Perspective | It’s time we stopped with the phrase “gifted and talented”

By Stephanie Sprenger
@mommyforreal

Last week, I saw two toddlers wearing “Genius” T-shirts. When I saw the first one, I smiled, as I undeniably have a soft spot for ironic baby clothing. But when just hours later the second “genius” came waddling along, it gave me pause. I know these clever shirts proclaiming that our children are “brave like Daddy” or “sassy like Mommy” are just supposed to be funny and cute. Yet I feel slightly troubled by what lies under the surface of our attempts to label our children with myriad superlatives.

The “Genius” one left a distinctly bad taste in my mouth, and after a few days of pondering, I realized why. It was a tiny incarnation of the “gifted and talented” program, which is a concept I’ve been struggling with as a parent.

When I was in 5th grade, I was selected to participate in TAG (yes, talented and gifted), a program that took place during two hours of every Friday afternoon. I recall playing challenging brain games that required teamwork and higher-level questioning, completing independent study projects, on one occasion making a collage about photography (hmmm), and then trotting merrily back to class with my other above-average classmates.

I moved the following year, and was placed in a similar program with a different name: Alpha. Was it, shudder, because we were “alpha students?” It was my first and last meeting. Although I carried straight A’s—aside from my B in P.E.—after a snide comment from one of my fellow Alpha students, I chose never again to participate in a gifted and talented program.

Over the years, I’ve heard it referred to as ULE—Unique Learning Experience—and Exceptional Learners, but where I live now it’s straight up “GT—gifted and talented.” My experience with GT as a parent of non-GT students has been eye-opening.

When my oldest daughter, now 13, was in Montessori preschool, the staff provided a parent meeting where we could ask questions about kindergarten and elementary school options. Hands shot up all around the room: “Tell us more about the GT programs in the district.” “When can we test for GT?” Aside from the occasional inquiry about bilingual education programs, it was pretty much the same: How do we get into the GT program?

My husband and I raised our eyebrows at each other. Who knew that all this time our precocious little darling had been surrounded by entirely gifted students? Over the next few years, acquaintances would ask me when I was getting my daughter tested for GT. “I’m not,” I usually replied simply. The high-pressure program was not something I wanted for my child, who now is a 4.0 honor roll student in middle school. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure she qualified for GT; her grades have much more to do with her personality and determination. But the entire operation left a bad taste in my mouth.

Semantics matter to me, perhaps more than most people. Don’t even get me started on my hang-ups about the word “blessed.” To me, being “gifted and talented” sounds a whole lot like being bestowed with a well, gift, that others were not granted. It’s pretentious, and slightly obnoxious.

However, the value of these programs is undeniable. There are students whose needs are not being met in a one-size-fits-all curriculum: a multitude, and not just the above average variety. It is difficult to comprehend the challenge of teachers who must constantly adapt their learning experience to the diverse group of students they teach. These programs are absolutely essential and provide a much-needed, enriching, stimulating education for the kids who are becoming bored in their classrooms, who are potentially even causing problems because they aren’t being challenged.

The future of New York City’s public gifted and talented programming is now in the spotlight, thanks to the mayor-appointed School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendation that the existing GT programs be replaced by magnet schools. A group of gifted education teachers have instead called for an overhaul and reform of the system instead of elimination, which they hope may affect other GT programs around the country. But perhaps there is more fundamental reform required than altering the selection process and addressing the issues of economic privilege and racial segregation.

Perhaps what we really need to address is what we call these programs and the way parents conceive of them. The pressure behind TAG, including the language we use to describe it, needs to change. So too the frenetic rush to test our kids, not necessarily because we want to accommodate their learning style, but because of the proclamation that they are gifted and talented and therefore destined for a higher purpose, will lead to a breeding ground of stress, anxiety, and self-esteem issues. And what does it do to the kids who are excluded from this elite group?

I often cringe when I hear someone counter the name of these kind of programs with the sentiment that “All kids are gifted and talented in their own way.” Because it sounds so trite—the equivalent of a participation award. And yet. At the risk of revealing myself as a special snowflake kind of person, I do believe all children are gifted and talented. Whether they are athletic, artistic, deeply empathetic, or bold leaders, or simply themselves. Platitudes be damned, they are all gifted and talented in their own way.

It’s time to change the labels of these advanced or specialized learning classrooms to reflect that. Our children are paying attention, and they can absolutely read between the lines. What kind of message do we want to send them?

Stephanie is a writer, mother of two girls, early childhood educator and music therapist, and Executive Producer of Listen To Your Mother Denver and Boulder.

Image: an actual shirt that was given to one of our editor’s children.

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NASA Mulls Next Steps for Boeing’s Starliner Astronaut Taxi After Shortened Test Flight | Space

It’ll be a little while before we know if the next flight of Boeing’s new will carry astronauts.

On Dec. 20, 2019, Starliner launched on an uncrewed mission called (OFT), which was designed to demonstrate the capsule’s ability to fly NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Boeing has been contracted by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to do just that, as has SpaceX.

OFT was supposed to last eight days and feature an autonomous docking with the station. But Starliner suffered a shortly after liftoff and got stranded in an orbit too low to allow a rendezvous with the ISS. The reusable capsule ended up zooming around Earth by itself for 48 hours, then coming down for a picture-perfect landing in New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range on Dec. 22.

The original plan called for OFT to be followed by a crewed demonstration mission to the ISS. And that option is still on the table, despite the issues with December’s flight, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Tuesday (Jan. 7).

“NASA is evaluating the data received during the mission to determine if another uncrewed demonstration is required. This decision is not expected for several weeks as teams take the necessary time for this review,” Bridenstine wrote. 

“NASA’s approach will be to determine if NASA and Boeing received enough data to validate the system’s overall performance, including launch, on-orbit operations, guidance, navigation and control, docking/undocking to the space station, reentry, and landing,” he added. “Although data from the uncrewed test is important for certification, it may not be the only way that Boeing is able to demonstrate its system’s full capabilities.”

Bridenstine also announced that NASA and Boeing are forming a joint team to investigate Starliner’s timing anomaly and figure out how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

“Once underway, the investigation is targeted to last about two months before the team delivers its final assessment,” the NASA head wrote. He added that Starliner is currently being transported from White Sands to Boeing’s facilities on Florida’s Space Coast, where the capsule will be examined in even greater detail.

The latest big Commercial Crew contracts were awarded in 2014. Boeing got $4.2 billion to finish development work on Starliner and fly six operational, crewed ISS missions. SpaceX got $2.6 billion to do the same with its Crew Dragon capsule.

Crew Dragon aced its version of OFT, the uncrewed , in March of last year. SpaceX is now gearing up for a crucial in-flight test of the capsule’s emergency-escape system, which is . If that test goes well, Crew Dragon would be pretty much cleared for Demo-2, a test mission that will fly NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to and from the ISS.

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Nigeria’s Banks’ Assets To Weaken Due To Pandemic

The Central Bank of Nigeria has introduced intervention schemes to cater for non-interest financial institutions.

The Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kevin Amugo says the schemes include Non-interest Guidelines for the Accelerated Development Scheme, Intervention in the Textile Sector, Agri-Business, Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme for NIFIs, MSME Development Fund for NIFIs,Non-oil Export Stimulation Facility, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme and Real Sector Support Facility Revised Guidelines.

The CBN,listed the objective to include engaging a minimum of 370,000 youths within the ages of 18 to 35 years in agricultural production nationwide over the next three years in order to reduce youth unemployment.

The intervention scheme breakdown of Financing tenor of six months for grains and broiler production 18 months for cassava; 24 months for egg production and ruminants amongst others.

#BankingSector #CBN #InterestRate #BankAssets #COVID19Pandemic

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Public Transportation Isn’t Always The Best Or The Cheapest Option – Your Mileage May Vary

Sharon and I are big fans of public transportation. For most large cities in the world, it’s one of the cheapest and quickest ways to get from an airport to the city center. Heck, when we were in Frankfurt, we got from our hotel to the subway to the airport in less than twenty minutes. When visiting London, we’ve learned that there are several options other than the “express train” to get from the airport to the city.

The last time we stayed in San Francisco, we were at the Palace Hotel and it was right across the street from a BART station. It was easy to get there from SFO and back to OAK for our departing flight. For this visit, I picked a hotel that was reasonably close to the Powell BART station, figuring that would be the cheapest and best way for us to get into the city. Turns out I was wrong.

When we arrived at the BART station at San Francisco Airport, we had to buy tickets to the city. The fare to the Powell St. Station was $9.65 if we had a Clipper card and $10.15 if we chose to get a paper ticket. The fee for a new Clipper card is $3. Since we were planning on using the BART to get around for most of our trip, we each purchased cards, so our OOP cost was $12.65.

Our flight home was leaving SFO at 9:40 on Sunday morning. One little problem. The BART trains don’t start running until 8AM on Sundays.

Oops!

We ended up having to take a Lyft to the airport. Since I had already registered my Sapphire Reserve with Lyft, we got a 15% discount on our ride with Lyft Pink. I also received 10x Ultimate Rewards, 2x Delta SkyMiles for a ride to the airport and 3x Hilton Honors points for our trip.

I paid $23.63 for our trip to the airport and it only took us 20 minutes to get there.  Our trip to our hotel had taken well over an hour. With Lyft, we were picked up at our hotel and dropped off at our terminal instead of having to walk to the BART station from the hotel and take the AirTrain from the BART station once arriving at SFO.

I paid $25 for our trip into town if you include the price of our Clipper cards. That’s more than I paid for a Lyft.

These calculations will change depending on how many people are in your group. For a solo traveler, the BART will still be a cheaper option, but if you’re a family, a Lyft or Uber will probably be a less expensive and more convenient alternative.

Final Thoughts

When planning trips to and from the airport in a major city, I usually default to look for public transportation. As it turns out, this might not always be the most convenient or cheapest option. Next time, I’ll check to see the price for Uber and Lyft before buying our train tickets.

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There Are 3 Different Strains Of Covid-19 Circulating In Nigeria And There Might Be More..

Your View, June 23, 2020

As at June 21 2020, 436 new cases and 12 deaths were recorded in Nigeria bringing the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 to 20,244. At this point, we can’t help but wonder what is next for the country. A Professor of Molecular biology and Genomics, Christian Happi spoke with us.

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New Strains Of Covid-19 Found In Nigeria | Sickle Cell Disorder And Covid-19

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Since the emergence of the new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, several researchers have proposed that there is more than one strain, and that mutations have led to changes in how infectious and deadly it is. However, opinions are divided.

As at June 21 2020, 436 new cases and 12 deaths were recorded in Nigeria bringing the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 to 20, 244. At this point, we can’t help but wonder what is next for the country. A Professor of Molecular biology and Genomics, Christian Happi joined the ladies. Afterwards, we were enlightened on the connection between Sickle cell disorder and Covid-19 by National director and CEO sickle cell foundation Nigeria, Dr. (Mrs.) Annette Akinsete.

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Nigeria attains Polio free status

Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi tweeted: Milestone moment & awesome news for #Nigeria, today June 18, 2020: Attained Polio-Free status, for the first time in our history.

Official announcement will come next month, at a planned Health Ministers’ meeting! Well done to @NphcdaNG & everyone involved in making this happen!

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