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Workshops for school management

If we define gifted children as the top 3% of the population – and many countries use more liberal cutoffs – there are an estimated 13 million gifted children in India. Unless we make a national, concerted effort, most of these children will never be identified. This represents the loss of a vast human resource for India.

Identifying and nurturing gifted children is a task in which the formal education system must play a crucial role. School management directs school policy, allocates resources, and decides what tasks teachers prioritise. In many schools, identifying gifted children is simply not a priority – teachers are already burdened finishing the curriculum and with managing children who lag behind. In other schools, the focus may be on preparing students to excel on standardised exams such as the boards or Olympiads. While the Olympiads and the NTSE are an important access-point to science/maths programmes, as a member of school management you recognise that not all gifted children are good test-takers, and vice versa. You recognise that giftedness comes in many forms, and that special efforts need to be made to recognise gifts in children from less-advantaged backgrounds – including first-generation learners whose struggles in the classroom may mask valuable abilities in other domains.

Why should schools invest in gifted education? We believe that doing so will in the long run benefit all parties concerned:

  1. Children – Gifted children have advanced learning needs. When the regular curriculum fails to meet these needs, gifted children often become bored and may engage in disruptive behaviours, under-achieve, or absent themselves frequently. Some may develop socioemotional or adjustment problems. A disenchanted, disruptive gifted child presents challenges to the teacher – we have had cases of gifted children repeatedly misbehaving and disturbing the classroom. In other cases, parents may transfer the child to a school where his/her needs will be better met. Taking steps to meet the needs of gifted children may improve their academic performance as well as their school adjustment.
  2. Teachers – Gifted children who are bored often withdraw academically, producing incomplete work and shoddy notes and under-performing on exams. In the absence of suitable challenges, they may engage in negative behaviours. Teachers will benefit from a schoolwide mechanism to manage gifted children.
  3. Schools – A schoolwide gifted education programme allows gifted children to explore areas of interest in a hands-on, challenging environment. Often, this leads to renewed interest in school, a decreased frequency or intensity of behaviour problems stemming from boredom, and may even translate to better performance in subjects outside the child’s interest. As well, a schoolwide gifted education programme lets teachers identify gifts in children who may not excel on tests, but who have other important abilities. In short, a gifted education programme may lead to better-adjusted, better-performing students.

The NIAS Gifted Education team is holding workshops for principals and members of school management. The goal of these workshops is twofold:

  1. To orient school management to the concept of giftedness and the need for schoolwide gifted education programmes; and
  2. To provide a platform where school management can discuss the strategies they can implement / have implemented to meet the needs of high-ability learners, as well as to discuss the concerns and constraints that need to be addressed at the policy level to facilitate the implementation of schoolwide gifted education programmes.

One of the goals of the NIAS Gifted Education project is to engage educational policymakers in a dialogue with schools about gifted education. Our gifted education workshops for school management aim to generate perspectives and possibilities in developing a gifted education programme for India.

We do not charge schools for workshops. We do however suggest that for a more effective workshop and lively dialogue, schools attempt to recruit participation from other schools in their area. The suggested strength for a workshop is 30-40 participants – including principals, headmasters/headmistresses, vice principals, coordinators, and school counsellors.

To find out about upcoming workshops for school management in your area, go here . To request a workshop for your school,go here .