Private Schools and Exceptionally Gifted Children

Tolan in Webb, Meckstroth, and Tolan, Guiding the Gifted Child, 239

Private academic schools that pride themselves on sending students on to ivy league colleges, that publish honor rolls and class standings, may not be appropriate for exceptionally gifted children.  Such schools may be very good for many gifted children, especially left-brained achievers, but the chief characteristic of the most highly gifted is not only their ability to learn, but the difference in their methods of learning.  One must be careful to avoid schools whose procedures and patterns are too rigid to allow for those differences.  Heavy competition for grades and public achievement may not be as important to the exceptionally gifted child as his need to explore whatever subjects he wants to explore.  The social pressure common in that environment is especially hard on the highly gifted child who is, by definition, very different.  Finally, the academic school is likely to be especially defensive about its reputation for handling “the best and the brightest.”  They may be particularly unwilling to consider the possibility that any child needs something they don’t offer.


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