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Gifted children refer to a category of learners who have a very high intellectual capacity as compared to other children. Learners in this category therefore demand a special learning environment just like students who have mental challenges.
In most cases when people talk about special education, “they only think of students who have very low capacity yet they do ignore the fact that there are brilliant students who also need special learning conditions”. I therefore contend that it is important for gifted students be given special education.
The following characteristics are common among gifted learners and they make them suitable for special education. First, gifted children have the ability to understand concepts very fast hence they learn very quickly. They always have a very good memory and they do not need a recap of the previous class presentations or lessons. These students therefore tend to be bored when the content that had been taught is repeated.
“Brilliant students also need more complicated tasks that are challenging to them and when they are taught simple concepts they feel wasted”. Gifted students generally like learning and they rarely experience learning related challenges which may occur due to lack of interest or poor concentration in class.
For example, they do not have to think critically in order to make the right interpretations. Their high level of understanding makes them not to require several assignments like home work. In addition to these characteristics, gifted learners should be taught very fast.
The above points explain why gifted students should be taught separately from the average learners. There are many learning models that can be used to ensure that the gifted students get the content that match their academic abilities. The first one is enrichment model. This model can be used right from the elementary level.
In this case the gifted learner can attend normal classes with other students, but they can be given extra challenging learning tasks.
For example, a teacher can give the gifted learner assignments which are modified. “It might include formal programs such as Odyssey of the Mind, Destination Imagination or academic competitions such as Brain Bowl, Future Problem Solving, National History Day, science fairs, or spelling bees”.
The extra learning activities are only given to enable the learner get more information, but they are not used as alternative school curriculum.
Some people however contend that this model of learning gives the special students a heavy work load unlike their colleagues. In high school, students who are gifted can still be instructed using this model. “For example, they can be advised to take more courses like: English, Spanish, Latin, Philosophy, and Sciences, or to engage in extra curricular activities”.
Acceleration model is the second program that can used to handle gifted students. This involves elevating a student to a class dealing with more complicated learning tasks which are suitable for his or her learning capacity. This option is cheap in terms of the cost of learning.
For example, they can skip some levels or grades. Alternatively, they can also be allowed to cover a given course work within a shorter duration compared to the stipulated time. This method is called “telescoping”. Partial acceleration is a case where by a student is promoted just in one subject without necessarily interfering with other subjects.
“Radical acceleration (acceleration by two or more years) is effective academically and socially for highly gifted students”. Accelerated students should actually be put in the same learning environment that can motivate them. If accelerated students are allowed to learn with average students, they can be seriously affected psychologically. This is because their peers who are not gifted may try to intimidate them.
Based on the above analysis of learning models for gifted children, I would therefore recommend acceleration model for my gifted child. “This is because it would enable him to learn faster within a short time”. Hence, he would not waste time covering simple concepts.
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However, if possible the child may be instructed using the two learning models. This is because they would enable the child to have varied learning opportunities and experiences.
Clendening, C. (1983). Challenging the gifted: curriculum enrichment and acceleration models ( servivg special population series). New York: Wiley.
Heward, W. (2008). Exceptional children:an introduction to special education. New York: Prentice Hall.
Winner, E. (1997). Gifted children: myths and realities. New york: Basic Books.