Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 5

In line with his New Year resolution, that in 2014 he will increase his efforts to bust the myths surrounding giftedness and advocate for acceleration and ability grouping opportunities for gifted students, and in preparation for a webinar and Global GT chat on Twitter for the next two weeks, Columbus Cheetah is updating his myth busting presentations.

Columbus Cheetah’s discussion of the myths surrounding giftedness are based in his own brand of cheetah logic and the wonderful analogy of the cheetah to the gifted person given in Stephanie Tolan’s wonderful article ‘Is it a Cheetah?’


We hear this myth often used as excuse for not providing for the needs of gifted students in the lower primary classes.
It is often used as a corollary of Myths 1 and 2 or as part of myths about pushy parents and hot housing and flash carding which we will look at later.

Columbus Cheetah says this myth can be busted using observation of the cheetah’s running gait, physics and common sense.

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal. It can accelerate from zero to 40 mph in three strides and to full speed of 70 mph in three seconds. As the cheetah runs, only one foot at a time touches the ground. There are two points, in its 20 to 25 foot (7-8 metres) stride when no feet touch the ground, as they are fully extended and then totally doubled up. Nearing full speed, the cheetah is running at about 3 strides per second

See the slow motion of cheetah running from National Geographic

Gifted students usually learn at a much faster rate than other students.
This is partly because they need to hear fewer repetitions of the material being taught in order to understand and master it.


In order to demonstrate that the faster you move for the same amount of time the further you will go Columbus Cheetah downloaded a program titled The Moving Man  a physics simulation from the University of Colorado


Using it he showed that travelling the same path for 20 seconds
at 1metre per second the man travelled 20 metres
at 2metre per second the man travelled 40 metres
at 3metre per second the man travelled 60 metres
at 5metre per second the man travelled 100 metres


Relating this to students, if all the students work for the same amount of time, the ones that learn faster can master more material
If allowed to work at their maximum rate they will complete more work and reach a higher level than those who learn more slowly.


So if they all start at the same point and work consistently by the time they reach Year 3 the gifted faster learners will be ahead of the others.

However they are usually not starting from the same point.
Some students have already mastered the material to be taught.
At a point half way through Year One some students will be at the average level, some will not have achieved it yet and some would be able to work at level of Year Two or higher.


The students will NOT all be at the same level by the time they time they reach Year 3. And that is only considering velocity. We have not even started to look at acceleration yet!

3 thoughts on “Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 5

  1. As I look at my class of kinders, I see some kids who focus really well, put their heads down to the work before them and stay on task. If they are in the more typical students group, they will make steady progress, maybe even more than that, as focus is a challenge at this age.
    Students with accelerated learning potential can also come in many dispositions. They can remember everything they hear and see, they can apply it to other situations and experiences, they can see it in greater depth and share it back with the teacher.
    Or they can be distracted by their own thinking, disinterested in using the tools on the table (be that crayons, pencils, or other recording sheet options.) They also need to focus on the task at hand and make personal connections.
    The cheetahs get it all and they take off in their learning. The greatest challenge in teaching them within a classroom is keeping pace with what those students need to learn and can be engaged by. It’s hard to be engaged when you already know it.
    I hope I am getting the drift of your message, Jo. The spectrum for student interest, engagement, and availability is almost infinite. I hope to meet the needs of everyone at least in part. High praise for the cheetah who can maintain focus, and engagement in a regular ed classroom, while finding enrichment along the road to even more learning.

    • Thank you for this great comment Gail! Yes that is one of the main challenges – keeping the gifted ones focussed and achieving! It they do not become disengaged their learning will rocket along and they will be well ahead of the others by Year 3

  2. Pingback: Myth busting with Columbus Cheetah | Sprite's Site

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