Monday, June 1, 2009

Haven't you heard it: "That kid is so gifted: he doesn't need a teacher!"

Gifted kids are easily exploited in situations where their gift is held up as an example to others. But even the most gifted child is a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. What the gifted kid needs is a teacher who is not afraid to spot what the kid needs and to make it possible for him or her to work on it in an environment where everyone is learning on a comparable level but entirely at their own pace.

Such learning inevitably involves some pain: Gifted kids are used to bluffing so that no one will notice their weakness. In the case of one child I taught, his strength was a photographic memory; his weakness the inability to connect his vision to his ear. Working on this was not pleasant for a kid who had never been required to make that kind of essential brain reorganization.

In my 20's I had a teacher who made me correct a similar disconnect. It was some of the hardest work I ever had to do.