We got an application for our county's gifted program in the mail. It was addressed "To The Parents Of ..." so I opened it and read it. We are fortunate to have a great school, great teachers, a very engaged parent community, and a super active PTA. We love the education we are getting, but I'm a product of gifted/honors programs so I figure we may as well try it. What do we have to lose?
I have many feelings about talent culling in public schools. If we could implement these "gifted" practices within a "regular" public school experience, it would be transformative for the education system and its millions of students (and teachers). You can read more about my thoughts here. I read through the document and then handed it to my husband who read it over and called our oldest daughter into the room.
"We got this in the mail" holding up the letter. "It's an application for the talented and gifted program. What do you think about that?". She gives us a shrug. "Ok", he continues, "well it's a test for a program. You may get in. You may not. But if you do, it means you go to a different school with different kids and different teachers. These teachers may push you differently or harder. What do you think?". We wait for her to react and she literally gives us nothing to judge from... we're literally exchanging blank stares.
"Ok I'll think about it". And she leaves the living room.
I was confused by his calm choice to wait and see what she thinks. In my mind, this is a big educational, parent-driven decision so... We're just letting her choose? WTF is that? I didn't say anything but I was kind of disappointed. Ten minutes of awkward silence passes and my husband turns to me, "We need to think about paying someone to help her study. No point in her going in unprepared. Also if this happens, it will impact our family and your morning routine. So that's something to think about...". He trailed off, but I was relieved.
My husband gave her a voice with the intent of pushing her toward the decision that is right for her. Yes she may not be able to see the impact of participating in a gifted program and leaving her friends and a school she loves. But we can talk about it and it isn't posed as an authoritative "we know what's best" proposition. If she thinks about it and says "no" he's created an opportunity for all of us to talk about it.
Our daughter isn't guaranteed to make it into the gifted program for our county. She has to take the test. And whether she passes or not isn't what we're completely focused on. We're focused on giving her the power to make thoughtful choices about her own future.