Red Alert

Gifted Awareness Week: A time for questions

Posted by on June 1st, 2011

In this Government’s constant attempts to paint a crisis in our world-class education system they only ever want to talk about under-achievement.

Gifted Awareness Week (June 13-19) gives us a chance to reflect on the huge diversity of students in our education system.

Gifted students are not always the ones doing fabulously well. They may be the student with behavioural problems, the student who has trouble relating to their peers or the student who is disrupting the class.

Last week I visited the Correspondence School and was told that many gifted students use that service because the school environment doesn’t meet their needs.

It caused me to think about National’s national standards and how much harm the “one size fits all” approach does, not only to those students who are labelled failures but also those who need different challenges than most of their peers.

If a school’s worth is to be judged on how many students they get “over the bar” then not only will the under-achievers lose out, but so will those capable of very high-achievement.

Under that scenario it would be “human nature” for schools to direct their biggest effort into those who are just failing to reach the standard to get them “over the bar” and this could come at the expense of the others.

I would appreciate some feedback from those who have some experience with gifted children – either as family or in a professional capacity. What do you think?


100 Responses to “Gifted Awareness Week: A time for questions”

  1. A Mother says:

    The principles set out in the New-Zealand Curriculum [2007] assert “that students’ talents should be recognised and affirmed and that all students experience a curriculum that engages and challenges them to achieve personal excellence”. (Ministry of Education, 2008)

    This is just not happening though. SNG includes giftedness but it has been made a footnote. Gifted students have to fight for resources to be allocated to them from students at the other end of the spectum. Even though both sets of students are liable to fail and drop out, depression and self esteem issues is also high on both ends but the ones that are doing well are forgotten and just left to try and find their way through the school system regardless. I don’t think that there is the money to go around. Self esteem issues and depression in both groups yet only one group is really getting help.

  2. SHG says:

    Well I’m sure glad I stayed up late to contribute to this discussion on schooling for gifted children only to have my comment moderated. What a waste of time.

    Moderator, feel free to delete this comment too.

  3. tracey says:

    I have friends who teach and I admire every one of them. ANYONE who goes into this profession deserves a medal for courage given the public denigration of them as generalisation.

  4. A Mother says:

    SHG yours is up there and Tracy Riley’s that wasn’t there before. Tough having to move, that would have put a strain on everything.

    I will see what happens next year for me, but if your experiences are similar, then what is in store for us?

  5. A Mother says:

    SHG yours is up there

  6. Spud says:

    “What gift do you have Spud?” Nobody knows when I’m kidding :-(

    @Linda – agreed, except in cases where a student would be in a situation like the character Adam Sandler played :P

  7. janinenz says:

    It is all very well that the correspendence school and other organisations/programmes such as GATE and Gifted Online can cater for the gifted high achievers but the school has to be on board and willing for that to happen. What about those that fall between the crack and are not identified as gifted?
    Not all school are willing to let children take time out of class to participate in the fantastic GO online programme or to allow them time within the school day to work on material fromt he correspendence school. The whole point would be to keep the child occupied and challenged during the school day not just to add more work to their home time. Teaching these children should not mean more of the same but different. My childs school did not support him doing a gifted online programme, hence i have just removed him one day a week to do GATE. No discussion involved just told them what I was doing.
    I have put my child in a GATE programme to allow him to develop but he still spends the rest of the week sitting in class doing things he has been able to do for years.
    Schools response “he is doing well no need to worry” Where in this is his right to an education being fulfilled? I shouldn’t have to take him out of school and place him in a different programme for him to learn something.

  8. SHG says:

    @tracey:

    “I have friends who teach and I admire every one of them. ANYONE who goes into this profession deserves a medal for courage given the public denigration of them as generalisation.”

    I understand where you’re coming from, but some teachers are crap.

    My son turned 5 last July and so had about 5 months of primary school in 2010. At the end-of-year assembly he was singled out with a certificate from the principal for his literacy, the youngest kid to get an award. I was very proud.

    When I got his end-of-year report I found his teacher had graded him at 2 on a scale of 1 to 5 for reading. So basically a “D” grade. When I showed this to the doctor we were seeing, she sighed and said “This teacher is assessing your son on his ability to sit still and fold his arms, not on how he’s reading.”

    My wife and I read the report once and said to each other “right, he’s out of there.”

    Now my boy is in a Montessori school and soaking up learning like a sponge.

  9. SuLu says:

    Schools still tend to work on the medical deficit model, rather than a talent development model, where the focus is on developing strengths and supporting areas of weakness. Sport seems to work on the TD model very effectively. Young sports players of promise are identified early and given every opportunity to develop their skills. I have yet to meet an adult working in an area of “weakness” that they struggled with throughout school. It’s just not the way life works. Some might say that this approach might limit other possibilities for students but I don’t believe it will because as they develop, they will recognise other areas of interest and talent and then develop those. We are told that young people today will have 12-14 “careers” in a life time, so apart from the basics it is not possible to “educate” them for the future, knowledge is a moving target. Skills must be taught but opportunities for talent development are imperative.

  10. Father Tim says:

    My oldest (6) has advanced capabilities in areas like maths and reading, but has problems with writing (fine motor development) and sitting still.
    The main problem we’ve had is with the school principal, who we discovered has 1) not even applied for assistance for our child or other children in similar situations, including a child at the school whose parents were coerced into paying a special ‘donation’ of $1000
    and 2) has suggested to some parents that the school ‘may not be the best place’ for their child.

  11. Linda says:

    I’m pro ability-grouping, but realise that you can’t throw a 5 year old into a bunch of 10yos without significant support strategies in place. It does seem to me that children are hurried into school at 5 even if they are not really ready yet highly capable 4 yo are not allowed in (insanity abounds). Also, children who really need to be working academically at a level below their age are rarely ‘held back’ to met that need, schools citing social problems (again). Which of us on this site chooses only friends that are within one year of our age?? No-one right? So why force children into that structure when what they really need is like-minds working on learning at a similar level.

  12. SHG says:

    A Mother: my son’s doctor described his behaviour with reference to this set of ideas – you might find them useful. This isn’t the exact document she gave me but it’s similar.

    http://bit.ly/kGXaI5

  13. Carmen Downes says:

    The National Standards “one size fits all” approach does harm our children. I can speak from the experience of my son, who could be called twice-exceptional: he has been identified as gifted, but also has problems reading and some fine motor skill issues, making writing quite difficult. When he turned 5, I left him in the Montessori preschool he’d been in, as they had a program until age 6. Once he turned five, the entire focus was switched to learning to read and write, regardless of the fact that this was obviously horribly distressful to him. It was distressful to the point that my highly gifted child decided that he was stupid, and became clinically depressed/anxious and told me that he wanted to die. When I met with the head of the preschool and told her that she needed to reduce the focus on reading/writing and give him something to do that he could feel good about (which should have been quite easy, as he has huge areas of strengh), she informed me that when he went to school at age 6, he would be tested. If he didn’t do well enough on the tests, the preschool would have to defend themselves. Thus, at age 5, my child was already thrown into a system where future test scores weighed more heavily in the minds of his teachers/school than his emotional well-being. Can you imagine? At this point, my son is still seeing psychologists/psychiatrists and we are trying to undo the damage. We homeschool, and quite frankly I don’t see that will ever try the regular school system again, unless there are drastic changes. Having your child decide, because of school, that he wants to die at age 5, will do that to you.

  14. SHG says:

    @Father Tim: a familiar story.

  15. tracey says:

    Of course there are useless teachers. I’m always staggered that some think this is a cause for denigrating everyone though.

  16. A Mother says:

    It is hard without getting children asessed to to get the help needed? The cost of this is high. I have not done it yet, just been suggested by half a dozen people who know my children and see them on a day to basis that this could be the case with them.

  17. Linda says:

    A Mother: talk to the school first and see if they take G&T seriously without educational psychologist’s assessment. Maybe they’ll get a senior teacher to take a gander at your son’s abilities ostensibly to ‘sort out class placement’. You’ll know fairly quickly if the school is pro-ability development or likes to have all kids (and parents) fit their mold.

  18. Tracy Riley says:

    Wise words from Prof George Parkyn in 1961: “It is important to recognise that each child is a unique individual, a person in his own right, with his own life to live, with his own wants and needs, his own abilities and interests, his own successes to achieve, his own failures to react to. Together with a recognition of the uniqueness of each individual it is important that … teachers accept the child for his own sake … This acceptance implies a willingness to help each child to develop into his own best person … From a secure base the child ventures out and returns, constantly enlarging his world, and growing up with hope and optimism about the outcome of his encounters with the world.” I can’t help but wonder how far we have progressed in New Zealand in the last 50 years?

  19. Linda says:

    I see the lastest news is more cuts to ECE. There goes the opportunity that gifted 4 yo had to be challenged by qualified educators (since they’re not allowed to start school). I think the cuts may be focussed on higher income-earners -just to really hammer home the disincentives to work hard at mastering a profession in NZ.

  20. A Mother says:

    @Tracy Riley.
    I think we have progressed and it is now being catered for better than what it was 20-25 years ago. There is just a long long way to go still.

    @Linda. Yes I will ask the school. Not that I have much choice where they go. There is only 2 public schools around this area and no car to go anywhere else so all I can do is hope for the best.

    @Carmen Downes. That is really sad and shocking.

  21. Evan says:

    Sue – what assurances can you POSSIBLY give that Labour will place greater priority on the needs of Gifted Students. We were able to afford one year for our child in a Gifted One-Day School program in Auckland – and at the end of that year, fees were about to jump again and they were wanting us to lobby the LABOUR government about it! I remain sceptical. Labour governments will continue to focus in other areas of education, and in some ways, maybe they should! But to be frank with you, our response to the gifted child had to be DIY – and in these difficult financial times for the nation, I predict this will continue. i.e. I find this discussion academic and in fact little different to anything I have read for the last decade.

    I might add that One-Day-School was a fantastic programme run by smart and gifted people. 10-year olds getting into philosphical issues – 10 year olds CHOOSING interests to research and pursue. This one day a week made the rest of the week in a state classroom quite bearable and in fact I came to the conclusion that the approach taken to gifted classrooms could (at least in part) transfer well to the state classroom – although not in the era of Anne Tolley and National Standards I expect!

  22. Linda says:

    Tolley thinks that National Standards help gifted kids ‘by providing signposts to further learning, blah blah blah’, but the school is not keen on testing a child with a test at a much higher level because there is no funding or Ministry support to DO anything about it if the child aces tests too fair outside their chronological age… Not to mention all the children that would ace higher tests if their learning disabilities were identified etc. Much easier to have nice statistics and graphs at the Ministry to tout as ‘improvement’ in education, grrr!

  23. Linda says:

    wondering why I keep going to moderation? I’m still well-behaved, honest!!

  24. Wishful says:

    Our son has been assessed by an Ed Psychologist as gifted – the school have his report and still do nothing to cater for his needs. I understand they have a classroom full of kids, but these gifted kids are basically being ignored. These kids could grow up to discover a cure, be the next leader of the country, or anything great – but as their minds are being stifled, so are their gifts. We need to cater for them.

  25. janinenz says:

    Linda, My just turned 10 year old son is at the top of the range of all the National Standards, 100%, stanine 9, spelling age of 15, reading age of 16 etc for a young year six. In years 4 and 5 it was the same. At the end of the year when the next lot of testing is done he will be the same. What do those statistics say about my son’s academic abilities and potential? Absolutely Nothing!!! it looks great on the school stats but school has no idea what he can do or the level that he is really at. I did approach school to see if they could test him at a higher level (year 7 and 8 as he is currently working on year 8 maths) but the answer was a big NO! Why was that? Are they afraid that if he scores highly then they will be obliged to do something with him? I suspect so. Neither school, myself or my son have any real idea about where he is at or where the gaps in his knowledge lie. We would like to know so that we can fill the gaps and at least he would be moving forward and learning something, not sitting in class day dreaming, doing nothing but scoring 100%. Where in this are the signposts for further learning? There is no further learning. School have used it as an excuse to do nothing, “he is already where he needs to be by the end of year six so no need to worry about his learning” Well he isn’t learning in class – he can already do it!

  26. Linda says:

    Hi Janine. It would be great if instead of the school recieving funding to educate (in his case, babysit) him, the funds could be applied to him having a year at a school overseas or some similar mind-broadening experience. The school is not doing the country any favours in letting your boy cruise. Too many become bored and then turn to exciting outlets for their talents (hopefully not methamphetamine chemistry!). I hope your son can find a passion to apply his mind to.
    Movie for him: October Sky
    Website: khan academy (free fast-paced video lessons on all sorts of topics)
    Good luck!

  27. Tracy Riley says:

    Janine’s blog on national standards may be of interest: http://waikatogifted.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/national-standards-and-the-gifted-child-from-a-parents-perspective/ She raises important issues in terms of above or out of level assessment, continuous progress in learning, and underachievement … enjoy!

  28. George says:

    Linda, One-day school is a very useful option for kids of that age – although a 2-day school or a 3-day school would be better and better! I don’t think farewelling the 10 year old son or daughter for a year is a good answer from other perspectives.

    By the way, was reading this newspaper while visiting Pakuranga. Where is the Labour Party in this beautiful bunfight – especially when nobody in the debate is totally right!

    Williamson is there. Tolley is there. And the Opposition party (or parties) are where?

    Important matters of principle and equity are at stake here, as a special needs school makes way for a special needs school:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/eastern-courier/5106846/Ministry-meeting-held-for-college

  29. Anon says:

    I’m a mother of two highly-gifted children, one of whom has demonstrated truly exceptional talent in his chosen endeavour, at a young age has already received national awards and accolades from “experts” overseas. If I could choose ONE priority for funding it would not be on extension programs for the gifted, closing the achievement gap by raising the others to some ‘national standard’, or talent development programmes and the like. It would be on programmes to eradicate ‘tall-poppy syndrome’. First and foremost would be spreading the message to all teachers/coaches/tutors that it is immoral to hold back a talented child simply to make other children (and their parents) feel better.

  30. Linda says:

    Yes, tall-poppie syndrome alive and well in NZ.

  31. Evan says:

    We found it frustrating to have a child in a regular classroom where learning was so prescriptive. How lucky we were to miss out on National Standards – I have no hesitation in stating that National Standards (like Revision lessons!) are a complete waste of time for the Gifted. The irony is that Gifted kids tend to be the most motivated, and the most enquiring – and One Day School demonstrated to me that you don’t need to spoon feed these students. They will read, they will research, they will even build models – they are so self-contained in learning environments. A Gifted programme is not difficult to construct, for those teachers who know what its all about.

  32. Evan says:

    The question remains however –

    what would Labour do that they failed to do when Gifted Children’s schools were short of funds while Labour was the government. Is there the honesty to admit that this is not a priority in the current economic environment? And is this smart, is this good encugh? Or are we kidding ourselves that our regular schools know how to truly challenge and motivate the gifted 5% or so in their midst?

  33. Linda says:

    Well I guess next week would be a great time for Labour to declare their position on these issues. Waiting patiently……

  34. Linda says:

    Roll on 13th. Can’t wait to see all the political parties supporting Gifted Awareness Week. I hope there are some actual policies to compare also!

  35. I’m adding to this blog as someone who has been involved in this field for some 30 years, both as a parent of gifted children who found school very unsatisfying and were often unhappy there and as a teacher working specifically in gifted education. I’ve just read all these messages with much interest and sympathy. I wonder if I can add a couple of points here that might expand the debate?

    Firstly, it seems that almost all the messages have been written by parents, itself perhaps a comment in its own right. They are certainly demonstrating very clearly how much is NOT being done for our gifted learners. I agree with the person who said things are better now than they were 20 – 25 years ago, but clearly we still have a long way to go.

    But I wonder if what we really need to do now is to identify the specific positive steps we would like to see being taken to change this situation. Sue Moroney and other MPs in other parties too need to know more than just that things are not working – they need to know what specific measures they can write into their policies and action plans that will make the desperately needed difference for our gifted learners. In other words, we need to be clear about what we are advocating for.

    I’d like to see what other people think, but here are some of the things that are on my personal list.

    A permanent appointment within the Ministry of someone with special responsibility for gifted education, with a requirement being that that person MUST actually have expertise in the field.

    Identifying and catering for gifted learners being included in all pre-service teacher training at all levels, NOT as an option and NOT as a mere three hour one-off workshop somewhere along the way, but as a properly constructed component of teacher training, plus attention being given to ensuring tutors responsible for this are themselves informed and knowledgeable – this has not always been the case.

    Encouragement to those responsible for training psychologists and counsellors to ensure the special needs of gifted children are included in their programmes.

    Funding and a change of contract to ensure Group Special Education can undertake assessments to identify gifted children where school processes can’t clearly determine this or where teachers and parents are at odds. Such assessments are expensive and therefore are currently beyond the reach of many parents. Gifted children do not just come from affluent families, but from all sectors of the community.

    A thorough review of what is available to teachers as in-service professional development in this field. This really needs to be the subject of a separate and extended discussion, but it concerns me greatly that there is currently no proper quality assurance process for the many small providers who are offering workshops in this field, too many one-off seminars (not always well-planned) and little cohesion in the field.

    Recognition of the extensive research confirming that gifted children NEED to spend at least part of their time working with others of similar ability. (For those who want to follow this up, a paper discussing this is on my website, http://www.giftedreach.org.nz, entitled “The gifted child and the inclusive classroom”). It’s not just about the level a child is at, it’s about the way in which such a child learns and responds. Evan’s comments about One Day School repeat what I heard from literally scores and scores of parents during my nine years running that programme. As he so rightly points out, these children respond entirely differently in an environment which recognises and understands their inherent ways of thinking and perceiving and responding. No-one – certainly not me – has ever claimed that a programme like One Day School is the total answer – the regular classroom environment must also provide – but some form of well-constructed grouping, however it is achieved, is essential. Acknowledging that especially in primary schools numbers do not always permit such grouping, there should surely therefore be some official funding support to ensure access to programmes like the One Day School and Go Online.

    Re-establishment of advisors on gifted education, abolished by the government as one of its cuts in education.

    I could add to this, but I’ve probably gone on more than long enough! I hope that others will comment, so giving guidance to our MPs. However, there’s one final point I would like to make. Some comments have been made about political support for gifted education. I was directly involved in the advocacy which led to the forming of the first Advisory Group on gifted education and to the establishment of the Working Party on Gifted Education, and I also served on both. The Advisory Group was established by Wyatt Creech, then National’s Minister of Education. It led to the first advisors and to the publication of a Ministry handbook for teachers, currently being revised. The Working Party was set up by Trevor Mallard, Labour’s Minister of Education. It had actually had a far more extensive outcome. It trebled the number of advisory positions, made the change in the regulations which for the very first time gave some official policy recognition to gifted children, and set up funding for “Talent Development Initiatives” which resulted in a considerable number of initiatives being taken by schools, individually or in clusters, and which also gave funding for a considerable number of scholarships for children attending One Day School, recognising that not all who needed this provision came from families who could afford it. Trevor Mallard also subsequently, on his own initiative, sent the George Parkyn Centre which ran the One Day School and which also was extensively involved in professional development, a cheque for $100,000 to put into further professional development work. I had the surprise of my life when I opened that envelope! Currently Rodney Hide as Associate Minister of Education has picked up this portfolio which was actually established by Act’s Heather Roy – it hadn’t existed in its own right until then – and has made clear his personal interest in the field, as in fact he always has, going back a long way. Thus the political parties who have been in a position to do so have all done something for gifted education, but in all honesty we should acknowledge that Labour has actually done by far the most, and it is good to see their current spokesperson now picking up the reins with this blog.

  36. A brief comment on National Standards in relation to gifted learners. Seems to me the core issue with National Standards is that they are in conflict with that most precious and powerful aspect of the traditional Kiwi education system, its child-centred approach. Such an approach recognises the huge significance of individual differences, and it allows also for recognition of all those important areas of learning which aren’t necessarily able to be measured or assessed in any quantifiable way. Thus, while measurement of where a child is at now is one legitimate aspect of assessment, it is not and cannot ever be adequate as a stand-alone approach.

    How then should we assess the gifted child’s progress? Very, very briefly I would suggest that first of all we need to take into account, not only where the child is at now, but also what the child is capable of learning (his or her potential) and HOW he or she learns (his or her characteristic learning behaviour). We need to ensure that gited children are in a learning environment which will actually provide them with the opportunity to learn in a way that suits their specific learning needs and allows them to learn to potential. Only then are we in a position to make a realistic assessment of those children who are capable of performing, not only above, but well above or even far above the average.

    Some of the tools we can use include off-level testing, rubrics, individual portfolio work,and the kind of reporting used in the One Day School programme which focussed on learning targets rather than score targets and therefore reported very specifically on qualities or behaviours essential to effective learning. This is not meant to be a definitive list, just an indicator that there are other legitimate possibilities.

  37. Evan says:

    Rosemary. Appreciating your feedback above, hope it has been picked up by Sue Moroney and others. There is ample scope there for some bold Labour Party policy. Your thoughts on National Standards are insightful too. In particular, any attempt to measure writing ability of a student will run into problems with moderation. I think that National Standards HAVE been sold to us as a cure-all when for the gifted we are not trying to cure anything in learning department! Measuring the progress of a truly gifted Child is pointless because by the time you have the results the child has already moved on in leaps and bounds! You know what is lacking here? It is an understanding of the gulf that exists between the top 5% of the population, and say the next 10 to 15%. The gifted child will learn 5 times as quickly, in my experience – and he/she will learn things that others cannot comprehend. As well as our long tail of under achievement, we have a long tail of POTENTIAL achievement.

  38. No choice but to homeschool! says:

    I would firstly like to say to Carmen Downes; I’m so sadened by your story and I wish you and your ‘absolutely perfect the way he is’!! son all the best.
    I’m the Mum of an incredibly intelligent almost 3 year old girl who I’d like to spend time with but have to send to childcare full-time so I will be in a financial position to homeschool her as there is no schools for gifted children in NZ.
    I was so horrified to learn that a proposal for one didn’t go ahead because of people taking exception to it, calling it ‘elitist’. I know the kind of people who call it elitist. They are the 10% or so of NZ who have iq’s around 120, above average but not gifted. Their sole purpose in life is power, power, power!! This includes being in a group situation, talking authoritavely, having no one challenge them, being though of a person with the highest level of inelligence. You add to the group a gifted person who in reality has intelligence and this 120 iq person isn’t the best anymore, in their mind is no longer is entitled to the best, highest paying job etc. the power that they desire over other people will be had by the gifted person over them and boy do they fight-they persecute giftedness.
    These people need to get a grip on reality. Our gifted children ARE ELITE!!! And they are suffering because of these evil people. It is a case of evil winning over good.
    It is a fact that a gifted kid is different than the average every day kid. You don’t send an average kid to a special needs ihc school and it is just as riduculous, if not more so actually, to expect a gifted kid to go to a school designed for the average kid. The gifted kid is rarely the one who gets assessed as so and put into the gifted programe in the school, it is the kid with the 120 iq who does! It is impossible for an average person to know what gifted is! Even if a gifted kid does get put in, it is designed usually for the kid with the 120 iq, not a high iq.
    Not to mention the special needs that often accompany giftedness like Carmen’s son struggling with one particular area or the many who have ocd like me and my daughter or aspergus etc..
    I wouldn’t send my child to a NZ school for 1 minute as it would not only not teach her 1 thing but would be so harmful to her. I know, I was the gifted child growing up in not only an average world but in a family of people with 120 iq’s and I only have a 140 iq, I hate to think how awful it is for a highly gifted kid.

  39. Evan says:

    I see the main aim of dealing with gifted students is this – do not hold them back! “Do no harm” as they say. Over-teaching will do harm because the student’s mind is invariably working faster than the standard classroom teacher’s! Politicians need to understand that these students are becoming more and more relevant for the future prospects of New Zealand. Lets stimulate their creativity, encourage their natural thirst for knowledge about their world. Home schooling has potential, but even though we parents have our qualifications and “gifts”, I would not have trusted ourselves to provide the scope and experience offered by one-day school and subject specialists. We would have stuck with One Day School longer if it had been made more affordable for all. By the way, skipping a year at school (preferably between schools) is effective but it is a trick you’d probably want to try only once!

  40. Spud says:

    “Our gifted children ARE ELITE!!! And they are suffering because of these evil people.” Evil people, elite? It’s possibly attitudes like that, that is causing hostility rather than the extra intelligence?

  41. Richard the First says:

    Isn’t it funny how all parents think their child is the gifted one! Was probably guilty of this myself once.

  42. Linda says:

    My highly gifted son is at regular school albeit skipped ahead. I challenge the notion that he will learn nothing there. He doesn’t learn much academically with the regular class but he does learn a lot about getting on with others, helping people to understand him, working in a group of diverse talents/needs, managing frustration.
    He will have to make his way in a world full of average IQ people. I hope his time at school helps him with this and really hope it doesn’t squash his thirst for knowledge and love of learning.
    So, I guess I’m in the ‘do no harm’ camp but recognise that doing nothing is actually harmful too.

  43. tracey says:

    if gifted school children were gifted athletes, how different would the picture look?

  44. Spud says:

    @Tacey – 2.50 – you’re right! Your kid would be a hero! 8O

    @Rich – That’s kinda nice :-D

  45. It’s fabulous to see that people are still adding comments here. The online conversations of Gifted Awareness Week are also taking place across the blogosphere. See http://ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/443/.

    Sue, thanks again for blogging on this important aspect of education.

  46. Jane says:

    Sue asked for questions – here are some I would like answered…

    How much did MinEdu spend on prime time TV in 2009/2010 and 2011 to promote partnerships between school and family? How does it measure effectiveness of this advertising?

    I ask as there is a disconnect between what these ads imply will be the status of the family of gifted children, and the experience of majority of parents trying to communicate with teachers and principals about gifted children (their needs) and about the harms being done to their child when they are bullied and mistreated at the hands of so called pedagogy professionals.

    I’m not saying every teacher is a bully, is inadequately skilled in their craft, or is a child abuser – just that unfortunately this is the experience of the majority of gifted children. So I have wondered if the gifted child triggers such responses in people who would otherwise be a wonderful teacher – if only a wee boy with IQ150 hadn’t been put in their class – they could have been a wonderful teacher for another 20yrs.

    Parents who know their child and developed skills and experience for managing their gifted children are marginalized and unable to influence the learning environment or formal education experience of these children on a daily basis. Teachers tell us “trust us, we know what we are doing”, but the children are still miserable, frustrated, angry and underachieving.

    Having maxed a PAT tests (or achieved a national standard) at the beginning of the school year, why will these children be made to still complete the course/curriculum for that yr level.

    Other questions – why the lame adherence to yr level, for content at school?

    Why do all able bodied learners have to have the same curriculum in the first place? Deaf children are allowed to learn sign language. Blind children are allowed to learn braille. Why can’t a very bright child be allowed to learn meteorology or anthropology or Mandarin, or whatever they can that challenges and stimulates their mind. It is possible to teach the basics (the 3Rs) without boring little bright sparks rigid, while punishing them profoundly and repeatedly for failing to sit still for inordinate lengths of time or for interrupting when one of their little classmates says something ridiculous in responding to lame questions (e.g. 1st yr teacher “what is shampoo used for?” 5yr old “Adults use it to wash their hair”… 5yr old gifted child interjects, “not only adults, anyone can use shampoo. There are even shampoos for dogs and for cats.” Teacher to gifted child, “go to back of room and sit in the naughty chair for not putting your hand up and just calling out”.

    Why is their a whole troupe of MinEdu, Special Education – Education Psychologists employed to assist schools, but only allowed to assist a teacher to develop an “Individual Behaviour Plan” and not allowed or enabled to assist to develop an “Individual Learning Plan”.

    I have a theory that if the learning plan was adequate, the behaviour challenges wouldn’t arise in the first place, and gifted children could be accepted and accommodated as they come naturally. There would be no necessity to try to get all 5/6/7/8yr old gifted children pretending (role playing) to be like all the other children in their class for 7hrs a day.

    What would the world be like, if gifted children believed it really is ‘OK to be me’, rather than having everyone within the education system reinforcing its really not ok, you must try harder to (pretend to) be like all these other children.

    Why are RTLB’s and teacher aides only ever funded to assist with behavioural interventions or to assist with mainstream learning difficulties? Why can’t this funding also be used to assist children with special needs because they are gifted (such as asynchronise develoment as noted by others e.g. the avid reader, verbally advanced but non-writing – delayed fine motor skills development coupled with perfectionist tendencies meaning they can observe and hate their own level of performance in writing – besides if you remember stuff why do you need to write it down).

    Truancy – can the definition be changed to not include those cases where children are kept home for their mental health, when they are clearly suffering at school? If schools aren’t capable of keeping small children happy and constructively occupied, then parents ought to be able to withdraw their child for the child’s safety and wellbeing, and the parent ought not to be threatened with criminal penalty.

    Child abuse – can the definition be changed to include mental and emotional abuse, of a child at the hands of teachers, in the course of having to attend formal education facility.

    How can Principals be appointed to positions of care of children without any knowledge as to how to provide adequate care, let alone appropriate education for this significant category of child – some say 5%, others up to 10%. Schools are not just places in which a curriculum or is delivered – as noted by others who have written about social-emotional development of children. Staff at schools are parenti en locus for these children – yet most teachers and principals still, in 2011, know little about the gifted child’s needs.

    Enough questions already – when will we get answers?

  47. Polli says:

    When you live in a crappy area and you have no money, it’s hard finding your gifted child help and support but try finding it for a pre-schooler – there isn’t any. Most people, I’ve talked to can’t get past the idea that if you’re child is doing advanced activities at an early age, then you are clearly pushing them. The other thing people seem to think is that we want them to tutor our little one – not the case.

    She needs encouragement to join in on things and if she’s keen on looking at things like bones and bugs and muscles etc – is it really so bad to feed that curiostiy? Gifted kids do what they do at the first opportunity and you get to know very early on – who needs to push!

    It would be nice to have the pre-schoolers needs recognised and nurtured so they can keep that passion in learning before they get to school.

  48. Linda says:

    Hi Polli, Have you a Playcentre nearby? The Playcentre philosophy works well for most gifted.
    Also shopping around for a preschool or kindy with at least one senior staff member that understands!
    All,
    I agree that the behaviour trouble starts when the learning needs are not being met. I really like Jane’s questions. I look forward to the responce.

  49. Mariam says:

    Well, a fair criticism of the school system doesn’t reflect on teachers’ individual ability at all! My most passionate and amazing teachers have seemed to be limited by deadlines and tests which students need to pass by rote learning, where there is little reward and time for in depth learning or understanding the material, even in analytical subjects like Sciences, or English; I would be grateful for anything which allowed more flexibility in schools, without a loss of recognition for work done, like more efficient streaming, even in small schools, or local centers for Gifted/extended learning, which also give out qualification, so overachievement is rewarded as it should be. It is not pleasant for teachers to be pressured into dealing with unenthusiastic low achievers more than anyone in the school, rather than having the time to make a personal effort with students across an entire range. This definitely can improve!!

  50. Tracy Riley says:

    It is almost time again… Will any of our Labour members write about Gifted Awareness Week 2012? It starts 18 June and runs til the 24th. Check your in box for a letter from many regional and national organizations raising issues about the Ministry of Education’s lack of progress on recommendations made last year by the advisory group ….Or read it online here http://www.giftednz.org.nz/GAW%202012/Letter%20from%20all%20organisations%20to%20MPs.pdf