Gifted and talented students
Teachers must be careful not to blindly follow
definitions or assume children fit into stereotypes...even after advice
or professional development sessions from "experts".
The following pages are a guide only...always get
to know your children before deciding what YOU think is best for THEM...
Zealand's history of neglecting gifted children... Working
Party report summary
does it mean to be called "gifted"... definitions
to identify gifted children... some common
features to look for
for parents and teacher... practical suggestions
can Primary and Secondary teacher do? Giftedness
examples for Primary schools and Secondary schools. Acceleration, dual
enrolment, and the conflicting needs of the school versus the student.
New Zealand Education System
Gets a Bad Report:
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: Included in the
2001 Working Party report on Gifted Education to the Minister of
…the education of the
child shall be directed to the development of the child's personality,
talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.
United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child - Article 29
The working party finds that little has
been done in New Zealand to assist gifted and talented students. The
report then makes a number of recommendations that are NOT
binding on the Government. The working party concludes (abridged and
From the report:
"Finally, the contents of this report
are not entirely new and a number of individuals and committees have
furnished reports in the past... The most recent,... (Department of
Education, 1985).... recommendations ... are very similar to the
recommendations made by the current Working Party. However, what is
disappointing is that, in the intervening period of 16 years, the
majority of recommendations made by this conference were never
What is even more disturbing is
that the core elements of this 1985 report can be identified in even earlier
reviews. It is rather sobering to consider the human cost associated
with deferring such decisions. Beyond the personal cost, the cost to us
as a nation must have been immense. The Working Party strongly urges
the Minister to take steps to avoid this situation occurring again. "
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
As a parent or teacher with a special
interest in Gifted and Talented students, visit the Ministry of
Education website for new initiatives and funding and the latest
ammendments to the National Administration Guidelines (NAG's). New
opportunities may open up that will assist you in meeting the needs of
Like us, you could make your own
submissions to the Ministry or write to your MP. Copies of the Working
Party Report, Nov 2001 can
be read in full here
Many of our children are at risk.
Gifted and talented students are not good at everything,
though some assume this to be true. Mechanically ("good with their
hands") or academically gifted students are "at risk" in terms
of being undiscovered, unsupported and under-achievers because of an
amazing lack of resources for these students in the education system.
Many have special needs. As an
example, any student operating at two or three standard deviations below
the mean in a particular subject is considered as having "special
needs". The education system has funds, programs and staff dedicated to
meeting the emotional and intellectual needs of the students at this
end of the learning spectrum.
However, a student operating two or three
standard deviations above the mean is not necessarily
recognised as being a "special needs" student. This is in spite of the
fact that there can be major problems in class or at home. It isn't
enough just to set these students extra or more difficult work and
leave them to it. The same amount of thought, time and attention needs
to be provided for these students as is provided for their counterparts
at the other end of the spectrum.
These "smart" kids can do some "dumb"
things! Without being recognised and properly supported, they are
at risk of behaviour problems, addictions, depression and worse. These
students also need the nurturing and attention required to become
well-rounded individuals, comfortable with their individuality.
We lack a balanced approach. Teenagers
who are gifted in sports can look forward to the respect the general
community has for athletes and are held up as role models to others. It
is even "cool" to be an athlete with plenty of money spent on sports in
general, either in the community or in schools. Sponsorship of teams
and donations towards sports facilities is a routine matter.
But little is done to support the
academically gifted. Don't get me wrong - I like sports too but there
are no afternoons or days off school to pursue intellectual pursuits in
the same way that we have Athletics Days or afternoons off for the
school to watch the First Fifteen rugby team play. Business sponsorship
of sports teams is common and routine ... not so the sponsorship of
innovative academic programmes for primary or secondary students. New
Zealand society seems to have a perception of learning in general as
A light in the
darkness...of a lazy way out?
Starting in 2007, more
attention has been given to dealing with the learning needs of
gifted children. It is important that children are not thrown in front
of computers, with ICT seen to be the cure-all or sole stimulus
activity...or baby-sitter while teachers carry on with the rest of the
Some schools are beginning to look at
appropriate solutions that are within their capabilities at the moment.
I look forward to seeing their progress and hope they are encouraged
and supported to continue in the right direction!
All brained up with no where to
A sensor system and collision track
costs thousands but these students from Inglewood High School have a
solution for $50.
With the demise of the New Zealand
National Fair, inventions and ideas like these are no longer recognised
Year 13 Physics students Reece
Munro and Brendan Wakeman test the air track and sensor
system they have assembled.