Page 5


HOUSTON Several years before the Sputniks caused a national crying-out for more basic education and less “life adjustment” in the schools, the Houston school board ordered a revamping of its system to give gifted students special opportunities and to restore stress on fundamental knowledge. Curiously the “return to fundamentals” has been woven inextricably into the conservative majority’s attempt to purify the curriculum of subject matter it regards as dangerous politically. Critics of separate classes for intellectually gifted students might conclude, too, that school trustees who are aristocratic in their political values might also be less considerate, of mental averageness. Even so, the revision of the Houston school curriculum toward fundamental subject matter and the encouragement a intelligent ‘Students has had “bi-partisan” auppnrt from liberal and conservative members of tiro Traugtnn board for the past four years. Edwin Martin, assistant superintendent for secondary education, last October preseAted the board with a school-by-school re port on separate classes for gifted students. Interesting points: At Austin high, J. R. Weeks, teaching special classes in English, let his students use a college text for grammar diagramming. They also studied writers’ magazines and worked cooperatively on short stories. He said their study of literature was hampered because of the lack of enough copies of “choice books.” In a 20-student biology class, students were permitted to study units at their own pace and request an examination when they Ronnie Dugger felt they were ready, then going on to the next unit. Seniors in a special English class at Bellaire high turned in essays and creative work on alternate weeks. “Their work,” said teacher Shirley Wile.v, as a, whole, was oolliparable to freshman college level, and in some instances was profound.” Low tenth grade students in a special English class at Lamar high studied the regular materials plus a serious novel, several short stories, and many poems; they wrote original short stories, poems, and essays; one won a top award in a creative short story contest sponsored by T.S.C.W., and another won third prize in Seventeen magazine’s short story contest. Eleventh grade for gifted students at Lamar included a study of the Odyssey and a study of versification. Special classes were offered in Spanish, geometry, trig, physics, chemistry, and American history. “The rate at which the class can progress is somewhat higher than in the other classes … because there are no slow learners to retard speed,” said physics teacher C. B. Gentry. In second semester civics at Lamar, F. L. Duggan’s special class took up some of the fields of philosophy, particularly logic and ethics. “The students are going to get their feet wet in these things; we will try to get them to think about the background of Western thinking and we will talk some about the scientific spirit,” Duggan says. It: addition, Lamar offered a course equivalent to college freshman math. Milby high principal W. I. Stevenson said of that school’s many special classesEnglish, biology, history, civics, algebra, Spanish “Much repetition was eliminated and more original thinking was emphasized. Pupils were given more control during periods of activity.” Reagan high principal R. H. Williams reported special courses BLACKOUT AMARILLO Word has been plssed to the desk of the Amarillo Daily News and Globe-Times that Sen. Ralph Yarborough’s name is not to appear in print, the Observer is authoritatively advised. in writing, chemistry, history, and math. He said the seminar method is used in the writing courses, with students readhig their work aloud to their teachers and fellow students, receiving criticisms, then rewriting. Much more is expected of gifted students, Williams said. At Wheatley high, special classes, says Principal John Codwell, were established in English, geometry, and biology, with special class science and math pro . lectS winning grand prizes at the science fair in Houston last April. Higher Standards John Ratliff, principal at Pershing junior high, says of the special classes there: “Adult magazines, Encyclopedia Britannica, chemistry and physics textbooks, anthologies, indexes, catalogues … instruments, and slide rules are used by these students. … Original studies are encouraged. … Higher standards … are re Training the Gifted titA ,141.WIC’ 1014MITifik AA t% y 17