Providing high quality teaching that caters to the specific needs of every child is an enormous challenge, but there is no investment more rewarding for society. Gifted Awareness Week gives us a chance to think about how diverse the needs of our children are and what extraordinary things can happen if we rise to the challenge of meeting those needs.
Gifted young people are often thought of as students who require less support, but we know that isn’t the case. All students need support, and gifted children, like all students with special needs, require particular support to feel empowered and engaged by their learning.
It is vital that we make substantive investments into the organisations supporting our gifted young people. If we don’t provide gifted children with the opportunity to extend themselves, their intelligence can manifest itself in behavioural problems. If we succeed in teaching them as individuals, they can go on to achieve truly brilliant things.
Unfortunately, National Standards continue to focus teachers on students just below the expected achievement level for numeracy and literacy, limiting the breadth of teaching and harming the learning of all students. Meanwhile, Early Childhood Centres are profit-driven and incentivised to cut costs in educating the children in their care.
At a time when children are being pushed into low quality Early Childhood Education and ranked by National Standards, it is essential that these organisations keep fighting to provide an education based on the needs of individual students.
The current government is determined to pull New Zealand education back towards a factory model, but the organisations providing stimulating programmes for gifted children are helping pull New Zealand education into the Twenty-First Century.