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Need to be self-taught to be gifted?

(24 Posts)
nibsy Sun 16-Feb-14 08:19:57

My son in Year 1 is working several years ahead in maths and I have previously been told he is gifted.

During parents evening his teacher said that his strength is the way he learns quickly and retains information. However, she is surprised that she has to teach him everything he knows in maths and she is finding some surprising gaps in his knowledge which she assumed he already knew.

My question is whether you would you expect a child who is gifted to self-teach himself maths? Seems a bit odd to me.

MyArseIsbiggerThanYours Sun 16-Feb-14 08:34:08

As a teacher I would say the understanding to apply what you have been taught is a sign of being mathematically gifted but at the age he is it is necessary for the teacher to explain the basics.

If would be interesting to know what these 'gaps' are. There is a logic to maths so it stands to reason a child could make some progress without being taught but there are also a lot of rules, restrictions and processes that need explaining (on a higher level, BODMAS - there has to be a rule so there is uniformity across calculation).

So a lot of waffle. I guess the answer is yes and no. I would expect a gifted child to reach realisations more quickly than one who is not (for example division is the opposite of multiplication) but I would not expect him to teach himself the basic principals. That's my job!

Hope that clear as mud answer helps grin

nibsy Sun 16-Feb-14 12:49:42

Thank you for responding! That does makes sense. He loves maths and picks it up so quickly. I will ask about the gaps identified next time I speak to the teacher grin

natellie1970 Sun 16-Feb-14 18:33:31

I'm surprised a teacher would assume any yr1 child would know stuff even the gifted ones. Shouldnt she be helping to fill those gaps in his knowledge. My dd used come up with her own way of solving maths problems which her teachers weren't chuffed about but they accepted. Good that your primary school has recognised he's gifted my dd had to wait til secondary school

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 17-Feb-14 09:59:34

of course he will have gaps. poor lad. He has to learn from somewhere - he will be able to work lots of things out for himself and pick things up quicker or perhaps without explanation (or perhaps need more explanation because he wants to understand WHY all the time)

my DDs are very bright and I personally would say gifted but I don't think the school care particularly. At least they have noticed your son.

nonicknameseemsavailable Mon 17-Feb-14 10:00:42

interestingly it does raise the question whether she might have come across 'gifted' children before who have actually just been taught all the stuff at home already if that makes sense. not to say they aren't genuinely gifted too but more that they were pre taught before entering her class rather than a 'raw' gifted child.

nibsy Mon 17-Feb-14 16:36:52

My thoughts exactly and why I was so confused that his need to be taught was a surprise to his teacher. He may be clever or even gifted but he will still need to be taught surely! His love of numbers has all been driven by him with no additional help at home other than when he asks me a question.

TheRaniOfYawn Mon 17-Feb-14 16:47:38

I know two children who are gifted in maths and they have a sort of instinctive understanding of how it works and can visualise numbers and sorry of manipulate them in their heads in a way that most people can't. If you all them do a calculation they just know the answer without really consciously using a technique.

I know other children who are very intelligent and pick up maths techniques very quickly and get the right answers because they are good at learning, which is a different short of giftedness, if you see what I mean.

mercibucket Mon 17-Feb-14 16:56:45

how long did we have to wait for someone gifted to come up with 'pi'?
i think it is overall quicker if we build on other's knowledge grin

natellie1970 Mon 17-Feb-14 19:34:09

nibsy my dd has always taken the lead when it comes to her learning. As we're not very academic having a kid as intelligent as her has come as a shock. I struggle to understand her sometimes. Her primary school never really knew what to do with her and even though she was coming top of her class they just said she was doing very well. I had an idea she was gifted but didn't feel qualified to tell the school that. I'm really pleased for you that your ds has already been identified, but don't let the school fob you off. Make sure he gets the support he needs.

Worriedandlost Fri 21-Feb-14 02:28:37

May I take the opportunity and ask-as my dd is in the similar position to the topic starter's son. At school dd has a target to explain her thinking process, as they do not like her to give an answer without workings-is it a valid target for a child that young? I would rather prefer her to have extra work to do.... She will eventually learn to do it anyway when tasks become more complicated, will she not?

natellie1970 Fri 21-Feb-14 05:47:42

Worriedandlost to me it seems a little unfair to ask a young child to explain their thinking. How old is your dd? I imagine the younger they are the harder it is for them to explain. I may be wrong as I only have experience with my own dd. Not much use sorry.

Athrawes Fri 21-Feb-14 06:11:42

If they don't explain their thinking when they are getting it right they don't get into the habit. Then when they start to get things wrong they can't explain what their processes were and so can't be helped. Explaining your thinking is a form of communication.

insanityscatching Fri 21-Feb-14 09:10:23

Ds is gifted, as a child much of his mathematical ability was self taught and he just had a feel for numbers and would push his knowledge for his own amusement.
In y7 he entered a whole school maths challenge getting through the heats and into the final where the questions got progressively more difficult knocking out those who got them wrong. Ds had been in the school six weeks and so hadn't been taught ks3/4 maths.
Obviously as the questions got harder the younger ones were knocked out because they hadn't been taught what they needed to know to answer the questions.
By the time it got to the final three the questions were based on higher level GCSE questions and ds was up against the two most able y12s, even so he won not because of the teaching but because of his innate ability at maths.
For me I'd say there are gifted learners like my dd who finds learning easy and then the gifted who have ability regardless of being taught.

mercibucket Fri 21-Feb-14 10:41:16

thats fab, insanity

i really really really disagree though that things such as 'pi' are possible to know without teaching. i base that on the thousands of years it took before a human came up with the mathmatical equation. i put that at genius level, not gifted

mercibucket Fri 21-Feb-14 10:53:39

equally afaik, bodmas is a convention we agree upon rather than a 'divine rule' sorry for the incorrect terminology there!

just googled the history of trigonometry. no way that is self taught unless you are a genius

this teacher's attitude annoys me. if we had to teach ourselves everything from scratch, how long would that take?? genius stands on the shoulders of giants (paraphrase)

DeWe Fri 21-Feb-14 19:43:39

My dm (teacher)said the difference between me and my dsis in maths was that she could teach my dsis stuff very quickly, and she'd remember. She didn't have to teach me, I'd just know.
Later (A-level stage) my dsis (4 years older) used to come to me with new maths and I'd look at it and show her the quickest way to do it.

Some things obviously have to be learnt, eg names of shapes, but a lot of maths is just obvious to some people.

I also notice it with my dc. For example ds (age 6yo) was in the car last year when he asked what happens if you multiply negative numbers. I asked what he thought, and he considered and came straight out with -x- = +, -x+/+x- =-
Why? It's obvious he said. You might say that's convention, but mathematically it makes sense.

And someone might not come out with the number for pi, but they might find it obvious that the ratio of the radius: circumference of a circle is a constant.

insanityscatching Sat 22-Feb-14 05:33:23

Dewe your dm's experience is my experience with ds and dd. Ds just knew, it was obvious to him how maths worked whereas dd is very good but she needed to be taught first.
Ds is currently doing a masters in a non maths related subject but even that isn't challenging him. He ponders often, how advanced a subject would need to be before he genuinely had to really work hard to produce the required results because as he says outside of work he's never had to work at anything.

richmal Sat 22-Feb-14 08:18:10

I think the confusion here is what is defined as self taught. Some would say a child reading a well written maths book, going on a computer website or having parent who can explain things to be self taught.

I doubt very much any child has worked out thousands of years of maths knowledge with nothing more than a paper and pencil in front of them.

insanityscatching Sat 22-Feb-14 10:27:29

Well speaking for ds I would say that he was self taught in so far as I taught him to count but I couldn't explain how at nursery he was able to add and subtract three figure numbers because I didn't teach him and neither did anyone else.I was a SAHM, ds was with me 24/7 until he entered school nursery at 4. He taught himself to multiply when he realised that it was quicker than adding lists of numbers because his nursery teacher told me the class was learning to count and ds was teaching him self how to multiply and I suspect that is how his knowledge grew as he pushed the boundaries to what he already knew.
I was and still am a pretty relaxed parent who allowed them to entertain themselves and numbers entertained him even as a tot countdown was his favourite show because of the numbers game.
I have no explanation as to how he could win the maths challenge without being taught because he was never hot housed or tutored in fact quite the opposite as in Primary he was allowed to choose his own path in numeracy only really joining the class for insanity's son versus the rest of the class competitions.

lljkk Sun 23-Feb-14 17:33:03

What I imagine is that the teacher is used to children who know X also tend to know Y. Maybe X was a natural extension of what he's already been taught whereas Y is something he would need to be taught. But teacher is used to X & Y being a similar level of knowledge and going together because they are usually learnt & taught about the same time. Maybe with more life experience your son would figure out Y from knowing X, or most people would only be able to figure out X if he also knew Y, but may be very unreasonable to expect in a young child. Clever people can make huge leaps with big gaps. That kind of insight is part of what makes them unusual.

I do think that truly gifted people usually push themselves; it's part of what defines them as gifted. Some folk are incredibly clever but not self-motivated enough to push selves. So in broad principles yes to opening question, but as for the teacher, I think she's just used to certain things going together because that's how they are usually taught or learned.

ZanyMobster Tue 25-Feb-14 09:34:13

I think it is very likely that a child who is gifted at a young age will have gaps in their knowledge. Ds1 was a very good reader but had gaps in comprehension and punctuation etc. He mainly taught himself to read to a but obviously did not automatically know what explanation marks etc meant at age 4, he picked things up very quickly though so the gaps were addressed quickly also.

nibsy Tue 25-Feb-14 19:28:49

Wow! So many responses which make an interesting read. Perhaps my son falls into the camp of being easy to teach rather than gifted as he isn't as amazing as some of the stories here! I guess as long as he is enjoying the subject and the teacher differentiates to stretch him then its all good grin.

HanSolo Tue 25-Feb-14 19:44:42

DH is gifted mathmatically. At Y1 age, he was learning himself... except that the stuff he was reading/listening to didn't make sense until he was older, and was more secure in the foundations, when suddenly earlier learning would make sense to him. He still needed guidance and teaching in class (it was undergraduate level stuff he was reading and listening to btw! started to make sense to him when he was about 12 or so).

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