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What is it about G&T that is so contriversal?

(70 Posts)
DidEinsteinsMum Fri 19-Jun-09 01:28:07

Okay trying to get my head round this and hoping it doesn't get too ugly <ducks just in case> What is it about G&T that is so contriversal - the definition, the application of policy?
Go on let rip ...

...you know you want to

(please try not to get to personal is not a vendetter thing - just want to get an over view and an understanding)

foofi Fri 19-Jun-09 06:19:41

(Tempted to say if you could spell controversial you wouldn't have to ask... wink wink)

I suppose in some cases people can be a little arrogant about it - 'my child is so brilliant' type of thing, and once they have the label they think they are special. I suppose on forums like this there can be an element of jealousy, and needing help because you're bad at something is one thing, but needing help because you're so marvellous at it doesn't go down so well with some people.

Also, imho, having the label won't necessarily lead to a better experience in education. The special needs label is much more likely to result in extra support. The G&T label is still fairly new, and the provision in schools for this kind of support diagnosis and support varies wildly depending on where you live.

DidEinsteinsMum Fri 19-Jun-09 08:54:54

Actually am dyslexic - my spelling is a nightmare grin

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 09:16:38

I have never met anyone with a gifted child being arrogant or boasting. Basically I think it's others who are jealous or have a chip on their shoulder who don't like the fact that someone has a talented kid and therefore subconsciously perceives parents or the kid as being arrogant.

In fact I hear most boasting from parents who have very average kids!

stroppyknickers Fri 19-Jun-09 09:24:26

My first experience of g and t was a mum grabbing me in a shop, asking how my dd was, and then bursting out - x is on the g and t, they have it now at y school! Bless.

snorkle Fri 19-Jun-09 09:30:11

Mostly I think it's because it's not really possible to accurately assess who the 'gifted' really are. Some who stand out at a young age will 'even out', others shine later and some fall under the radar entirely as they try to 'fit in' or their quirkiness is misinterpreted. There are also undoubtedly some who are truely 'out there' from a young age and stay there.

So the label (with its elitist sounding title which doesn't help either) is applied to a wide basket of children to try and encompass most if not all of the ones who really need it, but an awful lot of others in the process. Then the boundary occurs at a point on the intelligence distribution curve where there are a relatively large number of children. This means that in any class of children the difference between the least able of those on the list and the most able of the rest is negligible and certainly far less than the tolerance of any measurement criteria used to form the list to start with. So inevitably, if you are giving the children on the list something that is appealing to those not on it (and to parents even the label itself can be appealing) and not actually needed by most of them either, there will be jealousy especially from those who have only just missed out.

I think I'm more in favour of providing extra support to those who really need it on a case by case basis, but then again, that's what used to happen and it didn't really work either (very patchy & variable provision). So it's one of those issues where there really isn't a right answer.

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 10:45:59

I'm not interested in G&T, it's a waste of money and is of no benefit to those on the register. But I do get annoyed by the "evening-out" argument. Geninely gifted kids only even out because they sit for years learning nothing so of course other kids catch them up. If they had been learning what they were capable of then they would continue to be years ahead.

snorkle Fri 19-Jun-09 11:02:53

Missmem, Some kids id'd as gifted 'even out' not because they sit around unchallenged but because they were ahead of themselves for at the time & mis-diagnosed. I think this is quite common in early infant years where some children are very ahead typically in reading, not due to innate brilliance (a much smaller number of others fall in this category) but because they've been shown how before the others. I'm not saying it's wrong to teach a child to read early, but it can lead to this sort of issue. That's where the 'evening out'argument comes from I think.

I think the number of truely gifted kids that appear to even out due to sitting around learning nothing is likely to be quite small relative to those gifted kids that don't even out - in general they have a thirst for knowledge that persists & absorb info like sponges even if it's not being directly given to them.

cory Fri 19-Jun-09 11:20:53

I think either of these scenarios happen: some gifted children do end up under-performing because of lack of stimulation, but on the other hand, some of the early identification is done on very tenuous grounds by people who do not understand how children develop in fits and starts.

So child A who can read at 3 will seem brighter than child B who learns to read at age 4, but the actual difference in intelligence may be illusionary and due to the fact that child B was busy developing some other aspect at age 3. After all, the factors used to identify gifted children are often only a tiny part of the overwhelming sum of a child's development. I have seen so many people blossom later in life that I am wary of any labels. I think sets and streaming works better, because the boundaries are fluid, but if you're once G&T there's the expectation you always have to be.

Personally, I do not see G&T in itself as controversial. But (as the parent of a g&t child) I am wary of attempts to claim that it is always a problem and that all gifted children need special support. Some do, some don't. Some thrive on G&T programmes, others (like my dd) just want to pursue their interests regardless of whether the activity is designed for G&T or not. And some (like my dd) are extremely sociable and don't want treats and trips that divide them from their non-G&T friends.

What I do want is support to be given where it's needed.

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 11:38:44

My child, who is very gifted, did have a passion for learning until he went to school and they refused to teach him what he needed so now has no passion for learning. He refuses to put his hand up in class now as they don't pick him because he knows the answer and he never receives stars for getting all his spellings right eventhough another less able child will. He used to have his nose in factual books but now he doesn't bother because he is fed up of knowing everything at school and looks forward to the rare lesson which he knows nothing about - a project on lifeboats for example.

I understand that kids learn to read at different ages but if a child starts reception with a reading age of 10+, can write and do advanced spellings, why do they spend the next two years learning the alpahabet and letter shapes? If they had continued to be taght correctly they would be two years ahead ability-wise after two years not still at the same level. That is why kids even out.

cory Fri 19-Jun-09 11:50:13

Not entirely and it doesn't work for all, missmem. I went to school in Sweden where we didn't start with the alphabet until age 7, by which time I had been reading for 2 years. I have never lost my passion for learning. How could I when there were so many wonderful books in the library, quite regardless of what the school was doing?

otoh, some school do manage to do much for their bright children than it seems your ds's school did for him. My dcs school was much better than this: the children were set and the teachers were very aware of the need for stretching the bright ones.

Even so, there is evening out towards the end of primary school. And a lot of it is not because those early bloomers have become disillusioned, but because other children have now developed equal intelligence. There is now a clear difference showing between the child who will only do the work they get set and praised for at school, and the child who will trot down to the library in the afternoon or go out looking for bugs in the garden, without any prompting from anyone else. The ones who never stop learning are going to charge ahead. In the end, mere intelligence isn't enough- by the time you get to secondary you can really see the difference between the self-motivators and those who will only perform for praise.

paisleyleaf Fri 19-Jun-09 11:52:53

missmem you say "waste of money"....
does it cost then?
I don't know alot about it and thought it just meant that the G&T children were acknowledged and the teacher has to show how they are catered for in her planning.

OrmIrian Fri 19-Jun-09 11:56:11

The name itself is quite unpleasant. Implying that the rest of the class aren't much cop hmm

But I think there is an unspoken resentment that children who are already advantaged by being more able, get special treatment to give them a further advantage.

I don't suppose that is fair but that is the perception that leads to people getting wound up.

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 12:16:20

Gifted children are not advantaged. They are ostricized and bullied by peers and often by the parents of these peers too. On the whole they have unhappy childhoods (well documented) because of the way society treats them. Its criminal in my view for a child to have an unhappy childhood because of their brain capacity. But G&T does not help - it just exacerbates this problem.

And for those that say kids even out, then you clearly have never had a child 5-10 years ahead who has been taught nothing. If we'd wanted to DS would have been in uni by age 11 and he wouldn't have been pushed as he finds everything so easy to understand. The even out argument is for people to feel better about their own kids who are not as academically able. Why not be happy that someones DC is gifted instead of being jealous and negative about it. I have friends who have sportier or more academic kids than mine and I'm not bitter but think it's great that they have their own individual talents.

OrmIrian Fri 19-Jun-09 12:19:25

missmem _ didn't say they were advantaged I said that that was how they are perceived.

fircone Fri 19-Jun-09 12:32:04

There is a girl in dd's class (year 1) who is way ahead of the others. Her writing is beautiful, she is reading classic novels, she has to do maths on her own. When asked to name a famous painter, dd reports that she said "Monet, Renoir, Picasso..." and was going on before the teacher cut in and let another child say "Mr Maker from CBeebies" !!

Now, is this child gifted? Or is it because her mother is the most intense person I have ever met? She is Chinese, and was telling me that her Chinese friends back home are all having their children tutored from the age of 3 and she can't believe how laid back we all are here. This child does 2 hours of violin lessons a week, the mother is always asking about what is coming next on the curriculum so that she can get started on the subject at home etc etc.

Now, is this child gifted? She is indeed substantially ahead of the others and no doubt clever. But to allocate extra resources to occupy this child would seem inappropriate imo.

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 13:02:30

No she is not gifted, although will be bright as you can't make a child with a low IQ read novels before a certain age, regardless of the coaching. The thing about G&T is virtually no resources are allocated to a G&T child. They are given a few extra worksheets (from the Year above) and any money the school gets generally gets spent on anything BUT the G&T budget.

The annoying thing is that some of these people really help perpetuate the myth of a pushy parent. Truly gifted kids have such higher levels of thinking that they refuse to be pushed or manipulated by parents. There is no way I could force DC to do anything they didn't want to and frankly I'm not bright enough to keep up with them! blush

snorkle Fri 19-Jun-09 13:05:23

They are advantaged in some ways though - other children envy them their ability to learn without monotonous repetition, ease of exam passing, that kind of stuff.

I'm not really seeing your argument missmem - did your ds 'even out' after 2 years or not? He sounds like the type who would carry on absorbing info like a sponge even though it's not being fed to him and would have stayed ahead like most really gifted children do in spite of the system.

The loss of enthusiasm is a different but very real problem. I'm not convinced that the best way to solve it is steaming on ahead though - would you really have wanted him to go to university at 11?

Actually, loss of enthusiasm and not engaging with school is something that affects lots of children regardless of ability - perhaps that's what we should be targetting resources at?

lockets Fri 19-Jun-09 13:09:45

Message withdrawn

cory Fri 19-Jun-09 13:19:29

missmem- you seem to be suggesting that everyone who has not exactly the same experience as you or does not agree with you must be jealous because their child is not as gifted

the truth is that even gifted people do not all live exactly the same lives

I have spent my life in academic research; during this time I have met a great proportion of extremely gifted people, leading lights in their own field

some of these people have indeed had unhappy childhoods, but others have not- they've been fine, some of them despite very disadvantageous circumstances

some have had difficulties relating to their less gifted peers, others have had such good social skills that they have always been able to get around with people of different abilities; or just been lucky to have been at school with nicer children

I was bullied at school because I was a swot who was several years ahead of my peers

my dd, who is probably ahead of me in many ways, is not bullied at school

partly because there is less bullying at her school (state school in lower middle class area), but mainly I think because she has an ability, which I did not have, of making other people feel at their ease. Noone feels threatened by her, because she has a special talent for making other people feel good about themselves; despite suffering pain in a way I never did, she is far happier; but it's not to do with being less gifted; I've read extracts from her short stories and they are far better and more interesting than anything I could have done at her age

as for the evening out, I don't think people meant this as a slur on those who have genuinely gifted children; it merely means that some of the children who seemed extremely bright when they recognise all the different car makes at age 2, or read fluently at 3, do not go on to develop the kind of more mature brightness that puts you at an advantage at university

different things are demanded from bright people at different ages

some have the brightness to get any number of A* stars at A-level without ever developing the kind of mature and independent brightness you need for university; some gets firsts as undergraduates but haven't got what it takes to do a PhD, just like not everybody who is a junior champion at a sport goes on to compete in the Olympics

sport coaches know this, and if they occasionally say so, this is not because they dislike sportiness; it's because they have a lot of experience

those of us who are academic teachers have experience in academic development

I have seen many students who have had every advantage in stimulation and who have been predicted a brilliant future, but who have to readjust their ideas simply because their particular brightness did not take them on to the next level

it doesn't necessarily mean the system has failed them. My brother was an early promise at music and got excellent tuition by a famous maestro; he was halfway through his music training when he discovered that despite all his musicality his fingers were not flexible enough for a career as a soloist; not a failure by anyone, certainly not by the maestro; what it is is a success story for my brother, who went into a totally different field and became prominent there instead; but I have seen the same thing happen to university students

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 13:20:18

How can a child learn algebra at school if the teacher (who doesn't even have A'level maths) will only teach addition and subtraction of single digits??? That is how gifted children apparently "even out"! I am not going to make my kid do the correct work at home after a day at school - they are only tiny. How can a child absorb if he is not given anything new to absorb, or stay ahead when he is not given work ahead of his peers? Is this so difficult to understand?

missmem Fri 19-Jun-09 13:25:20

Lockets, with that argument then you can't even say your child would be bright then. You would have to say she is just average because eventually everyone else will learn to read and write. I'm sure you do think she is bright though.

cory Fri 19-Jun-09 13:29:35

I see. I've never had a child who did not enjoy learning so much that this wouldn't be happening naturally at home because they couldn't stop themselves. Just raiding my book cases, popping down the library, going online, talking to the adults, writing stories. I've never thought of it as making dd do things, to her it has just been about a natural pleasure in what comes easily, just like an athletic child will run around whether you tell them to or not, or a musical child will sing in the bath. How do you stop them?

My little brother was mending household appliances and trying to design boats by the time he started school.

A lot of our stimulation came from doing things with the adults- perhaps you could put him in charge of the household accounts?

But if your child doesn't want to do algebra after school, if it seems a chore to him- perhaps he is happy with the level he is at?

cory Fri 19-Jun-09 13:31:19

note that I do not for a moment deny that your ds is very bright and requires stimulation

but there is lots of good stimulation in everyday life

lots of things he can learn from that don't need to feel like chores

lockets Fri 19-Jun-09 13:34:08

Message withdrawn

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