The problem of overlooking “smart” students


In the education industry, a certain type of student is often overlooked. The teacher doesn’t say too much to them outside general positive feedback. Most of the time these students keep to themselves when they are younger. They may have a harder time in social environments, but have a rich inner mind. These students become outstanding observers at a young age. They don’t raise their hand to answer even though they are sure of the answer the moment the teacher questions the class. This type of student is generally ignored, mostly because teachers and other adult figures don’t worry about this student as much as others. Sometimes they are deemed  advanced learners from a young age, but often, this student is called “smart”.

Some may think that smart students receive the most attention, but in many cases they are actually left alone by the teacher. Students who struggle or act out in class often receive the most attention from teachers because they either need individual help understanding and assignment or concept, or they need a behavior corrected that required individual teacher to student attention. For smart students, they often do not mind not receiving teacher’s attention, but it’s more often that students who suffer from behavioral disorders are disciplined in front of the class before an intelligent student is praised for finishing their work. Teachers generally praise such students, but it can be difficult to praise all of the smart students in front of the class as it may upset the students who are not performing up to standards.

Some programs like “No student left behind” can be both beneficial and harmful to the students at the same time. For example, the students who are often left behind get the chance to catch up with other students in classroom concepts. However, for those students who often excel far beyond other students in their academic studies and thesis work such as PhD thesis editing, such above mentioned programs can hinder their professional intellectual advancement in school.

If a child shows great strides of intellectual ability above the other students, they may be given an Individual Progress Plan (IEP) so that they too, aren’t left behind. An IEP ensures they are given coursework materials that are on their learning ability. This doesn’t necessarily get them out of normal classroom work, it actually adds to it. This way the student is continually challenged and continues to grow and learn while other students in their grade do the same with regular coursework.

If nothing is done for the more academically gifted, they will become bored with the classroom and disinterest will breed as a result.

Although academically gifted students may advance quickly in their studies, it doesn’t guarantee social abilities. Sometimes gifted children may have a hard time with the social constructs within public or private education. Interacting with peers may come naturally or not at all to these students. For the students who are given an IEP, it can be difficult to make friends because they are often times are their own educational path than the other students. It isn’t that they are socially inept, it’s more that these students are so academic focused that it takes a while to develop social skills.

In a world that is fraught with ideas of equality and fairness, it does well to remember that it is not enough to give everyone the same opportunities, but to tailor those opportunities to the recipient.

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