cover image GENIUS DENIED: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds

GENIUS DENIED: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds

Laura Vanderkam, Jan Davidson, Bob Davidson, . . Simon & Schuster, $23 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-5460-1

The Davidsons, a husband-and-wife team, established a nonprofit organization to assist especially bright kids and their parents in their quest for educational fulfillment. They draw on their clients' experiences in this manifesto for change. For gifted students, "doing well does not mean doing one's best," they believe, and highly intelligent children are often as inclined to fail as to succeed. Of course, the terrible shape of education—and public schooling in particular—isn't news, and approaches to learning for specialized groups like the gifted are often as jerry-built as those for the learning disabled. Like a gentle, scripted but persistent public service announcement, this book reminds readers that when it comes to education, legislators, lobbyists, administrators, teachers, parents and even gifted children themselves sometimes fall into lazy, conformist patterns of thinking and action, and that both the current situation and the forecast for the future are fairly discouraging. The Davidsons make a compelling case for re-approaching giftedness as a potential disability (to give more attention to gifted kids) and an even stronger argument for parents, teachers and citizens to consider the potential loss to American society in the costliest imaginable terms. Above all, they want readers, whatever their relationship to the gifted, to start thinking about the issue. This is an exhortatory book that doesn't resort to finger pointing; it even includes "what you can do about this" suggestions aimed at everyone from policymakers and principals to parents. Agent, Carol Mann. (Apr.)