School is Not Real Life
Keeping Up With Dr. Ruf . . .
By Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.
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
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
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.
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
Seeds of Greatness Month, Return
Carts to the Supermarket Month, and, of
course, Black History Month.
down, this is Just Say No to PowerPoints
Week. And today is Lupercalia,
Anthony Day, and National Gum Drop
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,
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.
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
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.
EDucators Resource Directory, H
omeschool Diner, Hoagies Gifted Education Page,
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
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
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.
Education . . .
. . . is what remains after one has forgotten
what one has learned in school.
- Albert Einstein