Guest view: Students starved of creative challenges

By Deborah Hazelton

Public schools today are trapped in a race to score well on tests rather than to pose intellectual challenges for students to investigate over time. There is a rush to get all students to perform well on these tests to satisfy district, state, and many community groups.

As a result teachers are forced into test prep mode and encouraged to do “drill and kill” activities to get results. Students starved for intellectual challenges are continually fed questions that simply require a sharp number two pencil to fill in a circle.

They need to have time to investigate unanswered questions, make inferences, and defend their ideas.

Research on bright and gifted students reveals that children need to be stimulated with advanced content as well as multiple and varied resources. Dr. Sandra Kaplan, professor from University of Southern California claims it is a moral imperative for educators to ensure that students’ needs and interests are being met. In a recent article,

“Differentiating Curriculum: The Moral Imperative in the Gifted Education Communicator,” she states that it is the obligation of both educators and parents to advocate for educational experiences that are challenging and meaningful for all students.

Unless the focus in education changes, parents and teachers need to reevaluate some of the experiences they are creating for their children. Parents need to take charge of their child’s education and find outside experiences after school, on Saturdays or in summer school or camp. Will test preparation experiences really prepare our children for their future in society?

Deborah Hazelton is the co-founder of The Academy Learning Center and California Association for the Gifted president-elect.