I want to find Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters
April 8, 2009 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything in real life like Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, formerly Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters minus the mutants?

I am not talking about international schools where expats, and diplomats' kids go, but a school(K-12) or institution that accepts bright/gifted kids from around the world.

I just want more information for my own knowledge if one or more exists.

If the answer is no, then why wouldn't something like this work?
Have a boarding school for gifted children, where the kids' come from all over the world, preferably from impoverished areas. The parents, and governments would agree to allow the child to study and board there.
Parents could request the child be sent back at any time. The school would provide airfare and lodgings for the parents 1 or 2 times a year. School would be mostly year round.

I have been thinking about this on and off for over 20 years while drunk, sober, sleeping, driving, ect.. and presently have it stuck in my head everytime I hear about Madonna and the baby adoption thing.

Please no chatfilter answers on why it should or shouldn't be done. Just, Has it been done? If not, can it be done? How or why not?
posted by MrMulan to Education (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"why wouldn't something like this work?"

Who would pay for all this schooling, lodging, and airfare? You realize private school for K12 students -- at the ultra-high end like you're talking about -- runs many tens of thousands of dollars per student per year, right?

"can it be done? How or why not?"

Kinda-sorta. I mean, it could be done. I'd certainly consider sending my bright/gifted kids, since you're paying for their education and all.
posted by majick at 2:30 PM on April 8, 2009

Response by poster: This is the answer I give to the question "What would you do if you won the (insane amount even after taxes and the lump sum are taken into account) lotto?"

Also, it would be a non-profit, and I would hit up (for starters), Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Madonna, Governments, anybody rich with a cynical social conscious, George Cloony, System of the Down.
posted by MrMulan at 2:34 PM on April 8, 2009

What about this place? I know someone who went there, and from the sound of it, it was kinda like what you're talking about. I'm not sure they make an effort to bring in children from poor families or not, but it is international.
posted by parkerjackson at 2:37 PM on April 8, 2009

The closest thing in real life is probably United World College of the Atlantic and its offshoots.
posted by trotter at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2009

Upon further investigation, I think it sounds a lot like what you wanted. Also sounds a little like system of wizardry schools in HP.

On preview, I think trotter and I hit on the same answer.
posted by parkerjackson at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2009

Best answer: Identifying "gifted" kids in the real world is not that easy.

Friends have their child in the gifted program in the Toronto Board of Education. It's a distinct class in a specific school, though it's not a magnet school like in the US. You need to get interviewed to get in, tested, etc. Our friend's child is a girl and she's nice, but I'm really not sure if she's that far above average. According to them, most of the kids are boys and they all have Asperger's or Asperger's like symptoms - they're great at math but can't make eye contact in a conversation. And by great I mean they're maybe 2 grades ahead of other kids their age. They're not exactly proving Fermat's Last Theorm. So it ends up being a de facto special needs class as opposed to an actual group of geniuses. I guess it's more palatable to parents to call it "gifted" as opposed to "socially retarded".

Aside from that, my understanding of mainstream education theory is that kids in elementary/middle school get as much out of the socialization aspect as they get out of the academics. Your idea is really only viable for kids who are at least, say, 14+, i.e. high school age.

And once word of the program got out, you end up with parents who would actively try to cram their kids in there. Never underestimate parents' opinions of their kids' genius. But even if you avoided that, finding geniuses isn't easy, not even counting the problem of defining genius. Most Nobel prize winners are pretty average people outside their field of study. And most seemed like pretty normal 16 year-olds.

Finally, what you suggest does sort of exist in private universities. By the time you're 18-22 it's fairly easy to separate the actually geniuses out from the pack because people finally know enough to prove they're far above average. Stanford, Oxford or MIT are basically what you're describing, except everyone is 10+ years older than what you describe. But I think it's just not possible to really identify people like that any earlier.
posted by GuyZero at 2:48 PM on April 8, 2009

Let me also point out that Dr Xavier was telepathic and all, so he had an easier time identifying his gifted students than most admissions directors.
posted by GuyZero at 2:58 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

The schools of the New York Interschool Association members are all crazy competitive when it comes to admissions. Are all of those kids gifted? No way. But this is what schools for super-gifted kids would probably look like.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2009

Another MeFites mailed me to raise issue with my negative characterization of people with Asperger's syndrome. Sorry about that. if I can try to rephrase my point, it was that the "gifted" kids in at least one large school board (the TDSB) get into that program as much because they have trouble integrating socially into a "normal" class in addition to being ahead in some subjects, typically math. To my knowledge, you don't see kids get put into the gifted program due to their excellence in social studies or creative writing, at least in elementary/middle school. My equating these students with people with Asperger's is an overly-broad characterization and I shouldn't really perpetuate negative stereotypes.
posted by GuyZero at 3:47 PM on April 8, 2009

Best answer: As a former student in the gifted program in Toronto, I can tell you that you are indeed making a broad generalization, not just for gifted programs in general, but for Toronto's as well. I don't know about the program today, or whether your friends are in a sort of sub-program, but I wouldn't say the kids in the gifted program with me were on average any more socially inept than anyone else.

We had special "gifted" classes for the main subjects, and were in regular classes for other subjects, although sometimes we would receive gifted credits for regular classes. The difference I found between the two was that students in the gifted classes were on average more engaged with the teachers and the materials. Constant intellectual riffing on the subject matter was commonplace; I can remember one English class in particular where I was able to fit dozens of class in jokes into my essays and exams without being chastised.

The other main difference is that for the first three years of high school, we had a special development class. I think it was broken up into three streams, Science and Tech / Communications and... can't remember the third. Each year would be broken up into four parts, for SciTech for example, it would be something like Electronics, Biotech, and something called "Olympics of the Mind" (egg drop type stuff). Then we'd pick the teacher we wanted to work with for the final section, and do our own project. Really, the point of the program really did seem to be higher intellectual learning, rather than shielding us from our more socially adaptive peers.

Whether constantly telling kids they are gifted and special and the cream of the crop is a good thing or not I don't know. I can certainly argue both sides from my experiences and those of my friends. But to suggest that the gifted program exists to soothe those with social integration difficulties is a bit off the mark to me.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:03 PM on April 8, 2009

Are you describing elementary school or high school? I admit my experience is limited, but you sound more like the latter while my comments are re: the former.
posted by GuyZero at 5:07 PM on April 8, 2009

I was just "gifted" in high school, although I understand it started a bit earlier than that. No experience myself with pre-grade 9 giftedness.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:17 PM on April 8, 2009

Although to add to that, I did go to a middle school that had a gifted program. Though I wasn't in it, many of my highschool gifted classmates were, so they're the same kids I referenced in my first comment.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:19 PM on April 8, 2009

IMSA, though it's public and mostly/completely Illinois kids.
posted by rbs at 5:42 PM on April 8, 2009

I graduated from the Armand Hammer UWC in 1992 (now more commonly known as UWC-USA). I don't know that admission is strictly limited to "gifted" students - though the academic program is International Baccalaureate, and the admission process is rigorous. Emphasis is also placed on community service and interest in the UWC's goals of international understanding and a sustainable future. Each country has its own national committee that selects (and in some cases provides funds) for students and decides their placement at one of the twelve UWCs worldwide. U.S. students are awarded full tuition, room, and board (though this was not the case when I was a student).
posted by candyland at 5:51 PM on April 8, 2009

Thought of another example of an ultra-selective school for gifted students -- Deep Springs College, located in the middle of nowhere in California. Less than 30 students, and usually half of its graduates go on to earn Ph.Ds. While enrolled, the students must work various on-campus jobs, including working the school's attached farm and ranch.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:58 PM on April 8, 2009

Davidson Academy of Nevada tries to do this - grades 6-12, only 145+ IQ scores, funded by millionaires who made a fortune selling Math Blaster.

However, it's not boarding, it's a public charter school on the grounds of the University of Nevada at Reno (and founded/heavily subsidized by the Davidsons) and since you have to move to the area for your kids to attend, impoverished international students don't have much of a chance.
posted by clerestory at 7:54 PM on April 8, 2009

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