My daughter (yr 9, nearly 13) is frustrated at a lack of girls her age who are interested in talking about maths/science type topics. She is at a large coed which has good academic standards and teachers, is accelerated 2 years in maths and enjoys the actual classes, but she is tired of conversations which close off with people saying "why are you so smart?" or words to that effect. She says the girls' social conversations are like eating junk food - OK at the time, but no real satisfaction. She is also frustrated at top stream kids who aren't bothering to really excel.
She is not going to look to the boys (still "silly" at this age) and doesn't want to join the robotics or astronomy clubs as they are all boy groups, those particular things she is not interested in (and they are dominated by her older brother and his mates).
So, two questions: does anyone have a mathsy/sciency daughter at a central Auckland private school (not Catholic, and we are not moving house/zone) who has a great peer group of smart, keen to excel, hard working maths/science orientated girls in this age group? second, does anyone know of an out of school thing which might offer this?
We were in Explorers when the kids were younger, have toyed with getting involved again for the teen groups but not quite sure what they are doing etc.
My daughter is also physically active (not trad team sports tho) and keen on reading and creative writing. but its maths and science she feels frustrated with her peers about.
No real replies though. This could nmean no great experiences out there - or it could reinforce my suspicion that most people are on this forum when things are NOT going well, not when its all proceeding swimmingly!
I know families with girls at both Dio and St Cuthbert's, who are very happy with the schools and whose daughters are academically extended in Maths/ science areas as necessary. But it sounds like your daughter is catered to academically, it is the social side she is struggling with, and I don't have a lot of knowledge about that because as j mentions above, some of that comes from personality and her expectations also. And if I as a parent asked my friends' kids how school is going, I generally get a teenager's monosyllabic response ("good" "yes" "ok"), no real insight into their social experiences.
Another thing is that many people do not frequent these NZAGC pages even if their children would "qualify" as gifted. Your best bet may be to identify any friends/acquaintances you know through work/sport/clubs with girls at these schools and ask around about how their daughters find it socially. I know several families through our orienteering club with daughters at private schools who may be able to make some comment on this, so next time I see them I'll ask around.
OP, did you try Explorers? I think they have a teen/pizza/philosophy type evening? Maybe suggest to them a science/maths one, or a girls-only one? Or shall you and I start up a gifted girls science club? ;) My little DD would LOVE it! Like I said I'll be in exactly your position in 6 years.
FWIW we'll be looking at AGC if we decide to go private. DS went there so I don't specifically know about the girl side of it yet, but both my kids are very academic so I like AGC's style for them.
Also look at this:
We've been to one of these (for younger kids, but there are teen chemistry classes coming up in Auck) even though we don't homeschool, and it was great.
I'm still hoping for good replies here, and I'll let you know if I find anything else in my own search, and I think I'll also bump my own 'what about gifted girls?' thread ... :)
:-) Good to catch up at an event some time then... we'll probably be at the sprint relays at the weekend.
I have a friend with a daughter in year 9 at St Cuth's, so I'll give her a call and see if she can offer any insights on the culture surrounding intellectual pursuits there, ie specifically whether the "why are you so smart" accusation (which seems the most damaging thing your daughter is facing in terms of social isolation/lack of intellectual peers) is prevalent or not.
Things are going 'swimmingly' for us, but that is because we chose to homeschool 5 years ago. My daughter is 13 and son 11. We have been doing physics, chemistry, history, geography etc since we started homeschooling. I think it is ridiculous that these subjects are only taught at highschool level. So saying, neither of my children are particularly 'academic' or sciencey. My daughter is 2E and extremely creative - ie she won the Wearable arts section in AHE this year. So yes, although things are going very well for us, I can't really offer any advice!
Thanks C , looking back at your other thread I see what you mean about same issues 6 years apart.
A you are right it is the social issues ie the other girls rather than the school which is the concern. The teachers etc are great. That is why some inside info from other schools would be great. St cuths etc obviously have high standards and get some great results - but what is the actual peer experience of those talented individuals trumpeted on website 'success' pages?
A friend's daughter commented at her school "only the chinese girlsare into maths - and they only want to talk about it in Mandarin. " that was a bit of a tricky one - I dont want my dd on the giving OR receiving end of ethnic exclusivity, but im sure id stick with english speakers if I was suddenly thrown into a different language environment.
Just to be clear, im not criticising the "chinese girls" in this scenario or even buying into a 13 year olds throwaway stereotype. My point is that if that was the prevailing attitude in a class, my blonde ponytail mathematician might not see where she fitted
I think it is sad for NZ that our culture idolizes gifted athletes yet shuns gifted intellectuals - why is "being smart" such an isolating experience, whereas "being fast" or "being strong" or "being good at chucking a pigs bladder around a field" is socially rewarded with acceptance and admiration? Although to be fair, the majority of sports adulation (that is rewarded with screen time and financial recompense anyway) is reserved for the male of the species, so really sports-gifted girls may also struggle to find like-bodies to hang out with :-/
But I digress. It may be that if a non-mandarin speaker wanted to talk about Maths, the Chinese girls might choose to speak in english. I take it there are not clusters of maths-fanatical, mandarin-speaking girls at your daughter's school for her to test the waters with? Language is a big barrier, like you I can understand why they would hold conversations in their native tongue.
Unfortunately intellectual ability is quite isolating. I went through high school at a provincial, unstreamed, girls' school in the eighties, and remember spending a lot of it isolated because I wasn't interested in discussing clothes or combing hair during intervals. I got involved in a lot of activities to keep me busy (sports/music etc). I eventually made different friends for different activities, such as a chess-playing friend, music-playing friends etc. It may be that your daughter has to resign herself to not finding one group to fit in with, but sampling from different aspects of school life. It is concerning that even in top-streamed classes there would appear to be a lack of interest in academic discussions and hard work though...
Actually re-reading you first post I'm probably just suggesting things she already does if she is sporty and likes reading/writing :-(
Tell her to keep true to herself and follow her own interests. She shouldn't worry herself about how little work others are doing (their loss), and she can't change their jealousy about her "smartness" either... It might get better as she moves into higher year-levels and maturity levels increase around her (she sounds pretty mature for her age).
Our daughter is gifted and at Dio in Year 7. We are very happy with the teaching and extension she receives in a Year 7 class. The Science she is doing is really interesting and the Social Studies work they do into food eg: topics such as factory farming etc fitsin very well to science in the real world and Philsophy. They have also started a Centre for Ethics which intertwines social and scientific issues which children need to critically evaluate eg: biomedics, through the cirriculum. It's not "uncool" to be bright. The school tries really hard to get a good fit for your child. They are responsive and proactive and listen. They also have an extension program for many subjects when the students get further enrichment in areas for which they show passion or talent. Although Maths is not my daughter's favourite topic , she loves the Maths teacher and her ability is constantly stretched. Fantastic school.
Sorry I posted earlier and just realised that I missed the point a bit and didn't address the social aspects about Dio. Social stuff is really tricky for girls. They really want to belong but at the same time if they have passions they want to be able to be who they really are. There are enough different groups/clubs/outlets/tutor groups at the school for the girls to feel fulfilled in being 'what' they are, socially, emotionally and intellectually.