Every Child, A GATE Child
In our school district, the acronym GATE stands for Gifted and Talented Education. When I was growing up, they called it TAG (talented and gifted). Functionally this is the district’s attempt at recognizing those students who have ‘gifted’ learning abilities. They are usually the kids who get their work done quickly because it comes easy to them or they are the ones who blow the curve in your high school or college classes.
I LOVE the gifted and talented education. I love the unique games and classes and ways of thinking the GATE education offers. And I believe the things they teach and the experiences they have would be beneficial for all children.
I have just a couple of problems with the whole GATE concept, however. First, children are only tested if a teacher recommends them, which usually means they have to have the right teacher and relationship with that teacher. A student may be a GATE student, but if because of the circumstances of the classroom, i.e. peers, teacher/student personality conflicts, lesson material, etc…the student doesn’t perform like a GATE student, then the recommendation will not be made. Because of funds and time, they do not test everyone. Some GATE children may never be identified as such. Second, a parent may make the request to have their student tested, but if the school personnel do not agree, their student will not be tested. Third, regardless of which tests they use, the tests only measure certain areas of ‘recognized’ gifted-ness….this is my major problem with the GATE idea. Here is why.
I believe we are all children of God, created in His image and capable of becoming like Him. Let that sink in a minute…….(waiting……….getting a drink of water………..checking my email………more waiting…….)
God–a person with all knowledge, perfect character, able to create universes but aware of the tiniest details necessary for microscopic life, perfectly just and perfectly merciful—-and we are His children—-ALL of us. Which to me means we ALL have the potential to become completely like Him, if we choose to. Thus, all of us have to be gifted and talented in some area. We just might not know what it is and it may not be (probably is not) recognized or quantified by a GATE test.
Now, some of you will disagree with me. What about those who are mentally handicapped—they are obviously not GATE kids, you may say. But I believe they are. Wouldn’t you agree that some of those people are the most kind, patient and forgiving people? They can experience severe cruelty and mocking, yet they do not get angry or revile their persecutors. Their character is perfectly mild and meek. In that area, their characters are much nearer to God than I am.
As their parents, we just have to help them figure out what their innate gifts and special talents are. Then we need to help them develop those gifts further. This will help to enhance their self-esteem so that when they have to face their weaknesses they can already be aware of their strengths and not feel overwhelmed by the growth in front of them.
There you have it: Every child, a GATE child. You probably have a few little Einstein’s running around in the kitchen right now, marking on the furniture with Sharpies…….at least that’s what the one in my house is doing.