February 2008
Educational Options Newsletter
In this issue

School is Not Real Life


Everyone knows that the reason we put children in school by age for their instruction is that there are centuries of excellent research that proves this is the most effective way for children to learn, right? Well, no, actually, there is no such research at all. I think it had something to do with following the Henry Ford factory efficiency model and no one ever seemed to think of questioning its validity for the schooling of generations of children around the world.

In the "olden days" of mass public education, we had the one room schoolhouse. It worked quite well. Students proceeded through the curriculum at their own pace and worked with anyone else, of any age, who was ready for the same material and production. My goal is not to give a history lesson here but to point out that we no longer do this in schools. Whether you are ready for more or not, it is not allowed because the student will get ahead and, "What will we do with her next year?"

Here is a little IQ lesson, though. Whether or not you approve of the concept of IQs or IQ testing, the research shows that IQ results correlate with all kinds of real-life outcomes. The average IQ in the US is 100 and regular standardized tests that most people take in school (or when they enter the military) all start as low as around 50 IQ and as high as about 150 IQ. Yes, there are some other kinds of tests that have different scales, but that's not what I'm talking about now.

The average IQ difference between people who choose to marry each other is 12 points. Basically, they get each other's jokes. That old magic feeling of someone thinking we're amusing! The genetic mingling of the parents' genes gives them children who will usually be within 15 points higher or lower to their parental average. Same with siblings- only 15 points between them on average. Most people know that there is a bell curve shape for most human qualities, and IQ is no exception. There are more average people than there are very low or very high IQ people.

American school classrooms are set up by age. Kindergarten screening tells the schools which children are most ahead and most behind others their age. The principal stacks the kids by ability and then considers gender, behavior, ethnicity, and socio- economic background, and then deals the kids out to the four different kindergarten classrooms so that every class has the same number of each kind of kid. This means that the four most advanced children will all be in different classrooms. No one will get their jokes except maybe the teacher! The typical IQ range in such a classroom is 70 to 80 IQ points, but we are generally comfortable with and drawn to people who are within about 12 points of us. Then we tell the kids that they need to learn to get along with their "peers." But peers might not be age-mates unless they-by some stroke of luck-are fairly close to us in intellect and get our jokes, get us.

School is not a very happy time or place for many, many bright children.

Keeping Up With Dr. Ruf . . .


I saw something recently that reminded me that February usually is "I Love to Read" Month, at least in Minnesota. So I did a Google search. In the process, I learned that February is also Fabulous Florida Strawberry Month, National Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month, Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month, and, of course, Black History Month. Narrowing it down, this is Just Say No to PowerPoints Week. And today is Lupercalia, Susan B. Anthony Day, and National Gum Drop Day.

However you like to celebrate it, we wish you all a happy February!

Sincerely, Kathy Hara, Editor

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day 2008

Continuing in the same vein as this newsletter's introduction, next Thursday, February 21, is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Across the country, corporations, universities, government agencies, and youth groups are hosting conferences, seminars, job shadowing or other events for female students who want to learn more about engineering. Here in Minnesota, Target is planning a special day in their Minneapolis offices for girls interested in studying engineering.

White House Internship

There is still time to apply for the Summer 2008 White House Internship Program. The application deadline is February 26, 2008.

A White House Internship is an opportunity for current students and recent graduates (minimum age 18) to experience everyday life at the White House while working with high-level officials on a variety of tasks and projects. The interns will participate in a speaker series, tours, community service projects, and various White House events.

The White House is looking for applicants with sound academic credentials, a demonstrated interest in public service, solid written and verbal communication skills, a history of community involvement, and strong character and leadership skills.

Homeschooling Links

As we discussed in last month's newsletter, more and more families with bright children are turning completely or partially to homeschooling. In fact, within the Minnesota Council of Gifted and Talented there is even a Homesc hoolers Chapter. Parents who homeschool, therefore, must find a curriculum for their students. There are plenty of choices out there - and, just as there is a wide spectrum of giftedness, there is also a wide spectrum of which curriculum will work best for any individual student.

Here are a few places to start in your search. We also recommend that parents sign up for local gifted listservs, such as MCGT if you live in Minnesota or Mensa's BrightKids, to get the benefit of other parents' experiences with different products.

HOME EDucators Resource Directory, H omeschool Diner, Hoagies Gifted Education Page, Davidso n Institute

In Minnesota: Gifted Education Resource Fair

The Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented (MCGT) and the MCGT Homeschoolers Chapter are sponsoring the Fourth Annual MCGT Gifted Education Resource Fair. Hosted by the MCGT East Metro Chapter, it will be in North St. Paul on Saturday, February 23, 2008, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Admission is $5 per family for MCGT members and $10 per family for non-members, with an opportunity to join MCGT at the door to receive the discounted admission price.

Parents and educators are invited to come and learn more about the materials and programs available to gifted students.

In Minnesota: UMTYMP Exams

The University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP) provides a unique opportunity for talented mathematics students to study accelerated mathematics with other bright students in classes taught by outstanding high school teachers. Registration for the Qualifying Exam is the first step in determining if you are eligible for this program. Students in grades 5-7 may enroll in an exam-preparation workshop on Saturday, February 23. The UMPTYMP Algebra Qualifying Exam is scheduled for Saturday, March 8. Students who take this exam and qualify will be invited to join UMTYMP. Students who do not qualify will have the opportunity to register for the April UMTYMP Qualifying Exam.

In Minnesota: PSEO Application Deadline

Interested in Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) for your high school student? The deadline for Fall 2008 PSEO applications is Tuesday, April 1, 2008. Information sessions are scheduled for Thursday, February 28, and Tuesday, March 4, at the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota.

Losing Our Minds
Dr. Ruf's book, Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind, is available through Great PotentialPress or Amazon.

Learn More

Education . . .
. . . is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

- Albert Einstein

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