Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gifted, Eh?

Did you read the New York Times today? Apparently giftedness in New York City is up by 45%. How? Is it something in the drinking water? More to the point, why are we testing 4 and 5 year old children? What could we possibly gain as a society by testing little people who can’t even tie their own shoelaces yet?

Imagine the neurosis that this must be creating among parents. What is gifted and how can we tell? Where does it all begin –in prek, in the womb?

How do you know, for example, if your 2-year-old child is gifted?

Is your prodigy toilet trained? Well, many are, nowadays isn’t it a prerequisite for preschool, not a mark of giftedness. Can the gifted toddler eat ice cream in a cone without ruining his or her shoes?

Or is it a cognitive requirement - does a gifted 3 year old think more like a 4 year old? Can they read? Do they prefer calculus to play dough, or can they name all the banks that have gone out of business during this dreadful financial depression?

How do they test for giftedness?

Do they enroll children based on parental testimony or does the preschool administer some type of entrance test? Is it a written test?

What would you ask a 3-year-old if you were trying to differentiate between a run-of-the-mill child and a future Einstein? Wasn’t he acutely dysfunctional as a child?

At any rate, I read that between 3-5% of the entire population is gifted. That would make for a very small circle of preschool friends. Perhaps those statistics are out of date – either that or they all live in New York City!

Look on the bright side, taking turns wouldn’t be so hard and sharing the glue would be a breeze.

But seriously, where do our preschoolers go from here? Does the State kindergarten curriculum meet the needs of these gifted children? How does that curriculum differ from the one for our average Joe? Have we now dispensed with circle time, share and tell and recess for our nation’s brightest or do they still enjoy cup cakes, balloons and an occasional trip to the treasure chest…

Do these gifted children remain gifted at 5? What about 10? If you are gifted at 3, are you gifted for life? Which brings me back to my original thought; what is “gifted” and how can we tell?

Once again, just because you can doesn't mean you should...


  1. umm.. i could be wrong, but wouldn't it have been more appropriate to test gifted children when they have started going to school already?

  2. Oh, you are certainly not wrong!

    We need to value our children and enjoy their age appropriate behaviors and thoughts.

    After all, they'll never be 5 again - let's not wish away their childhood.

    Piaget called this the "American Question" - this need to make our children seem older than they are...