Education for the Best and Brightest The idea of specially educating gifted children stretches back to Aristotle, who recommended that promising children be given early education in Latin. Charlemagne, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, in 800 AD urged the state-sponsored education of gifted children from among the general population. Gifted education took a dramatic leap forward in 1916, when an American psychologist named Lewis Terman standardized the Binet IQ test, and began using it to identify children with extraordinary mental ability. His study of gifted children dispelled many of the myths surrounding giftedness in that era, and is still considered a classic piece of research in education.
Unfortunately, despite this long history of support for gifted education by philosophers, leaders and researchers, many people still oppose gifted education in schools. Their main objection is that gifted education is elitist because it singles out certain children for a higher level and quality of education than is received by other children.
Thomas Jefferson once declared, "Nothing is more unequal than equal treatment of unequal people."Ã¯Â¿Â½ Gifted education is not elitist, no more so than the sports or entertainment industry, and no one complains about elitism in those institutions (Walker 5-11). Educating gifted children is about giving each according to his or her needs. Gifted children need a different type of education than children of average ability to keep them interested in school and help develop their minds.
One way to better educate gifted children is through a method known as cluster grouping. In cluster grouping, gifted children are clustered in a group of four to six students and then placed in one teacher's class, while the other students remain in groups of average ability. This method ensures that children who already know how to read are not stuck waiting...