EDUCATION MATTERS: Get Rid of This Stigma That Demeans Gifted Children; NEVER MIND THE BULLOCK

The Birmingham Post (England), January 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

EDUCATION MATTERS: Get Rid of This Stigma That Demeans Gifted Children; NEVER MIND THE BULLOCK


Byline: Plain speaking from ex-teacher Brenda Bullock

You could make a tidy profit putting money on the fact that whenever anybody starts tentatively to suggest that the most intelligent of our children should be acknowledged as such, even just on a useless register, all the dogmaridden cliches come pouring out from whatever junkyard they are kept to pour scorn on any such idea.

For 40 years we've allowed the perverted logic that only the poor "Joe in the middle" is worthy of consideration and the very clever must be ignored or made to feel ashamed of their gifts, to dominate our education system.

No-one can be seen to be different'', which is a term of abuse. All must be the same.

All must have prizes' all must have certificates, A levels, degrees, or these things are no longer acceptable.

Suggest anything else and the cliches come tumbling out thick and fast. Saying a child is clever is "labelling" (a cardinal sin) and, even worse, it is "divisive.''

Isn't it funny that these negative comments only apply to those at the top of the academic heap?

If your child is "labelled'' (or "statemented'') as having "special educational needs", he can have one-to-one help in class: special attention is his by right.

A particularly bright child, by contrast, has to muck in with the others in his class, forced to do childish courses, take babyish exams and be ignored by teachers, more interested in the poor "Joes", which leaves the clever to shift for themselves.

Just why, I wonder, do we have this desperately counter-productive bias against the intellectually able? It certainly doesn't exist to the same extent towards those children who exhibit other outstanding talents, say, in music or sport.

We do not shout, stamp and cry foul if a musically gifted child is sent to Cheetham's school, the Yehudi Menuhin school or sent at a young age to a prestigious conservatoire.

We don't force them to languish in low-level comprehensives until they lose interest or fall into depression. …

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EDUCATION MATTERS: Get Rid of This Stigma That Demeans Gifted Children; NEVER MIND THE BULLOCK
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