Julian Stanley did not just criticize existing practices. He created special programs for unusually bright high school students on weekends and during the summer at Johns Hopkins University. The success of these programs has inspired similar programs at Purdue University and elsewhere.
Such programs have not only produced academic benefits, the gifted students in such programs have expressed an almost pathetic gratitude for finally being in a setting where they are comfortable with their peers and are viewed positively by their teachers.
In regular public school classrooms, these gifted students have been too often resented by their classmates and their teachers alike. Some teachers have seemed glad to be able to catch them in occasional mistakes.
Given the low academic records of most public school teachers, it is hard to imagine their being enthusiastic about kids so obviously brighter than they were -- and often brighter than they are. No small part of the gross neglect of gifted students in our public schools is the old story of the dog in the manger.
Julian Stanley made a unique contribution to the development of gifted children, both directly through his program at Johns Hopkins and indirectly through his research and advocacy. Fortunately, he is survived by collaborators in these efforts, such as Professors Camilla Persson Benbow and David Lubinski of Vanderbilt University.
The effort must go on, both to stop the great waste of gifted students, whose talents are much needed in the larger society, and for the humane purpose of relieving the frustration and alienation of youngsters whose only crime is being born with more intellectual potential than most of those around them.