It Was Pretty Amazing

I was a member of this program from 1973-1975 (4th and 5th grade) at Gilbert Elementary in Garden Grove, California.  My fourth grade instructor was Mr. Doleshall (and my 5th grade instructor was Ms. Stanley).  I still remember the names of quite a few of my classmates.  Quite frankly it was a turning point in my life and the the most amazing experience. 

At the time, when I was only 9-11 years old, I didn't realize what was happening, when I left the program and went to Colorado in 1975 (and back to normal school)... ...that was a pretty horrible thing.  And I'm only just now beginning to realize how awful it was.

While at the time I was vaguely aware that what was going on in our class was different than what was going on in the adjacent classrooms I never really thought of it in terms that "all kids should get this experience" though now having experience with education I absolutely think vastly more ought to have the opportunity.  Our class was pretty close-knit and while it had some of the evil that kids do to one another I think it had a lot less than a "normal" classroom (this alone makes it a far better experience for the average kid, I think).

We did wonderful things (esp. compared to "normal" classes).  We made a stop-motion animated film short (set to the Irish Rover's "Unicorn"); we built all the sets and animals and spent quite a bit of time on it.  It won several awards, in the end, and a pretty amazing thing for a bunch of ten-year olds to do.  Mr. Doleshall was a tremendously gifted instructor and truly knew how to bring kids "into" whatever was going on.  We tracked the weather, kept animals in class and did very cool science experiments.  Mr. Doleshall taught us how to be organized in a very grown-up fashion (which has stuck with me to this day).  We learned to diagram sentences, sentence structure, etymology, geography, and so many other things in ways which I still can call upon to this day (and which have never been "bettered" even up through my university experience).  Remember, we were just 10!  It wasn't that we learned in-depth concepts really, but we learned the basics so well that we could just do them in our heads - the times tables through 16 at a breakneck pace - I bet my classmates can STILL do them all the way to 256.  These basics really change the way you approach all the rest of it (in good and bad ways - see my later experiences, below).

Even the summer school was incredible; we had a class called "flight" wherein we learned everything from the physics of flight right up to flying a plane.  Several of my classmates actually went to Long Beach airport and flew a Cessna as part of it.  But in the end, everyone understood what is "going on" when a plane leaves the ground.

After fifth grade, my family moved to Colorado and i was enrolled in "normal" elementary school (6th grade).  It quickly became apparent that school was no longer going to be anything like it had been in the MGM program and I began to fall behind (not on what I knew, merely on the busy-work homework that was the basis of that kind of an "education")

I learned things in fourth and fifth grade MGM that weren't advanced upon until my junior year in high school; I became a kid who didn't do his work.  I was put in remedial English class (8th grade), regardless that my vocabulary went far beyond my instructors.  In 9th grade my Algebra teacher told my mom I had "no aptitude - none whatsoever - for math" during a parent-teacher conference (oddly, I was 98th percentile on the SAT math a few years later).  I'm a math FREAK (and always have been).

I have since learned that if a child isn't doing well in school, it's best to examine the school or the homelife; kids who are being fed info at their level in school generally will strive to do it (and are able to keep up).  Home difficulties can stop a kid in their tracks, however.

When there became an "advanced" class I wasn't even considered for it. So - you know - I'm a bit bitter about "normal school."

I'll be happy to share more about my experience, but for now I think I'm going to post this.

Acme11 Acme11
10 Responses Jul 27, 2009

I too was in MGM in Camarillo CA in the 4th grade. It is interesting the points you have made I never connected the dots, I was in trigonometry in the 10th grade and could do the work in my head still and because the teacher gave me a D (for not showing my work, I guess she had to assume I was cheating) I never took another math class until College. That was the only D (and no F's) I have ever received! Only 1 C in College.

Robert Bruce Elementry Santa Maria Kalifornia. School was a part time prison camp full of hostile mexican inmates, I was schooled in spanish for one year, as a Fifth grade student, by Mr Gurba, who is now a retired school system bilingal program beurocrat.<br />
It goes without saying that i was a poor student, and hung out with the other nerds and anti socials.<br />
The conspiracy of the idiots will continue, as those of slightly higher, more diobolical mental addeptness will continue to control the mass of idiots that roam the length and bredth of the land.

I was in the MGM program in San Jose. The elementary school was either on Kimberly Drive or was named Kimberly. I was sent there for 5th and 6th grade. Our 5th grade teacher was Mr. Yamasaki and our 6th grade teacher was a woman, whose name I can't remember right now. It was around 1969 thru 1970. Unfortunately my parents got divorced when I was in the 5th grade, and as a result I was kind of out of it for a few years, but I'd love to catch up with others from those classes - there were some great people whom I still remember fondly from that experience. -- Lynne Becker

Sunnyvale and Mountain View, Cal...Same experience..During the 70's...I remember the animated films...Was part of a competion...

Coincidentally I went to elementary school in 1974 in Graden Grove, CA but I can't remember the name of the school. I had Mrs. Weber as a teacher. I was first tested there and went through MGM in Junior High in El Toro (now Lake Forest.) I don't think I went to MGM classes in 4th, 5th, and 6th but I am not sure why. The classes were long on creativity but I had the feeling that I was falling behind in regular schoolwork so I pulled myself out before going into high school. We moved around a lot so I went to 4 high schools in 3 states in 4 years and ended up graduating in the middle of my class in Colorado. By this time I hated school anyway. I had no intention of going to college but after a few years of working typical high school graduate jobs I decided to go back to school. I scored in the 98th percentile on the SATs but only 85th (or so) in math.<br />
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Kind of like you, surfnsing, I also got very high scores in college, probably partly because I was interested and partly because I had to pay for it myself. :)<br />
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Rubytewes: I also had racing thoughts as a kid and up through my adulthood until probably 10 years or so ago (mid thirties.)<br />
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In the end I have turned into a nerd who works in Silicon Valley in tech and has almost no social attachments, so it has all worked out for the best. :D

For some odd reason I decided to search for info on Gilbert and MGM. I was also in that program. Must have been a year behind you. I had Mrs. Stanley for 5th grade, but our 4th grade teacher was Mrs. Stroschein (sp?). I don't recall thinking that we were doing anything different than the other classes, although I was aware of being set apart. Especially since I had to take the bus to Gilbert instead of just walking to Brookhurst. In researching the intent of the MGM programs throughout that period, it turns out that the instruction was supposed to be more advanced. In Junior High we moved to Ohio and I found myself barely getting through. Bored as hell for the most part. Never did homework but passed all the tests. Graduated in the bottom of my high school class...joined the Marines...traveled the world...ended up in California...went to college and got straight A's. Go figure. Might have had something to do with being able to choose my curriculum. Those who were in the MGM programs were identified as being in the 98th percentile on standardized tests (intellectually). After 1980 there was a change wherein the CA gifted programs sought to include students gifted in ways not strictly related to the intellectual aspects of the tests. (i.e. creativity, etc). For the record, it seems that certain diagnoses are common when one doesn't act within the "norm." So, if you are on the high end of the IQ scale you could be mis-diagnosed by a doctor who is just "phoning it in." Keep in mind that a Doctor who graduated last in his Med school class still gets to be called "Doctor." Perhaps your Doctor didn't qualify for MGM. Just a thought.

I wasn't actually "removed" from it - in the summer after 5th grade (1975), my family moved to Arvada, Colorado (a suburb NW of Denver). They didn't have anything at all comparable, and I was put in "normal" school. By the time such programs came to Colorado, I was in high school and already negatively branded (and therefore not "eligible") for it.

I'll give that some thought. Why were you removed from the MGM program?

Cue the weird music. I've been diagnosed ADD, and bipolar (incorrectly) in the years since. My recent history suggests I'm neither, and that - at least in my case and maybe yours - the diagnoses is made of those who merely "think faster/different" than the mainstream.I found this site by googling "mentally gifted minors" after having a particularly epiphaneal experience regarding the impact it had on me (and perhaps more importantly, the experience of being removed from the MGM program).Perhaps your experiences were merely the result of an educational experience which couldn't "keep up" with you?

Interesting. Your post reminded me of the plays I wrote, directed and produced in 3rd and 4th grade. Perhaps that was unusual, or "advanced". I found regular classes boring and by Jr. high I became truant and roamed the streets of Berkeley seeking "wisdom" and strange (adult), and often dangerous experiences. In the end I developed a passion for social work and community development. <br />
In college my forte wasn't math or science, though I read at college level in early elementary school. I utterly flunked the math portion of the SAT. <br />
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I wondered whether I simply had ADD. <br />
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However, at age 18 I was diagnosed as having Bi-polar Disorder, Depressive type. This explained my inability to "sit still", my racing thoughts and speech, and my constant projects. The illness has interrupted my interests to the point I can no longer "recover". <br />
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In the end, I don't know what the MGM test revealed about me. Was I simply ill and expressing tangential thinking? Was my energy level mistaken for genius? Or was I truly "gifted" and therefore bored in regular classes? We may never know.