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Davidson Institute: Existential depression in gifted individuals

"Because gifted children are able to consider the possibilities of how things might be, they tend to be idealists. However, they are simultaneously able to see that the world is falling short of how it might be. Because they are intense, gifted children feel keenly the disappointment and frustration which occurs when ideals are not reached. Similarly, these youngsters quickly spot the inconsistencies, arbitrariness and absurdities in society and in the behaviors of those around them. Traditions are questioned or challenged. For example, why do we put such tight sex-role or age-role restrictions on people? Why do people engage in hypocritical behaviors in which they say one thing and then do another? Why do people say things they really do not mean at all? Why are so many people so unthinking and uncaring in their dealings with others? How much difference in the world can one person's life make?

"When gifted children try to share these concerns with others, they are usually met with reactions ranging from puzzlement to hostility. They discover that others, particularly of their age, clearly do not share these concerns, but instead are focused on more concrete issues and on fitting in with others' expectations. Often by even first grade, these youngsters, particularly the more highly gifted ones, feel isolated from their peers and perhaps from their families as they find that others are not prepared to discuss such weighty concerns.

"When their intensity is combined with multi-potentiality, these youngsters become particularly frustrated with the existential limitations of space and time. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to develop all of the talents that many of these children have. Making choices among the possibilities is indeed arbitrary; there is no "ultimately right" choice. Even choosing a vocation can be difficult if one is trying to make a career decision between essentially equal passion, talents and potential in violin, neurology, theoretical mathematics and international relations.

"The reaction of gifted youngsters (again with intensity) to these frustrations is often one of anger. But they quickly discover that their anger is futile, for it is really directed at "fate" or at other matters which they are not able to control. Anger that is powerless evolves quickly into depression. "

What Characterizes the Modern Totalitarian, Corporatized University?

"In Savannah, Georgia, an ambitious experiment in higher education is under way. Ralston College aims to offer a back-to-basics liberal arts experience , stripped of the amenities and assumptions of the modern university. Though just now getting off the ground--it has yet to accept student applications--its stated mission is clear. Students will experience rigorous coursework year-round and focus on 'reading books, thinking about them, and talking about them,' according to the college's brochure.

"Perhaps more noteworthy is what Ralston College intends not to have: armies of administrators micromanaging student life, cloistered academic departments unwelcoming to interdisciplinary studies, and coddled students whose sentiments and comforts, as supposed 'customers,' are paramount."

Back to School | The Weekly Standard

Yale computer science professor David Gelernter calls on his fellow conservatives to lead the reinvention of higher education: "This is the future: The Internet can be an international gossip machine, or it can be a switchboard for connecting pairs or groups who could never otherwise have come together. The most important aspect of the university of the near future is not the Internet per se; it's the distribution of university functions throughout the educated population. Engineers and industrial scientists, retired schoolteachers, journalists, combat veterans, economists, housewives, MDs, diplomats, businessmen, musicians, and many thousands of others across the globe are potential teachers or (just as important) one-on-one tutors in science, mathematics and engineering, music and the arts, and​--​the university's most important mission​--​in how to read and write like a grown-up. Some humanities fields will continue to require heavy assistance from academia. Some areas in the social sciences will disappear. And easily 90 percent (maybe 95) of existing U.S. colleges and universities could be gone within 15 years. "

The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids -- New York Magazine

"For a few decades, it's been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent....

"Psychologist Wulf-Uwe Meyer, a pioneer in the field, conducted a series of studies where children watched other students receive praise. According to Meyer's findings, by the age of 12, children believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign you did well--it's actually a sign you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement. And teens, Meyer found, discounted praise to such an extent that they believed it's a teacher's criticism--not praise at all--that really conveys a positive belief in a student's aptitude....

"But it turns out that the ability to repeatedly respond to failure by exerting more effort--instead of simply giving up--is a trait well studied in psychology. People with this trait, persistence, rebound well and can sustain their motivation through long periods of delayed gratification. Delving into this research, I learned that persistence turns out to be more than a conscious act of will; it's also an unconscious response, governed by a circuit in the brain. Dr. Robert Cloninger at Washington University in St. Louis located the circuit in a part of the brain called the orbital and medial prefrontal cortex. It monitors the reward center of the brain, and like a switch, it intervenes when there's a lack of immediate reward. When it switches on, it's telling the rest of the brain, "Don't stop trying. There's dopa [the brain's chemical reward for success] on the horizon." While putting people through MRI scans, Cloninger could see this switch lighting up regularly in some. In others, barely at all...."

Why There Was No Basement Tornado Shelter in That Oklahoma City School « Blog

"Politicians like himself will always spend taxpayers' money in a way that enhances THEIR popularity and maximizes THEIR chances for re-election. There are orders of magnitude more votes to be had in handing out welfare benefits or lavish public employee pensions than in replacing leaky water lines. Public employees are well organized politically; the average taxpaying citizens are not.... Putting a basement in a new school building will not motivate government school teachers to spend thousands of hours campaigning and driving voters to the polls in school buses. Promises of pay and pension increases will."

The writer has a point about politicians, but it doesn't apply to Oklahoma and the way we finance education and school facilities. School bond issues can only be used for capital improvements and equipment, not operating costs. If anything, school bond issue supporters here work for low voter turnout; I've never heard of driving people to the polls in school buses, which I'm pretty sure would be against the law. Heavy construction companies are usually very supportive of school bond issues, since they stand to win the contracts to do the work, and publicly-funded construction can take up the slack when the economy has stalled new commercial construction. There's plenty of political incentive to build school tornado shelters; I suspect the hindrance is practical. Oklahoma just doesn't have many basements. (Remember what happened to Tulsa's buried Belvedere.) Blair, Oklahoma, has an impressively large, partially buried storm shelter on its school playground, easily seen from US 283, about 20' wide by 70' long, built in 1928 after a tornado destroyed the school.

The Impact of Federal Involvement in America's Classrooms

Andrew J. Coulson's February 10, 2011, testimony to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Includes graphs showing federal per-pupil spending vs. achievement and total K-12 public school spending vs. achievement, 1970-2010.

The Juilliard Effect - Ten Years Later -

In 2004, the New York Times hunted for the 44 instrumentalists who graduated with the Juilliard Class of 1994. After 10 years, fewer than half of these gifted musicians were making a living performing music.

Oklahoma Teacher: October 1921 issue: October Bible Readings

Back in October 1921, on p. 22, the official publication of the Oklahoma Education Association offered a list of daily Bible readings and weekly memory verses.

Book of Virtues - Shiver Academy

Questions, worksheets, and activity ideas designed around William Bennett's The Book of Virtues

rec.arts.books Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How did one find quirky local bookstores before the World Wide Web was invented? Well, there was Usenet, and there was the rec.arts.books FAQ, with its listing of bookstores by region, edited by Evelyn C. Leeper. The list is still being edited and maintained, although some entries are out of date. (Remember Novel Idea? First Edition?)