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?’
This is a myth which particularly concerns Columbus Cheetah.
It is used to argue against accelerating gifted students on the grounds that either
a) it will be detrimental to the flow of the student’s learning or
b) it will have negative social effects on the student
Columbus Cheetah is very eager to advocate for gifted students to be able to learn at a suitable LEVEL and PACE and to have the opportunity to spend time with their TRUE PEERS who may not be the same age as themselves.
Acceleration is an educational intervention that moves students through an educational program at a faster than usual rate or younger than typical age.
Acceleration means matching the level, complexity and pace of the curriculum with the readiness and motivation of the student.
In order for students to be engaged in their learning it is important to pitch the teaching at what Dr Katherine Hoekman would call ‘the eyebrow wrinkle level’ of challenge – possible to attain with effort – but neither impossibly difficult nor far too easy.
Professor Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, notes that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow when they are completely absorbed in the activity at hand and nothing else seems to matter. For the state of flow to occur the challenge of the task and the ability of the performer need to be matched. The task should be neither too easy nor much too difficult.
You can listen to the TED talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html
For gifted students to find that eyebrow crinkle level or state of flow they may need to be given acceleration.
This could take the form of early entry, year or stage level advancement, subject level advancement, dual enrolment, curriculum compacting or telescoping, correspondence courses or extra-curricular programs or mentoring.
Regarding pace Columbus Cheetah says this myth can be busted using similar methods of observation of the cheetah’s running gait, physics and common sense as were used for busting Myth 5.
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
Slow motion of cheetah running from National Geographic
Note those two points when the cheetah has no feet touching the ground.
Not only do gifted students learn at a faster pace they also often make great leaps in understanding by seeing the implications of the facts or by associating knowledge from several fields
One of the main concerns about acceleration is that the student could
have social problems because of being with a group of older students.
Dr Karen Rogers says “Gifted and talented students should spend the majority of
their school day with others of similar abilities and interests”
And Prof Miraca Gross emphasises the importance of finding a true friend who
can be a sure shelter and share at a deep level and that the likeliness of this
happening is greater if the student has been accelerated http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/play-partner-or-sure-shelter-what-gifted-children-look-for-in-friendship
If there is doubt about whether a student is a suitable candidate for acceleration working through the Iowa Acceleration Scales will give a helpful conservative indicator score.
Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual: A Guide for Whole –Grade Acceleration K-8
The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development
Susan Assouline Ph.D., Nicholas Colangelo Ph.D., Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik Ph.D., Jonathan Lipscomb B.A., Leslie Forstadt B.A
Published by Great Potential Press
You can read more about acceleration at
Hoagies Gifted Education Page http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/acceleration.htm
Policy and implementation strategies for the education of gifted and talented students