March 2008
Educational Options Newsletter
In this issue

School is Not Real Life

Teaching to the Average in Same-Aged Classrooms By Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.

Remember how I said that the average IQ difference between people who get our jokes-people most likely to become our friends-is 12 points (on a 100 point scale with a 100 IQ being average)? And remember I told you that the typical same- aged elementary classroom has a 70 to 80 IQ range in it? You probably have been told by others-not me-that this is good for children because it teaches them about the real world. Well, in the real world we choose our friends and our activities by how comfortable we are in that environment and by who else we get to spend time with. Also, although it may be nice to have a mix of abilities in the office, we pretty much want all CPAs or medical doctors to have a certain high ability, no lower than what is required to get the job done, right? That's why we have examinations at the end of such training to guarantee that everyone who earns the title actually can do the job.

Did you know that every job or career actually has its own IQ average and its own proven necessary minimum? Google Linda Gottfredson and Frank Schmidt to get you started. They are among those who have shown that people in the professions or other very complex careers need a minimum IQ of about 120 in order to both learn what they need to learn and perform it well. Like IQs or not, these numbers keep correlating with real life outcomes. Oh, and in case you are assuming that you can change somebody's IQ, there are no replicated studies that show any more than an average 6 point temporary increase in testable IQ with even the most intrusive interventional approach, adoption. So, the way I look at it, we need to start educating and training people for what they can do and for what will give them satisfaction, pride, and the ability to take care of themselves.

Most people think that teachers teach to the average. Well, no, they don't. They can't! If they taught to the average, too many of the slower learners simply wouldn't catch on to most of what was happening in the classroom. Teachers teach to the top of the bottom third once they know their class. This way, they reach the slower learners fairly well and the majority of the kids in the middle get lots of encouragement and opportunity to manage their time, learn study skills, and how to handle a certain amount of intellectual struggle and feel success when they finally "get it." The sad truth, though, is that the brightest students end up spending a lot of time waiting for something new to happen. Depending on a number of other factors, like whether they are male or female and their personality profiles, they learn a lot that ends up not being helpful to real life. They learn that if you are smart, you don't need to study or work hard. They learn that their parents and teachers don't know what they are talking about if they think this assignment matters. They learn that they are smarter than everyone else in the class and are in for a shock when they actually do get out into the real world.

David Lohman says that by 1st grade the typical same-aged mixed-ability classroom already has 12 grade equivalencies of achievement in it. Brighter children absorb more from their environments than lower ability children, so regardless of their preschool environment, brighter kids will know a great deal more than low ability children by the time they reach 1st grade. Environment is an extremely important factor in someone's development, but it does not change whether or not someone is very bright or very slow. A child whose IQ is 120 could finish the typical elementary curriculum in about 4 years, not six. A child whose IQ is 130 could finish it in less than three years. Above 140 needs only one year, but they are required to stay all six and go at the pace of everyone else their age. What a waste of time and talent. Folks, there has got to be a better way.

Keeping Up With Dr. Ruf . . .


Ah, March in Minnesota. One minute it feels like spring, and the next it is cold and blustery with huge flakes of wet snow falling from the sky. Then five minutes later it is all melted and crocuses are poking through the compost.

Well, then, it must be time to start looking for summer camps! In this issue, besides continuing Dr. Ruf's articles on School is Not Real Life, we list summer programs for gifted children.

Sincerely, Kathy Hara, Editor

Summer camps

For those who have not yet found a summer camp for their bright kids, here is a list of web sites of summer programs, put together by a Minnesota Council of Gifted and Talented (MCGT) group. And besides all these entries listed here, don't forget to contact your local art, history and science museums to see what they offer during the summer.

This first group of websites contains lists of summer programs: Jo hns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page, Davidson Institute, Massa chusetts Institute of Technology.

The following are summer programs taking place around the U.S. and the world: THINK Summer Institute, Centre for Talented Youth Ireland Summer Programme, J ohns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth CTY Programs, Center for Talent Development- Northwestern University, (Rocky Mountain) Center for Innovative and Talented Youth Summer Programs, Office of Precollegiate Programs for Talented and Gifted (Iowa State), Stanford University EPGY Summer Programs, MathPath, MathCam p, Ross Program, Summer Institute for the Gifted, Mid dlebury Monterey Language Academy, Greatbooks Summer Program, SPARK, Phillips Exeter Summer School, Inter lochen Summer Arts Camp, Exploration Summer Programs, Duke TIP Summer Programs, Secondary School Program: Harvard Summer School, TASP, Leadersh ip Education and Development Program in Business (LEAD), Yuna sa Summer Camp for the Gifted.

These summer camps and programs are located in Minnesota: Bakken Library and Museum, Institute of Technology Center for Educational Programs, Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, Concor dia Language Villages, In termediate District 287 (West Suburban Summer School), Rochester College for Kids, School Chess Association , The Loft Literary Center, iD Tech Camps Minnesota, Gifted and Talented Institute-ISD 191.

Educational support

Last year about this time we included information about the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program, which provides educational opportunities and support to high- achieving youth with financial need. The program is now accepting applications from current 7th graders, and the deadline is Monday, May 5. For more information, visit the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

Some fun websites

Over the last six months or so we have heard of some fun websites that you and/or your children might enjoy. The first site is Doodle 4 Google, which features a contest sponsored by Google. It is run through schools, with a registration deadline of March 28 - so there is still time, but not much. The idea is for students to make a design incorporating the Google logo with this year's theme "What if . . . ." If nothing else, it's fun to look at the site and see what creative students have done with the logo over the years.

One can get lost in the National Geographic websites. The National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers, Third Edition, which ties in with the book, includes an Animals section, with Crittercam access; a maps section for fun or to use for school reports; world music, where you can listen to Arab classical music and more; and a games section which features interactive adventures, puzzles and action games. Clicking on the Country menu item leads to even more choices, including more animals, daily news, a green guide, and history. And throughout the site there are the incomparable National Geographic photos.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Zoo, our third site is Wolf Quest. Along with information about wolves, the site also features a free downloadable game in which the player lives the life of a wild wolf in Yellowstone National Park. With single- or multiplayer versions, new episodes will be released periodically during the year.

In Minnesota - School Options Fair

There will be a School Options Fair for MCGT members from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 19. Attendees will be able to speak with representatives of various schools, from pre-K to colleges with dual enrollment programs, about what those schools have to offer gifted children. The site is the Edina Community Center, 3rd floor, Room 350, 5701 Normandale Road, Edina (On the east frontage road of Highway 100 south of 50th St.).

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

Learn More

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.

-- Diogenes Laertius

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