Recognizing the gifted child and his need for guidance
Cossart, Russell L.
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My selection of this problem has been influenced by many factors fron many directions. In the short time that I did my practice teaching I became aware of two major weaknesses in the school system. I could do nothing about then at that time, but I can now voice my protest to such conditions and begin strengthening my background so that I shall be able to enter the teaching field with the feeling that I can teach students by guiding them along the lines which are correlative with their abilities and interests The idea that anyone can touch is as fallacious as is the idea that anyone can become President of the United States. The same is true of counseling. I have been attempting to find out what makes a good teacher, and now, in this fifth year of college, I am adding to my quest the search for the qualities of a good counselor. Whether an individual is a counselor to the classroom in the form of a teacher, or if he is in a special department, he needs special training and background before becoming truly successful. We are faced by a realistic and reasonably scientific world, but the school system is still, to some extent, idealistic, theoretical, and philosophical about some of the things which are important to the training of individuals in order that their adjustment to society and the social order will be a normal and intelligent adjustment. Many schools still have little if any type of effective program for the testing and measuring of their students to find their intelligence range, their social maturity, their interests, or their vocational interests and abilities. Special departments for counseling are not needed in each school to carry through such a program, but how few administrators realize this! A cooperative bureau or a teacher or teachers trained for this job can do an acceptable piece of work in guidance. To add to the seriousness of this condition is the fact that there has been very little work done in the area of the mentally gifted child. It was not until 1855 that anything was ever done to provide extra training for the gifted, and it was not until World War I that intelligence tests were found desirable. Psychological counseling found its importance as late as World War II. Obviously these three subjects conspire to make one major problem: What is being done about social, vocational, and academic guidance of the mentally gifted child in our schools, and what can be done to improve the situation? My purpose is to uncover several of the weaknesses of our educative system and to show what some educators are doing to correct these failures so that I can make a step in the direction of good, inspired, and wise teaching and counseling. When I first began searching out material I was looking for specifics that might be exercised by a counseling office, not considering that the teacher plays an important role in a guidance program. Since then I have discovered that counseling is everyone's job: the administrator, the homeroom teacher, the classroom teacher, the sponsor of extracurricular activities and the full time counselor are all involved in the problem of guidance. My study, though limited in many respects, covers the broad expanse from the cradle through college. This is necessary in order to get the whole point of view. If the subject covered only one phase of the child's education, there would be great gaps in the function of guidance. My interests lie primarily in the high school, but they are such that pre-high school and post-high school guidance are a necessary function of the school and social systems. Full cooperation of the various levels of academic and vocational institutions is required to carry through a functional program of adjustment.