On page 12 it talks about different competitions and how internal competion is important because even if a kid "loses", if they met a goal, they win. This kind of reminds me of when I took some of our 3-5 graders to run a 5K, even though they didn't win first place, the fact that they met their goal (to finish a 5K), meant they were successful. I like the evidence that shows that not all competitions are considered negative.Unfortunately, as I read further, (page 16) it discusses the negative side of competions. I do appreciate what it says on page 17 about success and failure being viewed as a result of ability alone, rather than effort and motivation. So many students have the ability, but lack the motivation to put in the effort. When things get more complex and they aren't prepared to work at it, they can not lose, not just on the scoreboard, but to themselves.
To Katie Kavanagh: I totally agree about motivation! So many of these students have not learned how to struggle through a problem to the end. Since everything they have done so far in their lives has come easily, they get discouraged when trying to tackle something challenging. Once the motivation is in place, they can do almost anything.
In response to Katie, you are right, they need to learn to set personal goals and learn how to manage and monitor their development in order to meet their goals. Otherwise we end up with people who give up because they are afraid of failure.
First, I'd like to say that it was encouraging to find this book study on competition, and to see that there is research to back up competition among students. In today's public school setting, competition is often frowned upon, because everyone must be a winner. This is not reality. One idea that was new to me can be found at the top of page 12, where the authors mention the mistaken belief that when students excel at one subject, they should be pulled back from that area to work on a subject they struggle with. In my 17 years of teaching, I have seen this mistaken belief put into practice many times. Competitions can be a good tool for helping students pursue areas they are particularly interested in.
To Elanor M- I do agree with you regarding competition among students in the school setting. We have set up the system in most recent years to be that all students are equal and must be a winner. They are all equal in given opportunites to learn - it just how they take that information and move forward. Our goeal is to help students excel to take these skills into other areas of their lives. If you don't have any competion we might not have goals. To get better at anything we do we must work at it. Some areas come more easily than others. I agree that cometitions can be a good tool for helping students pursue areas they are interested in.
To Stacey L: I agree that students should all be given equal opportunity to learn. However, even with equal opportunity, the students must choose how to use what they have been given. Some of my most successful students were not among the GT students – they just knew how to work hard to succeed. The kids know the ‘Every Child is a Winner’ mentality, and many of my students don’t like it. When I assign a lab, they want me to grade it – not just give everyone a 100. By the time they reach 11th or 12th grade, they are highly competitive (maybe not in my class – but in something!) and they hate it when everyone gets the same ‘prize’ (grade).
In response to Tracey Jensen, posted on June 12 at 11:55, I'm so glad to hear what you say about students wanting to be successful and not just get the same grade as everyone. In case it hasn't been obvious from my posts, I'm at the elementary level, and we don't always know how the students progress once they leave us!
Eleanor, I so agree with you and the fact that students seem to be programmed at a young age that everyone is a winner, and that is not real life as we know it! When my kids were younger I remember that everyone woudel get a trophy for baseball even if they did not win. I used to think, "wait until they hit real life!" I think competition is a means for the gifted to excel and also realize there are others out there that perhaps are smarter than they are and it is ok.
On p 22: ‘ Gifted or talented students’ exceptional ability may not extend to skill in working with others and to value their work. In a few cases, the problem may be a lack of appropriate social skills. If that is true, then it is helpful to teach students ways to interact socially. This is typically not the situation…”I have found this IS the typical situation. So many of my GT students have been told by the adults in their life that they are ‘special’ and so encouraged to do academics, they have stunted their social skills. The paragraph goes on to discuss learning ‘ to use the group process to maximize potential’ but that potential needs to be focused on the group’s success. Often these kids cannot take constructive criticism, and will isolate themselves – making the problem even worse. In working with my Robotics team, getting my kiddos to talk and respect each other has been the main focus. While some of my students have appropriate social skills, most do not, so this is what we work on mostly. The robot build is secondary.
1. In response to Tracey Jensen, posted on June 12 at 7:50, I have also witnessed the lack of social skills among GT students. However, I have recently witnessed something entirely different. I have seen one particular student, who seems to be very attuned to fitting in with others, “dumb down” – for example, beginning to answer a question posed to the class, and then not doing so and even answering incorrectly so he will fit in with his peers. He actually appears to be embarrassed by his giftedness. I hope this changes for him when he goes to middle school, where he can work with more students who are academically advanced.
In response to Tracey, you are so right when you say that many of these kids lack social skills. I see that in many experiences, they are used to being the first chosen, the only one to truly make any decisions for their groups, and don't necessarily know how to seek the input of others. I think that this is a skill that has to be taught and tested over and over again, in order to make it better.
In response to Eleanor M, I couldn't agree more with what you said. You summed up my feelings exactly!
In response to Tracey Jensen, I agree with the social issues as well. Sometimes I have felt as though our gifted students were treated differently and made to feel superior to other kids, mainly because they got to have a non-uniform day when they went to spiral. A lot of these kids have had a hard time dealing too because we have coddled them to believe that they are more special and when they have a hard time in social situations, they don't know how to proceed without adult interference.
Response to Katie Kavanagh, You read my mind about making them feel superior with the whole "spiral day". I teach in a title 1 school and my kids already face soo many social issues add to that "GT" to some of them, and they really don't know what to do with that. When they get to fifth grade I hear stories of some of my girls misbehaving in class to fit in somehow or giving wrong answers so they wouldn't call them names. Or believing that they are more than the rest because they don't wear uniforms and they leave the school to go to spiral.
The first thing that truly caught my attention came at the very beginning where it mentioned things to consider when planning a competition. I remember as a kid that because I was in these classes, I was expected to do certain projects for competitions. There were often competitions that I just wasn't interested in and truly didn't want to be a part of. On pages 3 and 4 it asks if students truly want to participate. I wish someone had asked me that question for some of the things we participated in.I also like how they show that competitions can be good. I think that we have done a disservice to our students by leading them to believe that everyone is a winner every time there is a competition. It really isn't how the real world operates. In the real world, this is how we learn what areas we need to strengthen in ourselves.
Rebecca- I agree with your comment about everyone is a winner is something I am constantly fighting with. Not everyone is a winner when there is a first, second, and thrid place. In the real world their are winners and losers, and we are misleading our students if we allow them to beleive everyone is a winner. we must teach them to be graceful winner and losers, that is the key to competition and learning how to improve ourselves when we don't meet our expextations. I think these competitions are a great way to teach this.
I learned in this first section that competiton can be a means for the gifted students to overcome the heavy burden of perfectionism, if this truly weighs heavily on them as individuals. Pg. 10 explains that it can be a double edged sword, because perfectionism can cause students to avoid trying something new for fear of failure. Competitions would seem to benefit these students according to the research stated in this section.
In response to barbieb I really liked that part too, it made me think on 2 gt girls that I had 2 years ago. It always took them forever to finish the assignments. One because the drawings were not exactly the way she was visualizing them in her head, and the other one she only got to publish one book because it was never perfect in her eyes.I do believe Competitions are double edged sword for some kids if it becomes an obsession and it looses the purpose.
Ms. Barbles I absolutely agree with you. Perfectionism keeps students from trying something new because of failure and being able to get it correct Students learn from their mistakes, but they have to be willing to overcome the perfectionism to try it.
I like from pg. 6 the story about Ali, the 4th grader "that when asked he said the skill he learned during a competition called "Future Problem Solving" was to be a more tolerant person. He preferred to work alone, he didn't believe that others had good ideas. But after being in a group situation even the worst ideas gave him ideas he would not have had otherwise". It caught my attention, so many of the GT kids have heard their parents how "special" they are and some others realized even at a younger age that they are different than the other kids for certain subjects. Giving them the opportunity to work for a mutual goal in a competitive setting with not an immediate reward has a multiple gain for everybody involved. I really like the subtitle Some students have specific subject-matter aptitude. I remembered my first years teaching GT kids more than once I went back to the counselor to ask her are you sure this little girl is gt? She doesn't excel in all subjects just in reading or writing or drawing. That's why with this book and having the opportunity to find something "very specific" for someone "very specific" is priceless. So that and quote "she/he should be able to excel in the subject area in which he/she have special abilities while continue to receive instruction in other areas"I also like the fact that gives you the pros (enhances achievement, motivation, etc) and cons (can be view as result of ability rather than effort and motivation)
I totally agree with you Mrs. Cruz and as a teacher for over 22 years of teaching gifted at the fifth grade level we certainly see many students who are just overachievers and not really GT. I believe that those who are gifted in certain areas should have the avenues open to explore their capabilites in the field of their interest. I also am oppoed to teachers who do NOT want to teach gifted should not be forced to. I have witnessed classrooms where the gt are not given opportunities to pursue their talents and are stiffled by having to conform to certain aspects of the classroom that are not really in my opinion "big, " issues. It makes me very sad.
On page 12- Effects of Competition: I really found it interesting the concept and definition of competition. I always think of competition as a competition to win against a rivalry between one or more persons, and a reward at the end. I found that after reading this section that is not the case for internal competition. This allows the student to win when he/she meets a self-imposed goal. This may help the student overcome perfectionism and reach goals internally.
On p.14 I found interesting that the book suggest that gt students should be made aware that there are other students out there just as smart as they are if not smarter. This is supposed to encourage them to increase their motivattion for self improvement. I had never even given this idea any thought until now. I also liked the idea of group competition listed on p. 15. Not only would this enhance learning and self motivation, but it would bring those who are at slower learning curve to step up to a challange and possibly reach a higher level of learning.