A Brief Discussion about Gifted Labelling and its Permanency

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Some of my readership may be interested in this Twitter exchange with Ellen Spencer a researcher at the Centre for Real-World Learning, the Claxton-Lucas vehicle based at the University of Winchester.

The sequence of Tweets is embedded below (scroll down to the bottom for the start)

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We discussed the issue of labelling gifted learners and the idea that such labels may not be permanent sifting devices, but temporary markers attached to such learners only while they need additional challenge and support.

This is not to deny that some gifted learners may warrant a permanent marker, but it does imply that many – probably most – will move in and out of scope as they develop in non-linear fashion and differentially to their peers.

Of course much depends on one’s understanding of giftedness and gifted education, a topic I have addressed frequently, starting with my inaugural post in May 2010.

Three-and-a-half years on, it seems to me that the default position has shifted somewhat further towards the Nurture, Equity and Personalisation polarities.

But the notion of giftedness as dynamic in both directions – with learners shifting in and out of scope as they develop – may be an exception to that broader direction of travel.

Of course there’s been heavy emphasis on movement into scope (the broader notion of giftedness as learned behaviour and achievable through effort) but very little attention given to progress in the opposite direction.

It is easy to understand how this would be a red rag to several bulls in the gifted education field, while outward movement raises difficult questions for everybody – whether or not advocates for gifted education – about communication and management of self-esteem.

But reform and provocation are often stalwart bedfellows. Feel free to vent your spleen in the comments section below.

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GP

February 2014

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