Gunman Went To College At 16; Adam Lanza 'Weird Kid' But Strong Student At Western Connecticut State University
Was it a mistake to send Adam Lanza to college at 16? That's one of the many questions residents of the formerly sleepy town in Connecticut are asking today in the wake of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Friday.
As parents get ready to send their children back to school at a different building - and tried to heal gaping wounds left in the small suburban enclave - they worked to make sense of details emerging about the 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza.
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Now new information has surfaced that the skinny teenager with a wan complexion enrolled in classes at Western Connecticut State University two years earlier than his classmates. Though he was intelligent, earning a G.P.A. of 3.26 at a young age, he reportedly kept to himself, continuing to be viewed as a Goth loner.
That fall he studied Data Modeling, Ethical Theory, American History and German, but dropped out of some classes. In the summer of 2009 he enrolled in Macroeconomics.
"Adam Lanza has been a weird kid since we were five years old," a neighbor of Lanza's tweeted this weekend. "As horrible as this was, I can't say I am surprised."
After Friday's terrifying massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children and seven adults, education specialists are wondering whether it was a good idea to place a socially awkward teenager into a new environment with older classmates. For years, academics have debated the pros and cons of pushing a child ahead in elementary school, high school and college before he or she is emotionally ready.
In an article on Johns Hopkins' website, Jodi Forschmiedt recalls this story when talking about the dangers of students skipping a grade. "When Allison's parents approach the school principal about promoting their daughter to third grade rather than second, he refuses," she writes.
"The principal explains that grade skipping leads to social problems and academic failure for the accelerated child. He reminds the parents that if accelerated, Allison would be the last in her class to reach puberty, the last to be able to drive. The principal insists that Allison's needs can be met in the regular classroom with her age mates. Who's right?"
"The principal's views are common. Many educators feel that grade skipping causes more problems than it solves. When psychologist David Elkind published The Hurried Child in 1981, academic acceleration fell even further out of favor. Although Elkind's book does not discuss grade skipping or gifted children specifically, his polemic against the widespread hurrying of children to grow up faster is often cited as evidence of the dangers of acceleration."
To compound the problem, Lanza was also reportedly dealing with the effects of his parents' divorce. Librarian Shelley Cudiner told the Daily Mail: "He was always weird but the divorce affected him. He was arguing with his mother. He was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode."
"You definitely noticed [a problem]. He was needy, his neighbor Justin Germak, 17, said. "He struggled to be social."
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