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Following the Symposium on Giftedness, held on February 17, we are discussing with Normand Brodeur, Director of Innovation, Educational Development at the Federation of Private Educational Institutions (FÉEP), in order to understand how the school can better meet the needs of these students.
Who are the gifted students?
NB A gifted child is a child with a permanent firework display in his head. Very curious and possessing an excellent memory, he is often endowed with an abstract perception. By seeking answers, challenges, a gifted pupil can disorganize the class and be perceived as being "intense" by his teacher and his classmates. He needs to be fed, fed by their passion. It is also this "cry of the heart" that 4 students launched to the participants during the conference.
Broadly speaking, the definitions of giftedness fall into three broad categories: advanced intellectual aptitude, boundless creativity, heightened emotivity and sensitivity. These students need support from school and their families just as much as a student with a learning or behavioral disability. Their needs are different because they are on the other end of the spectrum, but they are just as real.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing schools in this regard?
NB Long associated with elitism, giftedness is now recognized by schools which today understand the importance of supervising the gifted. On the other hand, the challenge is to identify giftedness in the student since it can be masked by behavioral disorders. These associated disorders are diagnosed by doctors. However, we speak of a manifestation of giftedness and not of a diagnosis. If giftedness is not identified, the student does not receive the intellectual stimulation necessary to develop to their full potential. Demotivation, school failure and dropping out can occur.
Currently, the school is facilitating for gifted people whose passion is sport, music or the arts through concentrations and sport-study programs. Others use the “compaction” approach to counter the usual circular approach by adjusting the student's schedule to free them when they have achieved the desired knowledge. Some schools opt to concentrate learning over 6 months rather than over a year for gifted students.
How can teachers better support gifted students?
NB For the gifted, we speak of an action plan rather than an intervention plan. Skills enrichment can be included in this plan; the student is given additional or more complex tasks. Tools are available on the Web to enrich learning, in particular the Khan Academy.
Incorporating flexibility into teaching can also be a good way, for example asking a student to explain a math problem orally rather than in writing if they have calligraphy problems.
The FÉEP published last month a gifted guide, to consult without delay.