Support group to help gifted

01:43, Jan 31 2009

If exceptionally talented children slip under the radar there's a chance they might drop out of school.

There is also the risk of gifted children under-achieving because they are bored or frustrated with the slow pace of learning.

Some may get into trouble because of their tendency to challenge the rules but these kids have the potential to do great things, Massey University gifted and talented education lecturer Tracy Riley said.

"They are young people who may go on to change the world, perhaps find a cure for cancer, break all previous sporting records, or bring us art and music that enriches all of society.

"If they're not being challenged, if they're getting themselves into trouble, if they're bored, I don't see why they stay in school."

Teachers need support to identify and help these students, Dr Riley said.

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The ex-pat American is the local driving force behind the Professional Association for Gifted Education (giftednz).

She teamed up with seven people from around the country to form the first national support group for anyone with a professional interest in gifted and talented education.

Teachers, schools, students, counsellors, resource teachers in learning and behaviour (RTLB), educational psychologists, researchers and postgraduate students can all join.

Since 2005 schools had to identify and provide for gifted students.

It is up to individual schools to create effective strategies to help kids reach their potential.

Responsibility ultimately falls on a teacher's lap. If they fail to identify a talented student then that child could easily fall through the cracks.

Many local schools had developed effective strategies to meet the needs of children with exceptional abilities, Dr Riley said.

But there is still room for improvement

"There is still a fair way to go to ensure all students with exceptional talents receive the help they need to reach their potential and for teachers and other professionals to develop the skills that are necessary to support this group of learners," Dr Riley said.

Giftednz would be a forum where professionals can share ideas and network, she said.

The association would also speak to the Government on behalf of members and make links with national and international organisations.

Dr Riley said it was about working together to nurture talented young people.

The broad goals of giftednz would be refined once an executive committee was elected at the first annual general meeting in March next year.

 

* For more information go to www.giftednz.org.nz

 

Manawatu Standard