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Is it me or does the expression "gifted and talented" seem a particularly poor use of language to anyone else?

(54 Posts)
thesecretmusicteacher Wed 20-Feb-13 17:05:10

I'm not talking about whether there should be a programme or special treatment for children who are "ahead" in some way here. I don't have an opinion on that.

But the phrase itself..... is it me or does it sound like a parody?

What does it mean to be "gifted"?
What does it mean to be "talented"?

Can one be one but not the other? If not, would it not be preferable to use one word? If so, why are the two words always bundled together like verbal identical twins in the same class....

Was there a committee meeting in which the people who favoured the term "gifted" could not agree with the people who favoured the term "talented"? Was using both terms all the time the only way to end the meeting, even though everyone there would have marked down a 9 year old for such use of language?

I genuinely wonder....

notactuallyme Thu 21-Feb-13 22:11:53

So far, dd (14) has been gifted and talented in drama, and just recently inb chemistry. Some of her friends have been identified as such in geography although they no longer take the subject. Dd and I find it all most amusing.
Originally, I believe there were government funded holiday courses, and it was a way of allowing less middle class children access to the benefits of having parents able and willing to provide extras.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 21-Feb-13 22:18:53

Really tired.

Yes I agree with you concerning the culture shock when they actually have to work. However, I think there can be cases of innate ability but agree that unless this is encouraged with a lot of work will amount to nothing. I have seen this with my own dd, the fact she has lived with music all her 9 years, practices well and works hard. However, she picks instruments up really easily and gets to a good standard quickly and has shown ability from a few months old.
She didn't speak for a long time and had speech therapy during pre school years and is completely average and even below average academically. However she was echoing bird song in her pram, harmonising to music whenever she heard anything. She wasn't taught to do this she just did it. Trains, emergency vehicles, she just emmulated the pitch of the sound.

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 22:30:57

We're now calling it "Able" rather than G&T. I teach dram, so in some ways identifying those with a particular ability is easy. We do a lot of work with out local theatre so I tend to start with those who are "able" or "talented" simply because they're the ones with the biggest interest in the subject. Essentially it's a box ticking exercise for the school- proving to OFSTED that we're catering for the top end of the ability range [cynic]

EvilTwins Thu 21-Feb-13 22:31:43

Drama, not dram. blush

NewFerry Fri 22-Feb-13 07:47:01

When my DS started secondary, being identified as academically gifted meant that you achieved over 130/2 ish in the cat sores. From that, the school applied for you to join NAGTY. The threshold was then lowered a few years later, then NAGTY was disbanded!
From our experience, the only advantage in being recognised was that DC were able to access enrichment courses at Kilve which we paid for, and which they thought were fun as they covered areas not covered in the school curriculum.

PolkadotCircus Fri 22-Feb-13 08:45:58

I think it's pants. I was a teacher and in all the years of teaching some quite able children only came across a couple of truly what I regard as gifted kids.

I'm in the interesting position of having twins one of which is getting sent on some G&T courses (whatever that means) and one which isn't.
Both kids are bright however one is also driven and is the one being sent on said courses.

His twin is equally as bright and in some ways brighter however he isn't driven,is shy,can daydream etc. He also matured later. Annoys me that he and others will get nothing.He complains of finding some lessons easy and being bored.A lot of the other kids going seem equally driven/confident as the son that is going or have parents with a lot of drive.Should drive/confidence be a marker of G&T?

I agree with whoever said it's just a label they plonk on a top percentage to offset SEN provision.It is cop out.Yes these courses are lovely(spot on for my ds)and will benefit my son (would hugely benefit his twin and several others too I suspect)however they are bloody expensive and not all could afford them(my parents are paying)and really enable teachers to not stretch kids as they can say "well we sent them on a G&T course"confused

What do the other able/bright kids not in that very top percentage get-even less!

thesecretmusicteacher Fri 22-Feb-13 09:57:35

so, good intentions, and with our archaeologist hats on it's possible to disinter the original intent behind the phase (thank you teacherwith2kids).

I suppose with all these things, there's an initial thrust of energy and then it moves beyond its sell-by date.

If I were to say to my child "you are gifted and talented in science" and encourage him to repeat and use such a phrase, it would be tantamount to saying:
"mangling the English language is fine"
"clear communication is not important"
and undermine the work his teachers are doing in his literacy classes, and that's before you even get to analysing the meaning of the phrase.....

so I'm glad they are getting rid. "Very able" sounds much better! But perhaps in seven years' time that will sound silly too.

CecilyP Fri 22-Feb-13 12:59:23

No, 'very able' just sounds like the normal English that we all understand. G & T doesn't sound too odd when applied to something like music, but when someone writes, 'DD is gifted and talented at reading', it just sounds utterly ridiculous.

ReallyTired Fri 22-Feb-13 13:22:47

Our school uses the the expression "more able". I feel that "more able" is a fair way of saying that a particular child is in the 10% of a particular cohort at a moment in time.

My went to a gifted and talented workshop for science (paid for by the school). The sad thing was that half the kids didn't want to be there. It would be interesting to know how many free school dinners children get to go to gifted and talented workshops.

richmal Fri 22-Feb-13 15:10:53

I much prefer the term "able". "Giftedness" seem fixed and unalterable, where as"ability" is something which can be improved with work or practice.

Niceweather Fri 22-Feb-13 16:03:40

NAGC are now called Potential Plus UK and are using the term "High Learning Potential" or HLP rather than G&T.

Mintberry Fri 22-Feb-13 16:48:21

I think getting labelled 'gifted and talented' is a bad choice of words because it marks that group of children out as superior to their peers at such an early age. You wouldn't call a class for the children who were behind "slow and untalented", would you? It should imply equality at both ends.

Besides, being a quick learner in Primary doesn't remain true for your whole life. I was in a G+T type thing at that age, and am the first to admit that I'm actually pretty average intellectually as an adult.

Schmedz Fri 22-Feb-13 18:03:20

You must be so proud of DD. I hope she continues!

I do often wonder where these very young children that gain high level grades have to go when they have 'done' them all. There is a level of maturity that informs the best musicians, and with the best will in the world, a young child can not have that. And yet they manage to pass the exams, so it is very confusing!

LaQueen Fri 22-Feb-13 18:10:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 18:34:05


I totally agree. I checked out you tube for pieces for dd to sing in festivals, auditions and exams. It is amazing how many dc aren't just preparing for the higher exams but especially in singing attempting unsuitable material.
I don't think there's any excuse either, its not like the leading music schools and conservatoires specify achievement at any grade, let alone the higher ones. They want to see ability to study intensively and musical awareness. So to many a grade 2 isn't gifted or talented in any way, because people tend to go for the latest grade passed, which imo says nothing much.

Oh yes we are proud of her, but don't tell her too often to keep her groundedgrin. To keep me grounded I don't show off with other parents, or do the I'm so proud speech. smile

Schmedz Fri 22-Feb-13 22:01:46

Sadly music scholarship applicants to senior school are often set minimum grade requirements (although there are some sensible schools which request references from teachers as to approximate level for those who haven't taken exams). A shame as it means the very able who may have started an instrument in year 5 or even year 6 but made exceptional progress are likely to be excluded.
As for keeping the children grounded, I feel very sorry for my DDs with a music teacher for a parent...they will never ever believe they are better than they really are. However, I am all for cheering them on for their achievements (but like you, not too often!) to other people. Am feeling particularly proud of DD1s very hard work in recently being awarded a music scholarship. She is now working at around Grade 5 level on piano after having learnt for around 18 months. Wish the same progress was being made with violin!

morethanpotatoprints Fri 22-Feb-13 22:41:52


Ha Ha, violin is best learnt slow and steady so I'm assured. We have had same thing dh teaches dd saxophone and within a month she is playing grade 3 stuff and has a lovely sound. Violin for 2 years to get to same level. Singing about gr 4 in a year. She hasn't taken all these grades yet and I'm saving some cash and just going for the gr5 in them all at once I think, depending on what dd wants obviously. It does seem a shame to grade or level and test dc all the time. It must be counter productive to having fun.

Schmedz Sat 23-Feb-13 09:27:25

The exams are SO expensive, aren't they? I am amazed how many families seem to have the spare cash for music tuition in 3 instruments, Specialist courses, exam after exam after exam, junior academy/colleges and many are paying private school fees as well!!

BooksandaCuppa Sat 23-Feb-13 10:27:08

Ds's school (independent) uses the term 'advanced potential' which I think is a better expression.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 23-Feb-13 14:42:13


We are lucky that dh is a musician and he teaches privately so dd can access quite a bit for nothing. However, she still plays 2 instruments that dh can't teach her and there are the exams too. We don't pay school fees as dd is H.ed but she also does dancing. So all told its around £50 per week, just for her.I think many parents are too scared to add up the costs, we find this at dancing. I don't think many would continue if they thought about it, lol.

ReallyTired Sat 23-Feb-13 15:02:48

Music exams aren't essential. Why do people enter their children in for every grade, especially if they are "gifted" at music. Ds skipped grade one and my nephew has only done grade 3.

There are lots of ways of giving a child a chance to perform without exams. My son's school had a talent contest and allows children who play instruments to play in assembly. Ds also played at church and raised £21 for christian aid playing guitar. (Threats that if the old dears didn't contribute that he would bring the violin.. Heh! Heh!)

thesecretmusicteacher Sat 23-Feb-13 18:11:50

Ds's school (independent) uses the term 'advanced potential' which I think is a better expression.

Call the language police someone, we've got another one...

BooksandaCuppa Sat 23-Feb-13 19:06:27


teacherwith2kids Sat 23-Feb-13 19:09:14

DS and DD both play the clarinet.

I believe that one of them is c. Grade 2-3 and the other is c, Grade 4-5, only because some of the books that they learn pieces from are labelled 'You have just passed Grade 3' etc

morethanpotatoprints Sat 23-Feb-13 21:30:39


I know many parents of dc in selective and private schools like their dc to do all exams as they pay a lot of money for lessons and they are a bench mark of progress as far as some are concerned.
In the state sector many music teachers enter dc for every exam to meet targets, again a measure of progress.
I agree with you though, they aren't necessary. My dd plays 4 instruments and wants to be a pro musician, she won't do every exam because on top of lessons I can't afford them all.

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