At what age do you think a child’s trajectory of future achievements (or lack of) is defined? Some people think that it is at age 4. It must be since some of them spend considerable dollars having their 4 year-olds “prepared” for acing “the new gifted and talented test.” If the child scores big he will qualify “for gifted and talented kindergarten seats in New York City public schools.” It may be that the tutoring has done so well that, as the title of a recent New York Times article states, “Schools Ask: Gifted or Just Well-Prepared?”
Natalie . . . 4, spent an hour and a half each week for six months at Bright Kids NYC, a tutoring company, working on skills like spatial visualization and serial reasoning which are part of the . . . new gifted and talented test.
Why are some people allocating so much time, energy, money and emotional capital to training a 4 year-old to do a “better job” clustering spheres and cubes? These parents believe that gaining admission to an elite kindergarten program is mandatory in order to succeed in life. And being labeled as “talented and gifted” in kindergarten opens the doors to future gifted programs in elementary, middle, and high school, college and beyond.
However, being admitted to a kindergarten program for the talented and gifted does not automatically translate into success in life. Of course some of this depends upon how one defines success. One of my current research files in entitled “Noble Prize Winners.” Not all of the recipients of the medal are profiled. Only those who attended a non-elite, public university and/or who teach or have taught at one of those schools qualify for inclusion in my file. Too many people think that all medalists attended top tier, private colleges located somewhere geographically between Georgtown in DC and Bates in Maine. Really? The New York Times frequently publishes the bios of Noble Prize winners. Read them and you will find plenty of people like Dr. James M. Buchanan, “economic scholar and Noble Laureate. . . ” He earned his BA degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Robert C. Richardson, whose Nobel Prize was in Physics, received his bachelor’s degree at a state university, Virginia Tech. Nobel Laureate, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, perfected bone marrow transplant treatments for leukemia. He was a Chemistry major at The Unveristy of Texas and served for many years on the faculty of another public institution, The University of Washington. And while on the topic of chemistry note that Dr. Dan Shechtman won the 2011 Noble Prize in that category; he’s on the faculty of Iowa State University. How far is Ames, Iowa from the elite academic corridor of the Northeast?
Today public universities are filled with scholars, both faculty and students. As parents you should critically analyze before taking as gospel those many periodicals that supposedly define “a top rated college.” And here is what the decamillionaires profiled in The Millionaire Mind believed: only 11% felt that “attending a top rated college” was very important in explaining economic success. More than five times that number (60%) reported that “being well disciplined” was the key to achieving.
The race called “career building and achievement” is a marathon that begins after one receives a degree.