It is often assumed that if a student is gifted, that they have an easy time at school. Parents are more likely to worry if their children has a Special Educational Need or a behavioral problem than if a child is gifted. However, in some ways, a child who is gifted can face a variety of different difficulties in school.
Some of the ways in which gifted children are disadvantaged in school:
Lack of differentiation
The concept of differentiating work for students has greatly improved in education in recent years. Differentiation is where a teacher will look at the various learning abilities of students in their class and set work that is appropriate for students working at different levels with different abilities. However, what can sometimes happen is that the teacher will look at the middle, or average, level of students in the class and differentiate for those who are working below that level. They do not always differentiate for those students who are working at a higher level. This means that these gifted students are not being pushed and are not achieving their full potential.
Pressure and expectations
One of the main difficulties that gifted students face is the pressure that they a;re put under and the constant expectation for them to achieve. Even in subject areas where they excel, a student who is gifted may still have a particular topic within that subject that they struggle with. Also, like everybody else, a gifted student may have a bad day and simply under perform. This can be met with disappointment form teachers and parents. In turn, the student will feel guilt, failure and general negativity.
It may be assumed that gifted students do not need support. This is not always the case. Not only will they need support in the lessons that they excel in to ensure that they reach their full potential, they will also need support in areas that they do not do particularly well in. Furthermore, just because a student is academically gifted, it does not prevent them from having personal or emotional problems that they may need support with. There is a direct link between students having personal and emotional problems and a decline in their grades at school. It is important that they feel that they have the support to cope with any difficulties that they are facing regardless of whether they are gifted or not.
Area specific gifts
Not all gifted students are gifted in all areas. If they have made it onto the school’s official register of gifted students, it may be assumed that they are gifted in all areas. However, just because a child is gifted in science and technology, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be gifted in English and history. Likewise, if students are gifted in art or PE, it doesn’t always follow that they will be equally gifted in maths or geography.
The danger in making such assumptions is that the students weaknesses are not recognized. This increases the expectation and reduces the amount of support and teacher input.