Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gifted children and organizational skills

In an online Teacher Magazine article this past week, Tamara Fisher reports on a 2006 National Institutes of Mental Health study whose results showed (via MRI) that children with IQs in the 121-145 range had cortex layers that:

started out much thinner at age 7 (compared to the cortex thickness of the average and above average kids) and reached peak thickness much later (age 12 in gifted kids compared to about age 8 or 9 for average and above average children).
To Fisher, these findings are suggestive:
Well, given that the pre-frontal cortex controls organization, this might help explain why some of our brainy middle-schoolers can do algebra but can't find the homework they know they did the night before!
Fisher's words so aptly describe many of the mathematically gifted kids whose families I interviewed for my book that I posted the following comment in response:

One more reason *not* to require organizationally demanding assignments of young children! And one more reason *to* assign academically challenging work to gifted children.

Unfortunately, organizationally-demanding projects have become increasingly common in elementary school. Meanwhile, thanks to Reform Math, mathematically challenging assignments are in decline. One consequence of this for gifted kids, beyond sheer boredom and lack of learning, is that they often earn *lower grades* than their peers. (I discuss this upside-down state of affairs in "Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World.")

Making matters worse for gifted kids, gifted programming increasingly focuses on organizationally-demanding projects rather than on conceptually challenging assignments.

Meanwhile, in response to my last post on gifted children, Robert Chametzky of the University of Iowa writes the following:

No doubt many OILF readers already aware of the University of Iowa's Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, its Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA), and their publication "A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students". For those who are not, here are the URLs:

http://www.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/About_Us/Mission.aspx http://www.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/Research/Acceleration_Research/
http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Nation_Deceived/

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it is also interesting that ADHD kids share the same maturation pattern of the prefrontal cortex. As a parent of a 2e math gt boy, I just assumed the middle school algebra kid who can't remember to turn in homework was just my kind of kid. There are definetly highly organized kids in his peer group and yes they get much more attention.

http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/cognition-without-control-adhd-gifted.html