In my experience it isn’t the academically gifted students who get ignored. Nor for that matter the strugglers. I think the middle band of students, the ones that are not considered gifted or weak are the ones most susceptible to neglect.
A leading educational figure suggests that the so-called “bright” students are not getting what they deserve:
Australia’s brightest kids are not being challenged at school and miss out on reaching their full potential because they aren’t allowed to get ahead of the curriculum, according to a leading educationalist.
Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research, will tell a conference on gifted and talented children on Saturday that Asian countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan do a much better job of educating their smartest school students.
He said that Australia’s schools were often content if students reached a set standard rather than the higher level they were capable of.
“In some classrooms there are high-achieving students who are not being pushed, they are not being stretched and extended,” said Professor Masters, who will speak at the International Conference on Giftedness and Talent Development in Brisbane.
He said research in Australian schools had shown that often the smallest amount of year-on-year progress was made by the most able students.International comparisons show that Australia has a lower number of highly performing students than some Asian countries. In maths, the top 10 per cent of Australian year 4 students are at the same level as the top 40 per cent in Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong, and in year 8, the top 10 per cent of Australian students perform equivalently to the top 50 per cent in Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea.
“I imagine it’s a particular problem for teachers who are teaching out of field,” he said.
Figures from the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute last year showed that 40 per cent of year 7-10 maths classes were taught by teachers without specialist maths qualifications.
He said that problems for bright students were likely to be worse in disadvantaged schools where there were classroom management issues.
Psychologist and gifted children specialist Fiona Smith said that Professor Masters’ analysis was “very much on the mark”. Ms Smith, director of the Gifted Minds assessment and counselling service, said that gifted children often did not fit in at school.
She warned that if gifted children became bored and frustrated it could lead, in the worst cases, to eating disorders, sleeping problems and depression.
“We have to have a teaching workforce which has more training for these students,” she said.
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