The Gifted Learner
Gifted students in the 4C Program are of exceptional intellectual ability. They must show task commitment and be creative in problem solving. A significant form of task commitment is reading: “A high level of reading and comprehension at an early stage is usually an indication of exceptional ability” (Belle Wallace).
Another characteristic essential to the gifted learner is a highly developed sense of curiosity about the world. If any single thing differentiates the intellectually gifted from the academically bright it is curiosity. Curiosity seems to be an integral part of task commitment and creativity.
Aims and Goals of the 4C Program
- To enable the student to develop critical and creative thinking ability.
- To provide opportunities to grow socially and emotionally.
- To encourage the student to become an autonomous learner with a love of learning.
- To develop all of the student’s cognitive abilities.
- To challenge the student intellectually through the enrichment of subject matter.
These aims are intended to cover the different aspects of the gifted learner: the intellectual, the intuitive, the feeling and the sensate (Barbary Clark). Intellectually gifted students have some special needs. They learn to think critically at an earlier age than their age-mates. They also have the ability to think more deeply about far more complex and abstract issues than regular program students. The gifted can understand ideas at an intellectual level long before they understand them at a feeling level. These abilities are fostered and guided in the 4C Program.
In the areas of social and emotional growth the gifted may have unique needs. Some children have become social isolates and it is through such a program as 4C that they learn to reach out to others from the safety of acceptance. It is well documented that gifted students have a highly developed sense of justice and fairness. They can be abrasive in demanding that everyone live up to their standards. The 4C Program aims to help them think critically about their ethical beliefs and to understand and respect those whose ethics may differ from their own.
Teachers, by encouraging critical thinking through research, can assist gifted children to begin directing some of their own learning. The teacher acts as a role model by showing openness to all ideas especially those counter to strongly held beliefs. Similarly, by demonstrating a love of learning and a passion for discipline, the teacher becomes role model.
In the book Frames of Mind, Gardner discusses seven types of intelligence. Besides the special intelligences of music, art, and mathematics, there are linguistic and spatial intelligences. Equally important are the intelligences of perceptiveness. Gardner divides them into perception about self and perception about others. These are frequently combined. A very important aim of the 4C Program is to develop both of these intelligences. In order to have meaningful relationships and to grow in spirit, the gifted student needs to be stretched through an increased awareness of how these intelligences of perception are fundamental to a happy, successful life.
The way to accomplish the goals of 1 to 4 is to provide an enriched environment for gifted children in every class and every subject. In this environment they can be together and develop their intellectual potential to the fullest.
It is not so much that the aims for the gifted are different from those for regular program students, as that the capacity that these children have to reach them is different. It is this capacity which we are trying to address.
Intellectual: The intellectual aspect is developed in a variety of ways from academic enrichment to special projects; from critical philosophy to self directed learning.
Social: The social elements are developed through outdoor educational experiences, wilderness field trips, forums, conferences, and class get-togethers.
Ability Grouping: It is important to refer at this point to the mountain of research that has been written about ability grouping and the gifted. The evidence seems conclusive to the teachers of 4C that intellectually gifted students must have time to interact with their intellectual peers. This need cannot be accommodated in the regular classroom; therefore 4C students take all of their academic subjects together. This provides them with a place to interact in a safe, constant, and stimulating environment.
Criteria for Probation and Withdrawal from the Challenge Program
Although withdrawal from the Challenge Program is rare, and indeed we expect, and are used to, the following issues not being a problem, students and staff alike feel that a clearly defined process for probation and withdrawal might be helpful.
A student will receive a letter of probation for the following reasons:
1. Suspension from school for any reason.
2. Plagiarism and/or cheating. This includes handing in the same work for more than one assignment, lifting copy directly from the internet, presenting the work of others as your own, cheating on tests, in team settings, in competitions etc.
3. Chronic, unexcused absences, or tardiness.
4. Two “needs improvement” evaluations for “work habits” on report cards. “Needs improvement” evaluation will be given to students who display behavior that is disruptive to fellow students and / or teachers; students who repeatedly submit late work without valid reason; students who are repeatedly late to class without valid reason; students who do not participate in class; students who are repeatedly unprepared for class.
5. Bullying as identified by any staff member. Bullying is defined as physical, verbal, psychological or emotional. Bullying includes that directed towards other students, teaching staff, support staff and administrative staff.
6. Repeated assertions, written or verbal, of a desire not to be in the Challenge program.
A student will be withdrawn from the program for the following reasons:
1. Withdrawal from, or failure to complete, any required Challenge program course.
2. Receipt of a probation letter followed by further failure to meet the Challenge program standards as demonstrated by situations as listed above.