A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Education Puzzle

Every step of the Teenlet's educational career has been fraught with roadblocks and detours. To say it's been frustrating would be like saying that losing a leg is inconvenient. It doesn't do justice to the experience.

From earliest years in preschool, when we had to decide whether to keep him back to help his maturity (we didn't, and it turns out it wouldn't have helped if we had), to changing schools every year until third grade, to fighting the school district for services, to the incessant "he's too young for..." that makes me want to poke my eyes out - we haven't had a single year that was simple, when we didn't feel like we were being blocked from accessing programs or services that could have helped him gain the skills he needs or the academic challenge to keep him engaged.

Now, at 14, the challenges haven't stopped. We no longer have the option of rapid acceleration of "regular" subjects. Up to this point, we've been letting him go - at his own pace, piecing together educational experiences from various places in order to create some semblance of a well-rounded education. But we can't do that any longer. He's topped out that which we can option for him. So again, we are piecing together and making our arguments that age shouldn't limit options - for him or anyone else.


I always thought that if I had the documentation to back up my claims, it would be enough. But so far, this isn't proving to be true. The SAT scores don't matter. The Coursera certificates "with distinction" don't matter. The current course load doesn't matter. Even the entrance exam, passed with flying colors, doesn't matter. All they see is the age.

All we want is to see our son keep learning, and loving it.

There are options, sure. Some of them might work for him, some definitely will not. If I wasn't concerned that complete mental laziness could set in, I would suggest he spend the next year doing Coursera courses that sound fun to him (read: science). But he does need to keep moving forward in his writing (which he hates), and math (which he's very good at, but he says he hates). Colleges like to see full math load for four years of high school, but I have no idea what that looks like for him since he's completing calculus in "8th grade." The community colleges around here tend to be a bit constrained by rules, and the school district hasn't proven to be much help in overcoming them. He's not yet ready for full college entrance.

But this is a child that rises to the occasion with consistency. He matures when he's forced to do so. He figures out how to get the work done when there is no other option. Taking this next step will be another occasion for rising to - but he has to be given the opportunity first.

It's my job to make sure that happens. Let's hope I'm up to it.

12 comments:

  1. It's tough decision time. What if there is no apparent local solution and a temporary move to a town with resources for three years is needed? It seems like there are stingers no matter what you decide. In my case, it was graduate from the local advanced school in 9th grade to boarding school or drop into public school, going from a class of 17 to a class of 800. I was not emotionally ready to leave home. But while the choice to be a kid for a few more years seemed natural, the educational shock wiped part of my mind without me realizing it and instilled such intellectual laziness that it guaranteed total humiliation for the first few years of college. This kind of decision always seems to not be what is the most positive thing but what has the least negatives.

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  2. Have you checked Stanford University Online High School?. Really good program, my daughter loves it

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    1. I've looked into it. Problem is: he's already got enough homeschool credits to graduate (according to our local district's standards). We've done AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP US Government, US History, World History, math to Calculus, and writing all the way through. My world and US history courses included a study of literature about (or from, if I could find it) each era. I've taught him how to play one-on-one basketball, tennis, and we've done countless hours of dribbling the soccer ball (PE is covered). He makes his own meals and has learned to hand-stitch/sew (cooking/sewing classes covered). Our district has an occupational requirement, so he has taught himself computer coding. He's been working on Latin, though our district's language requirement doesn't kick in for a couple of years, so if I graduate him now he doesn't need it.

      I'm not sure what online high school could offer him. Regular high school could give him a different perspective (woah, baby!), and we are seeking out lab sciences so he can get the experience of lab-work (since he wants to be a bio-engineer, this will come in handy).

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    2. It's too bad you're not located in Silicon Valley because the Harker School has had kids who knew Calculus in the 9th grade and was able to accommodate them well. What you might do is look through their site (through some of the articles on the kids' science research) and you might find some collaborators up in your area. That might give you information on labs that are sympathetic to gifted kids interning. http://www.harker.org The information will be in the news section or buried down deep past the promo part of their site. I don't know how friendly they will be on the phone but you might could call them to see if they know any resource up in your area. They are quite connected. (This is the school I fictionalized in my novel, by the way).

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    1. It is not ideal for 2e students. He may get there, but he needs smaller class sizes for now. 500 students in a class just won't do quite yet.

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  4. Who or what entity is 'limiting your options due to age'? Are you talking about college entrance? Is the age issue related to emotional and social maturity? If so, can you demonstrate that those are developed enough to enter whatever program you are feeling restricted from? If not, do you have a strategy to demonstrate or develop that maturity?

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  5. Have you looked at AP Calc AB, and AP Calc BC, this will get you through Calc 2 at home. I know I have seen at least Calc 1 on coursea recently. I am going to have to really follow you, my sons are on a similar course (graduating high school by the end of 8th grade).

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    1. He is currently in calc 2. I havent been all that impressed with the AP courses he has taken, but Coursera is a lifesaver!

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  6. :( I hope you find a solution.

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  7. Is Teenlet not really interested in pursuing math on his own? Or do you have an administrator who wants a formal course? Many great mathematicians have been working alone from an early age.

    Some other options might include independent study with a sympathetic expert in the field - much as you seem to be doing with biology - or working on some competitive science fair (Intel) project.

    what sort of Bio is he interested in? The next math steps are Linear Algebra, and either Differential Equations, or Multivariate Calculus. However, as a Biologist, he might want to get into Advanced Statistical Analysis or even Chaos Theory. (and you should all be aware that college-level calculus at a science/engg university will be a cut above even Calc BC)

    I'm a Bacterial Geneticist (by training), currently homeschooling my 6 kids. We and DH all fit gifted/PG profiles.

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    1. He's been teaching himself Linear Algebra. We've actually managed to get him enrolled in college for next year, and are really thrilled about that!

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