Monday, June 25, 2007

Spotting the gifted child

I recently stumbled on this site explaining how to spot the gifted child - apparently quite easy to do if you have a trained eye.

My elder son is not included in the G&T (gifted and talented - not gin and tonic) programme at school in spite of the general consensus that he should be, because he didn't score well enough on the test. As it turned out, he was ill the week the tests were taken and had to try to complete them in the back of the room during normal lessons on his return. This might have had something to do with his scores. On one level, I'm kind of sorry - the G&T kids learn thinking and learning skills. On the other hand, this kid already has so much going on in his life - do I really want to add extra lessons at breaktime (recess) to the mix?

The whole thing struck a discord with me on so many levels. First off, because the test was written. Allegedly, gifted children are impatient and just want to get a thing done. A written test is therefore probably not totally conclusive. Quite apart from which, there is no guarantee that a gifted child will be free of learning disabilities such as dyslexia which will hamper his/her performance in a written test. Nor is there any guarantee that a gifted child will not be one of those who goes to pieces under "exam conditions". They don't always have the march on confidence.

To be honest, I recognise my elder son in almost every point on both the positive and negative sides of this document, but I'd still like to know how they came to these conclusions. I was also tickled to see that the gifted child:

  • "Demonstrates strong abilities in math" - what if s/he's gifted as an artist, not as a mathematician?
  • "Displays unusual academic achievement" - how can this be the case if they're also "off task", "disruptive", "sloppy", "forgetful of homework assignments" and inclined to "leave projects unfinished"? From what little I know of it, it is just as likely that gifted children will underachieve - quite spectacularly at times.
I'd be interested to know:
  • How G&T kids are identified in other schools?
  • How reliable is this selection method?
  • Does it benefit or stigmatise kids to be included in the G&T programme?
  • Does anyone else think that this might morph into David Cameron's idea of a grammar stream in every school?


Aaron Marks said...

Thank you for posting this information. You ask some good questions. From personal experience, Gifted labeling makes you get teased as badly as having the "Special Learning Needs" tag does.

Karyn Romeis said...

Sorry to hear it that you've had that negative experience, Aaron. My own view is that being gifted is a special learning need, and recognition of this is long overdue. However, it doesn't take the label for the kids to stand out from the crowd. My son has finally hit his stride in high school, but he had a torrid time of it during and before primary school, when his adult turn of phrase and uncommon perspective made an outsider of him. Let's face it, 8 year olds aren't very accepting of one of their peers who engages with and challenges PhD paleontology students at a dig instead of following the set tour!

Ally said...

This is the same deal with my son! He was administered the wisc-iv by a trained psychologist and both a learning disability in non-verbal areas AND giftedness in verbal processing and reasoning were discovered as well! He struggles immensely with math and his overall global IQ is depressed due to the severity of the learning disability. Should this negate his giftedness? I don't think so. Limiting definitions and criteria for giftedness frustrate me as his mother. Thanks for your post!

Karyn Romeis said...

And thank you for your comment, Ally - if I'm not mistaken, this is the first time you've stopped by. I hope to see you again.