Monday, 8 January 2018

Rethinking Giftedness

How are you supporting More Able pupils?
This short clip from Citizen Film was created after hearing from pupils about the labels they had received growing up. Many of the pupils had been labelled as “gifted” or “smart,” when they were in school, and these labels, intended to be positive, had given them learning challenges later in life.

Most people realize that it is harmful to not be labelled as gifted when others are. The labelling of some students sends negative messages about potential. However those labels could be damaging for those who receive them too. 

At Stanford many pupils were labelled as gifted in Kindergarten or 1st grade and received special advantages from that point on, raising many questions about equity in schools. But labels and ideas of smartness and giftedness carry with them fixed ideas about ability, suggesting to pupils that they are born with a gift or a special brain. 

When pupils are led to believe they are gifted, or they have a “math brain” or they are “smart” and later struggle, that struggle is absolutely devastating. Pupils who grow up thinking that they have a special brain often drop out of STEM subjects when they struggle. At that time students start to believe they were not, after all, gifted, or that the gift has “run out” as one of the students in our film reflects.

In the film, which I really recommend that you watch, we also hear from students from a local elementary school who shared their experiences of learning without labels. Their school does not give students the idea that some students are smart or gifted and has instead shared our youcubed messages and videos about the high potential of all students to grow and change their brains. Their math community values all kinds of learners and communicates that all students have interesting and unique ideas to share. The teachers know that careful problem-solving takes time, conversation, and lots of questions from everyone. The fourth graders who are interviewed illustrate the different ideas students can develop when they are given messages of brain growth and high academic potential for everyone, rather than messages of high academic potential for only some students.

Jo Boaler - Youcubed

Click here for the video

Click here for the website

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