Some links: The new entry - "Problematizing Gifted Education, Part II: Why Do We Exist as a Field?"
; Dr. Borland's book on Rethinking Gifted Education, from 9 years ago
; The prior entry
; and my response to that prior entry
One of my first comments upon reading the first installment of this was that these are not new thoughts - not new to him, let alone new to the field. This 2nd installment underscores that, as Dr. Borland himself notes.
There are a few very key pieces in here I wish to touch on in response to what he has written:
1) "However, if we broaden our mission to advocating for appropriate and effective education for able students, we can consider means to this end other than gifted programs."
In the first post, Dr. Borland suggested that few would disagree that a main purpose of gifted education was the perpetuation of gifted programs. I
disagreed with that statement. I disagreed that that is a primary purpose of gifted ed and disagreed with his assessment of those in gifted ed. In this post, he comments that ". I suspect that many, if not most, people working in the field would agree that ('to create and maintain gifted programs') is, indeed, our raison d’être."
I think perhaps some would. It's not "most" of us. Many? Is many 40%? 30%? I don't know. I am sure that at least 10% would, but doubt it is higher than 25%. Another group might argue that they wish to create effective education for gifted children and that programs have shown the most success IN RESEARCH, and therefore programs should be a focus of gifted education.
BUT... I disagree with the formulation of his broadened mission - as an educator of the gifted, my primary mission is not ADVOCACY, but education. Yes, I advocate, too, but whether through direct instruction, staff development, or support of classroom teachers, my job is to make sure that the gifted children are getting that effective education.
FURTHER, "able students" are not the same as "gifted students," in two ways. The first is the oft-presented comparison between students who do well (but are not gifted) vs. gifted. But the second is at least as essential to *this* educator of gifted students.
A significant percentage of gifted students are NOT "able students" by any sense of the word, regardless of their brightness.
2) "I think we have to do this because I am not convinced that gifted programs, in their most typical manifestation, have been shown to be effective."
This was another of my objections: He is walking into the "problemitizing" having concluded his answer before he starts. It inhibits his own exploration.
Understand, I do not disagree with his conclusion
. I suspect we will disagree on what the most typical manifestation is. I suspect we will disagree on why they are not effective or even what effective should mean in this context.
And, based on the next quote, we totally disagree on why they are ineffective, even as we seem to agree on the cause:
3) "what I almost invariably learn is that the reason the district has a gifted program is in order to have a gifted program." and "far too many educators cling dogmatically to the idea that a gifted program is its own reason for being."
YES. I totally agree with everything he has said here.
It is also why & how he misses the point.
It is not the gifted educators who think these things. Very few of the gifted educators I know think the Band-Aids(tm) that pass for gifted programming are doing a tenth of what they should be for our kids - but it is all that they are being allowed to do!
In Dr. Borland's first piece, he complained about the need for Gifted Education to reconsider its roots - but here he has summed up the problem - and it is not the gifted educator's conception of things that is at issue.
"What is the least we can do that will shut up those pushy parents and/or satisfy the state mandate (where they have one)?"
4) "Too many educators tend to view (gifted) programs as (honors), whereas I think of them as (special education). Gifted programs do not, or should not, exist simply to honor or reward students for exemplary school work. Rather, they should exist to meet the educational needs of students, needs that are engendered by high ability or potential and are not met by the regular curriculum."
No argument with these two points. Just none.
The bottom line, though, is that gifted educators are not the right target for this.