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Column: Why we are leaving GT

%22Through+high+school%2C+the+GT+program+has+slowly+changed+the+way+it+responds+to+our+different+thinking%2C+as+they+identified+in+us+at+an+early+age%2C+and+instead+sprinkle+us+with+extra+curriculum+to+cater+to+our+supposed+needs+to+excel.%22

"Through high school, the GT program has slowly changed the way it responds to our different thinking, as they identified in us at an early age, and instead sprinkle us with extra curriculum to cater to our supposed needs to excel."

Grace Nguyen

Grace Nguyen

"Through high school, the GT program has slowly changed the way it responds to our different thinking, as they identified in us at an early age, and instead sprinkle us with extra curriculum to cater to our supposed needs to excel."

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We had such high hopes. Administration told us from a young age that we were special. We were gifted. As if our peers weren’t…

But that was what we were raised to believe.

So when we graduated middle school and special became different, the Gifted and Talented program had disappointed us.

We were foreign to the rest of our peers, and we were held to seemingly impossible expectations.

And so after seven years in the GT program, we, sophomores Lily Hager and Benjamin Nopper, do not hesitate to walk away.

Our elementary and middle school experience in these special education classes were filled with excitement. We started blogs, created brochures about times we could never live in, and even built kites to fly.

Through high school, the GT program has slowly changed the way it responds to our different thinking, as they identified in us at an early age, and instead sprinkle us with extra curriculum to cater to our supposed needs to excel.

The kids inducted into GT have since then grown up into a real world of GPA competition, college planning, and career opportunities. We don’t desire a board game project. We desire to succeed in a competitive world.

While providing a Gifted and Talented program can have a positive impact on students’ learning experiences, there is no incentive for one to enroll in the program anymore. High school GT students miss out on deserved recognition.

There is no GPA benefit.

Although teachers should not change class curriculum for GT classes, the program continues to force GT students to learn additional content and take formative assessments not required of other students. The result is a class rank system which places students with extra curriculum and those on the regular track in the same scale, putting the GT student at a disadvantage.

The Lovejoy GT philosophy states, “Identified gifted and talented students demonstrate abilities in original and creative thinking, exceptionally high achievement, and are self-directed learners.”

This philosophy itself has been lost over the years. Some miscommunication or blatant lack of understanding has resulted in GT classes checking the boxes of “creative thinking” with extra quizzes and tests. They believe they encourage “self-directed” learning by avoiding answering questions. They think their hands-off style and “encouraging” phrases about what makes us think so “outside the box” stretch our minds and expand our capabilities.

In reality, they are building self-importance and pride in an already self-entitled generation. It is twisted to believe that GT students are somehow better than others. Yet there is this egotistic impression many GT students have that they couldn’t handle being in a regular class. The students are too good for that.

Of course they believe that. The GT program has told them so.

Because these GT students were combined in sixth grade when all three of the district’s elementary schools converged, kids have been in the same classes for years, which makes learning especially dysfunctional.

These kids have shared the same classes for so long that they are trapped in their own social bubble. And speaking from personal experience, once you’re in that bubble, it’s extremely difficult to fit in when you’re inevitably thrown outside of that clique.

There’s value in the isolation when we are young. Our crazy thinking eggs each other on. It’s exciting for a kid to be around minds who think alike.

But we’ve grown up.

We live in a competitive world during a time in our lives where we begin to diverge into different career paths and beliefs. Some teachers lost the value of a GT class, instead believing they satisfy these special students with more curriculum and homework.

For the program to offer benefits to students, it must undergo changes. But since it hasn’t, it is at this point that we say goodbye, Gifted and Talented.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Column: Why we are leaving GT”

  1. A GT Upperclassman on May 14th, 2018 3:19 pm

    We acknowledge your article, yet want to state that you should, perhaps, consider these other perspectives.

    Although you believe that GT isolates students, there are opportunities to meet a variety of people. For example, Lovejoy has plenty of extracurricular activities that students can participate in. There are clubs, sports, and a variety of fine arts classes, including theater, art, choir, band, and orchestra. These classes could be taken in order to gain the required credit and experience. Furthermore, there are AP classes that are not GT; for example, AP Seminar and AP Art history combine GT and non-GT students. It is also a personal decision to socialize solely with GT students. Throughout the years of middle school and high school, there are plenty of people to meet, and, if you only make friends with GT students, that is clearly a choice. Nobody is holding you back from this so-called isolation, which doesn’t really exist if you have a class of more than one person. It’s not like there’s only one elite GT student per grade. GT is a separate classification for many students, probably about 20% of a graduating class.

    On competition, we understand competition exists in GT classes, as well as in Lovejoy overall. Sometimes, this can be overwhelming, but you make the choice to sign up for classes every year. To some degree, competition prepares you for life, because you’re going to meet people who are smarter than you, and you’re going to meet people who aren’t. Competition helps you manage stress as long as there isn’t too much, and, again, you know yourself best. If you really hate how many GT or AP classes you’re enrolled in, just drop out or don’t sign up.

    Classes are supposed to challenge you, which is why certain students are put in GT courses. You have to prove that you’re up to the challenge, and this is speaking from experience: non-GT classes can be dull if you are accustomed to obstacles and if your classes demand creativity. Non-GT classes are not some sort of upgrade, where you’re sure to make 100 and get that GPA boost you so dearly desire. Sure, you may have an easier time getting straight A’s, but this may come at the cost of learning opportunities. When you apply to colleges, they want to see that you have taken rigorous classes and have tried your hardest. If you only have relatively easy courses on your transcript, they may question your willingness or ability to work hard and persevere. (Some colleges consider GT as an honors tier.)

    Though some GT classes require extra work of their students, this is usually not busy work; it’s supposed to enhance your learning and understanding of the curriculum. Dropping out of all GT classes at once may leave you extremely isolated, as you have made many friends in your GT classes. Also, it’s likely you’ll be bored if you change from completely GT to completely non-GT classes within one year, especially as you are rising juniors trying to show colleges just how smart and prepared you are.

    We’re not telling you to change your minds, because this is 100% your personal decision. We’re simply offering new perspectives for you to consider, as GT students ourselves.

    [Reply]

  2. Brandon Kofahl on May 15th, 2018 8:58 am

    Class rank is determined by an unweighted GPA, meaning that all classes are the same, so by weighting GT classes your rank wouldn’t change. AP classes don’t change your class rank, so why should GT?

    [Reply]

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