Monday, February 14, 2011

What Exceptionally Able Kids Say About Schools

Last night at #gtie, we discussed what exceptionally able students say about school. It might have been yet another session of adults discussing what they think kids want and how they think they feel. However, thanks to two very intelligent and articulate teenagers, we had the privilege of hearing what they really do think. They made some very worthwhile and constructive comments and the discussion would not have been the same without them. 

  • We're not learning what we think we should be. I think the focus should be on the future not on what has already been done...We're shown what has already been proven without being shown how it can applied to the real world and our futures.
  • I think in an attempt to standardise everything we've limited what people are allowed to do. Going against what education should be? 
  • Take two or so subjects for LC, real in-depth work, understanding and learning of what fascinates you, my idea of school.
  • The Extended Essay is the sort of thing that really appeals to me, imagine having that as part of exam in each subject!
  • DCG (Design Communications Graphics) is great for LC! 40% is an independently researched and designed project, makes it one of my favourite subjects!

So, more independent, project based learning with more depth rather than breadth would be a good start. Less of the rote learning and more room for discussion and debate. Turns out we weren't far wrong in what we thought, but it was great to hear it from the horse's mouth and to be able to tease it out with them. 

I really enjoyed this particular chat because I felt that we had all the necessary stakeholders present for a proper discussion. If we are to bring about change for gifted learners, we need to include them in the process. It is they, afterall, who will have to live with the changes. As we clearly saw last night, these young people know what they want, are well able to speak for themselves and deserve a great deal of respect. I hope they too enjoyed the chat and that they will come back to contribute again. Nia and Gavin made me proud to be Irish and all the more determined to advocate on behalf of our thousands of  gifted students.

To read the full transcript, click here and scroll to 9pm for the start.

For our international friends, below is a glossary and description of the Irish Education system!!

EA: Exceptionally Able...the officially recognised term for gifted in Ireland.

LC: Leaving Certificate, the final exam in Irish secondary school system.

A Level: Advanced Level GCSE, the final exam in the UK secondary system.

EC: Extracurricular Activities.

And, finally, our education system is as follows:

 Primary School
Age   4/5:   Junior Infants  
          5/6:   Senior Infants
          6/7:   1st Class
          7/8:   2nd Class
          8/9:   3rd Class
        9/10:   4th Class
      10/11:   5th Class
      11/12:   6th Class

Secondary School:
Age 12/13:  1st Year
        13/14:  2nd Year
        14/15:  3rd Year (Sit Junior Certificate exam)
        15/16:  4th/Transition Year
        16/17:  5th Year
        17/18:  6th Year (Sit Leaving Certificate exam)

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