I had a casual conversation in the dentist office a couple of years ago with a woman in the waiting room. She was reading a book I recognized and we fell into talking. It turned out that we had come to similar conclusions about our town’s gifted program, and she was very eager to talk about it. She was especially interested in the fact that I agreed with her even though my children had been a part of that program – for a time, anyway. The whole concept felt wrong to both of us.
The book she was reading was Mindset, by Carol Dweck – which has become so well-known at this point that “growth mindset” has been reduced to a meme. (Here’s a link to Carol Dweck’s TED Talk.) Even Carol Dweck is worrying that it’s been twisted into something less than productive when bandied about in the context of school performance. (Here she revisits the ideas to clarify their use in schools). In any case, there’s a lot of truth in the ideas, and they made a big impression on me when I first read it in early 2007. I think about it often. In any case, my new dentist office friend was finding it extremely relevant to her arguments about the gifted program.
She thought the town was sending the message that some kids are inherently different from others, and not just different, but actually better.
It pissed her off. Continue reading “Measuring Worth”