Friday, January 19, 2007

WSJ: Educating Intellectually Gifted Students

In the Wall Street Journal, Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, among others, puts forth his ideas about educating intellectually gifted students in an article entitled Aztecs vs. Greeks.

Key points:

- high IQ people disproportionately influence society's progress (media, research, professions, technology, etc)

- public funding of gifted education is abysmal (1% of the education budget in 2006, zeroed out in 2007), nevertheless most intelligent young people are able to reap the advantages of higher education

- encouragement of wisdom should involve the teaching of humility, precise thinking, history, and ethics


"The gifted should not be taught to be nonjudgmental; they need to learn how to make accurate judgments. They should not be taught to be equally respectful of Aztecs and Greeks; they should focus on the best that has come before them, which will mean a light dose of Aztecs and a heavy one of Greeks. The primary purpose of their education should not be to let the little darlings express themselves, but to give them the tools and the intellectual discipline for expressing themselves as adults.

In short, I am calling for a revival of the classical definition of a liberal education, serving its classic purpose: to prepare an elite to do its duty."

It's true that many intellectually gifted students will find some way to thrive. But Murray raises a good point about how society should care about the moral development of these intellectually promising students, and what influences are important to encourage them to be wise and good leaders for future generations.

This article is third in a series at the Wall Street Journal, and we take issue with some points of these others, but we'll tackle them in a future post. The series started off with a weaker effort (Intelligence in the Classroom, and What's Wrong with Vocational School was the article stuck in-between. Murray's greatest weakness is his over-reliance on g to predict intelligence, but we'll have to take that one on at a later date. Have a great weekend.

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