Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Plight of the 'Gifted' Child

I'm a Facebook addict. I love the site and spend a fair amount of time chatting to friends, sorting out socials and generally just catching up with the lives of the friends I don't get to see often.

I resist joining groups on it though as most of them are totally pointless. But I have been skating on the rim of one for a few months now. Wondering whether to join or not. Primarily because I think the person who joined it has a bit of a beef about the fact his child has not been identified as 'Gifted' or 'Talented'.

I have a personality weakness. I'm opinionated. I've learned over the past few months to think long and hard before commenting on things. So, I've thought long and hard about responding to this group and today I felt it was right to post my views.

I don't know your thoughts on the whole 'Gifted and Talented' child phenomena that is sweeping modern education. I have a child on it. I'm proud of him. But equally if he wasn't on it, I wouldn't be too bothered and I doubt he would be either. He knows he's on it and never mentions it. I think therefore, it is more a problem for the parents. I'd be interested to know whether my views are relevant or whether I've missed the point. Do let me know. Feedback is always good.

So, here it is.

I think it's a shame that this group has been set up at all. As parents we should be encouraging our children and those of our friends and family to do the very best they can with the abilities they hold. It's not our job to criticise parents because they strive to achieve the best for their child.

In the UK parents do not succeed in getting their children put on the gifted and talented registers at school. It is a requirement of participating schools to select the top 5% achieving pupils within a certain area and to notify parents of that fact.

My son was selected for his maths ability. He was selected at Year 4 as he was working way ahead of his peers. He worked way ahead of the year group above him. Yes, he is VERY gifted at Maths. I make no apology to anybody for that. As such, he was noted and the placing on the register has merely led to him having opportunities to partake in mathematical activities at levels higher than those of his friends.

His friends don't resent him or shun him. He doesn't go around with an air of superiority either. He just happens to be better than them at Maths. Yes, I'm very proud of him. My daughter is working 3-4 years ahead with her writing and reading and yes, again I'm very proud. I'm not going to apologise for my children's achievements, but similarly I'm not going to parent them beyond their years. They are still children. They are encouraged to be just that, young people who enjoy the company of their peers, who still enjoy watching cartoons, to be children. It is possible to parent a gifted child and not have a rod stuck up your backside doing it. It would do parents of the so called non-gifted children to realise this and not think that every achievement of another child is an educational stab in the back.

We should embrace our children's strengths, enjoy their skills, note their talents and encourage them when they struggle or fail, whether they are 'gifted' or not.


Matt Blick said...

Well said Karen,

I'm a teacher and father of 4.

I have 2 children on G&T, 1 with learning difficulties and 1 in nursery. I'm thankful for the program and, through it, the extra activities they've had a chance to participate in.

As a teacher it is so easy to focus on the children who have problems or are struggling and ignore, or even resent, the kids that are doing well. G&T goes some way to addressing that.

chocoholic said...

I think the gifted and talented register is a fantastic idea after all the children who struggle get help. If you are lucky enough to have a gifted and talented child you should be very proud.
Niether of mine fall into this catergory but they have other qualities, they are polite to others, they always say please and thankyou, they help when asked and they are fantastic in the kitchen and they alsways try their hardest.
I have always told them that grades don't matter to me but if they try their best I could not ask for more. I am always told at parents evenings that they do.
I have a friend who's child is on the gifted and talented register and she dose not think twice abiut reminding you every time you see her.
Once a year at Desborough they have a junior presentation for boys that have given their best in class, Ross piocked up two awards I was proud of him, my friends son didn't get any awards and took great pleasure in telling her more then once, she was put out by this and found it hard to congratulate him, she seemed to be making up all kinds of excuses as to why her son had not got one, one comment was ' he picked up a shed loads of awards last year' why could she just not be happy for Ross?

Karen said...

This is it exactly. All our children have strengths and weaknesses and labelling them should have no impact on the way they're treated by other parents. Every single child should be praised and encouraged, no matter what their achievement, be it a First Class Honours Degree from Oxford or getting a job at the local supermarket when they leave school. It's not about getting 3 trillion A*s, or having the potential to earn 60K, it's about building up a life of self-worth, self-respect, friendship, respect and being an all round good egg!