Sunday, July 27, 2008

School for the Gifted?

In the afternoon, we went to a school for the gifted. Before we went I was thinking that it would probably be full of five year olds doing advanced calculus but it wasn’t. Kids from all walks of life, especially villages and rural areas are recruited to take their battery of intelligence tests (there are multiple tests given regarding a variety of types of intelligence) and they take kids who score in the 95th percentile or above. The cost is low and is subsidized by fundraising and university affiliation so that it is not exclusively a school for the rich. There is no way politically or socially you can gain entry into the school besides through the testing process and they only take 40 girls and 40 boys per year starting in grade 5. The school only goes through grade 10 (this is pretty standard in India as grades 11 and 12 are considered “senior-secondary” and are after their major board exam).

This school operated under the philosophy that a nation’s most intelligent should eventually become the future leaders and so there is a huge curriculum in leadership, social service, and what seemed to me like empathy building. Students are encouraged to be free thinkers and are given many opportunities to work in the community or in villages to help others. Because these are such gifted kids, the basic curriculum is a snap, so they then spend their time doing projects and other self-directed and self-motivated investigations. It was quite similar to pull-out Gifted & Talented programs in the US where the kids are given opportunities to do a lot of self-guided learning.

They also had a university affiliated psychological research center on the grounds and often the students are involved in the studies of the center. They are trying to investigate how gifted kids learn differently and they are doing a lot of publishing in international journals. The kids all seemed extra, super happy in this place compared to any other school we have been in. They were not required to wear uniforms and they seemed to have a lot more freedom than kids in other schools. We have been in schools for “smart” kids but this was different because this school was for the truly “gifted” like the kids at our school who are only about the top ½% or so.

1 comment:

Diane Lauer said...

I am struck by your comment that these students are the first that really seem "happy" I wonder about that, and am interested in chatting with you about that when you return.....glad you are feeling better!!!