This week is Gifted Awareness Week and a range of organisations who support children to fulfill their potential are promoting their work. As part of this an organisation called Gifted Kids held a conference for about 100 children who are 12 years old and under at Parliament. They were leading sessions on everything from maths to biology, from poetry to a critique of marketing icons and a visual essay on the diverse turtles of the Galápagos Islands.
These young people are kids who have needed more than the classroom to keep them engaged. They have fast minds and highly developed ideas but they struggle as much as any group of students with what we call ‘special needs’. They need to be extended to thrive, they need big picture conceptual learning and they need the resources to get access to their own gifts.
Instead of wasting money on assessment mechanics we would do well to invest in the programmes that are designed to help children grow in their particular strengths and become aware of their capacities and their weaknesses. It was great to see the Beehive buzzing with engaged children who feel respected and encouraged but it would be even better if some actual funding was allocated to expand these valuable programmes. This is especially important for families who cannot afford to pay for anything extra but know their child needs more challenges in their education.
Our kids need an equity based education system where classes are small and teachers have time to be flexible. We need to get serious about the many types of gifts our children would love to develop. They will tell us if they are getting what they need from education, we just have to brave enough to listen and act in their interests.