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Losing our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind.

LOSING OUR MINDS: Gifted Children Left Behind. Deborah L. Ruf. Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press, 2005. 351 pp. $24.95. Given all the negative talk about education in the United states, it seems only fair that education professionals research, theorize, and scrutinize what is wrong with our education system's endeavor to meet the needs of all students, including those who are gifted and talented. Deborah Ruf, an educational consultant with more than 20 years of experience, describes how schools often fail to recognize varying intellectual levels and profiles of gifted and highly talented students. Ruf conveys how the United States is losing some of its most gifted and talented minds due to lack of programs, poor teacher training, and other education maladies. She cites the fact that when people in the United States think of those left behind, they often only consider the lower quartile of students and not the gifted.

Ruf illustrates five levels of giftedness through vignettes of 78 gifted and highly talented children. She explains each level of giftedness and offers strategies to help parents and teachers identify such students and provide appropriate curriculum. Using her own family as an example, Ruf explains the importance of compromise in working with schools to develop curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of gifted children. Her insightful, candid portrayals, following the progression of intellectual expression from birth to the teen years, include students who are simply bright and those who are intellectually astonishing. The principal goal is to help the reader understand the large range of talents and intellect among gifted individuals, and that educating or treating these children identically is a poor practice.

Ruf explains how and why extremely highly talented students are ignored, attributing some of these oversights to behavior screens, such as ADHD and the need for medication that may hinder the development of intelligences. She provides parents and educators with a theoretical framework to use in finding programs that meet the needs of these students. Ruf provides parents with candid descriptions of gifted young people and what they need to thrive.

As a parent, the book provided me with a new awareness of my own children's intellectual development and the importance of recognizing their differences in intelligence and fostering personal growth within each one of them, as individuals. Additionally, I approached this pedagogical wake-up call on how to develop curriculum and instruction that will not only identify talented students, but also nurture and encourage flexibility in teaching and learning, so as to enrich and enliven their middle school experience.

Ruf still believes in public education and all that it stands for. She neither dismisses nor blames teachers, but hopes that when the situation or need arises, educators will be willing to take an active part in working with the parents to understand and encourage the educational needs of gifted and highly talented students. Reviewed by Derek J. Hall, Ed. S., advanced language arts/reading teacher, Pompano Beach Middle School, FL
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Author:Hall, Derek J.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2006
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