Talented or gifted, whatever name you choose to call it, these students remain ‘exceptional’. Gifted with more than their classmates, they may not be aware of what to do with themselves either. So sometimes you may witness them in class trying to slow down their racing brains but in vain. These students may let their minds wander off in more engaging places than what is being presented to them at that time.
When I contemplate on the situation of these students, I recall exactly how I used to feel during the tedious, monotonous and similarly structured lessons that I used to endure, especially during my primary days. Having transferred from the Canadian system that encouraged creativity, to one where you just sat in class and information was fed to you in the same way for all the subjects; was very disappointing to me and it took a toll on my curiosity and enthusiasm for learning which had been previously ignited.
Being gifted may mean different things for different students but generally it refers to how students perceive, assimilate and respond to information in unusual ways. Our education systems have laid out certain ways that information is to be given out and the expected responses from the students. If there is an alternative response, the system rejects it as it did not cater for it.
One sure way to stretch the learning of gifted students is to encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning, extending their goals and achievements as well as giving them open ended tasks to which they can contribute their perception or content.
These exceptional students perceive concepts and new information in ways that the rest of their colleagues may not. They see possibilities from different angles, hear nuances that may not be obvious to others and generally they see situations in so many colours. To limit them into harnessing all the possibilities into one narrow channel of thinking is to stop their creativity from flowing.
Although accommodation may be made for them in how they are taught, these students are still required to learn basic things, like the writing conventions, arithmetic and the sciences, to enable them form a foundation on which they can create other things. Interestingly, although gifted in one area, they may struggle in other areas, for example, a brilliant mathematician or science student may be dyslexic and struggle when working with words. We can honour students’ learning abilities by keeping in mind that they are all unique.