For decades, gifted education researchers have been lamenting that the U.S. is undergoing a “quiet crisis” regarding the education of its most academically talented students. The situation is viewed as a crisis because many talented students aren’t being appropriately challenged and many parents, educators and education experts believe their talents are being wasted. The crisis is considered quiet because hardly anyone else has been paying attention to it.
At the same time, the stereotype of students in Asia spending all their time studying has been consistently communicated. However, like many stereotypes, this belief is based on anecdotes and not on data. Little data has been reported actually analyzing how academically talented students (from any country) spend their time. A recent study sought to change this by analyzing how much time academically talented seventh grade students from the U.S. and India spend on academics, using electronics, and sleeping. This post focuses specifically on how much time these academically talented students spend engaged in extracurricular activities.
Extracurricular activity participation has been found to be associated many positive outcomes,including performance in school and on tests, and in educational aspirations. They can be helpful in forming strong positive peer groups while also providing students with leadership development opportunities as well as chances to experience what it’s like to work hard at accomplishing goals with others. Previous research has reported that in the U.S. students report spending about five hours each week in an organized extracurricular activity, although a small percentage of students may spend over 20 hours each week in extracurricular activities.
During the week, students from the U.S. reported spending about an hour and a half more in extracurricular activities than students from India. However, that difference was reversed on the weekends, with students from India reporting spending 1.4 hours more in extracurricular activities than students from the U.S. Previous research that focused specifically on academically talented students found that they are often engaged in extracurricular activities, with high rates of participation in academic clubs and the arts but typical participation rates in athletics.