.

    I guess I can’t understand the absolute disgust with our school system that I’m seeing here. I had a great, free, public school education and I don’t have, nor do I want, children to worry about educating. I went to an Ivy on a softball scholarship and didn’t have much trouble with patriarchy there, either (Brown, for those interested.)

    It wasn’t until I got out into the so-called “real-world” that I smacked headlong into it (20 years ago) and have been living with the rage that the absolute injustice of patriarchal pressure does to women everywhere for the sole crime of existing while female.

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see that so many blamers are “gifted and talented.”

    Upon further reflection, I think what insulated me most from patriarchy as a child and as a teenager in the public school system was my absolute indifference to male desire. I never in my life donned female drag and I never once gave a whit about how my actions or attitude would make men see me (meaning not want to date me.)

    The fact that I could defend myself physically and *did* defend kids who were picked on using physical means kept me from being bullied for non-conforming to rigid gender roles.

    Being an asexual lesbian does have its benefits, I see now!

  205. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Edith, we might be talking past each other because there are certainly so-called “gifted and talented” programs for (agreed: mostly but not ALL) privileged children of above-average intellect. Living on the East coast in WhiteBread UpperCrust, I certainly do see them. Their parents can’t BEAR to have a “normal” child. They MUST be “gifted and talented,” take every AP class offered, BLAH BLAH BLAH. There is certainly something to be said for having:

    1) Motivated parents with the energy to put in the effort;
    2) A full tummy (good breakfast);
    3) Less exposure to toxins (Lead paint, bad water, etc.);
    4) Better schools in general;
    5) White skin and a middle-class way of approaching problem-solving;
    6) Etcetera, ad nauseum

    Privilege, in other words. I think the blamer community KNOWS this and could blame on it fiercely for days. However, these are NOT the kids most of us are talking about. These are NORMAL KIDS! They are A and B students. Not having AP classes wouldn’t kill them. With all their privileges (barring learning disabilities or psychiatric problems) they’d do fine regardless.

    Rather, the rest of us are talking about children whose brains don’t work like normal kid brains. It’s a real problem, almost at the psychiatric level. Actually, it’s probably not difficult for a teacher to make the mistake of tracking an off-the-charts kid into special ed, because this kind of child just doesn’t DEAL well in an “age-appropriate” setting, fails tests and assignments, and occasionally even disrupts classes into chaos because s/he’s even smarter than the teacher.

    What are you going to do the first time you get one of these children in your class? Punish him or her for being “privileged?”

  206. the opoponax

    “I think what insulated me most from patriarchy as a child and as a teenager in the public school system was my absolute indifference to male desire.”

    Maybe times have changed, but in my experience male desire had nothing to do with it. In fact, I’d go as far to say that my interest in subjects other than boys and how to please them was what inspired the abuse. I mean, being queer probably got rid of some cognitive dissonance (the pressure to want to please boys, vs. my own passions and interests), and probably enabled me to resign myself to things enough to create a little escape hatch for myself (when they start calling you a dyke at 6, it loses its novelty by the time you’re old enough for anyone to realize that, no, actually, you are a really a dyke). I also think you could make a tenuous connection to being a girl jock providing some female solidarity that insulated you a little, and connect an open interest in sports with the indifference to male desire.

    But a general lack of male desire never did nothin’ for me…

  207. the opoponax

    also, I will ditto the idea of “gifted” becoming pretty meaningless once you hit adulthood (another reason i feel ambivalent about the whole thing). some people (a lot of my friends from giftedland) can extend it through college by attending an ivy or a big research university, keeping an academic focus, and translating that into advanced degrees and an eventual career in academia. not that a career in academia will likely pay well.

    but goddess help you if you’re not inclined toward academia, or if some aspect of your life or your studies forces you out of that bubble (the real ivory tower).

    it is a real source of guilt and anxiety that after all that, i grew up to be a graphic designer. i neither make very much money nor even really work with my mind. none of my coworkers were “gifted”. other than a passing familiarity with art history and concept development, i’m basically a craftsperson. i’m certainly no better off than my non-gifted siblings, all of whom will make more money than i do, eventually, and some of whom are in much more intellectually-focused career paths.

  208. Shannon

    because this kind of child just doesn’t DEAL well in an “age-appropriate” setting, fails tests and assignments, and occasionally even disrupts classes into chaos because s/he’s even smarter than the teacher.

    Remind my mom to tell you about the times she had to:

    * apologize for my correcting teachers’ spelling in elementary school
    * tell off my third grade teacher who claimed I didn’t know how to read — after she almost fell off her chair laughing, that is

    (etc etc ad nauseum)

    This is not about freaky Helicopter Parents micromanaging their children — my parents were academic underachievers who met in art school, for heaven’s sake! — this is about “brains [that] don’t work like normal kid brains,” as THP put it.

    Above-average IQ does not give you the keys to the cookie jar. Most of the people I knew from our “gifted” program dropped out of the CEO-track because they don’t like playing the social games required to get there.

    I hold myself up as an example: I’ve got a cum laude triple degree in political science, German and history with a specialization in medieval women’s religious history. Could’ve gone into academia, but I realized the futility of that. I suffered through some truly ridiculous job choices in my twenties. Now I write knitting books for a living.

  209. Mar Iguana

    I graduated from a Southern California high school in 1965, just under the wire because Ronnie Raygun was elected Governor in 1966, expressly to gut the public school system since it had done way too good a job turning out kids who were way too bright and causing way too much trouble for Authority.

    In the Fall of 1965, I was chosen to participate in a program for humanities majors to attend their sophmore year at extension campuses in other countries. I was going to the University of Barcelona. However, Raygun decided that Californians didn’t even need mental hospitals much less international educational opportunities for those girlie humanities majors. Oh. Well.

    He was then prepped and primed to become President in 1981 so the dumbing down could be taken to the national level. Have I mentioned lately how much I despise Ronnie Raygun?

  210. goblinbee

    wendyann:”Being an asexual lesbian does have its benefits, I see now!”
    I call myself asexual too! Have you ever visited the AVEN website (Asexual Visibility and Education Network)? There are some great threads over there.
    –g

  211. Professor Zero

    Have her send the harassers formal letters of no contact. Tell them not to approach her in school. Insist that the school cooperate with this. If he/they violate, file for a protective order.

  212. Edith

    HP, I just happen to doubt highly that the majority of blamers here are really as gifted as they think they are. Full disclosure: when I was IQ tested at 11 years old, I had a 166 IQ. That put me at the the top 99%. Yet it seemed to me, even then, that an awful lot of us were at the top 99% — reading college textbooks in second grade, teaching ourselves calculus “for fun,” and so forth. I think most gifted kids could use a little perspective, honestly. IQ tests for children are basically about development — those of us who had books at home, for intance, will probably be more intellectually advanced than other kids our age. But as the opononax said, that shit levels out. The other kids catch up. They do. And I know most people like me, who were told at 11 years of age how advanced they were continue to BELIEVE in their own giftedness for the rest of their lives, despite the fact that their giftedness was RELATIVE.

    We all know that famous psych test, don’t we? The one where the teacher arbitrarily told some of the class they were brilliant and the rest of them that they were dumb? And even though they had performed equally as well before, the “smart” kids improved radically and the “dumb” kids went to shit.

    Now, I don’t think kids should be PUNISHED for being “gifted,” that is, privileged. I’m not going to treat my male students and my white students like shit just because they are privileged. I just think that isolating “gifted” kids in special all-gifted classes and having schools spend funds and energy on them to give them access to all the best science equipment and so forth, is wrong. I also think it’s wrong that formerly gifted adults (who of course, think they’re still gifted now) insist on teaching upper-level students rather than the normal kids because of some warped desire to continue hanging out with the cool smart kids.

    Forgive me for being just the big commie pinko that I am, but here’s what I think: “normal” kids should have JUST AS GOOD of teachers as the “brilliant.” EVERYONE should be allowed into high school honors and AP classes REGARDLESS of grades and test scores. Elementary school students who are gifted should be placed in classes with “normal” kids. Additional education beyond school can easily be done with the help of parents, after school programs, summer programs, and kids’ own natural curiosity and ability to educate themselves. By NO MEANS should elementary school students be skipped ahead or should high school students graduate early because, let’s face it: although I’m sure you’re all intellectual geniuses, you’re emotionally still a child when you are a child. And I’m sorry, but reading some of these comments, I can’t help but point out that for those of you that skipped and entered college at 15, you certainly don’t seem to be doing all that fucking great now. And I should know. I was a “brilliant” kid who is now a manic-depressive who has suffered multiple suicide attempts, etc. And I’m not depressed because the patriarchy is so much harder to deal with for me because I’m brilliant. I’m depressed because I’m emotionally fucked up. My emotional intelligence does not equal my intellectual intelligence. “Normal” kids who became “normal” adults who, you know, didn’t drop out of college and haven’t quit 90 jobs are maybe intellectually inferior — although they probably aren’t — but they’re certainly emotionally superior to you. Deal with it. Adults who get stuck in that whole rut of “the world doesn’t understand me because I’m so much smarter than everyone” really need to fucking grow up, I’m sorry.

  213. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Wow Edith, have you understood any of what we’ve been saying here? You’ve just PROVEN OUR POINT.

    I rest my case.

  214. LouisaMayAlcott

    Edith,

    Merry meet!

    I was sure that I couldn’t be the only over-intellectualized manic depressive blamer around here.

  215. thebewilderness

    Our experiences cover a broad spectrum. One of my favorite things about these threads is when we see that several of you had very similar experiences, and yet, came away with very different opinions. Perhaps it is because there are so many other variables that affect our education.
    I received criticism frequently in school for failing to live up to my potential. Having been in 3 foster homes between the time I was five and seven, always the new kid in school, and toss in the requisite sexual abuse, I can’t help wonder that they thought I had any potential to live up to. I lived in fear, and reading was my escape. Not surprisingly when you read a lot you learn a lot. So they considered skipping me when I was 8, in 1954. Didn’t matter, the next school thought I was slow. But I could read so well, they just didn’t understand how I could be so fast and slow at the same time. It was directly related to the pedophile step father, of course. When my mom dumped the pedophile it was back to the foster homes, plenty of sexual abuse there too. These days we call that weird state of disconnect with the sudden onset of panic, PTSD. Back then I simply knew that I was different, too different. It took years, and I did a lot of damage along the was, but I finally became me in my forties.
    I think most people are smart and should be treated that way. It just depends on the subject.
    As was said upthread, if the class size was reduced to ten it wouldn’t be necessary to impose tracks or play status games with childrens education.

    The school system was designed to provide educated and obedient workers who could better serve the needs of the industrial age. It turned out to be much greater than expected, I think. It became a tool people used to meet their own needs and desires.
    Since the eighties it seems that there has been an effort to reframe education back to the original intent, providing educated and obedient workers for plantation capitalism. I take that as a very bad sign.

  216. the opoponax

    Wow. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, Edith, but damn, you just come off as so insulting to all of us that you actually make me see the other side of things.

    Reverse psychology really does work, it seems.

    I mean, did you really have to suggest to all of us that we really can’t possibly be that intelligent, because look how far it’s apparently taken us in life? Wow, and you accuse others of being “elitist”.

    But I can see that you have a very important future in front of you, being that completely imbecilic teacher who actually resents students who show an interest in and aptitude for academic learning. I always assumed those teachers must have been the slower kids who resented the priveleges we got (which everyone should have got). Guess that’s not always the case. You also come off as the kid who’d throw a cookie on the floor rather than share it. If you can’t have it, nobody can, right?

  217. the opoponax

    Oh, and the best part is when she accuses us of not really being that brilliant because today we are (in terms of what’s been revealed in the thread so far) a graphic designer and a writer of instructional craft books (and maybe some teachers?). You’d think we’d confessed to being dirt farmers or checkers at Wal Mart or something.

    Yeah, definitely, if you don’t grow up to win a Nobel Prize, you really weren’t that gifted anyway, were you?

  218. Spit The Dummy

    Edith said: Spit the Dummy: I couldn’t give less of a shit about gifted kids. You know why? BECAUSE THEY’RE GIFTED. Gifted kids, oh the poor, poor things, with their scads of privileges right from the get-go do partially, I concede, to their “superior” intellect, and MOSTLY to their “superior” parents, schools, teachers, and general opportunities.

    Edith, where is this hostility coming from? You say you were a gifted kid but you seem very hostile to the gifted due to some supposed “scads of privileges” they have over everybody else. What privileges do they have? They tend to learn school related subjects at an accelerated rate but that is, as you say, balanced out by the problems this causes them in the real world emotionally and socially. Gifted kids especially meet a whole lot of the hostility you are exhibiting from peers, teachers, school sdminstrators and society in general. Witness the crap the girl who started this conversation and what she’s putting up with! How privileged is she? I’m sure she feels very privileged when she gets sexually harassed on a daily basis at school and her teachers let it happen!

    Give me a break. I was tracked as “highly gifted” myself, for your information.

    So were a lot of people on this list. So was I. So were my sons. So what? Are we playing “my experience trumps yours” now? And if so, who adjudicates?

    My parents knew the system — they knew after taking the IQ test and maxing out the scores that I would be given scads more opportunities

    Good for them, doing their best for their kid. I’m trying to do my best for my kid within the system I’m stuck with, too. Funnily enough, I see that as part of my job as a good parent. Part of my job as a good teacher will be to get hose opportunities for ALL my students.

    Are these opportunities available to other kids who don’t have parents that know enough to demand testing? No.

    This is a system failure, not something that that the gifted themselves are responsible for. The answer is to get systems that work for EVERYBODY, not to single out the gifted and attack them as if they were the cause of all the inequality in the education system. The gifted parents I talk to on a regular basis (most in the US) are telling me that gifted education over there pretty much is a random thing, depending on where you live and what you can afford and it often sucks – but why do you want to take out the inherent unfairness of the system on the gifted? Aren’t they victims of it, too? Especially the minority gifted and those in poverty who are regularly excluded from gifted programs?

    FYI, I went to a high school that was 70% students of color. My AP and honors classes were AT LEAST 70% white.

    Edith, I don’t know what all these personal details have to do with our argument but you might want to take a moment to absorb the fact that I am not an American and therefore all my education took place outside the US – so whatever assumptions you are making about my privileged background can just stop right there. I attended a small country primary school from year k-6 in which half the students were Sikhs, originally from the Punjab area of India. My parents were the first and only members of each of their working class families to reach tertiary education level (or even high school on one side) and despite the fact that I was identified as “gifted” I never received one iota of special education throughout all my years of schooling. I didn’t even know about the “gifted” thing until my own kids were identified and my parents came clean with my IQ then – I was almost 40.

    When I worked as a teaching assistant in a literacy program that taught public high school ninth and tenth graders how to read above the second or third grade level, this opened my eyes a bit more. Fact: every single kid in this class was on the reduced lunch program. Fact: all of these kids had been tested for learning disabilites or special needs and none of them had any, hence, why they were in this class. Fact: none of these kids were ESL kids. Fact: out of a class of 45, TWO of them were white. What does that tell me? What does that tell YOU?

    It tells me that racism and SES and other prejudices still inhibit education for all-comers and that the system sucks. It doesn’t tell me that I should target all gifted kids and blame them for the fact that the education system isn’t perfect. I think you are missing the point here on this list by assuming that since we’re talking about gifted kids that we don’t care about any other sort, or any other type of discrimination in schools but that’s not true. The people on this list care about ALL kids and want them all to be educated well. I certainly do. The fact is that we’re currently talking about giftedness because it’s an experience a lot of us share. I can’t believe I have to spell this out but talking about one aspect of education like this doesn’t mean we don’t give a crap about everybody else, okay?

    In my experience, scads of funding goes to helping the very top and the very bottom.

    Interesting. In MY experience NO funding goes to the gifted but lots goes to the mainstream and the bottom. Maybe they do things differently here in Australia, but the reading I’ve done doesn’t seem to suggest it. I’m open to correction on that, though. There are special programs at my son’s school for integrating the special needs kids into the school, there are special programs for the native aboriginal kids, there are special classes for those having trouble with their classes in the normal run of things, there’s special after school classes for those “regular” kids who are having difficulties keeping up for whatever reason (and of course, lets not forget that the whole educational system with its age lock-step system is set up for the “regular” learners) – there’s nothing for the gifted.

    Sad, really, that so many educated progressives care more about “gifted” kids, who, although bored, still are able to go on and use their superior brains since they have such a hard time in school, you know, learning to read. Or wait, not so much.

    I’m not sure who these educational progressives are that you obviously have such a problem with. I can only say I don’t see any sign of them on this side of the Pacific. The conservative backlash in education over the last 30 years or so has killed services to the gifted stone dead, although they show a slight sense of reviving it’s a hard slog against the tide of opinion that despises the gifted, as you do, as “elitist” and “privilieged”. With this sort of attitude I can only feel sorry for any gifted kid who lands in one of your classes. You obviously have a chip on your shoulder about the whole subject and have wound up blaming the gifted for a whole lot of social, economic and educational problems that they are not responsible for. That sort of self-hatred must be a hard thing to carry around and I hope you can come to terms with it sometime.

  219. thebewilderness

    Correction: I did no damage along the was, I did it along the way.

  220. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I just tried drawing a straw-hippie-elitist but I SUCK at it. Anyone wanna give it a go?

    Besides, is there such a thing as a hippie elitist? Isn’t that an oxygen- no wait – oxycontin – no that’s not it either – WAIT I GOT IT! – oxymoron?

  221. Kristina

    Why are public school systems better in other countries? Why do students from other countries test better in math and science than American students?

    -j

    With the author’s permission, I would like to contrast my school experience with my spouse’s.

    My spouse immigrated to the US from a Soviet Bloc country when he was in his “tweens.” He had already taken physics, chemistry, calculus, and was fluent in a foreign language. When he was enrolled in the US public school system, they had no math courses advanced enough for him to take, so they simply put him in the standard track. He was not exposed to any new material for the next 6 years. In his country, there was no kindergarten.

    I went to a small school in the Midwest. I was so bored that I secretly stayed up all night, reading books furtively checked out from the library, so that I could sleep in class all day. I was not permitted to read in class, but sleeping was acceptable. I did this all through elementary, middle, and high school. I was challenged by the librarian for my choice of reading materials- I consistently wanted books that were deemed too mature for me.

    I still fall asleep at my desk- even during the interesting lectures- because I spent 12 years teaching myself to do so.

  222. Spit The Dummy

    The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker said: Besides, is there such a thing as a hippie elitist? Isn’t that an (snip) oxymoron?

    I woulda thought so but then I was afraid it was some swanky new US monster elite I was unaware of!

  223. roamaround

    Edith, I’m not going to jump on you about gifted education because I think you do have a point in there somewhere. That kind of tracking is often elitist and racist in practice. As others have pointed out, however, it doesn’t mean that the premise of individualizing instruction is wrong or that gifted kids are spoiled brats.

    You said: “I want to teach kids with abusive parents and absent parents and simply clueless parents. I want to teach kids in foster care and kids of immigrants.”

    That’s what I do, though I wouldn’t phrase it quite that way. And you say you are depressed now and you haven’t even started teaching yet? Hey, it’s a depressing and fucked up world and I am sympathetic about your emotional state, but I’m more than a little concerned about how you’ll handle the realities of teaching troubled kids. I wish you well, but find a source of emotional strength or you’ll burn right out.

    Interesting how many teacher-blamers there are! Can we wear some kind of secret badge or something so we can know when we have allies? I have all kinds of ideas for feminist curricula, projects, groups, etc (like the suggestion others have made about teaching boys not be be assholes) but without allies in a building it’s hard to get anything going. Maybe a special handshake? Tattoo?

  224. roamaround

    Spit The Dummy, I’m glad you pointed out that the U.S. experience can’t be generalized to everything. My understanding of the Australian system (in ESL specifically) is that it is more progressive than the American system in terms of funding and services. I think there is less of the “savage inequality” that Jonothan Kozol writes about here wherein the “bottom” of the social and educational ladder gets very little.

    I haven’t had cause to think much about this giftedness issue. The schools where I’ve taught have had so many problems providing even basic education. Hell, they can’t even maintain safe and clean buildings. I was not gifted that I know of, but I was bored and hated school so I understand some of the frustrations.

    Lots should be done to improve public education, but I don’t like the idea of homeschooling as the solution. Since “home” is generally in the mold of the patriarchal nuclear family, root of our oppression, it’s not necessarily an improvement for girls. I like the idea of more communal structures, not fewer. We need socialized children, just not pathologically indoctrinated ones.

  225. goblinbee

    roamaround: “Interesting how many teacher-blamers there are! Can we wear some kind of secret badge or something so we can know when we have allies?”

    I’m in N Portland! Anyone else?

  226. Spit The Dummy

    roamaround said: Spit The Dummy, I’m glad you pointed out that the U.S. experience can’t be generalized to everything. My understanding of the Australian system (in ESL specifically) is that it is more progressive than the American system in terms of funding and services. I think there is less of the “savage inequality” that Jonothan Kozol writes about here wherein the “bottom” of the social and educational ladder gets very little.

    Yes, my understanding is the same. Here in Australia, for example, the schools are run on a state by state basis but we have only 7 states all up. And each State Education Department funds each school so that they have the basics for the number of children they have to teach. Funding does not come, as I understand it does in the US, from the property taxes paid by people in the local area (which means a hell of a lot of inequality depending on how wealthy the school district is, yes?) So schools here are funded theoretically across the board on an equal level so that a school in a poorer area will have similar basics to a school in a richer area. Of course, richer school ditricts then go on to provide “extras” for their schools by fund-raising privately through the school, which is allowed, but that’s a whole ‘nother story! Private schools are mostly religion-based, although that’s changing these days.

    When I went to school every local kid went to the local public school – it was just what we all did. I remember the shock it was for me to go to university when I was 17 and to be asked what school I went to, because in the country there was only one school and you didn’t get a choice. Things are changing now for the worse but things are still, as I understand it, not as polarised as they are in the US. Schools are run and teachers are employed by the State, so there is no poweful local politics thing going on with the running of the school as much as I understand there is in the US.

  227. drsarahc

    ttrentham: Kindly don’t use the phrase “mental defectives.”

  228. Antelope

    Interesting thread!

    The only comment I have to add that I haven’t seen elsewhere in all this is that yes, a lot of gifted kids are poorly adapted socially, but keeping them (us) with kids their own age doesn’t make any difference. In fact, kids their own age are as likely, if not more likely, to feel threatened by them and be mean to them.

    My school was 7th through 12th. I didn’t skip grades, but I was around the older kids a lot because I crammed grades, and took really heavy course loads to get out of there faster. The older kids were generally pretty nice to me because they thought my intelligence was “cute.” Not in the way poor N is dealing with at her school, but in the way my family probably should have responded in a more ideal world.

    The older kids didn’t exactly treat me as a peer or equal, but they did enjoy drawing me out on my opinions about books and such just to see what I would say. Not so they could poke fun, but out of a friendly curiousity, or that’s how it felt. They thought I was unusually smart for my age, but not actually smarter than them, and I’m sure that’s part of why I didn’t bother them. I seemed to bother most kids my own age quite a bit.

    Am I well enough socialized to be a CEO? Hardly, and I thank the FSM for that. But I think I’m far better socialized for getting to be around older kids some of the time than I would have been stuck with nothing but the company of my “peers.”

  229. Spit The Dummy

    Edith said: here’s what I think: “normal” kids should have JUST AS GOOD of teachers as the “brilliant.” EVERYONE should be allowed into high school honors and AP classes REGARDLESS of grades and test scores. Elementary school students who are gifted should be placed in classes with “normal” kids. Additional education beyond school can easily be done with the help of parents, after school programs, summer programs, and kids’ own natural curiosity and ability to educate themselves. By NO MEANS should elementary school students be skipped ahead or should high school students graduate early because, let’s face it: although I’m sure you’re all intellectual geniuses, you’re emotionally still a child when you are a child.

    The following studies in giftedness refute all your above statements: Alexander and Skinner, 1980; Anderson, 1960; Bish & Fliegler, 11959; Braga, 1969; Brody & Benbow, 1987; Fund for the Advancement of Education, 1957; Gallagher, 1966; Justman, 1953; Lehman, 1953; Lucito, 1964; Morgan, Tennant & Gold, 1980; Plowman & Rice, 1967; Pressey, 1955; Reynolds, 1962; Terman & Oldman, 1947; Worcester, 1955.

    Their findings are that, on the contrary: acceleration is essential, especially for the very gifted; grouping the gifted together benefits everybody, including the students they leave behind in “regular” classrooms emotionally and intellectually; additional education for the gifted outside of school is hardest for the disadvantaged groups you purport to be interested most in teaching; gifted children who are accelerated corrected handle the emotional and social factors of the change better than if they were left in their regular classroom with their age peers.

    Therefore I have to say that I think you really know very little about gifted education at all, since this is all basic to the topic.

  230. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I still think many people (in the US) are confused between:

    1) The run-of-the-mill (mostly privileged) overachiever with above-average intelligence who MAY have a high IQ. Regardless, emotional/social functioning isn’t impaired by it. I thought these kids all lived in MY daughter’s district but hey!

    2) The (rather rare) child whose intelligence actually causes problems that, if not dealt with effectively, result in a f*cked-up mess of a human being.

    (Edith, if you’re still reading this thread: What I mean to get across is that things COULD have worked out so much better for you if only someone in your school had known what to DO with you, and I’m talking about your emotions, not your schoolwork.)

    For those of you out there on psychiatric meds (I’m presently hopped-up on two of them), it’s not unusual for folks like us to ride that rough edge between brilliance and insanity. Many of our most cherished historical figures were frickin’ NUTS (and frickin’ POOR). The ONLY thing separating the “brilliant” from the (destitute) homeless/jailed folk or the (less destitute) psych ward patients was their ability to communicate and contribute to society in ways that society actually appreciated (sometimes posthumously).
    So, if you’re one of those wacky people who is trying to fall on the better side of that rough edge, FIND THAT ONE THING. For me it’s writing: The crazier I am the better I write. Sometimes I need to write a letter or an email to a person so that he or she can “get” me.

  231. Mar Iguana

    “Lots should be done to improve public education, but I don’t like the idea of homeschooling as the solution.” roamaround

    Agreed. Homeschooling dovetails nicely with patriarchy’s goal of keeping women where they belong, in their boxes, er, homes, providing yet another free service, another great thing they can be blamed for, controlled by papa. “We [may] need socialized children, just not pathologically indoctrinated ones” but great white papa needs all the monsters he can get to carry on the war racket. We can’t be wasting money on edumacation, woman, we’re at war!

    Right after putting women back in the box, the highest priority of the Raygun Revolution was destroying public education, followed by all the rest of horrible “big government.” They break it then turn around and say, “See, we told you it doesn’t work.” The “vision thing?” Hurricane Katerina IS their vision.

    Have I mentioned lately how much I hate Ronnie Raygun (who is merely the figurehead for the twisted neocons we are still afflicted with)?

  232. CannibalFemme

    MarIguana: WORD. All this Reagan-wusship has been driving me nuts. I mean, for me Reagan was AIDS and all my friends dying in the space of one year and that hideous ‘trickle-down’ thing and paranoia and class ignorance and just one horrible ugliness after another. Plus, he was a total idiot. And his wife freaked me right out. *This* is an icon?

    On the upside, I now have that Violent Femmes song ‘Old Mother Reagan’ stuck in my head. Which is not too shabby.

  233. niki

    I’m a girl who attended (Oakland CA) public school for the first 6 years of my life and was tortured and bullied mercilessly the entire time by the other girls.

    It’s not always the boys, but it’s always a lack of authority present.

  234. niki

    I should have said ‘the first 6 years of my scholastic life’, meaning K through the 5th grade (when I had a shuddering breakdown and my mother finally carted me off to a private school).

    My crime? Warts. A blockade in my path to joining the sexbot mandate, and we hadn’t even hit puberty yet. IBTP. However, it took me a very very long time not to blame little girls.

  235. lawbitch

    Altelope, I disagree that many gifted kids are social rejects. This is a myth. Research shows the opposite.

    What research does show is that more gifted people are introverted than so-called regular people. Whether this trait is a bad thing is a value judgment.

    I’m introverted, but I’m not a social reject. I prefer smaller groups of people. I am really quite personable in a comfortable setting.

  236. the opoponax

    “keeping women where they belong, in their boxes, er, homes,”

    You know that the “home” in “homeschool” doesn’t refer to a literal house, right?

    I mean, sure, some people (the ones who lean in the Xtian fundie direction) tend to take it that way, convert a room in the house to a one-room school house, complete w/ the exact same setup as found in a traditional school, and get all literal with it. Those are the people who take their kids out of school because they want to ingrain them further than the regular schools are even capable of doing.

    But a great many “homeschoolers” take the oppurtunity to leave that dated model of “room, desk, chalkboard” behind and let their kids out into the world. They do most of their learning out in nature, at galleries and museums, in the library, and all sorts of places far more interesting than a mere classroom. And at the high school level, when you need to get down to the brass tacks of learning calculus et al, most homeschoolers I’ve met take courses at a local community college or even a university.

    “homeschool” is a catch-all figure of speech meaning that one’s education is handled individually by one’s family rather than attending a school. it’s not just “school at our house.”

    though i’ll agree fervently with you about the unpaid labor it entails (mainly for mothers).

  237. Shannon

    Oh, and the best part is when she accuses us of not really being that brilliant because today we are (in terms of what’s been revealed in the thread so far) a graphic designer and a writer of instructional craft books (and maybe some teachers?). You’d think we’d confessed to being dirt farmers or checkers at Wal Mart or something.

    Exactly. And if we’re going to play the ol’ IQ reveal game, I tested at 163 when I was 10, for all the good that did me. My mom told the staff at my new school I’d been in the gifted program since the second grade and they blew her off. The school watched me for a year before recommending acceleration, and did the IQ test in the meantime. IQ scores don’t mean a damn thing, though, but for the fact that the so-called “profoundly gifted” as ranked on the scale have a horrible time with authority figures. From this page:

    http://www.sidis.net/HighQStacey.htm

    “When you are want to criticize your leaders (politicians, bosses, cultural icons), keep in mind that there is a direct ratio between the intelligence of the leader and that of the led. A leadership pattern will not form, or it will break up, when a discrepancy of more than approximately 30 points of IQ comes to exist between the leader and the led.]”

    This isn’t very surprising at all. And in fact, it’s probably a direct cause of why I got out of the financial services field — when you’ve got a patriarchal ass with a borderline IQ busting you for wearing sleeveless tops to the office (because you’ve got a cast on from wrist to armpit), it’s hard to take the work environment seriously. Is this really a bad thing? Does it make me a fuckup? I don’t think so. I just chose not to play that game. And now I have a job I love instead, where I can use my verbal and artistic ability to its utmost.

  238. Edith

    roamaround, I swear my “depression” has nothing to do with school, teaching, stress, anxiety, whatever. You’ve heard of mental illnesses, right? I take my meds and I go to therapy and I’m fine. I haven’t had an “episode” in, what, three years? Are you suggesting people with mental illnesses shouldn’t teach, or, like, interact with humans? Way to go.

    My main gripe, really, has less to do with the VERY RARE instances of children who are legitimately “gifted” despite their very difficult backrounds. Most kids who are gifted don’t come from such backgrounds. That’s a fact.

    Also, perhaps I didn’t make this clear: I wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 18. Before then, I wasn’t mentally ill. I was a kid, then an angsty teenager. Many mentally ill adults weren’t mentally ill as kids — in fact, most of us weren’t.

    Spit the Dummy, if you aren’t familiar with US schools, then you shouldn’t talk about them. I’m talking about US schools, period. If that wasn’t glaringly obvious, I apologize. Also, if it wasn’t glaringly obvious that I wasn’t like, responding to you and you alone, I apologize. But really, I am not talking about education outside the US. I offered personal details of my situation since you seemed to have assumed that I knew, and I quote, “nothing about gifted kids.” This is more of the elitist attitude I’m talking about, by the way. You basically put me in a corner where I had to prove my gifted “cred” in order for you to listen to what I was saying which apparently, you did not.

    Listen, if being a good parent is making sure your kid gets the best education, I’m all for that. But somehow this also seems to turn into, “My kid will get the best, and I will NOT feel guilty about the fact that other kids don’t get the best — I want them to have the opportunities that my kid has, and I’ll talk a lot about that.” Fact is, these kids DON’T have these opportunities. So rather than imagine a fairy tale world where all kids get to be apart of the elite, why not do something more revolutionary — GET RID OF THE ELITE? Instead of doing this charter school, homeschool band-aid thing — taking the best and the most privileged out of public schools and leaving the rest of the masses to fester — how about having ALL kids go to public schools so that these concerned parents can focus on NOT JUST THEIR OWN child’s education, but ALL children’s education?

    Maybe I’m living in a dream world too. I guess I don’t understand this whole, “my family is more important than strangers thing,” or, “I take care of my own, and to hell with the rest.” Speaking of US-centric attitudes, I suppose it’s sort of the same as giving more of a damn about US deaths in Iraq than Iraqi. Just seems hypocritical if you consider yourself a progressive, a feminist, an anti-racist, etc. Anti-elitism, I feel, goes along with that.

    Since this thread is about homeschooling, and apparently my points haven’t been clear, let me state what is, to me, the obvious: homeschooling is like sticking all the “special” kids in one class, but worse. So in other words, I’m against it.

    Oh yeah, and me pointing out that you (the plural you) aren’t as gifted as you think you are ISN’T me trying to say you’re dumb. But funny how y’all think that, because you tie up intelligence with, you know, test scores, IQ tests, ability to do well in classrooms, and all the things we say are racist and sexist and all the rest (except you can’t think they’re all bad if you put stock in them, right? Guess if you do well in these things, and that’s what got you into gifted classes after all, you MUST be gifted instead of, you know, privileged). The larger point that I’m trying to make is that, actually, OTHER people aren’t as DUMB as you think they are. That kid who played football with the C average and didn’t know who Jane Austen was? HE MIGHT BE JUST AS SMART AS YOU. I know, it’s a scary thought. But letting go of your “smart kid” status is very difficult, I realize that. And I could see how saying something like this can put you on the defensive. I could see how it’s easy to assume that because you taught yourself to read at three and won award after award in school due to your superior skills, you’re smarter than other people. But IQ, like everything else, levels out. And your smartness at 10, like everything else, does not dictate your smartness at 30.

    Oh, and LouisaMayAlcott — high fives!

  239. sabotabby

    I was also one of those gifted kids, and I found it quite a traumatic experience. I’m finding it quite the vindication to read some of these comments, especially Hedonistic Pleasureseeker’s and opoponax’s. I loved learning up until third grade, which was when I entered the public school system, and the next few years saw much of my intellectual curiosity violently squashed out of me. The gifted stream actually made the middle school experience worse: It still wasn’t all that intellectually challenging, and it trapped me in the same small class with the same peer group (most of them male, all of them wealthier than me) for four years. The school administrators, needless to say, had a similar attitude towards the frequent sexual harassment I endured as the ones at N.’s school.

    So while I showed a great deal of intellectual promise at an early age, it did me little good later in life. Count me in among the technical/artistic/office drones, though I’m headed back to school in the fall to become, of all things, a high school teacher.

    One more point: Omphaloskeptic, way up-thread, mentioned that size matters when it comes to how hellish a school is. She’s got a good point, and one that runs quite contrary to the logic that placing kids in small, focused classes in small, well-funded schools is the answer. I went from a homogeneous middle school with a few hundred students to a high school with nearly 3000 students, a large chunk of whom were recent immigrants. It made a world of difference. Even the most wretched misfit can find like-minded friends and a social niche in a place like that.

    Not to say that my high school didn’t have flaws—it was still based on an outdated factory model. But public schools have their advantages too. There’s something to be said from dumping a batch of kids from different countries, classes, religious backgrounds, and so on, in one place and having them work together.

  240. the opoponax

    “Are you suggesting people with mental illnesses shouldn’t teach, or, like, interact with humans?”

    If your comportment in this thread has anything to do with the way you treat your fellow human beings in real life, then I’m gonna go with, “Yes,” in your case.

    “why not do something more revolutionary — GET RID OF THE ELITE?”

    Wait, so now we’re all supposed to just commit mass suicide, for the crime of being white and middle class, and having a high IQ? Wow. Maoist, much? Jacobin, much? Is that a guillotine in your pocket, or are you just happy to see us?

    “how about having ALL kids go to public schools so that these concerned parents can focus on NOT JUST THEIR OWN child’s education, but ALL children’s education?”

    Two things here — first off, I’m not sure you realize this one fundamental concept. Charter schools and magnet schools are, by definition, public schools. They are not private institutions. Moving academically inclined students to schools that cater to them is not pulling them out of the public school system. It’s finding a way to make the public school system work for more of its students, more of the time.

    In fact, the term “magnet school” was coined to describe schools that were located in historically black, underfunded “inner city” districts, to which students from all areas would be bused, thus solving some of the problems that arose with school integration. The term has now expanded to include any non-district based public school geared towards a special interest. It’s funny you aren’t picking out schools like NYC’s High School for the Performing Arts, for instance — why should those drama queen art fags get special treatment? ELITES, I tell you, every one of them!

    The second thing is that unfortunately, parents have to shift for their own kids. Very few people are actually going to ensure their kid a bad education and/or a hellish situation just based on political principles. Why would anyone do that? There are lots of ways we can improve the American educational system without foisting it off on individual parents and their responsibility to bully school administrators one by one into improving things. Your argument is kind of on par with the stupid Libertarians who say that people who put their kids in private school shouldn’t have to pay school taxes. ummm, yeah…

    Also, one more thing I don’t understand about your position, here. On the one hand, you seem to hate absolutely everything about every single aspect of the entire US educational system. On the other hand, you want to teach in it. Wah-huh?! Do you think that, by your mere presence in inner-city/underfunded schools, daisies will bloom in the hallways and everything will suddenly be hunky dory? Do you think the rules will be suspended for you, that you’ll be like Meryl Streep and Michelle Pfeiffer in the movies, individually working your individual magic and breaking the system from within? Working in the system is not really the primary way of fixing it; especially if your attitude is “KILL THE ELITES!!!!!! SMASH THE SYSTEM!!!!!” If you want to fix it from the inside, your whole position comes off as pretty hypocritical.

  241. Antelope

    Well as far as gifted kids having poor social skills or not, it’s often just yet another case of blame the victim, isn’t it? If the other kids are picking on someone, it must be the fault of the child who’s getting picked on in some way. Occasionally that’s even true, but mostly not, I think.

    I realize now my point had nothing to do with whether it’s true that gifties are awkward or whose fault it is when they’re given a hard time. It was simply that if the only way kids your own age are going to respond to you is to pick on you, then you’re only going to get a very narrow set of social skills from being around them.

    Spit the Dummy said it better, but I had to throw in my 2 cents anyhow.

  242. Mar Iguana

    “You know that the “home” in “homeschool” doesn’t refer to a literal house, right?” opoponax

    Damn, you’re irrating. But, that’s just me.

  243. the opoponax

    Right back atcha, babe.

  244. Mar Iguana

    curiousgyrl, clearly you need to think further. With that, I’m gonna break out the chocolate chex and watch this latest boyo show.

    Over and out of Thyreocorid buggin’.

  245. Mar Iguana

    Aw geez, what in idiot. Wrong thread. Sorry.

  246. the opoponax

    Oh, and Edith, I should also add that charter schools exist precisely to give parents more ability to get involved in the schools and have more of a say in how the school is run.

    Which makes you overall point (Magnet/Charter bad, Mainstream Public good) even sillier, as you suggest that by pulling their kids out of the traditionally-administered schools and putting them into equally state-funded schools where they can have more say in their children’s education, parents are somehow abrogating their responsibility to become involved in the educational system. Charter schools were partially invented out of frustration at the insane beaurocracy of the traditional public school system and the inability to create change at the individual level.

    Of course, it’s true that the prevalence of charter schools implies that the children left behind to “fester” in the mainstream style schools are likely to be the ones whose parents cannot or will not get involved at that level, and that the benefits of parental involvement in charter schools will primarily go to the children whose parents can or want to be involved in their kids’ education (who tend not to be “at risk” in the ways the uninvolved parents’ kids often are).

    But that is a problem of policy and the wider system (race, class, poverty, etc), not one of individual parenting decisions. Nothing an involved parent can do will change the fact that the uninvolved parents are still not involved. What, are engaged parents supposed to go knocking on every door in the school district, forcing parents at gunpoint to attend PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences? Pass a collection plate so that the poorer families in the district can get by without mom’s third job, and she can thus join the PTA like a proper parent?

  247. Constantine

    Edith, I agree. That’s why I don’t think we should hire specialized coaches for sports and why I don’t think we should divide athletic teams up into “intramural”, “junior varsity,” and “varsity,” because, after all, spending extra resources on the athletically talented is just unfair to those who aren’t athletic.

    /sarcasm

    I’m not really sure what “gifted” means. There are a lot of smart people in the world. A lot. Intelligence is about as rare as dirt. The problem is that we’re not leveraging this, and we let too many smart people slip through the system, and they never learn how to work hard and set goals for themselves and achieve things. That and our economy doesn’t really have a lot of room for them– we have more physicists and biologists than we know what to do with, for example. But that aside, the point is that we can’t guarantee successful life outcomes for anyone, but we can make an effort to ensure that they have a positive experience in high school and live up to their academic potential while they’re in high school.

    I think a school could be forgiven if they didn’t have the resources to spend on developing the talents of an athlete with Olympic-level potential. That’s not their main mission. However, the role of a public school system that goes from kindergarten up through college is to support academics. They should have the academic resources for even their most talented students. To bring it back to the original topic of this post, part of that means that the school needs to crack down on harassment and not use it as a means of social control.

  248. lawbitch

    Antelope, I understand what you’re saying now. When I reread your earlier post, it seems like you’re criticizing your own social skills. Is that really accurate? Or just some of that old gifter perfectionism coming out? I seriously doubt that you’re really a social reject.

  249. lawbitch

    “The larger point that I’m trying to make is that, actually, OTHER people aren’t as DUMB as you think they are.”

    I don’t think that I’m better than anyone else just because I happen to be smarter than them. There are people out there smarter than me, and those more intellient people are not any inherently better than I am. People have different abilities and interests.

    You’re projecting on others here.

  250. Constantine

    I could see how it’s easy to assume that because you taught yourself to read at three and won award after award in school due to your superior skills, you’re smarter than other people. But IQ, like everything else, levels out. And your smartness at 10, like everything else, does not dictate your smartness at 30.

    First of all, that person who learned to read at 3 has 15 years of public school ahead of him or her. One might as well make that as valuable and as productive time as possible for the individual, knowing that maybe the cookie-cutter approach to learning isn’t going to be the best one in that student’s case.

    Plus, you’d actually be surprised how many people at 30 are poor spellers, aren’t strong (or interested) readers, have problems with writing, and/or are uncomfortable with math. Yes, they might be a successful sales executive or executive producer, but it’s entirely possible that they still have some catching up to do.

    As you get older, you learn that some people are hardworking, some people are lazy, some people learn quickly and intuitively, some people learn more slowly and through brute force, some people are charismatic, and some people are aren’t. And yes, some people are smarter than others. These distinctions exist. The trick is to figure out how to nurture people’s strengths and work on getting them to work on and overcome any of their shortcomings. And addressing those distinctions means addressing those who are talented as well as those who need catching-up.

  251. Tigs

    Though I don’t think her rhetoric is helping, I think Edith does have some really valuable points that are getting lost here.
    With my oh so clear and concise rhetoric (I hope the irony is not lost on anyone here, what with my penchant for being obscure and over-punctuated), I just wanted to put in a few thoughts:

    The issue with charter schools is that they are a drain on other public schools. They often have a combination of public funding and private funding, which makes them an attractive option for families with no money and at least some agency. This often leaves regular public schools with a dearth of families who are willing/able to advocate for the interests of the actual individual children in the classrooms, leaving power concentrated in few hands (which I think is definitively a bad idea), and less money anyway.

    Also, interesting and related are tutoring laws in South Africa. While Edith is talking about American education, it might be useful to think about the banning of private tutors in South Africa. In response to the fact that rich (almost exclusively white) families were hiring private tutors and their children were scoring remarkably higher on the standardized tests that determine future outcomes (school placement, tracking, scholarships- all the things we’ve been talking about). It was determined that in the interests of equality private tutoring must be made illegal.
    One now faces fines and possible criminal sanctions for hiring or acting as a private tutor. The thought being that if you want children to be educated, you must want all children to be educated, and you must advocate for better schools for children, not just your children.

    The opoponax (btw, where is the accent in that word?) dropped the ‘Maoist much’ crack in response to the destruction of the elite- but I think the underlying theme is actually a matter of socialization. What do we want society to look like? Do we want freedom or equality?

    Of course we want all children educated to the best of their ability, but if we have to make choices, who are we going to choose? Will you choose your kid over some kid in a different state? How about your sister’s kid? What if the choice is in between two of your children?
    Anyone writing here from the English common law background is coming to this from a very liberal (Locke/Mill) perspective and will often intuitively privilege a freedom from restraint over a restraining equality.

    Also interesting to me is that I think there are competing views of freedom and liberty that undergird this discussion. Lalala, off to theory-land with me.

  252. Tigs

    Just as an side note, the science behind IQ tests is all sorts of jacked up. They’re supposed to be relatively static, but there is a ton of research showing that those who do not adhere to dominant culture categories tend to score lower initially, but can have dramatically rising scores given a change in situation.

    Anecdotally, I used to work in the ‘hood with teenagers, and I had many kids who were testing at borderline retarded (IQ’s in the 60-70 range), but these kids were clearly, through behavior and learning capabilities, not that limited. Rather, they have different specific knowledge that isn’t valued by society at large.

  253. the opoponax

    I dropped the “Maoist much?” crack because, to my reading, anyway, Edith definitely seemed to be implying that we should deliberately not help children who have a high level of academic interest or aptitude, but should squash them like the elitist running dogs they will obviously grow up to be. Even the richest, whitest, Upper East Sidey-est child who is tested at an extremely high IQ deserves to have her needs met (as does the poorest, blackest, South Bronx-est child who tests similarly, not to mention all the rest of the children with all of their assorted needs and skills and passions and interests).

    Edith doesn’t seem to be interested in changing the system so that everyone gets the exceptional resources that “gifted” kids get (which would basically require a restructuring of how educational funding works, and perhaps how federal budget allocations in general work), but so that all kids regardless of interest or aptitude, are tied together in the pit that is the public education system, in the name of solidarity and “equality” and all that. Which is pretty much a summary of the Maoist educational model.

    Oh, and I pronounce it “oh-POP-uh-nacks”. Not sure if it’s the correct pronunciation, officially, but that’s how my friend who was once a protege of Monique Wittig’s said it when she reccomended the novel to me.

  254. the opoponax

    Oh, and yeah, I know the myriad controversies surrounding charter schools. To be honest, I’m not sure how generally in favor of them I am. But if a parent looks into one, and thinks it would be a good option for their kid, then who am I to argue?

    To me, the general question is not “freedom” or “rights” or any of it, but “How do we provide the best education for as many people as possible?” I think the question Edith is asking is “How do we make sure nobody ever gets ahead of anybody else?” Those are two very different questions. I think Edith and I both have the same answer to her question, at the end of the day — lots of funding and resources and oppurtunities for everyone. Our ideas about how to get there are just different. And I don’t think Edith has thought to answer my question at all.

  255. LMYC

    Wait, so now we’re all supposed to just commit mass suicide, for the crime of being white and middle class, and having a high IQ?

    Let’s not even talk about the kids who are dark-whiteys and working class, with shit-scary IQs. We’re all a bunch of class traitors because we absorbed calculus and partial differential equations without even breaking a sweat.

    Oops sorry, am I bragging here? Tough fucking shit. I’m a working class east coast wop, and I’ve forgotten more advanced mathematics than most people even know exists. I can learn a language without half trying. My old math professor (whoopsie, I went to COLLEGE! I’s an elitist asshole! Even though it was a state school) openly calls me the most brilliant student he’s ever had. SO FUCKING SORRY FOR BEING PROUD OF THAT.

    Edith, you can fuck off and drop dead for all I care. Being female, a working-class dago, and smart is a recipe for misery, and shitwads like you who HATE people like us are the reason for it. You know nothing about the intersection of race and social class with issues like this if you can talk so stupidly as to say that intrellect is an immediate ticket to putting a few million in a quick retirement account someplace. You are FUCKING OUT OF YOUR MIND if you think that’s how wealth works.

    You know how most people get wealthy? It’s very simple, and intelligence ain’t got donkey shit to do with it. They inherit their wealth.

    Christ, you make such a big old fucking noise about teaching your precious little abused kids — god fucking help one of those poor little souls if they happen to be good at math or science, or pick up languages like a snap, because they will find themselves immediately switched over into your FUCKING WORTHLESS ELITIST ASSHOLE bin. Because we all know that POOR KIDS, abused kids, ethnically less desireable kids, are all fucking stupid and the minuteone of them reveals otherwise, they’re the enemy and must be smashed.

    You’re so goddamned sure that none of those little kids will reveal themselves as capable of intellectual feats. And you’re so fucking sure that people like me don’t even exist — dark whiteys attacked for our ethnicity in school, the children of machinists and secretaries who lived from paycheck to paycheck and spent our lives going to the dentist when things hurt and going without the medical care we needed. Obviously I can’t exist. Obviously if I were a REAL working-class blue collar child, I’d be fucking stupid, like all the other wops you’ve seen on TV, right? Like I’m supposed to be. Some pregnant and battered cheapass criminal’s gun moll wife. Like on the Sopranos! Yeah, just like that!

    Only someone who never HAD to live that life could be so fucking stupid about it. You know NOTHING of working-class values and ethics, girl. You can take your opinion of MY life, MY family, MY parents, and MY intellectual abilities and shove them straight up your ass.

    Cer i grafu, cariad. Os na fedrech chi fy neall i, tough shit. Go put that supposedly gifted brain of yours to some fucking use and translate what this gifted working-class dirty little dago bitch just told you.

  256. lawbitch

    “One now faces fines and possible criminal sanctions for hiring or acting as a private tutor.”

    That’s crazy. I’m a former math teacher, and I tutor my child in math. I consider it very important, and I spend my time doing it. It gives my child an advantage, but it’s my time an energy.

    One reason that my child is doing so well is that studying is a PRIORITY. I’d like learning to be a bigger priority for more families, but I can only do so much.

  257. Virago

    Oh, my gourd! Edith’s suggestion reminds me of that Kurt Vonnegut story “Harrison Bergeron.” (Actually, I read it in one of my gifted classes in middle school.) Has anyone else read it?

    In the story, everyone must, by law, must be equal. Smart people have to wear devices that blast noise into their ears so they can only concentrate as well as your average nose-picker. Ballet dancers have to wear weights and braces on their legs so that they can only dance as well–well, as well as I do. Example after example of Edith’s utopia in action.

    So it goes.

    LMYC, I had all but given up on this thread until I saw you had posted a comment, and then I ran over to read it. You rock, you multi-lingual, math-o-phile brainiac!

  258. Spit The Dummy

    Edith said: My main gripe, really, has less to do with the VERY RARE instances of children who are legitimately “gifted” despite their very difficult backrounds. Most kids who are gifted don’t come from such backgrounds. That’s a fact.

    Are you under the impression that gifted kids do not come from underprivileged backgrounds? Or that they only come from underprivileged backgrounds? Neither is true because gifted kids come from every sort of background, including the underprivileged ones, it’s just that they tend to be under-represented in gifted classes. And I can quote you chapter and verse of studies to prove it. Can you do the same for any of your assertions?

    Spit the Dummy, if you aren’t familiar with US schools, then you shouldn’t talk about them.

    I’m not familiar with them on a personal basis but I am familiar with the studies and books written about gifted education within the US. It’s you who does not seem familiar with the wider picture or seem to be able to argue the generic “gifted” rather than a specific, more limited US variety.

    I’m talking about US schools, period. If that wasn’t glaringly obvious, I apologize.

    No, it wasn’t glaringly obvious but thank you, I accept your apology. Sometimes we automatically assume that all the people talking on the internet belong to our own group – unless, of course, you are in one of the minority groups.

    I offered personal details of my situation since you seemed to have assumed that I knew, and I quote, “nothing about gifted kids.” This is more of the elitist attitude I’m talking about, by the way. You basically put me in a corner where I had to prove my gifted “cred” in order for you to listen to what I was saying which apparently, you did not.

    Then you misunderstoond me. I wasn’t asking for gifted cred in the form of IQ or anything ridiculous like that – I could care less if anybody on this list is gifted or not when they argue with me as long as they back up their arguments creditably. What I was saying is that your statements seemed to me like opinions only and when I asked you didn’t supply any sort of creditable authority source to back them up. Hence my comment. I only bothered to give personal details of my own situation because I figured it was polite since you were doing it!

    Listen, if being a good parent is making sure your kid gets the best education, I’m all for that. But somehow this also seems to turn into, “My kid will get the best, and I will NOT feel guilty about the fact that other kids don’t get the best — I want them to have the opportunities that my kid has, and I’ll talk a lot about that.”

    And who on this list is saying that they think that is GOOD? Certainly I’m not and this must be the third time I’m actually saying so. We’re in agreement about this sort of inherent unfairness, Edith! I think you are conflating a privileged (ie wealthy) section of highly intelligent students with the really gifted, who are a different breed altogether.

    Have you ever read Animal Farm? That’s what happens when you get rid of an elite: a new elite rises up to replace it.

    Maybe I’m living in a dream world too. I guess I don’t understand this whole, “my family is more important than strangers thing,” or, “I take care of my own, and to hell with the rest.”

    You haven’t listened to a word anyone has said on this list because if you had you would realise that NO ONE has ever said anything like that HERE.

    Oh yeah, and me pointing out that you (the plural you) aren’t as gifted as you think you are ISN’T me trying to say you’re dumb. But funny how y’all think that, because you tie up intelligence with, you know, test scores, IQ tests, ability to do well in classrooms, and all the things we say are racist and sexist and all the rest (except you can’t think they’re all bad if you put stock in them, right? Guess if you do well in these things, and that’s what got you into gifted classes after all, you MUST be gifted instead of, you know, privileged). The larger point that I’m trying to make is that, actually, OTHER people aren’t as DUMB as you think they are.

    I have never been in a gifted class in my life. I was never told I tested in the gifted range until I was practically 40 years old! I don’t “tie up intelligence with, you know, test scores, IQ tests” but I’m willing to debate the topic with you right back to Binet if that pleases you – but frankly until we do please don’t make assumptions about what I think about it, because you haven’t got one of those right yet.

  259. natasha

    edith – “roamaround, I swear my “depression” has nothing to do with school, teaching, stress, anxiety, whatever. You’ve heard of mental illnesses, right? I take my meds and I go to therapy and I’m fine. I haven’t had an “episode” in, what, three years? Are you suggesting people with mental illnesses shouldn’t teach, or, like, interact with humans? Way to go. …”

    Very hard resisting the temptation merely to unleash a long string of profanity here. To echo what someone said above, it’s your clearly damaged attitude that has people thinking you shouldn’t teach. Especially, you shouldn’t be allowed to inflict yourself on any gifted children.

    You are SO not fine.

    You obviously hate yourself for what you present as being a low EQ, and suggest that everyone else who’s gifted and similarly challenged should veritably bow before the slick, elbow-rubbing back-slappers of the world. Just as you do. Your self-loathing drips repulsively off the page and is clear to everyone.

    Because some people made money and achieved ‘success’, we should abase ourselves before them. Like money is a reward for virtue, or something stupid like that. That’s just bull. And poorly examined, contradictory bull. “Oh, wah, I just hate all the rest of you privileged smart people who did so badly in life, just like me.”

    You grow up.

    You know what would happen with gifted children in a class with a hateful teacher like you, insistent on making them plod through the same lessons as everyone else? They’d come to resent you every bit as much as you already resent them and the rest of us here. You remind me of the 5th grade teacher I had, in a gifted program no less, in whose classes I was still bored. She eventually forbade me from reading books at school, except my textbooks. Reading was the only activity that made me happy at that age and it was just one more thing she decided to try during a yearlong campaign to be deliberately mean to me, which somehow never managed to incentivize my cooperation. I despise that woman to this very day and I learned nothing in her class.

    You know what else would happen? They’d fall behind and you’d humiliate them for it. They’d be problem kids, never finishing their work, like I didn’t in 6th grade. My teacher spent an entire spelling test once taking out his frustrations with me; he put every vocabulary word in a sentence for these tests to help us remember the context, and this one test, every sentence was about how badly I was going to do in life. I left the room crying about half way through and just sat on the steps. I didn’t care if anyone punished me or not, but he felt bad afterwards and I didn’t get detention or anything.

    If you’re going to be one of those teachers, you should just pick another line of work right now. The only thing you’d manage to teach any gifted children unlucky enough to fall into your clutches is that the world is full of authority figures who are nasty, arbitrary and vindictive.

    My K-12 grades were apalling. And privileged because of it? I went through years of job hell and poverty, though I’ve finally made my way back to college once I integrated some things. But you know, all those years, I could have been better utilized both for my own sake and that of people around me. Instead of agitating against the irritating owners of the Subway chain I was working in at 20, maybe I could have been doing something useful.

    Just maybe, if the adults around me hadn’t been so resentful and oppositional towards me, it might not have taken so damn long to learn the social skills I had to spend so much time catching up on.

  260. RadFemHedonist

    Well, gee, I didn’t know that my high IQ and liking for reading and extraordinary memory for spellings made me part of an elite of some sort, I thought I was a well educated person who knew how to use my brain. One thing I want to know is how Edith got round to the idea that if a child is gifted because of their better education, this should somehow make it OK to leave them in classes that do not stimulate them, everyone should get a brilliant education, but it’s probably better to give kids work that they find interesting, gradually every kids’ potential should flourish, but this “KILL THE ELITE” idea is a bunch of crap.

  261. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Hi Lawbitch upthread! For the record I don’t mean to imply that high IQ folks are socially retarded by definition. No way! This is a nurture problem, not a nature one: How well the scary smart kid integrates into society depends on his/her environment, and especially how other people relate to him/her.

    Like you I’m naturally inwardly-focused. My brainiac extended family “got” me, so their emotional support was very helpful. Outside the family unit, unfortunately, I was treated like an alien from another planet, and so only retreated further into myself, hypersensitive, nose-in-book, indulging in mysticism, etc. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I was schizoid.

    My interior life was the safe place, while my social life was next to non-existent until a few years ago. Getting outside of myself is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The SSRI I’m taking helps with my social anxiety, but my social “toolbox” has only one or two things in it and I’m bewildered. I’ve turned to books (of course) for tips on how to do small talk, introduce myself, introduce people to one another, respond appropriately to questions, etc.

  262. Tigs

    Clarification: My understanding of the South African law is that you can’t pay people to tutor your kids. You can teach them yourself all you want. The goal is to eradicate specialized programs that only the rich can afford.
    Think for example in NYC, where there are great public schools that any kid in the entire public school system can test into (Stuyvesant, Bronx Science), but rich kids get tutored by people with political connections who actually get copies of the exams and tutor from them. Sure anyone can hire a tutor, but when they cost $600/hour (I’m serious), is that letting any child but a super-rich child have a chance at getting at the ‘public good?’

    South Africa also outlawed private beaches, which I think is more clearly egalitarian. In South Africa you simply don’t have the right to be on a beach without black Africans. Equality trumps individual will. It’s easier to agree with this one, but it’s largely the same underlying philosophical stance.

  263. Shannon

    LMYC: Being female, a working-class dago, and smart is a recipe for misery

    Ditto female, working class, of half-Appalachian origin and smart.

    Hell, dare I say it? Being female and smart can be a right pain in the ass, period. One of the many reasons I got out of financial management? I was tired of hearing “why would you do that?” when the boys stopped their high school football talk for a sec and asked me (out of social charity) what I’d done that weekend. If I’d said “shopped! yay!”, I wouldn’t have gotten have the funny looks that “went to the museum” generated.

    Wait, whoops. I’m probably elitist for going to museums, too.

  264. the opoponax

    Yup. Yet another reason I’m really leery of raising kids in NYC, Especially if it will mean mainstream schooling.

    Though I live not far from one of the bigger magnet high schools (Brooklyn Tech), and in the morning i’m always getting on the subway as they’re getting off. Most of the kids who go to that particular magnet seem like your typical working/middle class geeks and nerds (of every race, ethnicity, nationality, gender) whose parents probably did not pay a tutor $600/hr to coach them on the exam.

    But I have heard bad, bad things about Stuyvesant, and Hunter College High, and other elite city magnets.

  265. the opoponax

    That was a response to Tigs comparing the South African situation to the NYC parents who hire $600/hr tutors to get their kids into magnet schools.

  266. Babs

    Brilliant, Nuts, and Poor, checking in.

    My ticket to the gifted program was when I switched from private school to public school in 2nd grade, and wrote the math assignments in words, not numbers to give myself something to do to pass the time.

    It’s like I don’t feel as crazy or alone for the first time, now that I’ve realized I’m surrounded by women who are smart enough to realize the system sucks, and depressed because of its suckery.

    My fabulous feminist med student friend of 18 years is trying to convince me that some people’s brains just don’t work properly, and with medication, I can live a happy life. But then I tell her all the crappy things in the world, and ask her how me taking pills is going to change that stuff. Her answer is that the pills will help me deal with it better.

    Have any of the other depressed folk out there found that somehow, the evils of the patriarchy dissipate a bit when one pops the prozac?

    Also, do we have any updates on this young lady’s situation (10 year old star of the post)?

  267. Frumious B

    Have any of the other depressed folk out there found that somehow, the evils of the patriarchy dissipate a bit when one pops the prozac?

    The evils of the patriarchy never, ever, dissipate, no matter what drugs you pop. However, brain pills make one able to leave the bed every morning to carry on the blaming.

  268. Siobhan

    Edith, for what it’s worth, I think you’re making a lot of important points that are being responded to with bad sarcasm because most people here are far more highly invested in having been labeled gifted thirty years ago than they’re willing to admit.

  269. the opoponax

    Well, I’d phrase it differently — Edith is making a few important points which are drowning in a sea of her own bile.

    Replace the word “gifted” with “woman” or “black”, and I don’t think any of us would be willing to even give her the benefit of the doubt.

    The silliest thing is that, in general, i think we agree that all kids need access to equally plentiful and awesome resources, and that we’ll never even know what the word “gifted” means until that happens. Some of us just have a slightly more hostile outlook than others. We could be having a reasoned debate about the best way to acheive this, but instead somebody started flinging shit.

  270. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Siobhan, what we’re invested in is being able to speak our truth. This forum is one of the few places in the Universe where we’re allowed to do this.

    My opinion, and I’m not singling out anyone in particular here: To many of the otherwise competent and fantastic Blamers taking up Twisty’s bandwidth presume and project too much about other people’s feelings and experiences.

    For instance: As a proto-blamer I was accused of approving of men’s domination of women because I fell a little bit more toward the “nature” side of the nature/nurture debate than she did. When I stated that I disapproved of the shitty ways that society DEALS with the differences between men and women, she said I couldn’t possibly disapprove of them. I HAD to approve of them. As if she were an authority on whether I approved of something or not?

  271. vera

    Has anyone here considered that both of the options under discussion–”regular” schooling and home schooling–are ways of placing children in a kids’ ghetto? If this had already come up, my apologies; I haven’t had time to read all the comments.

    I think many (perhaps most) of the problems of “troubled adolescence” would be ameliorated if we abolished the entire idea of education, and just removed obstacles to kids participating in whatever interests them. An individual’s formal education would come later in life, when she’s ready to focus on a narrower range of interests, if that’s what she wants.

    When my younger daughter was 13 her most heartfelt desire was to volunteer at our city’s animal shelter. Most of the shelter animals are in cages all day, and there aren’t enough volunteers, even just to play with the cats and dogs. But to volunteer you have to be 18.

    My daughter was denied the opportunity to do meaningful work, and meanwhile required to spend hours indoors, doing boring shit. To what end? I’m certain she’s forgotten the history of menz, the smattering of language, and the names of the major rivers of the world. At 19 she’s in the animal science program at her university. So as it turns out, she was right, at 13. She knew what she wanted to do.

    I’m not saying we should do away with teaching kids to read and do math. But after spending an hour each day doing that, why in the world force them to slog from one boring class to another, being fed stuff that’s pretty much irrelevant to them? Let them be out building houses, planting gardens, photographing bugs, volunteering at shelters–whatever they want.

    I swear I learned more at each job I’ve held than I ever did in school.

    Getting kids out in the world might help get everyone’s attention off of the subject of who’s “gifted,” too. That would be a bonus.

  272. Siobhan

    Siobhan, what we’re invested in is being able to speak our truth. This forum is one of the few places in the Universe where we’re allowed to do this.

    Note how Ms. Kate’s interesting comment about how the burden of homeschooling/un-schooling/freeschooling/homeskooling falls to women was a non-starter, and instead, as these threads tend to do, it became all about dick/degree/IQ/former-gifted-status measuring.

    How radical.

  273. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I know, Siobahn: The habit is probably the reason my mother always “Oh, I forget” or “It doesn’t matter” when I asked her what my IQ was (even at age 6 I was curious). The “smartest kid in this school/college” rumors made their way to me in roundabout ways, but that’s pretty much the extent of my awareness of the “length of my dick.” Frankly, my most glaring examples of the impact of my IQ are social, and they’re all BAD. This makes me “lucky” in some people’s minds? Come again?

  274. Zawadi

    My interpretation of Edith’s points all along has simply been this: she chooses to devote her attention to teaching children who are not marked out as ‘gifted’ (even though they may be gifted). That is, she chooses to focus her own efforts on the needs of the vast majority, not those of a minority who will probably do well and be taken care of by the system.

    She believes that systemic failures, combined with racism and poverty, create a situation in which the relatively privileged are *more likely* to end up getting better opportunities. We all know that this is true in most places. I’m not American, but I know that this is true in the U.S. to a greater extent than in most other ‘developed’ countries.

    If she’s angry about a situation in which the vast majority of children are subject to a mediocre educational system, that seems understandable. Perhaps her tone is angry, but angry tones and words are higly prevalent in the comment sections of this site. The difference is that her ideas are not that popular, and so her anger’s being called out more (and perceived as a personal attack by those of you here who were diagnosed “gifted” as children).

  275. Raven

    I’ve been following the conversations in various online communities for gifted adults for years. Just as with this thread, much of it tends to be about kids and about educational systems and people’s experiences when they were kids. I don’t join in much because those aren’t really my interests or issues.

    The reason I’m jumping in now is because of some issues that Edith has inadvertently highlighted. My experience as a gifted female has defined much of my life. And I can’t just get over that any more than I can just get over being a lesbian. It’s who I am in the world. And no, being gifted didn’t mean I got more opportunities; as a woman it has meant being kicked in the teeth again and again for not knowing my place.

    I’m writing this long comment as a support statement for all of us gifted women here, especially those who haven’t come to terms with being a gifted adult.

    We didn’t have gifted programs when I was in school (in various parts of the U.S. in the 60s and 70s). I never thought of myself as gifted when I was a kid because girls weren’t allowed to appear smart or even allowed to think of themselves as smart where I grew up (mostly in local public schools in a small city). I was always drastically different from other kids in terms of learning abilities, but girls did everything they could to hide that kind of thing. It was considered grotesque and unseemly for girls to openly win the brains sweepstakes.

    I had brief respite from this in college (for the most part), but it started up again once I entered the working world. In one job I was hounded in myriad ways to stop showing other people up (that’s how they saw it; I saw it as solving problems others couldn’t solve). Of course they claimed I wasn’t a team player – a clever turn of phrase that keeps everyone in lockstep. I refused to adopt the techniques of appearing stupid to get along and I have paid dearly for that. I’ve had plenty of friends in my working life, but when it came to work itself, I was all business.

    I couldn’t figure out why it was such a terrible thing for me to solve problems quickly and do more work than others and have more skills than others – I thought my accomplishments would be appreciated and rewarded. Hard to believe a hardened feminist could be that naive, but I was (gifted people are very often idealists). I could plainly see that my brilliant, introverted, focused male co-workers were left alone to work and rewarded for their contributions regardless of their personalities; why couldn’t I get that, I wondered.

    As an exceptionally smart woman, I faced hostility every day of my working life for 20 years and never really understood why. Then I stumbled on the gifted adult community online and had a bigger, more profound coming out experience as gifted than I did as a lesbian. The level of relief I felt cannot be overstated. Finally I understood. Finally I had a community where someone wasn’t trying to shame me for being myself. Combined with my feminism, the whole picture suddenly clicked into place.

    The average person (male or female) distrusts really smart women and hates those women who refuse to play social games. We all know this of course, but I’m saying it here to specifically point out in a feminist forum that it is not true that intellect evens out as one becomes an adult. What happens is that smart women are often beaten down enough by their less-smart co-workers, partners, and other people they encounter (say, in the comment section of a blog) that it can appear that this flattening is happening. Smart women are often silenced and shamed for being smart women.

    The hostility and shaming we face makes it damn near impossible to have a normal experience of the world. We often don’t fit in – which only sounds interesting and edgy; as a daily experience, the loneliness and isolation is excruciating. I’m guessing that the reason there are so many gifted women commenting here is 1) because of the difficult analysis it has taken to be able to understand these issues at this level and 2) because this is one place where we can be smart and be open about it.

  276. lawbitch

    Some blamers seem invested in believing that “gifted” folk are snobs. Gifted does not mean asshole.

    Frankly, it’s hard to try to explain what it’s like to
    “see” things other people don’t comprehend. As I said before, it’s makes a person feel freakish.

    It’s no fun being labeled “braniac,” being picked last for gym, having others make fun of an advanced vocabulary, etc. It doesn’t end with school, either.

  277. lawbitch

    One is not “diagnosed” gifted. It’s not a terminal disease. Perpetual nerdom may be the result, but it’s not a disorder.

  278. Constantine

    Reading some of the posts here, I am starting to wonder what the difference between “gifted” and “learning disabled” and “attention deficit disordered” are.

    I used to think that “gifted” was just a synonym for “intelligent” or “high standardized test scores.” Insofar as this means that such students should be presented with material that is much more challenging to them than the normal grade-level coursework, that makes sense, but it sounds like some people are using the term to mean “unable to handle a classroom environment.” I’m not sure whether this can be really called a “gift.”

  279. lawbitch

    Raven said it better than I did. Please direct me to that gifted community online. There are a lot of blamers here that would be interested.

  280. Shannon

    The average person (male or female) distrusts really smart women and hates those women who refuse to play social games. We all know this of course, but I’m saying it here to specifically point out in a feminist forum that it is not true that intellect evens out as one becomes an adult. What happens is that smart women are often beaten down enough by their less-smart co-workers, partners, and other people they encounter (say, in the comment section of a blog) that it can appear that this flattening is happening. Smart women are often silenced and shamed for being smart women.

    AMEN HALLELUIA! All hail Raven! So, so true.

  281. Siobhan

    Some blamers seem invested in believing that “gifted” folk are snobs. Gifted does not mean asshole.

    Frankly, it’s hard to try to explain what it’s like to
    “see” things other people don’t comprehend. As I said before, it’s makes a person feel freakish.

    It’s no fun being labeled “braniac,” being picked last for gym, having others make fun of an advanced vocabulary, etc. It doesn’t end with school, either.

    Some blamers seem invested in believing any criticism of the implementation or fetishization of gifted programs is rooted in being “jus jellus” or unable to comprehend the brilliant, tortured world of women who identify(ied) as smart.

    Because it’s so popular on this thread, I’ll pull out my dick: I was in every gifted and enrichment program available, I went to Charles River Tech and thrived, and I’m currently finishing my PhD in math. Believe me, writing a thesis on formal logic trains the mind so that I’ve had more than my fair share of “seeing” things that it takes others awhile to pick up on, if at all.

    And yet, I still think gifted programs are mostly bourgeois bullshit designed to reward the kids with the most obnoxious parents and that formal degrees are hardly impressive (3? 4? Got ‘em. So? Most terminal masters programs, even at the Ivies, are there to generate money, pure and simple.).

    Can you now accept that this really isn’t about jealousy?

    Insofar as this means that such students should be presented with material that is much more challenging to them than the normal grade-level coursework, that makes sense, but it sounds like some people are using the term to mean “unable to handle a classroom environment.” I’m not sure whether this can be really called a “gift.”

    Yep. Strange, no?

  282. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Thank you Raven for clarifying what I’d meant to say upthread: It’s not our IQs that even out in adulthood, it’s our levels of achievment. What gets a person ahead in this culture is not IQ. Freakish intelligence is NOT an American Value; in fact it’s downright threatening to the Bushies and Rayguns in this world, not to mention a few teachers, supervisors, police officers, politicians, ___(insert authority figure here) __, etc.

    The spoils of fame and fortune go to a different breed entirely. Guess which one!

    (I say American because I can’t speak of anyplace else!)

  283. Edith

    Lord. Did anyone really think I was saying that weatlth = smartness and that smartness = big bucks? Actually, I think I was saying that smartness = nothing, in the end. Being smart isn’t indicative that you’re going to do well in life. And more people who are wealthy are given the “smart” label than people who aren’t. THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE ACTUALLY SMART. Working class kids who actually ARE smart are often NOT GIVEN THE SMART LABEL.

    I don’t know, it’s like, one person misreads what I’m saying, and then everyone else agrees with that misreading because it’s simpler to do that than just go back and figure out what I’m saying for yourself. I don’t know. I must make my posts too long.

    It makes me shake my head that my simple comments on egalitarian education caused so much grief. Like my ideas are really ever going to be implemented, like, ever. Kind of like, if I could, my friends would all stop being heterosexuals, but like that’s ever going to happen, either. Oh my god, I’m so dystopian. Give me a break.

    In case this is still, “too long; didn’t read” let me just reiterate my points via list form:

    1) “Gifted” means jack shit.
    2) High IQs mean jack shit.
    3) Therefore, putting all the “gifted” kids in one class is wrong
    4) And taking your “gifted” kids out of public school is only OK if you’re still going to give public schools a ton of activist attention, but you’re probably not, because if your family isn’t there you have less incentive to give a damn.

    Fin.

  284. Edith

    Oh, and, read Siobhan’s comment.

  285. Edith

    And Zwandi, you get me. Thanks.

  286. Raven

    “I’ll pull out my dick” says Siobhan, who also finds a way to accuse us of “dick [...] measuring.” Got something on your tiny, little mind, Siobhan?

    Yes, that woman-hating sure is worth reading, Edith, in case, you know, we forgot that men hate us in the five minutes since it was last displayed for us so openly.

    I find it really interesting how often that turn of phrase, along with “pissing contest” and some version of “having balls” turns up in day-to-day conversation. It’s nothing more than patriarchal crap that male genitals are somehow a measuring device of anything of importance in the wider world.

    IBTP

  287. RadFemHedonist

    “Cer i grafu, cariad. Os na fedrech chi fy neall i”

    Go I scratch , lover. If I do you were able you me understand I.

    Is it Welsh, and does it mean:

    go scratch yourself dear, if you were able to understand me.

    or summit?

  288. Edith

    Oh yeah, and charter schools and magnet schools may be “public” as far as the state is concerned, but “public” as in, “open to the public” — not so much.

    And wanting to work in normal, crappy public schools with a diverse population hardly makes me a starry-eyed actor in a crap movie about getting to the “urban” kids. Please. Why don’t you all quit your social worker jobs right now, and why don’t you all stop volunteering your time in domestic violence shelters, you naive do-gooders you. Unless you know, you don’t actually work in the public sector, or, you know, volunteer — you’re already golden, then!

    I apologize for my bitchy “rhetoric,” but hey.

  289. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Constantine, I believe I suggested that a freakishly high IQ be treated like a disability upthread somewheres.

    Sometimes I think I would have fared better if my differently-abledness had been identified as a disability. At least some attention would have been paid to my developmental issues.

  290. Edith

    I think, Raven, that Siobhan was being sarcastic. And she was insinuating, you know, that all the talk here about how smart we all are is a bit like a penis contest, which it is. In other words, stupid.

  291. Siobhan

    “I’ll pull out my dick” says Siobhan, who also finds a way to accuse us of “dick […] measuring.” Got something on your tiny, little mind, Siobhan?

    Yes, that woman-hating sure is worth reading, Edith, in case, you know, we forgot that men hate us in the five minutes since it was last displayed for us so openly.

    I find it really interesting how often that turn of phrase, along with “pissing contest” and some version of “having balls” turns up in day-to-day conversation. It’s nothing more than patriarchal crap that male genitals are somehow a measuring device of anything of importance in the wider world.

    Hmm, it makes you wonder if someone might intentionally use the phrase to reveal to supposed feminists how patriarchically crappy their conversation is.

  292. Edith

    Yes, stupid AND patriarchal. The best combination of all things.

  293. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    I use the whole dick-measuring analogy whenever someone does something unquestionably patriarchal, such as pulling rank.

  294. Raven

    For those who are interested, here are some resources for gifted adults. And just so my comment doesn’t get stuck in moderation, I’m giving you the exact search string to put in Google to find the right pages (each of these will be the first link in the Google response unless otherwise noted).

    “GT-Adults Mailing List”

    “Entitled to Be Exceptional” [this one is about gifted women specifically]

    “Gifted Women: Identity and Expression” [it's the second link that comes up, not the book list]

    “Can you hear the flowers sing? Issues for gifted adults”

    “Discovering the Gifted Ex-Child”

    And a whole big long list of links for more on this:
    “Hoagies’ Gifted: Gifted Adults”

  295. Twisty

    Raven is stupid.

  296. Raven

    Just for full disclosure, as with all things human, your mileage will vary on these online spaces just like any other.

    I’ve long been looking for a gifted adult, radical feminist, lesbian, artist, multiple-interest, witty, outrageous, interesting hang-out online. Twisty’s joint is the best match to all that that I’ve found.

    Thanks to all who make it that.

  297. Raven

    Thanks, Twisty, I love you too.

  298. the opoponax

    “1) “Gifted” means jack shit.
    2) High IQs mean jack shit.
    3) Therefore, putting all the “gifted” kids in one class is wrong
    4) And taking your “gifted” kids out of public school is only OK if you’re still going to give public schools a ton of activist attention, but you’re probably not, because if your family isn’t there you have less incentive to give a damn.”

    #1 — I’m with you, depending on a few semantic questions I’ll not bother to ask.
    #2 — Yep, definitely with you.
    #3 — Er, no.

    While the label “gifted” as currently used is shite, the bottom line is that kids have different abilities and interests, and all kids should be given the oppurtunity to flourish. Kids currenly labeled “gifted”, as problematic as the label is, are lucky enough to have a forum in which to do so, for reasons that as far as I can tell are beaurocratic accident. The fact that not ALL students get the same benefits so-called gifted kids get does not mean that gifted kids should no longer reap said benefits. We need to give all students what we currently give gifted students, not smash gifted kids down onto the shitpile that is public education. Doing so will not actually do anything to change the many problems within the system — they are much larger and more systematic problems than just “people pull their kids out” and/or “parents are not involved enough”.

    #4 — People have to do right by their kids. Most problems of the US educational system are systematic problems which are much bigger than just one parent grinding away at one administrator, or donating money to one particular school, or what-have-you. Just as the school system is not going to magically be fixed when you get your certification, Edith, it will also not going to magically be fixed when the Smith family refuses to get Sally the educational model that works best for her individual needs. I agree that more parents should have the ability to find the right kind of education for their children, that it shouldn’t be limited to people who’re middle class or above and have either the temerity to find a better public option or the money to choose private schools (which tend not to be much better than the public ones, anyway). But, as in point #3, overall options should not be curtailed simply because they are not available to all. We should be working to make them available to all students, not to force all students to make do in the shitpile of mainstream public education.

    A lot of this stuff is actually pretty simple, if you sit down to work it all out rather than getting your revolutionary panties in a twist. Even the playing field in terms of who has access to the programs. Create similar programs to address a wide variety of needs and interests, not just academic ones. Eliminate class privileges like tutoring to the admissions test and private IQ testing (personally, i think IQ should be taken out of it entirely; it’s just so fucked up). And most importantly, change the way school funding works in the US. The main problem is the system that requires school funds to come directly from property and income taxes in the district, and then for students at all levels to be assigned to schools based on district rather than interests or abilities. Also, anything else that would allow schools to get more in general, whether that be federal grants, private fundraising, etc.

  299. lawbitch

    Thanks for the list, Raven. Twisty’s joint is the best. I’m going to check out the other sites, though, and give Twisty a bit of a break.

  300. natasha

    Edith – “1) “Gifted” means jack shit.
    2) High IQs mean jack shit.
    3) Therefore, putting all the “gifted” kids in one class is wrong
    4) And taking your “gifted” kids out of public school is only OK if you’re still going to give public schools a ton of activist attention, but you’re probably not, because if your family isn’t there you have less incentive to give a damn. ”

    Did they teach you that in the therapy sessions where you learned to confuse ‘I ain’t shit’ with emotional maturity? Did your therapist decide that the label of gifted was messing with your head too much, and emotionally beat it out of you until you have the self-regard of a gnat?

    Maybe you aren’t as smart as *you* think you are if you didn’t figure out long before adulthood that smarter isn’t equivalent to better and that showing up with a big vocabulary and a few outlandish talents wasn’t the key to the kingdom.

    Zawadi – No, Edith seems to be saying that the things that make some of us unique, perhaps even special needs, don’t mean jack shit. That students who are (by dint of peer-reviewed studies and their own perceptions) not like other kids should be treated in educational environments in ways that tend to be unsuitable for them, whether or not they manage to survive them. And her conflation of children who are different than their peers with the privileged children of the wealthy and pushy just completely misses the point.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that education doesn’t need to be improved for everyone, as opoponax noted. Or that maybe, as Vera said, it shouldn’t be completely rethought. Or even, as Ms. Kate said, that we shouldn’t look at the ways in which different systems expect a lot more of women.

    It’s also too bad that this didn’t turn into a more substantive discussion on how voting with your feet in the public educational system, as promoted by wingnuts to undermine public schools, decreases the number of people who care about the quality of those schools. Or how not offering programs that are suitable for the children in question, as discouraged by those self-same wingnuts, encourages that very phenomenon.

    And perhaps, we should think about a complete reevaluation of the roles, pay scales and responsibilities of teachers, and finally start treating them like the important members of society that they are. As Twisty alludes to in the title of this post, children do end up in a Lord of the Flies society in school all too often, with bullying and all manner of social ills that wouldn’t be tolerated in an adult environment but are ignored in schools because no one gives a damn.

    Really, why in gods’ names any children should be subjected to hours of tedious factory schooling that barely stimulates anyone’s minds and rarely allows them to explore their own talents, I just don’t know. I think it’s ridiculous. It’s the waste of vast amounts of people’s time and talent, and I’m morally opposed to wasting people’s time and talent on things that stifle their souls. Even when those people aren’t gifted, whatever that does really mean.

    Buckminster Fuller said that people were designed as problem-solvers, and I think that if we took that seriously, we’d match people up with the types of problems they like or don’t mind or are capable of solving and let them have at. Adam Smith said that, “The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations … has no occasion to exert his understanding, or his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. …” I’d agree with both of them, and would say further that when you have someone whose brain is especially suited to a rare type of problem-solving, that it’s enormously counterproductive not to develop it and to instead waste their time in environments that may even be damaging.

    Yet maybe her arguments are taken as personal attacks, and responded to in kind, because they are. Children deemed as gifted may have very different social skills than others and have a hard time integrating with other children, even though they may often fit in reasonably well with adults or others like themselves. As they get older, these problems become less noticeable as they learn and as they reach full inclusion in adult society where relationships have different qualities.

    But why blame those kids for the lousiness of education in general, and attack them as products of privilege, when in fact their origins may be modest?

    Siobhan – What I was responding to, as it seems others were as well, was edith’s self-loathing and numerous errors of fact, not a perception of jealousy in someone who’s self-identified as gifted anyway. She made a number of ridiculous, untrue, unkind and obnoxious statements about how people are who’ve been described as gifted and, as might be done if some MRA jerk had come along and described all women as cheating bitches who can’t wait to get on the child support gravy train and lie about abuse, contrary anecdotes, studies and observations were brought forward to argue against what she said.

    Yeah, it must be tedious to listen to our childhood stories, just like it may be tedious to listen to stories from women who’ve actually been abused and can barely buy groceries on their glorious child support checks, but sorry. She was wrong on so many counts that this child of a janitor and a homemaker who nearly flunked out of high school just wasn’t going to let that crap stand.

    The alienation lawbitch talks about up above is real. School sucks for lots of kids, but why deliberately allow it to suck worse for people that you know beforehand you’re making it worse for?

    I think that not teaching gifted kids is pretty much the default. Most education majors end up picking their careers on the ages of the children in my experience. I’ve often heard people say that they were planning on teaching kindergarten, elementary school, junior high or high school. Sometimes people say they want to teach special needs kids or work in daycare for preschoolers. I’ve heard all these things from people I’ve met or talked to who planned to go into teaching or were on the way to that goal.

    But I’ve never in all my life heard someone planning to go into education say the equivalent of “I’m not going to give an inch for *that* particular group of little brats.” What do you want to bet that she’d never in a million years get hired as a teacher if this thread and her comments were associated with her full name?

    Do you see, perhaps, the difference? She’s making statements of rejection and antagonism towards a group of children she’s identified herself with. It’s that, and not the relatively uncontroversial/laudable desire to work with underprivileged youth, that’s drawing the attention.

    It’s that, specifically, that makes me think she’s unfit to work with any children until she addresses her issues on this score. And really, if you had/have a kid who was gifted in your care, read her statements again and ask yourself if you’d want to allow her anywhere near them.

  301. Edith

    natasha, get a life. Seriously. Making fun of mental illness is really cool. And having a mental illness = totally unstable. Glad you’re not a teacher, because if you ever had any kid that had a different brain than others, I bet you’d have a time talking up how “unstable” they are. (Gee, could that also include “gifted” kids, kids with Asperger’s, etc.? I thought homeschooling parents were supposed to be on the SIDE of the people with different brains. Or does that only count if you’re a kid?) Oh yeah, glad you’re a therapist too and can respond professionally to my supposed “self-loathing.” I’ve been given the “gifted” label and I’m saying that being “gifted” doesn’t mean anything. I must be self-loathing.

    Also, did I not say, like, three times that I KNOW being smarter doesn’t equal getting “the keys to the kingdom”? What part of “jack shit” are you not understanding?

    “Voting with your feet” does not improve public schools. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It’s about as smart as not voting in elections because you want to voice your displeasure with American politics. I’m the one getting my revolutionary panties in a twist?

    But don’t worry; you keep pulling your kids out of public schools so you can avoid bad, bad teachers like me. Even if you let your kids go to public school, you’d never have to deal with me anyway — I plan on teaching normal high school students in normal classes. Your kids are too special to be in those classes, right?

  302. natasha

    Edith – Yeah, I heard you say “jack shit,” you deliberately obtuse nitwit. I heard you say it like it’s something you’re real proud of having finally figured out, and then the light went on and you were saved of your former misunderstandings, absolved of having believed for too long the lie that a very real difference was going to be particularly helpful. You think being depressed is supposed to be some sort of excuse for your malicious stereotyping? You think you have something to teach me about depression? Your defensive pomposity knows no bounds.

    You are an unstable presence, imo, not because of your depression, which I didn’t make fun of. In fact, why don’t you just try real, real hard to find that. It’s because (hey, how many times do I have to say it, anyway) you are demonizing a particular class of children that you self-identify with and assuming that they would have to come from privileged backgrounds.

    That’s just wack. And I do think it makes you unfit to teach children, just as it would if you’d made similar statements about some particular racial group or segment of the disabled population.

    My criteria for stability have to do with people’s tolerance of others and themselves, and willingness to respect that everyone isn’t exactly like everyone else, if not an active enjoyment of it. But you’re being downright intolerant, and I don’t feel like I have to tolerate that.

    You want to teach “normal” kids in “normal” classes, well, god help you, I hope you manage to find such a thing. Or not. Determined to flee from yourself and see normalcy everywhere, I pity the kids who get squeezed into the cookie-cutter mold you seem to want to impose on the people around you.

    And did you also fail to read where I described encouraging people to pull their kids out of school as a tactic deliberately promoted by wingnuts that undermined the educational system? Did you miss the very next sentence where I said quite clearly that I considered starving schools of special needs funding was an adjunct tactic of the very same people to further encourage the undermining of the school system? Did I ever say that I favored homeschooling, or even had any kids? Your reading comprehension is truly deplorable.

    But hey, why complain about how I talk to you? You aren’t jack shit, right? (How well credentialed do I have to be to figure out that a person who describes themselves that way is self-loathing?) You aren’t jack shit. And neither am I by your estimation, so why should you care what I think of you? Or maybe, you’ll figure out that saying that about yourself or using it to type a broad class of people who are personally unknown to you isn’t exactly healthy.

    You are saying hurtful, dismissive, practically dehumanizing things about yourself and about a group of people that includes me. And I just so happen to feel that you should be verbally swatted until you get it into your penitence-insulated skull that it’s an attitude it shouldn’t feel good to be on the receiving end of. I don’t deserve it, and so help me, neither do you, particularly not from yourself. Just frakking listen to yourself, for love of pete.

    “I’m not jack shit, I’m not jack shit!” Yeah, yeah, I heard you the first damn time, let alone the 2nd and 3rd. Did you hear me? Did you notice that it didn’t sodding well feel good to have it thrown back at you? You want to keep waving that around like it’s something other than a gaping wound? Be my guest. Just don’t expect me to stand back and buy in to your interpretation.

    I don’t know who did this number on you, but it is not a path to salvation for past sins of blinding arrogance as encouraged by the people who stamped you with the label of being gifted. Deal with it before trying to inflict it on others, because this society already has too damn many people who are actively hostile to anyone who dares to be smart in public.

  303. natasha

    Oh yeah, and because funding for most of the schools you’d be working in if you ended up in a normal school is for crap, you’d probably wind up with unidentified gifted kids in your classes, anyway. Think you could manage to do right by them instead of make them feel even more alienated than they already probably do?

  304. the opoponax

    Nobody here is advocating pulling kids out of public schools specifically for reasons of “voting with our feet”. In fact, a number of folks have said that it doesn’t matter what views the parent has or what kind of educational model the parent is interested in — it’s all about the interests of the child.

    My parents would much rather have had me be a docile “ordinary” kid who flourished at the neighborhood public school, rather than having to constantly battle for me to have access to various special programs. In fact, eventually they just gave up and let me fester. Had I not been noticed via standardized testing (which neither they nor my school put any special emphasis on) they would’ve been content to let me get thoroughly beaten into a conventionally dull teenage girl. My brothers grew up to be conventionally dull teenage boys, and they couldn’t have been more thrilled.

    We’re saying you have to find what works for your particular family, and rather than ban any system divergent from “evil crappy public school”, we’d like to see EVERYONE be able to find what they need. It’s true that it would be much easier to fix the current system than to just pull every kid out into private or homeschool. but nobody is suggesting otherwise.

  305. thebewilderness

    I am.
    Way back upthread I tried to remind us all of what the purpose of creating a public school system was and is.
    To provide literate and obedient workers for industry.
    It became more than it was intended to be, but the purpose remains the same. Providing literate and obedient workers for industry is not a worthy goal for the people to be invested in.
    Again and again I return to Firestones idea of extended family in community as the best possible way to raise children. Not only would it do away with the nuclear family, it would also make public schools unnecessary.
    I think you could try to reform the factory school system in a number of ways, but all you would get is a more efficient factory school system.

  306. Tigs

    Ooh, ooh, if this thread keeps moving, can we talk about divergent sources/goals of public education? Ooh, ooh, the bewilderness that comment was so cool.

    One of the things I enjoy thinking about is that the American public school system was instituted after the spontaneous and widespread practice of salons. People were all sorts of uppity from those things, they needed some calmin’ down.

    I think there is a general dissonance in the roots and the process of American education that reflects much of the American condition. There has always been at least rhetorical emphasis on the liberal mission of public education. Concurrently, thebewilderness is totally right, the actual experience of public education is to produce good citizens, and in American good citizens are good, obedient workers.
    That dichotomy is lip-smacking good stuff for talking about– all the way to Adorno who would assert that the liberal agenda has within its structure the flaws that will always produce a mechanized education system designed to degrade humanity.
    Woohoo!

  307. Siobhan

    I find it endlessly amusing that all these self-described brilliant folks believe that the labels gifted and IQ actually mean anything. Try reading up a bit on statistics, methodology, and educational tracking.

    Railing about the authoritarianism of public school while simultaneously claiming that we should be separating young children into “smart” and “not” camps? It’s astonishing.

  308. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Was that a strawgenius I just saw streaking by?

    She needs to put on some clothes.

  309. the opoponax

    not to excite the straw-genius at all, but i’d note that not only has nobody here suggested such a thing, but in my experience anyway, most of the magnet schooling that really does seperate kids away from each other(into different schools) doesn’t begin until high school.

    most elementary and middle schools handle gifted kids differently — mainly through in-school programs that at least try to enable gifted kids to get the accelerated academic work they need while still keeping them around kids of all different abilities. in fact, in my experience of gifted programs within mainstream public schools, there are only 2 or 3 kids in each grade in the gifted program. it’s not even like the seperate reading groups of the 60′s, more like special ed.

    and the really funny thing, to me, is that in my experience the rich helicopter parents are much more likely to try to get their kid diagnosed with a behavioral or learning disability and into some kind of special ed program than they are to say that their kid is abnormally gifted. the thing about being gifted is that it’s a very specific thing you actually have to back up. it’s not just being “bright”. much easier to say your kid has ADD, which entitles your kid to extra help, not just harder work.

  310. malalou

    Forgive me, a mere newbie, for interjecting myself into the fray, but I have a position of relevance I think. I grok all the points that have been raised, and can relate in general to the importance that should be placed on educatin younguns.
    I was indentified as gifted in the 6th grade, or before maybe, but no one really gave the thought any importance til then… and it was only because of a new program being offered for gifted students within the mainstream curriculum. Well, I recognized it as bullshit. I was merely pulled out of class once per week and given extra work. It was entirely self-directed affair, which is okay… but the main curriculum I was responsible for remained the same. I can’t say it contributed to my academic enrichment. Actually I dropped out of school at 16 to work in order to help support my mom, who was elderly. School as a social structure held no interest for me. (IBTP and all it’s attendant goosestep rituals of dating, flirting, drama..) I prefered to read and simply learn stuff. How come education has become anything more than learning stuff? What is better than just learning? Since then I’ve accumulated 3 pieces of paper that say I have completed this and that learning track. Those times of relative conformity to a ‘program’ were the most depressing of my life, for some reason. Left to my own devices, I’ve learned more cool stuff from books, and from doing things that got me all excited.
    My lesson is this: the paper is nothing more than proof of that establishment-sanctioned conformity for me. The IQ score (yes, it’s amounted to jackshit in every possible way for me too, Edith ;) is nothing more than a number, a pissing contest if you will. I don’t need those things to know I’m the bees knees. I don’t have to prove me worth to the ‘man’. The only other thing it could be for me is some kind of societal guilt trip that I failed to become ‘a human of great importance’ (read: swinging dick). I’m not exactly goal oriented.

    so yeah… those things are jackshit to me too. But I realize that the goal-oriented may take great delight in those things. Have at.

    The story would end here, except now I’m a mama of a 14 year old kid. We don’t have to contend with too many imposed opinions, our relatives are mostly (and quite thankfully) dead… So I can do whatever I want, and so can he. He’s got the ‘gifted’ label too – and how. We have decided to homeschool, so he can direct his own learning. No, I won’t be volunteering tons of time at the high school he’s decided not to attend. Too many bomb threats. I volunteer elsewhere thank you. (Tutoring other kids in a number of subjects, Hospice, and Helpmate Shelter…)I do think that education decisions are an individual thing – how can we be doing what’s best for everyone else in one fell educational swoop? I don’t like guilt trips about making The Public Educational System work. I simply don’t believe in that sort of sacrifice… The way things evolve into better things is if people exercise their best choices. As it stands, public education is a drone-machine at worst, and at best, it’s … well, still a drone machine. Yes, IBTP.

  311. Edith

    Thanks for your perspective, malalou. It does seem to me that it’s a rare parent who is both into homeschooling AND acknowledging that labels like “gifted” mean diddly. Most homeschooling parents I’ve met are very into the idea that their child is too unique and special to stand public education, which to me translates into, “I am going to reward my kid’s inability to get along with other humans from different backgrounds.” Again, that’s not always the case. I can think of cases where homeschooling is the only, if not really the best, option.

    Also, thank you for your honesty in sharing that although you ARE an activist for education — which is commendable — it’s not in public schools. Again, that’s fine — more than fine — but it is, again, a rare parent who homeschools their kid who reaches out to help other NON-homeschooled kids. I daresay you are reaching a public that needs help and education anyway. (One of my closest friends is a “private” school teacher. She teaches at an on-site domestic violence shelter.) Most parents involve themselves merely in the schools that their children attend, and whether these parents put their kids in specialty charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, or keep them in unschools or homeschools, these are not the kids who need the most attention, IMHO.

    natasha, once again, for the last time: stop psychoanalyzing me. It’s not terribly feminist, fyi. It’s also annoying. And take comfort, won’t you, in that I won’t be educating your special, special children. Also, I hope that I DO find unidentified “gifted” kids in my “normal” classes. In fact, I expect to. And I expect they will be just as smart, or smarter, than those kids in honors and APs. Unfortunately, by the time they get to me, in high school, and the fact that they will have been given an inferior education compared to their identified-as-gifted-in-second-grade counterparts, they might have more troubles than your average “honors” teacher can deal with.

  312. the opoponax

    LOLZ.

    “I hope that I DO find unidentified “gifted” kids in my “normal” classes. In fact, I expect to. And I expect they will be just as smart, or smarter, than those kids in honors and APs. Unfortunately…” it will luckily be too late for me to be able to help them, so I will just gloat as I write “D, D, F, D, D, C-, D, F” in the gradebook.

  313. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    For the record, my scary-smart daughter is a freshman at a public school in New Jersey. Although all her friends are juniors and seniors, she’s fully developed, and more than capable of skipping a grade or two, I’d never in a million years suggest that she be moved. I will never request an IQ test for her, and she can do anything she wants so long as she’s not being lazy about it. So far it looks as though all she cares about is math, latin, math, art, and math. Her art has been featured at the local gallery for the last few years.

    I have been the exact opposite of a helocopter parent (modeling school excepted, but only because I was worried). I can tell by a few of her grades that she’s really bored, but I won’t make a stink about it unless she starts to fail. Honors courses won’t be available to her until next year (junior), and AP classes in two years (senior). I fail to comprehend how these advanced classes could harm anyone or anything. Exactly what resources would she be taking away from another student? She needs to be taking X number of classes regardless of their difficulty anyway. Besides, don’t parents need to cough up the $$$ for AP? I wouldn’t know because I’m not paying attention.

    I would switch her to a private school only if the public schools were dangerous (bomb threats, guns, what-have-you), or if her social issues were severe enough to warrant it. So far it looks as though she copes by hanging out with an older crowd. She gets away with it because she’s tall and developed enough to pass as an adult. I could never have done that. She’s very lucky!

    I do wish we would stop funding schools with property tax revenue. Every child deserves a curriculum and learning environment that suits his/her special needs if necessary. So pardon moi if I take great exception to the strawgenius in some of your heads. I can’t relate to it at all.

  314. Constantine

    Edith, how are you going to handle it when you come across smart students who realize, “wow, now that I’ve learned that I can do well academically, I rally want to take more advanced, challenging classes?” Are you going to encourage them to do that, or are you going to take it as a personal rejection and discourage them from doing so by telling them, “oh, you don’t want to be with those snotty ‘gifted’ kids, do you?” ?

    (aside: by the time a student is in high school, terms like “gifted” should no longer apply. everyone should be caught up in their ability to read and write and do arithmatic, which I can understand might proceed at different rates for young children. The only differences is who can handle the workload of Calculus, literary analysis, and AP history, and who can’t)

  315. Edith

    Constantine: Of course I’ll encourage them to take honors and APs if they want to do so. Maybe you missed my comment up-thread (I don’t blame you if you have), but in my idealized world of education, ANYONE can take APs and IB classes and honors, not just the kids with the gifted label, or the kids with the high grades, or the kids who have taken honors classes before.

    And the opononax, come on, are you purposely misreading what I’m saying? HP keeps talking about a “strawgenius.” Might I not be a “straw-mean-teacher-that-keeps-the-poor-gifted-kid-down-in-crap-classes”? Also, what part of “helping” less privileged students do you not comprehend? Do you even know why kids get bad grades? Hint: it’s not because they’re dumb.

    I think everyone should be able to take whatever classes they want. I just get a bit miffed that SOME kids are more likely to get into top classes by virtue of being privileged. They’re also more likely to get nurturing in both school and at home that will lead them to get good grades, do well on standardized tests, graduate high school, go to college, etc.

  316. Siobhan

    Me: Railing about the authoritarianism of public school while simultaneously claiming that we should be separating young children into “smart” and “not” camps?

    opoponax:
    not to excite the straw-genius at all, but i’d note that not only has nobody here suggested such a thing, but in my experience anyway, most of the magnet schooling that really does seperate kids away from each other(into different schools) doesn’t begin until high school.

    most elementary and middle schools handle gifted kids differently — mainly through in-school programs that at least try to enable gifted kids to get the accelerated academic work they need while still keeping them around kids of all different abilities. in fact, in my experience of gifted programs within mainstream public schools, there are only 2 or 3 kids in each grade in the gifted program. it’s not even like the seperate reading groups of the 60’s, more like special ed.

    opoponax, are you being intentionally obtuse? “camps” needn’t be literal, you know.

  317. Siobhan

    Constantine: Of course I’ll encourage them to take honors and APs if they want to do so. Maybe you missed my comment up-thread (I don’t blame you if you have), but in my idealized world of education, ANYONE can take APs and IB classes and honors, not just the kids with the gifted label, or the kids with the high grades, or the kids who have taken honors classes before.

    Yes, or the kids with the pushiest parents…

    In my experience of teaching at the college level, there’s nothing worse than parents who were themselves labeled “gifted”. How could little Johnny not be, when blessed with such fine genetic material?

  318. the opoponax

    Wait, since when can anyone not take AP? It’s an exam. In fact, you can sit the exam even if you haven’t registered for AP courses in school (though there is a nominal fee, whether you take the course or not). I believe IB is similar — people do IB via homeschool, if they want to. You just have to pass the examinations.

    Also, last I checked, no high school I’d ever heard of required IQ testing or a pre-existing “gifted” track based on same, or anything of the sort, to take “Honors” courses (or AP or IB, either). It’s usually based on previous grades, or open to anyone who is interested and can hack it.

    Again, I think we’re confusing “bright” with “gifted”. there were less than 20 kids in the entire gifted program at my elementary school. At my original, non-magnet high school, about 30% of the school was in at least one Honors course. Are priveleged parents with bright kids and a sense of entitlement a mega-pain in the ass? sure. There were always 3 or 4 kids in AP Whatever whose parents obviously pulled strings to get them there. They were the ones who dragged the class down and ultimately either didn’t bother to sit the exam or failed it miserably. Everyone (including them) would have been better off had they just been put in courses at their level rather than having parents who Knew their kids were Special, and Deserved A Chance. None of us are advocating for such parents here.

    AP courses don’t mean much, at the end of the day. All they are meant to be is a way for students who already know their specialty to get out of elementary college courses in their major. The only reason they exist is to simplify things for kids who are academically inclined. If you’re not, you don’t really need to be taking them, as they don’t count for anything else. You can get into college just as easily with no AP classes as you can with the.

  319. the opoponax

    Oh and @ Siobhan, re “camps”.

    I was in the gifted program in elementary school, for a year or two. This meant that when my kindergarten class had “reading” (or really, “letters and the sounds they make”), I went to a different classroom and had a different reading class based on the fact that I was reading at a 6th grade level already and thus didn’t need to learn the alphabet and basic phonics all over again, and it would have been barbaric to make me do so. It was an hour a day. It was me and this one other little girl, who was a first grader, and both of us were only there because we’d experienced terrible problems when the school had tried to accelerate us a grade or two. The problems specifically consisted of nonstop harrassment (sexual and otherwise) from the boys in the grades we were skipped into.

    You’re really saying it would have been better for us to learn the alphabet over and over despite our abilities? Or for us to just be sexually harrassed into oblivion in 2nd and 3rd grade (even though those grades were still below where our skills actually lay)?

    If that’s the way you actually feel, I hope that when/if you ever have children, for their own sake, they are desperately average. Because otherwise, wow, sucks to be them…

  320. Shannon

    I do wish we would stop funding schools with property tax revenue. Every child deserves a curriculum and learning environment that suits his/her special needs if necessary.

    This is a really severe problem where I’m from in Northeast Ohio — you’ve got cities that can spend close to $11,000 per child per year and others with less than half that. So it doesn’t matter what kind of curriculum there *should* be, since some cities can barely afford the most basic curriculum.

    Thebewilderness’ reference to Firestone’s concept of extended family taking the place of public schools is fascinating to me, especially in light of what I’ve read about John Taylor Gatto, etc. If you haven’t read The Underground History of American Education, its full text is online here:

    http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

  321. Siobhan

    opoponax, do you identify as feminist? I think the main source of our disagreement is my assumption that you do, but the ease with which you whip out the “I hope you don’t have children!/You’ll be a terrible mother!” card is making me reconsider… If you don’t, then I’m not at all surprised we disagree on privilege tracking.

  322. the opoponax

    Why would i be here if i didn’t identify as a feminist?

    I never called you a bad mother. I said that with your attitude towards gifted ed, I hope that your children are average so that they won’t have to bear the brunt of said attitude. Because clearly you think that it’s better for a kid to be brutalized than for special programs for gifted kids to exist.

  323. the opoponax

    Also, can I just say how impressed I am that you clearly read nothing of what I posted, when I spoke from experience about what early childhood gifted programs are like, exactly what kinds of kids they cater to, and how they compare to either of the other two options that exist within the mainstream public school system. And that all you got out of that extremely heartfelt post is “Nya Nya! You’re a bad mother! You suck!”

  324. thebewilderness

    Shannon,
    Thanks for the link. I have not read it, but I will.

  325. Siobhan

    Because clearly you think that it’s better for a kid to be brutalized than for special programs for gifted kids to exist.

    Yes, clearly.

  326. the opoponax

    “I still think gifted programs are mostly bourgeois bullshit designed to reward the kids with the most obnoxious parents.”

    Yeah, clearly.

  327. Siobhan

    Too bad there’s no middle ground! It’s clearly either brutalization or tracking 5-year-olds into gifted [sic] programs. Shame, that.

  328. the opoponax

    Yes. Either you admit that a gifted program can sometimes be a good thing to have, to help out the occasional 5 year old who comes along reading at a junior high level and is harrassed out of being accelerated into a higher grade, or you condemn said 5 year old to either constant harrassment or cruel and unusual punishment. I mean, I don’t really see a middle ground. Either gifted programs should exist, or they should not exist.

    You’ve indicated that you think they should not exist.

  329. the opoponax

    Also, you’ve got to leave behind this whole idea of “tracking”. “Tracking” is where you take all the kids in the whole kindergarten, let’s say 60 kids. And you put 20 in the “smart kid” class, 20 in the “average kid” class, and 20 in the “stupid kid” class. And then you make sure this is something that really matters for the next 18-22 years.

    This is not how elementary level gifted programs work, as I have said over. and over. and over.

    Is there a “fast track” system in some upper class areas? I’m sure there is. But usually it has nothing to do with “gifted” education, but things like private nursery schools, the International Baccalaureate, Ivy League admissions tutors, and the like. Those kids are getting into Yale anyway on the virtue of daddy’s credit rating, and they usually aren’t in the public school system anyway.

  330. Tigs

    The AP testing fees are only nominal if you’ve got money. Back in the waylongago late ’90′s when I was in high school they cost $70 each. Taking 5 AP classes meant I had to choose which tests to take, it was a stretch for my mom to pay for the 3 I did end up taking.

  331. Siobhan

    Also, you’ve got to leave behind this whole idea of “tracking”. “Tracking” is where you take all the kids in the whole kindergarten, let’s say 60 kids. And you put 20 in the “smart kid” class, 20 in the “average kid” class, and 20 in the “stupid kid” class. And then you make sure this is something that really matters for the next 18-22 years.

    This is not how elementary level gifted programs work, as I have said over. and over. and over.

    You can assert anything you like over and over and over. That really has no bearing on reality. Your distinction between tracking and gifted programs is not how it worked at my elementary school, and not how it works in our current school district.

    Also, last I checked, no high school I’d ever heard of required IQ testing or a pre-existing “gifted” track based on same, or anything of the sort, to take “Honors” courses (or AP or IB, either). It’s usually based on previous grades, or open to anyone who is interested and can hack it.

    Again, completely untrue for my district.

    Generalizations are fun, though, huh?

  332. Shannon

    Speaking of tracking, you all would really hate the gifted program we had in our school district when I was growing up. We had a tracking system inside the TAG (Talented and Gifted) program, even. There was the “normal gifted” program and then “Project Excel,” which used IQs to establish a cutoff point for admission. (I think the magic number was 145. Maybe 150. I forget).

    Whereas “normal gifted” kids just had an extra class they could take for enrichment, the PE kids were shipped off to another school one day a week and given the chance to take college-style seminars of their own choosing.

    Then, in 9th or 10th grade, the entire “normal gifted” class chose to rebel and not sign up for the class because the teacher was evil. So suddenly the gifted teacher had no one to teach. (Amazing how much of this I’ve blocked out since escaping. Or “graduating,” whichever term you prefer).

  333. the opoponax

    So, Siobhan, out of curiosity, how does it work in your district?

    Are all the kids IQ tested, and then only some of them are allowed to take Honors/AP courses based on IQ? because if that’s what’s happening, A) it’s extremely fucked up, and also I’ve never heard of anything like that.

    Also, let us keep in mind that anybody can sit any AP exam they want if they’re willing to pay the fee. And that AP means jack shit as of your first semester or so of college. It is a way for universities to allow some students to “test out” of certain intro-level courses. For instance, i took one AP exam (English Language & Composition), which got me out of freshman comp. The end. That is all. Wow, what a grand and awesomely elitist benefit I got out of my secret gifted-kid restricted access VIP club card!

    I know one kid who was a more math/science oriented student, who used AP exams to get out of a lot of his freshman year requirements in his major and skip directly to the more interesting stuff. He is now, 8 years later, toiling away in a cubicle of some sort, I’m sure. Just like all the kids who didn’t take AP exams. Wow. What horrible elitists we all are.

    I do, however, think either the fees should be gotten rid of, or that AP should offer fee waivers like the SAT does.

  334. the opoponax

    I have to say, btw, that this is what I’ve never understood about the whole obnoxious helicopter parent over-acheiver mentality. OK, so you force your only-slighty-above-average child into an educational career of all this bullshit, summer programs, AP, etc. The kid is probably miserable, and to what end? The people who get into elite universities are rich people, not smart people. Sure, they let a token smart-but-not-rich person in every once in a while. But if you had to argue your kid into the gifted class, it’s not gonna be her. Also, if your kid doesn’t really have academic ambitions, it doesn’t matter what college she goes to, anyway. In fact, in general it mostly doesn’t matter for anybody. The whole thing seems to be only worthwhile for parental pissing contests.

    My friends from gifted went to all kinds of different schools, and do all kinds of different things now. The ones who stand to someday be rather wealthy all went to our big state college and followed it up with law or med school at the same big state university system. Which they could have done without being “gifted” at all.

  335. the opoponax

    Wow, talk about irrelevant: AP offers a Studio Art “exam” (actually, portfolio evaluation). Which grades students on things like “quality”. Which has little or nothing to do with how art school works, at all. Even if you go to one of the elite ones, you have to submit a portfolio anyway, and the admissions dept evaluates it in all sorts of ways that have basically nothing to do with objective ideas like “quality” — more like your creative potential and whether your work could benefit from the art school educational format. and most regular colleges will allow you to major in Fine Arts or Design without such an evaluation. And all but a few of the “elite” art schools in the US are not really all that selective — if you can pay, you can go. They assume that most students who aren’t getting anything out of the coursework will leave voluntarily. And in the meantime, more money for them.

    (Which, is, to my experience, how most of the private liberal arts colleges work, as well. Which i don’t think any of these fast track helicopter parents seem to understand — they think it’s somehow special that their little Sally got into Bard or Reed or Mills or whatever. They don’t care how smart your kid is, they just want your money.)

    Not to mention that I can’t imagine what one could possibly get out of doing well on such an exam. Maybe getting out of elementary drawing courses, but knowing how art school works, probably not.

  336. kiki

    I have to say, btw, that this is what I’ve never understood about the whole obnoxious helicopter parent over-acheiver mentality. OK, so you force your only-slighty-above-average child into an educational career of all this bullshit, summer programs, AP, etc. The kid is probably miserable, and to what end?

    So they don’t end up scrubbing toilets and picking chilis like you. I can tell you that’s miserable. Most Americans are so fucking spoiled.

    He is now, 8 years later, toiling away in a cubicle of some sort, I’m sure. Just like all the kids who didn’t take AP exams.

    Just so you know, you don’t fucking toil in a cubicle. You toil in the fields and orchards, you toil in a ditch or slaughterhouse, you toil doing landscaping or cleaning motel rooms or houses 13 hours a day for no money with no benefits.

  337. a stranger here

    >>how does it work in your district?

    Are all the kids IQ tested, and then only some of them are allowed to take Honors/AP courses based on IQ? because if that’s what’s happening, A) it’s extremely fucked up, and also I’ve never heard of anything like that.

    Also, let us keep in mind that anybody can sit any AP exam.>>

    In our district, only the kids recommended for gt by the teachers are tested. If the parents are smart and school-aware, they might know to request testing by state law, but our district does not share that tidbit easily, and in fact, lies to naive parents who request testing but do not know they are entitled, and allow themselves to be talked out of it. I kid you not.

    Once tested, those identified as gifted are allowed a un-defendable enrichment program that offers fun-and-games to pacify the gifted kids who are bored to tears in the regular classroom. These children receive extra field trips, and the real hands-on education that all children should receive.

    But by middle school, these kids are offered spots in the advanced Math and English classes. And without these classes, other kids will never have a chance to get to the advanced classes in high school; pre-requisites will prevent them. So it’s not that the non-gt kids are denied placement in AP and other high-level courses, it’s that the kids who don’t have the pre-requisites yet are denied the spots… and without being gt in middle school (from elementary) they are not offered the spots.

    But that’s not to say that our gt program in elementary is the least bit defendable. It does not meet the needs of the gifted child, does not offer any appropriate academics. And it does offer the kind of enrichment that ALL kids should be offered.

    But I suspect this “enrichment” is offered to make sure that folks with your mindset, opoponax, are appeased. If the gt program offered actual instruction, and met the gt child’s scholastic needs, then the program might quickly become fixed at early years, not allowing other kids in becuase they hadn’t had the early instruction, and were “behind.” By offering only enrichment, the gt program can stifle the learning of the gifted child to a level sufficiently low to keep that child in the age/grade classroom year after year, until middle and high school when they are finally offered the opportunity (if they haven’t already slumped into depression and underachievement) for advanced study.

  338. a stranger here

    >>(Which, is, to my experience, how most of the private liberal arts colleges work, as well. Which i don’t think any of these fast track helicopter parents seem to understand — they think it’s somehow special that their little Sally got into Bard or Reed or Mills or whatever. They don’t care how smart your kid is, they just want your money.)>>

    So I thougth, too. But something doesn’t add up. The state schools offered my little Sally no aid – they don’t care how bright she is – so her cost would be x. The private liberal arts colleges seemed to appreciate her abilities, and offered grants and scholarships, bringing thier costs down… to about x.

    And beyond the costs, there are the classes, and the social envirnment – both important parts of college, I believe. In the state schools, she would be student y in a classroom of x-hundred students. If she was lucky and went to a small state college, she might know her profs personally before her graduate program; at a larger one she would not. And the classes are, if anything, lower than at the private schools. Meanwhile, at the private schools, the size of classes is measured in dozen, not hundreds. The students talk to and think with the professors beginning in their freshman years.

    And socially, what is the difference in attending a school where your SAT scores are far above the range of SAT scores of the average student, and a school where there are many other students with scores similar to yours? Yes, it’s just a test, and doens’t mean that the kids will have interests and passions in common… but it helps. At that small state school, I was lucky enough to find a few students and a couple professors who cared. At that small liberal arts college, my little Sally is finding dozens, hundreds.

    Instead of feeling alone and isolated, blaming it on the rural location of the school, as I did, my daughter feels at home and with many new friends at her equally rurally located school. And lest you assume a difference in our personalities, we are both easy-going extraverts, and are very similar in personality.

    As adults, I’ve returned to my Alma Mater, and feel just as out-of-place as I did when I attended. I’ve started hanging out with a group of adults who attended MIT instead – a school I never considered, because I (thought I) knew I could never afford it. I’m told in hindsight that I was wrong, and I certainly would have fit in better there, and I certainly would have had a much better background and preparation for my field there.

    I was wrong about it just being about the money.

  339. the opoponax

    oh, i’m by no means dismissing private liberal arts colleges. i started out in one (had to leave due to a distinct lack of awesome funding), and quite a few gave really impressive grants and scholarships to my friends who were then able to reap the many benefits of such an education. a goodly number of my friends, in general, attended them, and they all got a lot out of that kind of education.

    i just don’t get why people get all freaked about admissions to them, because anyone who does generally well in any sort of high school can get into them quite easily if they can pay. the OMG My Baby Got Into Middlebury! meme is closely tied to the OMG My Baby Is Gifted And Must Be Allowed To Take AP! meme. which i don’t understand.

  340. the opoponax

    “So they don’t end up scrubbing toilets and picking chilis like you. I can tell you that’s miserable.”

    the kinds of people who are all bougie-entitled and insist that My Baby Is So Gifted! are not usually a subset of folks who scrub toilets and work in fields.

    i fully support anyone’s efforts not to have to scrub toilets for a living. however, the general truth is that one needn’t go to Harvard or get a Rhodes Scholarship to avoid such a fate. most middle class folks end up going to college, regardless. most kids who graduate from high school are generally rather well prepared for college, if they gave a damn at all. one generally does not need AP classes and the like in order to gain admission to one’s local university. a lot of states now even have funding programs that entitle any high school graduate in the state with a certain GPA and SAT score to attend the state university system either for free or at much lower rates, especially if that student comes from a low-income family.

  341. the opoponax

    “pre-requisites will prevent them.”

    i’m a little unclear on this.

    so kids in middle school gifted programs take accelerated classes which allow them to bypass certain high school courses and proceed directly to the AP stuff, while kids not in gifted in middle school must take other classes instead, not allowing them to ever have access to AP?

    this seems really unfair, to me. and if this is the way it really works in your district, i’m sorry. it’s nothing like anything i ever experienced, or any system i’ve heard of.

    not to mention, for the zillionth time, AP is only an exam to get you out of a few intro level college courses. That’s all. That’s it. AP makes, perhaps, a one-semester difference in any individual’s entire educational life. People make far, far too much of it. Which is where it becomes a bougie parental pissing contest.

    gifted ed does not boil down to AP. if it did, if that was really what i thought the entire focus of GT was, i would be as adamantly against it as Edith, Siobhan, etc. are.

  342. the opoponax

    “If the gt program offered actual instruction, and met the gt child’s scholastic needs, then the program might quickly become fixed at early years, not allowing other kids in becuase they hadn’t had the early instruction, and were “behind.””

    This doesn’t follow, by the way. As long as the system is giifted ed and not “tracking”, it is unlikely that there’d be so many kids in the program that a solution to this couldn’t be found. again, we’re not (or shouldn’t be) talking about a “gifted program” as the top 20-30 kids in each grade, but in terms of a kid here and there who is really atypically accelerated. i TOTALLY disagree with gifted programs which are little more than classification systems.

  343. CassandraSays

    I guess I qualify as a “brilliant blamer” who went through the US school system for a couple of years, too.
    I remember being told that my reading and writing skills were at a college sophmore level when I was in third grade. My parents looked at each other and said “OK, so she’s really smart, we knew that, but what is wrong with the school system here if ANY kid that age can score at that level?”. And you know what? They were right. English isn’t like Math, context is important and what that test result told me was that there were a whole lot of dumb, uneducated college students in the US.
    Anyway…they wanted to skip me ahead multiple several grades but my parents refused because they were worried about the social implications – they didn’t want their kid exposed to the kind of stuff the kid described in the letter is experiencing. I agree with V – no matter how smart a child that age is, she’s still a child, and she isn’t going to be able to cope with the social pressures. Even if she wasn’t being sexually harrassed no kid that age is equipped to cope with bullying on a more general level from kids so much older. It would be one thing to have her attend a few classes under close supervision, as someone else described, but to dump her there all day and expect her to cope by herself? No way. It’s not safe for the kid. It might work in a small school with a really high teacher/student ratio, but in an average high school? That kid is going to get hurt.
    About streaming/sorting by ability…my British boarding school had that starting when students were 8, and I think it’s the best way to do things. There have been multiple debates in the UK about this subject and it was removed from secondary schools for a while (not sure if they re-instituted it yet) on the premise that it’s undemocratic. Screw undemocratic. Throwing all the kids in the same class results in the smartest kids being bored to death and never achieving their potential and the kids at the bottom not learning anything at all. It fails almost everyone, and I believe it’s part of the reason that so many kids leave school functionally illiterate – their teachers don’t have the time to focus on them and give them extra help the way they would if those kids were in a special class. Streaming by ability is the way to go. My school did it gradually – you were initially sorted into groups based on test results but students were moved around all the time as their abilities in each subject area became clearer. Students could be in the top group in one subject and in the bottom group in another. The system works best when it’s flexible…which is of course a lot easier to achieve in a school with lots of money to spend getting things right.

    You know, in a lot of ways I hated my (single-sex, very hoity-toity and snobbish, highly traditional) boarding school BUT reading some of the horror stories here I’m suddenly really grateful I never had to go to public high school. It sounds like a nightmare. At least at my school the idea that girls are intelligent was taken as a given. We were EXPECTED to excel. Anything else was unnacceptable.
    (Which of course creates it’s own problems for less gifted students)

    One word of caution, since I’ve seen many people advocate boarding school – it’s not for everyone. How well kids adjust depends a lot on how attached they are to their parents. It can do a lot of damage to parent-child relationships, and if handled poorly can leave the kids feeling like their parents just don’t want them around. A lot of abuse can happen at those schools – I was sexually harrassed by my housemistress for years. For a kid who is shy or lacking in confidence it can really screw them up. If the parents take that route, they need to do a lot of checking in with the kid to make sure that she’s coping and they also need to make it absolutely clear to her that if she wants out they will in fact come and rescue her. I knew a lot of kids who were miserable and felt like their parents knew and just didn’t care, whereas in fact the parents had no idea what was going on. Bullying can be hard for parents to spot when they’re not around every day.
    Academically boarding school is usually great, but I just want to make it clear that there are potential pitfalls and that parents need to pay really close attention to the kid’s emotional wellbeing. Things can go bad really quickly if the parents aren’t paying attention.

  344. CassandraSays

    They wanted to skip me ahead multiple grades, not “multiple several” whatever that means, dammit.
    Note to self – proofreading is your friend!

  345. Roar

    Coming in late here, but I have read all the comments and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

    First, every kid deserves a meaningful education. Kids who learn fast deserve it. Kids who learn slow deserve it. Poor kids deserve it. Rich kids deserve it. What I see from Edith is the suggestion that somehow gifted kids should accept their lot in life and be bored for 12 years and wait for everyone else to catch up. It is I guess a kind of punishment they deserve for what she imagines is solely a product of their socioeconomic class. I’d suggest instead that learning is a basic human right. EVERY kid deserves access to it. And, you really haven’t spent much time around kids if you think every middle or upper middle class kid is equally bright.

    It isn’t okay as V suggests to tell the school that they must just meet the child’s needs with same age peers because for some kids that just can’t be done. Contrary to what some suggested, many gifted kids get absolutely NOTHING from their school systems. There is no federal mandate or funding to provide gifted education. We were told that our eight year old child would be kept with same age peers except he’d spent the entire school day on a computer in the corner of the room taking high school classes. Realistically most elementary school teachers can’t teach high school so what other options are there if we require kids to stay with same age peers? While I never would have understood why someone would put their 10 year old in high school, I get it now. This is a difficult situation without a lot of great options and it can be a matter of choosing a least worst.

    I think it is really missing the point to see this as a problem of acceleration. While in elementary school with same age peers, I experienced harassment on an ongoing basis. There was a regular “game” of confining girls under the bleachers and of taking them into the bathroom and pulling down pants. In middle school bra snapping was the big thing. And, in high school it moved on to date rape. That has nothing to do with acceleration and everything to do with sexism.

    Oh and last thing, for the folks who suggest that homeschoolers are somehow not doing their part by sending their kids to school. It reminds me of the sign at the Humane Society that says “the animal you drop off is not your donation”. Further, why is this charge only leveled about where we send our kids to school. What about other things in your life? Do you single out people who live in middle class neighborhoods, shop in middle class neighborhood stores, have their kids enrolled in middle class neighborhood sports programs? I mean really, shouldn’t they be only doing things in lower economic status neighborhoods in order to contribute?

  346. a stranger here

    Yes, opoponax, if a child isn’t identified as gifted, s/he doesn’t get the (slight) math acceleration in elementary school that allows him/her to take Algebra I in middle school. And without Algebra I in middle school, one cannot rise to AP Calculus in high school. If you do not take Algebra I in middle school, you must double up on maths to take enough courses to proceed to AP Calc, and worse, you are not permitted into the “Honors” track and you will only rise to regular Calc, which covers far less material than appears on the AP exam. Without both Algebra I and II in middle school (offered to less than 60 in 1000 students each year, regardless of how many qualify!) you cannot progress to AP Calculus BC.

    And the teachers use “gifted” identification as one characteristic to recommend the Honors English classes in middle school that allow one to progress to AP English by senior year of high school. So while AP courses are not limited to gifted-identified students, they are functionally restricted to them, unless the parents know well enough to push to have pre-requisites ignored for thier kids. The parents need to be gifted in advocacy, if the kids were not identified gifted!

    Now, if you are gifted enough not to need any instruction in the subject, I’m certain you can take the AP Calculus exam, if you even know to register for it – the school only announces the AP exams in the AP classes, and only offers the reduced price for low-income students to the AP classes students (Yup, my child once qualified for that – cut the prices in 1/2 that year, from totally unreasonable to a week’s grocerys for 4 unreasonable).

    Of course, our schools also pride themselves in how they can avoid (i.e. break) state education mandate and federal special education law…. but they are far from alone, in this state or this country.

  347. js

    I’m not advocating blame-the-victim here by any means, but seriously, keep your 10-year-old out of high school. That sort of thing never works out well for the child. The age difference is just too great for appropriate socialization. Like several other commenters, I was ‘gifted,’ I was bored in school, and I was bored in advanced classes with older students. I got used to self-directed reading in class, and I got used to being bored. It was fine. Get your daughter a chemistry textbook and send her back to grade school.

  348. Luna_the_cat

    js, I disagree with you completely. I, too, was a “gifted” kid, but aside from a one-hour-a-day-for-one-year “program” for gifted kids, I got nothing; I got the sitting in a regular classroom bored out of my tiny mind reading anything I could find to read. And I hated it, and I never got used to it, and I regret to this day that my best “learning years” could not be exploited to let me do what I _could_ have done with them. I was never “properly socialised” anyway, because although I was the same physical age as the rest of the kids, I was on a different mental world entirely…and what exactly is it that makes other people our “peers”, anyway? But to survive, I had to pretend to be like them, to give up essential parts of myself. Is that good and healthy, too?

    Is it, crap. Give the kid every possible opportunity, and let her sing over chemistry. And give anyone who gives her grief for it hell in return. Life is unfair anyway, but that doesn’t mean we should sit back and actively perpetuate it.

  349. Shelley N. Goodman

    One of my readers directed to your blog. Why? I don’t know. Instead of posting pictures of flies you should turn to God and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as you Savior!

    God bless,
    Shelley Goodman

  350. Sophie

    It’s November, so I’m obviously arriving at this discussion too late to participate for any reason but to assuage my own ego. However, having spent my entire life pondering these questions, I can’t help but weigh in anyhow.

    My context: I’m a child of massive privilege and very educated, wealthy, white, creative, healthy, worldly, supportive parents. I went to elite, expensive private schools from ages 3 to 23, graduating from Wellesley College with degrees in Cognitive Science and Education. I traveled extensively throughout four continents before I turned 20, including a “year off” in Kenya when I was 19. Sure, my IQ is high. Nature? Nurture? Some of both, obviously, but wealth certainly factors heavily in the regression analysis. Patriarchy blaming feminist who knows she’s been colonized against her will? You bet.

    Since graduating feminist cum laude, I have been an elementary teacher in elite private schools, been a Peace Corps Volunteer, been a bilingual elementary teacher in a massively overcrowded (2500 kids K-5) underfunded urban public school, taught undergraduates majoring in elementary education, and earned a doctorate in literacy education. And what have I chosen to do now that I’ve “grown up?” I teach 6th and 7th graders in an urban charter school because it is where I feel I can strike the best balance between trying to affect meaningful change while staying sane and raising my own family.

    I have read every comment with interest, but think Roar summarizes my own position best: “First, every kid deserves a meaningful education. Kids who learn fast deserve it. Kids who learn slow deserve it. Poor kids deserve it. Rich kids deserve it.” To me, that is a no-brainer, and no one who believes otherwise should be allowed to teach, or set public education policy, or vote on educational issues, or even comment on blog threads pertaining to questions of educational access.

    However, actually providing that meaningful education to every kid requires a staggering committment of precious resources: time, energy, money, empathy, intelligence, but most especially the patience and flexibility to see each chid as a unique person with unique needs. Not just from teachers and other education professionals, mind you, but also parents, lawmakers, taxpayers, and every member of our proverbial “village” raising our children.

    And honestly? Our patriarchical society is not willing to make that committment to ALL our children. The infrastructure isn’t there. The political will isn’t there. Perhaps there aren’t ever going to be enough resources to make it happen, ever — idealistically, I’d like to believe that’s not true. But realistically, the patriarchy has convinced me that perhaps the sacrifices required might be too great. Regardless, as things stand now, the patience and flexibility and vigillance required to ENSURE it happens for individual children is only available to certain people — mostly the ones with money, tenacity, information, lawyers, contacts, access, or whatever other cultural and economic capital they can leverage.

    So when Twisty proposes revolution, what I think she is saying is that we need to recognize that our current educational system is failing too many students and then truly commit ourselves to developing a system that legitimately meets all students’ needs. Sadly, homeschooling is not a fair or comprehensive guarentee of providing universally meaningful education, for many reasons some commenters have explained above. To me, the various sub-threads about “gifted” education vs. “special” education or public, private, and charter schools all point back to the essential point that as things stand now, our society has NOT figured out how to set aside and distribute the resources necessary to provide a personally meaningful education to all children. *THAT*, to me, is the crux of the dilemma, and yes — IBTP.

  351. Amelia

    Sexually harrassed by classmates – or anyone – at 10 years old is extremely disturbing. Sexual harrasment within a school is terrible because school should be a safe place – and a place where girls are valued for their hard-work/academic successes – not for their body!

    I am 21 years old and live in New Zealand. At my schools, sexual harrassment was not such a big problem and I wasn’t harrassed at school. Ffrom what I’ve seen mentally disabled kids are are more likely to experience school sexual harrassment/humiliation. The times I most remember witnessing sexual harrasment at school has been against mentally disabled children (against 2 boys in primary school, and several times against one girl at high school) who were harrassed by a number of guys. In the high school incident it was in my drama class, I was in a group of about 15 boys. Me and the girl with Down Syndrome were the only females – I didn’t know what to do. I felt sick, sad and angry, and really sorry for the other girl. The teacher wasn’t around. When the teacher came back she told me she was glad I had been in the boys’ group because some of boys had been hassling the other girl in previous classes. I realized that she had put me in that group because she expected me to stop them harrassing her! I was shy and 14 years old, and the only girl in that group – I am angry that the teacher expected me to sort the problem out instead of taking responsibility for it herself. Now I wish I had done something. But in that situation it was ultimately the teacher’s responsibility to make sure the harrassment stopped.

    Now I have some more sympathy for the guys who harrassed her – they would never consider what they had done ‘sexual’ harrasment or abuse, even though it was sexualised and meant to humiliate her. They thought the girl they harrassed didn’t understand that they were pretending to be her friends but actually were making fun of her. I know she understood that – I know she was embarrased, scared, knew what they were doing was wrong/inappropriate, knew they were laughing at her. She told one to stop, and he didn’t. After drama class I saw her crying, she wouldn’t tell me why. At the time I thought she was angry at me for not doing anything, but now I think perhaps she was angry that she was humiliated in front of me or that I had seen her crying.

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