Saturday, December 12, 2009

Challenging gifted kids is elitism?

The Daily Mail, published in London, reports in its December 11, 2009, edition, that many British schools aren't providing material to challenge and develop the gifts of their brightest students for fear of practicing "elitism."

As many as three-quarters of state schools are failing to push their brightest pupils because teachers are reluctant to promote 'elitism', an Ofsted study says today.

Many teachers are not convinced of the importance of providing more challenging tasks for their gifted and talented pupils.

Bright youngsters told inspectors they were forced to ask for harder work. Others were resentful at being dragooned into 'mentoring' weaker pupils.

In nearly three-quarters of 26 schools studied, pupils designated as being academically gifted or talented in sport or the arts were 'not a priority', Ofsted found.

Teachers feared that a focus on the brightest pupils would 'undermine the school's efforts to improve the attainment and progress of all other groups of pupils'.

This is notwithstanding official policy:

Schools are meant to identify the top 5 to 10 per cent of pupils as 'gifted and talented' and ensure they are given appropriate tasks to help them achieve their potential.

One suspects that this problem is not confined to the United Kingdom.

Gifted students are a society's future engineers, scientists, doctors, and leaders. Weighing them down, Harrison Bergeron-style, with boring make-work, refusing to provide them with stimulating challenges, in the name of "equality," is not only unkind to the students but is a strategic error that prevents a community from reaching its own full potential.

(Via Rob Port at Say Anything blog and on Twitter.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a mom of a "gifted" child I would have to say that my son is as in need of special attention as a child that may be falling behind or need additional assistance to learn the basics. I rencently went through some of my son's (who is 7) homework assignments. scrawled across the top was written "Easy" or "Make it harder please" it was around the same time that I found he was getting lower behavior grades and acting out in class. I do not think cahellenging gifted children should be concidered elitism but rather looked at as a way to alow a child to be successful and learn to the best of their potential. This is all pretty new to me but I appreciate what you had to say and feel it gave me even more to think about, thank you. Keep it up, awareness is key to any change.

-Mindy Reese