|My family of geniuses trying to figure out the best way to erect a 20 foot Christmas tree of only lights.... I stayed away and let my husband join the fun!|
The combination of genetics and environment has worked well for my family. I grew up in a family of three where my father has a PhD (bio-physics at that!), my sister and I tested into gifted programs in elementary school, and my brother is brilliant. My own children are doing amazingly well in school and continue to be at the top of their classes (in 1st and 3rd grade). This is why I went into education. In particular my brother… As I said he is brilliant! He also has a learning disability and in elementary school they would not do an IQ test because he was testing at needing to be in a resource room for reading. He has struggled through school and does not like to be an advocate for himself. I remember him understanding the concepts of algebra in preschool, yet reading and writing were difficult for him. In High School he went to the School for Science and Math in North Carolina which is a residential school for juniors and seniors around the state to “where students study a specialized curriculum emphasizing science and mathematics.”
I went into school with a focus on special education, thinking that it would include a focus on the low and high ends of the bell curve. In fact, there is little known about those with a high IQ compared to the wealth of knowledge we have on those on the opposite end. There are many commonalities between the two and what we have learned about education for one subgroup can easily be applied to any other subgroup (middle, high, low etc).
The purpose of an IQ test is to determine a person’s mental abilities relative to others of the same age. If you score below 100 you are mentally at a younger age than the average, same goes if you are above the average. I was reading an article on this topic and realized that if we take the children who fall in the center portion of the bell curve, this includes all children from an IQ of 70 to 130. All of these children are typically placed in the same classroom in the United States. At 3 years old, their mean age has a disparity of 1.8 years. By 6 years old the disparity is 3.6 years and at 12 the disparity has grown to 7.2 years. What does this mean for educators? I’ll let you come up with your own conclusions.
We may not have a schooling system in the United States that meets our highest achieving students and helps them completely in the ways they need, but we do have a system that is beginning to see their needs and provide supports. This is opposed to so many in the world, who are unable to attend school, let alone have an intelligence test done or receive supports on the low or high end of the bell curve.
I decided to keep my focus on Madagascar again and see what their education system is like. They do have mandatory education for children 6 to 14. Nevertheless, like I wrote before, child labor is rampant in the country and many children are not offered the opportunity for an education due to their work. In 2000, 14% of the children continued their education and enrolled in secondary school (age 12 to 17). The UNESCO has been working with Madagascar for the “Education for All” up until 2009. The political unrest in Madagascar has limited the ability to help education all the children and poorer and rural areas definitely suffer more.
As an early childhood educator at heart, I have been trained to teach to each individual child’s strengths and weaknesses. If all educators were to take that stance, we would be grouping children by strengths and weaknesses, not by their IQ or label. Determining IQ and labels should only be used when more information about the child is needed, but even that does not always give needed information. When we focus on strengths and weaknesses, we look at each individual child and developing an education plan for that child. I know that there are a lot of politics and financial issues there, but that in my opinion is what is needed in the United States and around the world.