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Small, accessible book on G&T

(27 Posts)
roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 03:02:02

It's superb. Buy it, read it, and then pass it on to your child's teacher.

Barry Hymer is inspirational and is full of creative and uplifting ideas.

(He has written other wonderful books on G&T, but most of them are very expensive: but worth getting hold of through your library if you can.)

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 03:05:42

I've just noticed on the Amazon link you can "look inside".

Everyone on this board should read p.6-10, especially p8.

When you've read it, let me know what you think!

Kammy Mon 22-Jun-09 08:13:45

Haven't had time to read it properly (shouldn't even be on mn at this time in the morning...blush but it looks excellent and very useful. Ive ordered.

Thanks roisin!

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 15:22:54

I read page 8. Twice.

Quote fro page 8:
"gifts and talents aren't "found", "discovered" or "identified" in children - they're made, created and grown."

So my six year old DS is doing GCSE work in Maths because I've made, created and grown his ability?. Damn, why didn't I think of doing that with my other children?

Kathyis6incheshigh Mon 22-Jun-09 15:26:42

DaL try reading the first item on the list where it says children do not have the same skills and strengths. You're deliberately misreading it.

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 15:48:28

Actually I read everything that's in the excepts and, no, that doesn't change anything.

The author's position that children have different skills and strengths does not detract from his claim that, effectively, there is no such thing as naturally gifted, that there can't be any children born with a far superior ability in a particular field.

That flies in the face of centuries of what humans have learned about intelligence. He has lost my trust.

"We now have the ability to take G&T away from ... "ability", "identification" and "cohorts" and turn instead into the open avenues of learning and gift-creation for all."
I've heard that before and have seen where it ends up.

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 16:38:51

But the interesting thing is DatAtLarge that the author started off in the position you are in, and through extensive research and work in the field of G&T has changed his opinions. I am a parent of an astonishingly able child and I would have agreed with you when he was age 6, but now my position has changed somewhat.

I also think you are misreading him in some way. It's not that he doesn't agree that some individuals have more or less talent in a particular field (from 'nature' and/or from early nurture), but what he does say very very strongly in the book, is that what is important is the effort and perseverance that the child/adult/individual puts into developing those talents.

If your ds is doing GCSE Maths at age 6, then of course you (or someone) has made, created and grown his talent, because he wouldn't be doing GCSE work unless someone had given it to him, and given at least some instruction as to how to tackle it.

Does he have talents in other areas, or is his ability particularly focused on mathematics?

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 16:41:08

Do you agree with the other statements from page 8?

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 17:05:33

"If your ds is doing GCSE Maths at age 6, then of course you (or someone) has made, created and grown his talent"
No, I haven't made or created his talent. That's the bit I find obnoxious - the inability some people have to accept the medical facts that some children are born with their brains "wired differently" who have an instinctive feel and love for certain subjects and the ability to grasp it at a much accelerated speed. We are not all born equal, we are not all born with the same abilities and some of us - horror of horrors - are naturally better at some things than other people. In some cases it's acquired but in some cases it's a gift the child is born with.

"because he wouldn't be doing GCSE work unless someone had given it to him, and given at least some instruction as to how to tackle it."
He was given (access to) knowledge, not ability, there's a difference. You reckon all children could learn at the highly accelerated speed he demands? And he's not one of the geniuses, there are others for more able than he is (I don't see any embarrassment in accepting that), and they were born that way.

I do agree with some things the author says. For example, it's better to focus on their learning and their personally generated targets than their performance. But taking G&T away from ability is a bit stupid. Recommending not identifying giftedness is a recommendation for not providing adequately for it. Moving away from "cohorts" (or having gifted children never work with others of similar ability) is counter to all informed opinion on what gifted children benefit from.

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 18:01:03

"Does he have talents in other areas, or is his ability particularly focused on mathematics? "
Sorry, I forgot to answer that. He's above the rest of the class in other subjects but not by as much.

From your other posts I know you are happy with how your DS was provided for. But not all schools will cater, like his did, for a huge range from 3 to 7-8. Schools are motivated to reduce that range. And guess which end of the spectrum the reduction comes from.

BTW, what was your position before it changed, and what made it change?

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 18:18:04

I think what made it change was a combination of things:

Seeing the damage caused to students (I work at a secondary school) by policies of selecting a G&T cohort, and 'labelling' students as G&T. The damage is caused to students who are labelled as G&T and students who aren't labelled G&T.

I've done a lot of reading about the subject, and the approach of Barry Hymer, Jack Whitehead, Marie Huxtable and others, is the one that rings true to me in my private/personal/family experience and in my professional experience.

Much of the work I do is with underachieving students and 'low ability' students. Yet when I read BH's writing on G&T, and that of others, I learn much there that affects how I teach these students.

I think Maths is a particularly problematic area when it comes to G&T. I don't personally see advantages in pursuing programmes of significant acceleration, certainly before secondary level. But we've been fortunate that ds1 (and ds2) to an extent, whilst exceptionally able at Maths, have not been particularly passionate about Maths, in the way they are with some other areas (reading, writing, science, history) and so they have been able to pursue other things rather than just whizzing ahead in Maths.

I agree completely btw that some students learn at vastly different speeds, even within a wholly 'normal' range. But the things that determine effective learning are skills that can be taught and/or stifled and restricted, or simply not encouraged and allowed to wither and die: resilience, enquiring, making connections, team work, independence, creativity, motivation, organisation, etc.

Treating 'ability' as a fixed item rather than a variable would make a mockery of much that we attempt to do in education.

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 18:24:07

Many of the 'greats' from history had a patchy experience from school. Their success came from their determination and perseverance, and sheer hard work and commitment; rather than a particular natural aptitude.

Some of our little scallies at school show remarkable entrepreneurial skills in money-making scams, and I can imagine some of them being extremely successful in a business environment.

"People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit..." George Herbert Allen.

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 19:48:51

"resilience, enquiring, making connections, team work, independence, creativity, motivation, organisation, etc. "
I agree.

"I don't personally see advantages in pursuing programmes of significant acceleration, certainly before secondary level"
I don't either. But with some children there isn't a choice. You either feed their avid interest... or kill it. You have to teach them at 2x to 3x the normal speed or they learn less well than the average student i.e. they're being artificially held back.

"Their success came from their determination and perseverance, and sheer hard work and commitment"
All commendable qualities. But why should having high ability preclude them from these qualities? Wouldn't a combination of the above and high ability be better? Or does not catering for high ability and inculcating the same levels of determination, hard work etc. across the board even the dice of life out a bit for the low ability students?

"Seeing the damage caused to students (I work at a secondary school) by policies of selecting a G&T cohort, and 'labelling' students as G&T"
What damage exactly? Many countries openly recognise that some kids are smart and others aren't. And that it's OK. As long as the gifted children are not pressured, you "focus on their learning and their personally generated targets" rather than their performance, what damage do they sustain?

"The damage is caused to students who are labelled as G&T and students who aren't labelled G&T."
Yes, the students who aren't labelled G&T. It's the protection of these children from the perceived fall-out of calling others gifted is what's really the issue, isn't it?

thedolly Mon 22-Jun-09 20:40:53

DAL you seem to be getting ever more irate with each new post. Some needs are simpler to meet within the school system than others. For example you may have heard on the news today that the government plans to set aside a modest amount of money to train teachers to recognise and deal with dyslexia in the classroom. The thing is that techniques/methods specific for helping students with dyslexia will be of use to all students. Unfortunately your sons ability is so far beyond the majority of his peers in mathematics that educating him within the mainstream presents a real problem. The situation has a momentum of its own with the logical conclusion being to home educate. Schools cannot be all things to all people. Alternatively you can just put up with a less than perfect siuation (which we are all doing to some degree)and teach your son that the the downside of being gifted in mathematics means that he will not be challenged in this area at school.

I have thought a lot about this post and I hope you will read it in the spirit that it is meant - from one parent who wants the best for their offspring to another.

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 20:52:23

thedolly, I'm perfectly happy with my son's school and how he's being provided for. I appreciate the spirit of your post but the premise is wrong

cory Mon 22-Jun-09 20:53:59

I felt the same hmm as DadAtLarge when I read that there is no such thing as the naturally gifted. So if only more people drilled their children like Leopold Mozart, they'd all be writing Figaro's Wedding? Hardly.

On the other hand, unlike DadAtLarge, I don't believe that labelling doesn't just damage the children that do not get labelled g&t. As an academic I have seen too many students who have shown a great amount of early promise and been foretold a bright future, and for whom it has been a tragedy when they were not able to move onto the next stage and do equally well there: not because they had been understimulated or lost interest, but because at a higher level they simply weren't good enough. They towered over everyone at college and it came as a dreadful shock that they were then struggling to keep up at university. Some of these people might have coped, if it had not been for their early expectations. Some of the people who blossom in higher education are the ones you'd least expect it of. Which is fine, of course. But if you have always been singled out as the great promise, it can be terribly hard to see yourself surpassed by some quiet and mousy middle-aged housewife.

thedolly Mon 22-Jun-09 20:54:24

I'm happy that you're happy smile.

<wipes forhead and sighs>

cory Mon 22-Jun-09 20:57:29

I frequently have to spend my time comforting students who cannot understand why they are not getting firsts, when they have always been told they were gifted. And it is dreadfully hard to find another way of saying, well it doesn't matter what you were like when you were 13, at this level there are plenty of other people who are brighter than you.

I want my own dd to learn to work because of the pleasure that lies in hard work, but not to spend too much time comparing herself with others.

thedolly Mon 22-Jun-09 20:59:05

duh I mean forehead (_8()

<just wanted to use the Homer Simpson emoticon>

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 21:04:34

DAL - would you like to CAT me? I would be very happy to continue this conversation, but I can't do so without giving some specific details and examples, which inevitably lead to unpleasant scenes on here with allegations of boasting and so on.

I just typed out a huge long post, but decided to delete it.

DadAtLarge Mon 22-Jun-09 21:09:44

cory, I entirely agree that it is possible for gifted children to be damaged if they suddenly discover they aren't top dog any more. Isn't that why it's a good reason to have them work regularly with others of similar ability?

Maybe it's not the labelling itself but the treatment but the treatment that it leads to.

roisin Mon 22-Jun-09 21:13:29

I think they can be damaged by the expectations that come with a label of G&T.

People can assume that things 'come easily' to them because they are G&T. Rather than realising that the greatest achievements still come from sheer graft.

cory Mon 22-Jun-09 21:39:11

what I meant wasn't just not being top dog, but getting to a stage where they simply can't do it any more

like failing your PhD though you've always been years ahead of your school mates, that sort of thing

when in actual fact, some of these people could have been perfectly happy with the decent BA that they were capable of getting, had their expectations not been too high

DadAtLarge Tue 23-Jun-09 18:58:43

If they are damaged by the expectations then the logical thing to do is change the expectations. Reward them for showing the qualities we'd like them to develop, reward them for the effort they put in rather than the results they produce. Isn't that what the G&T programme seems designed to do?

As you say, people can assume that things come easily to them. If you're intellectually superior better a faster learner in a particular subject then achieving A* in that subject is easier for you than it is for others. G&T should ensure that it's just as difficult for you to reach everyday accomplishments as it is for others. If not you end up becoming lazy, lacking perseverance, becoming cocky etc.

"I frequently have to spend my time comforting students who cannot understand why they are not getting firsts, when they have always been told they were gifted."
Why did people keep telling them they were gifted?

lijaco Tue 23-Jun-09 20:25:03

Kathyis6inches high - dadatlarge deliberitaly misreads everything!

My experience is within secondary school also and the label can be damaging.

"If they are damaged by the expectations then the logical thing to do is change the expectations. Reward them for showing the qualities we'd like them to develop, reward them for the effort they put in rather than the results they produce. Isn't that what the G&T programme seems designed to do?"

The problem being dadatlarge that what you are saying to do is great and works with primary school age children. It doesn't work in the 11 - 19 sector!

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