How 'Gifted and Talented' policies destroy access to true intelligence

 How 'Gifted and Talented' policies destroy access to true intelligence

How 'Gifted and Talented' policies destroy access to true intelligence

When I first heard the term ‘Gifted and Talented’ in schools, it hit me like a brick. I could only imagine what young children would make of the term.

The Gifted and Talented program was introduced about ten years ago in the UK and is used in the USA also to support those who are deemed to be gifted and talented to excel. It is referred to in schools as G&T.

What is the point of this Gifted and Talented league?

In its initial conception this program was designed to make sure those children who were excelling in certain subjects were given the stretch and opportunity to be the best they could be. But then it became a policy where you have to have 10% of your children in the G&T register and the program became about them having special activities and trips outside of the curriculum. It became very divisive.

We can cater for the needs of all the children in our classes without creating this obvious bias towards the top end, or indeed the bottom end. Whilst we view and place value on one person more than another, we will continuously be missing the gold within each person.

What the children are saying . . .

When talking with siblings where the eldest struggled at school and the younger one excelled and was ‘gifted and talented,’ getting to go on special trips and do special activities, they both felt it was unfair and the elder one said it made him/her feel "less" and "stupid."

Recently speaking with another child about G&T, they started to cry as they felt they were worth nothing and missed out when other children were put into G&T, saying, "It’s like they are saying we are not worth anything, it separates us."

This is the very real impact on children.

Educating the whole person

Where in this program is the appreciation for everyone’s natural abilities? If we learn to accept and appreciate everyone’s natural ways then we will see an environment that is based on equality, cooperation and growing together rather than the competition, comparison and ‘dog eat dog’ separation and division that we see all around the world today.

This does not mean that one can’t shine at a particular subject or activity, but rather, that at the core it is not seen as making you a better human being or worth more to society. Any talent can be appreciated in the knowledge that, if we hold as a truth that inside all of us is a source of magnificence, that we are created from love, then everyone has an expression that can be appreciated and celebrated. We are all equal regardless of talents or gifts.

What if our greatest gift to another is to breathe our own breath? What if just being ourselves, connected to our 'presence' is the most powerful expression we can have, and is far beyond the confines of the dictated ‘Gifted and Talented’ label?

If this were so, how would we choose to educate our children and what would our focus be on?

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  • By Vanessa McHardy, MA Integrative Child Psychotherapist

    Vanessa loves to help young people and adults to have an understanding of how they learn and how they can express all of themselves in all areas of their lives. True learning is at the heart of Vanessa’s life in all ways.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.