Greetings Faculty and Staff!
Can Gifted Education And A Growth Mindset Belief Coexist? (Chapter Seven: 85-90, 93-95) is a prickly read, but I ask you to keep an open mind and concentrate on the ideas of "access," "labels," and your "personal philosophy." I want you to read it for perspective's sake and keep it in mind as you read the article Gifted And Talented: We Need A Flexible Mindset below.
Gifted and Talented:
We Need a Flexible Mindset
By Peter DeWitt with Joshua Raymond-AG advocate
I'm 5'6". On a good day. My friend Sam is 6'5". Growing up, we played basketball together in gym class. Sam was great at basketball; I was not. I'm sure his height and athletic frame had something to do with it. His interest and hours of practice did, too.
I probably could have been a good basketball player if I had put forth the effort. But, with less labor, Sam was excellent. He had some natural advantages and abilities that I didn't when it came to athletics.
I couldn't compete with Sam on the court, but the classroom was different. Sam and I usually received similar grades, scoring at the top of the class. I had the edge in natural ability, but Sam worked hard. On the way to school, I would quiz him on his French vocabulary. My Spanish went unstudied. In a physics competition, we tied for the top score. The teacher only had one medal to present; she awarded it to Sam, because he "earned" it. And he had, through his effort.
When I first heard about the growth mindset, I was thrilled. An emphasis on effort, resilience, grit, and recovering from failure? Sounds like what I didn't get in school but definitely wanted for my daughters.
I had done well in school, particularly in math. I skipped two grades in that subject. I was once second in the state in a math competition. Breezed through high school. Stumbled a bit in AP Calculus because I didn't study at all. But then I "cracked down" midway and learned it in two weeks, acing both the class and the AP exam. Other subjects were similar. Almost no studying and projects started and completed shortly before they were due. Easy A's. Thirteen years of cruising, even at great schools.
And then came college. I had no study skills. No grit. Recovering from failure? Failure wasn't in my vocabulary. My intelligence had never let me down before, but now more was required and I didn't know how to give it. I was ill prepared. College was rough, to put it mildly. When I graduated, thoughts of pursuing a master's degree, like my friend Sam was already doing, were not on my mind at all.
But the growth mindset! Effort! Grit! Resilience! That was what I needed! That was what my kids needed!
I soured on it the more I read about it. Don't tell your kids they are gifted? My dad had tried that and I hadn't understood why I easily grasped what other students struggled with. Praise effort? An English teacher had tried that, and I dared not let him know that my perfect grades involved no effort at all; I had fooled him. And then I read this quote by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster:
One of the most damaging myths has been that some people are born with more intellectual ability than others, and that they retain this competitive advantage throughout their lives. This belief that some people are inherently smart, and some aren't, reflects a fixed mindset perspective. From a growth mindset perspective, however, intelligence develops over time, with appropriately scaffolded opportunities to learn. Ability is not a static attribute of a person. Instead, it develops actively, with motivation and effort. Looked at this way, basic principles of giftedness and talent development apply to all children, not just a select few.
Wow! They didn't understand me at all! Motivation and effort? That wasn't how I succeeded in school. And, from many conversations, I knew that to also be true of other gifted learners.
The fixed mindset purportedly recognizes differences in ability but fails to help gifted students develop the work ethic and resiliency they need. The growth mindset purportedly encourages effort but doesn't recognize differences in ability. Clearly, both have good points and both are flawed. Something else is needed, particularly for students on each end of the ability curve.
What is needed is the flexible mindset, incorporating both differences in ability and growth through effort. The flexible mindset recognizes that students should know what their gifts and disabilities are and learn skills to expand their intellectual capacity. The flexible mindset recognizes that some students will not become proficient even with great effort and will become frustrated with school if required to put in extra effort but still only obtain a C.
The flexible mindset recognizes:
Click on "comments" to answer. Number your answers to correspond with the questions. Remember-brevity is the order of the day (or comment on your comment for more space)!
1. According to Ricci, what are potential barriers to student participation in "advanced programs?"
2. Based on what you know about Chapter 7, what are the pitfalls of "labeling?"
3. Elaborate on the reason DeWitt's "Gifted and Talented" article is critical of growth mindset philosophies.
1. What are some ways that Cross Creek Early College breaks "barriers" for all students?
2. Do you treat AG students differently in your classroom (such as expectations of performance, maturity, motivation, potential and/or differentiated levels of learning?) How do AG students at Cross Creek meet your expectations?
3. Based on what you read in Dewitt's "Gifted and Talented" article, what are the potential effects of the Growth Mindset philosophies on AG students? Is it a valid argument, why or why not?
1. Using the section "Your Philosophy for Gifted Education" as a foundation, create at least four bullet statements that address the uniqueness of early college titled, "A Philosophy of Gifted Education at an Early College."
2. Read DeWitt's "Gifted and Talented" article and comment on the ideas behind the "flexible mindset."
3. Create a list of attributes (at least five) that describe the most successful students at early college. Do all students arrive with these characteristics? Are they teachable? If so, how and when?
If you have questions feel free to contact me. athetford@edumentality or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this hybrid book study teachers will earn a total of 12 hours (1.2 ceu's) for reading each chapter, responding to discussion prompts online, and sharing application of ideas. You will be given no later than (NLT) dates for completing chapters.
I want to thank Melissa Storms for giving me much needed help with this study. In growth mindset fashion, I had to experience a little failure in order to become a better blogger.