A parent mentioned recently that their daughter’s primary school had a strong focus on gifted and talented students much to the exclusion of other students. As the parent explained, her daughter and the other ‘non-gifted’ students were miffed they didn’t have the same activities as the gifted and talented students. This reminds me of a comment by Edward de Bono who described the current model of schooling as a pyramid in which the bottom 80% of students were being taught so that the top 20% could go onto university.
There are two tiers that currently exist within our education system between selective and comprehensive. Recently, NSW Department of Education secretary, Mark Scott announced a review of the Gifted and Talented policy within government schools to address among other things the inequity that currently exists in securing a place in selective schools. There was even a suggestion that having selective primary schools would ensure gifted and talented students receive the appropriate support and/or intervention.
The danger in all of this is that providing for one group means we risk neglecting others. As I’ve said before creating more selective schools doesn’t address the issue of equity, it simply creates more inequity. We then end up with academically engineered learning environments that are not reflective of contemporary Australian society.
Gifted and talented programs emerge out of a one size fits all model that responds to teaching to the middle. This sort of thinking needs to be challenged; turned on its head. At the risk of sounding radical, every child is gifted and we need to learn how to deal with the diversity that exists in all schools.