The latest edition of Parenting for High Potential includes an article "Using Science as a Motivator for Underperforming Students" by Dr. Christy D. McGee. She tells the tale of her gifted son being bored and noncompliant in the early grades and finally, with her support, coming into himself as a real world answer finder for his peers. The quote that hit me was that "the decision for the adults who work with these wonderfully curious [gifted] children is making sure that that their focus is not learning and not on finding ways to be entertained" (p. 16). For my daughter, I have seen this over and over. She was entertained by coloring, not by learning for the first three years of her schooling. My pushing was well received by the teachers who were pressed not to improve the education for the kids who got, but to get all the kids to got it. They did not often find the time to meet her needs.
The biggest problem of the entertainment model is that my compliant child may chaff at the requirements that do not challenge her, but if something does, she breaks down. She has not learned how to deal with when things are not intuitively easy. We need to build challenge for all our kids, acknowledge that the common core, especially when scaffolded for the whole class, may not provide that challenge and provide emotional support for these kids who have not learned how to deal with imperfection and challenge.
The saddest part is that for our brightest kids, the solution is that parents need to provide the education. We are rightly required to provide an appropriate education for our neediest children, but we are institutionally encouraged to not do so for our brightest. Parents are told to do the job. It is not that I do not want to provide a rich educational home environment for my daughter, it is that I resent that school can say they are not obligated to do so as well.