Saturday, May 3, 2008

Gifted Education and Compulsory Schooling

If gifted education is about anything other than promoting more efficient ways of helping a small group of gifted children develop institutionally approved talents and get into good colleges and get good jobs and become "good" citizens, it is about helping children and adolescents realize themselves. This is my vision of what gifted education could be if it were freed from the strictures of compulsory schooling. I ask myself: What else are the deep goals of gifted education? If not the development of free minds, of creative persons know themselves, know their strengths, and can use their intellectual tools and their sensibilities according to their own philosophy of life, what else can they be? Any goal of education other than the free development of the child means using children to serve some goal we have for them - to become leaders, yield returns as precious national resources, preserve and carry forward civilization, and so on (cf. Grant and Piechowski, 1999).

Education for self-development is not about academic achievement, socialization, schooling, career preparation, serving the nation, or job training. The task of education is the task of living: finding or creating a self and a sense of the world of things, people, and other beings, and finding meaningful ways of fitting self and world together. Education is about living out one's passions and purposes and creating a coherent life, a workable individuality. It is premised on the perennial humanist idea that the only life worth living is one's own life, not a copy of someone else's, not one made of an unexamined hodgepodge of stuff from state-mandated curricula and the youth culture created by preventing children from fully participating in civic life (cf. Decarvalho, 1991; Goodman, 1983; Maslow, 1962; Rogers, 1983).

- Barry Grant, "Education without compulsion: Toward new visions of gifted education," Mensa Research Journal, Vol. 38(3), pgs. 7-16.

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