Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gifted Education = Segregation? (Part II)

Got an answer from Pierre Tristam, the author of the Daytona Beach News-Journal article As schools isolate 'gifted' students they abet society's resegregation

"Dear Ms. Scherrer,
I agree in large part with the direction of your reasoning, but applying it justly, then wouldn't it be logical to seek "special" education for a much larger variety of categories--not just special, "middle" and gifted? It's the fragmentation that goes against the nature of what we're about, not the need for specified (as opposed to segregated) education. Too many readers are getting hung up on the word "segregated" because of its cicil rights connotation. I'm using the word from a larger perspective. Many thanks for the letter, which will be posted at the web site, along with many fascinating responses no matter which side the writers are on. (Some rude ones too, but I appreciate your courtesy)."

My response:

"Dear Mr. Tristam,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my letter. You wrote:
"but applying [my argument] justly, then wouldn't it be logical to seek "special" education for a much larger variety of categories--not just special, "middle" and gifted?"

Actually, yes. As a former teacher and current parent of three boys with varying degrees of giftedness, I feel that the way for learning to blossom for all students is to cut the educational process down to two--the student and the teacher--eliminating the class entirely. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I'm now a homeschooler.)

To be clear, I'm talking only about learning about ideas: reading, mathematics, science, critical thinking and writing. The best way to learn about other people is by spending time with them. Unfortunately, I believe the public school system is organized primarily around the need for efficient teaching, not efficient learning, so very little learning of either kind actually goes on.

I understand that the thrust of your article was meant to be adding high achievers to existing gifted education programs. But when you spend two paragraphs discussing Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois and the trend toward re-segregation in society in general, isn't it disingenuous to claim your readers are erroneously hung up on the civil rights connotation of the word "segregation"? "

I doubt I'll get a second response from him, but I couldn't just let that smug comment about his readers slide. If he does write me back, I will publicly applaud him.

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