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With all the talk of failing schools these days, we forget that schools can fail their brightest students, too. We pledge to "leave no child behind," but in American schools today, thousands of gifted and talented students fall short of their potential. In Genius Denied, Jan and Bob Davidson describe the "quiet crisis" in education: gifted students spending their days in classrooms learning little beyond how to cope with boredom as they "relearn" material they've already mastered years before. This lack of challenge leads to frustration, underachievement, and even failure. Some gifted students become severely depressed. At a time when our country needs a deep intellectual talent pool, the squandering of these bright young minds is a national tragedy.
There are hundreds of thousands of highly gifted children in the U.S. and millions more whose intelligence is above average, yet few receive the education they deserve. Many school districts have no gifted programs or offer only token enrichment classes. Education of the gifted is in this sorry state, say the Davidsons, because of indifference, lack of funding, and the pernicious notion that education should have a "leveling" effect, a one-size-fits-all concept that deliberately ignores the needs of the gifted. But all children are entitled to an appropriate education, insist the authors, those left behind as well as those who want to surge ahead.
The Davidsons show parents and educators how to reach and challenge gifted students. They offer practical advice based on their experience as founders of a nonprofit organization that assists gifted children. They show parents how to become their children's advocates, how to win support for gifted students within the local schools, and when and how to go outside the school system. They discuss everything from acceleration ("skipping" a grade) to homeschooling and finding mentors for children. They tell stories of real parents and students who overcame poor schooling environments to discover the joy of learning.
Genius Denied is an inspiring book that provides a beacon of hope for children at risk of losing their valuable gift of intellectual potential.