Epilogue

I started this blog my freshman year in high school. It was the product of my frustration with school, an attempt to voice my grievances, offer solutions, and reach out to other students in similar situations. The posts reflect the struggles I was going through in high school, from trying to advocate for my own education to trying to fit in socially during a difficult period of my life. It also allowed me to stretch my intellectual muscle in outside of a school environment.
I’ve been getting weekly emails on the blog’s page view stats and it has been getting over 150 page views a week for over a year now. I hope that the people that found this site found it informative and helpful, and thank you to those who commented to offer support, dissenting opinions, and to ask for advice.

This chapter in the story of my life has a happy ending. I was accepted into the University of Southern California a year early through our Resident Honors Program. The program allows high achieving high school juniors to apply early for college. I was enrolled as a full time freshman in 2009. After brief struggles with my former high school I was able to receive my high school diploma despite leaving school early. Currently I am studying History with an emphasis on the Middle East with plans to go to law school. College has by far been one of the best experiences of my life. The intellectual environment is stimulating and challenging, I’ve met friends for life, and gotten involved around campus. I’m continuing to advocate for student’s as the president of Blacks in Social Science, a club for African American humanities and social science majors pursuing a liberal education through the College of Letters Arts and Sciences.

I hope that my story inspires other students to persevere through the struggles of the rigid and sometimes unforgiving education system.

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3 Pros and 3 Cons of Teaching to a Test

In the world of gifted education, I believe that there is a general consensus that teaching to a test keeps gifted students from receiving the best education possible. When a students are taught material that is going to be on a test, students who already have grasped the material are not focused on in the way that most parents would like. However, teaching to a test is not necessarily the worst case scenario. In the following post, I am going to outline what I see are some pros and cons of teaching to a test, then you can decide which way you like the best.

Cons

1. Testing is the Be-All-End-All: When teaching to a test, there is no other way to effectively measure how much a student has learned except by how he or she performs on the test. This applies more pressure onto students as well as teachers.

2. There is no Room for Creativity: Because tests are rigid in the topics of testing, teachers are limited to how far they can deviate from the curriculum. Where as learning about marine biology may be something that leaves a permanent impression on a student, marine biology is not likely to show up on a test unless it was a specific standard. Because test are so limited in the areas that are tested, areas of interest for the teacher and the students are often put aside.

3. What About Different Learning Styles?: Tests test one basic style of learning. Those that learn by memorizing information and are good at reciting ideas and concepts taught to them. However, if you are a student who learns best by looking at pictures of concepts or even if you perform best when listening to music, you are out of luck when it comes to testing. Because teaching to a test is singular in its goal, students are crammed into a single overshadowing group that does not allow the individual to perform in the way that best enables them to score well.

Pros

1. Keeps Teachers Accountable: Testing keeps teachers from becoming placid. When students are measured by standardized testing, one can see how teachers need to improve, as well as if there are any teachers who are slacking on the job. In a perfect world all teachers would teach their students the skills that they are going to need both in the rest of their school career and out in the real world. However, it is an unfortunate truth that not all teachers perform as well as many would like. By using a measuring stick such as testing, administration can make sure that their teaching staff is performing to the best of their ability.

2. Develops Real World Skills: Testing is not conducted in education alone. In the workplace employes are tested on a regular basis to make sure that they are performing well. By using testing to make sure that students know that they are expected to perform, teachers can prepare students for the real world and future employment.

3. Allows Students to Set Goals: When measuring system such as a test is used, students are more able to set goals for themselves. When students have something to strive for, they are much more likely to achieve place-marks that have been set by administration and teachers. Because testing offers a way for students to gauge their accomplishments throughout the school year, testing can be used to give the students a sense of accomplishment.

Even though testing may not be the favorite activity of students, and even teachers. If used in the correct way, testing can offer many benefits. However, if it is not used correctly it can make students resent school and learning as a whole. Testing can become a tool to help students achieve the most that they can, and hopefully that is how schools are using it.

Holistic Learning

The blogger Scott Young recently published a free eBook that is available for download from his blog. The title of the book is, Holistic Learning: How to Study Better, Understand More and Actually “Get” What You Want to Learn. Scott Young has posted before about his concept of holistic learning, both on his blog and in a guest post on the Riran Project. Both posts are highly informative, and go a long way towards explaining Holistic Learning. I think that many gifted students use holistic learning without realizing it, and it is one of the differences that separates gifted students, from high achieving students.

Scott says that most people learn by filing away small packets of information. They have separate files for science, English, history, and so on. When they take a test, these people look into their files, and hopefully find the packet of information that pertains to the test that they are taking. This style of learning has given rise to studying strategies such as cramming. However, Scott says that a holistic learner can go into the same test, with minimal preparation, and perform the same or better than a student who uses the filing method. How is this possible? Scott says that the Holistic Learner can perform better because they can understand how different concepts are interrelated. Where as a student who learns by filing keeps Math subjects separate from History and Science, a Holistic Learner understands that Math, Science, and History are all connected. The visual that Scott uses is a web. A Holistic Learner has a web of knowledge for History, Math, and Science. Withing these webs the individual concepts of the subjects are connected. For example, the Pythagorean Triangle is connected to rectangles. In turn, the Math web is connected to the History and Science webs. This means that the Pythagorean Triangle is connected to Pythagoras of Ancient Greece as well as the way the right triangle supports can make a building more sturdy. In this way, even if the Holistic Learner does not have a perfect grasp of the Pythagorean Theorem, they can still string together the individual ideas to complete a problem.

If the concept of holistic learning sounds interesting to you, make sure to get the eBook, and check back here for a future post that details Holistic Learning.

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Alienate a Teacher

I have posted before about the importance of communication as well as how to approach a teacher. In this post I am going to outline phrases to avoid when speaking to teachers (or anyone else in education for that matter). These 7 phrases are almost guaranteed to make any teacher not listen to what you have to say. Just like with everyone else, teachers have a tendency to turn off if they feel that a conversation is not going anywhere. By avoiding these 7 phrases you can give yourself, and your ideas, a fighting chance to make a difference. Want to discover what not to say to a teacher. Read on to find out

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New Theme

I felt that it was time for a change, and so I have changed the theme to Cutline, a theme made by Chris Pearson. I hope that all of my readers enjoy the new look, and as always encourage comments on all aspects of this blog.

-Royce

The Importance of Communication

When I think of one thing that could ultimately improve the educational experiences of gifted students, I think of communication. Communication between teachers and parents, parents and administrators, teachers and administrators, and most importantly between students and teachers as well as students and parents. Each of these four groups has their own agenda. Parents want their students to get a good education and have fun in school. Teachers want to get through to kids and provide them with a good education. Administrators like to see the success of a whole school as well as provide a nurturing environment for students. And the students want to get through school with out feeling bored and unmotivated. So how does one go about uniting these very different causes and pointing them towards a common goal of a students education. Well, communication is the key. Without it, teachers will feel hassled, parents will feel annoyed, administrators will feel drained, and students will feel confused and let down.

So how do you go about providing an environment that fosters communication? Here are some simple steps to help make the process as painless as possible. All of these steps have come from personal experience and observation.

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Quote of the Day

Creativity is like life insurance. If you are creative, you are never afraid, because you can design yourself out of any situation

-Li Edelkoort

One of the traits that separates gifted students from the pack is the outstanding creativity that they posses. For this reason, gifted students can think themselves out of most situations and give answers to difficult problems.

via Hoagie’s Gifted Page