I heard of Lewis Terman and George Stoddard’s argument while mulling over a quiet disaster.
For five Saturdays over a recent semester I taught an “Advanced Language Arts” class to seventh and eighth-graders identified as gifted. Hosted by a nationally-known program advocating for gifted education and selected after advertising the class to an unspecified number of schools, our group was small, five girls and two boys, and met for three hours at a time. Our focus was creative nonfiction: personal narratives. No grades, no testing, just exercises, encouragement and feedback. Looking back on it, I shouldn’t have been surprised the class didn’t go as planned but these children had been identified as gifted, they were giving up several Saturdays to meet, their parents had paid three hundred bucks for the privilege and—this is where I made my first mistake—I accepted the assertion by one of the administrators in the program that I should assume they could read and write at the same level as the first year college students I’d been teaching for the past few years.