Thursday, 13 June 2013

Educational research required

I'm driving to collect Shark, Tiger and Squirrel from a chum's house and I hear Joan Freeman on the radio, responding to Eddie Mair's presentation that some people suggest gifted children should be removed from the routines of the school environment. I'd agree. Classrooms drift towards the middle abilities and kids at either end of the scale can be badly served.

So I listen with interest: we have a full range out here in home ed land, of kids whose talents lie in extraordinary unconventional directions and whose needs cannot be catered for in a normal school setting. You can call them gifted if you want; to me they're all just a bunch of unique kids being supported from home by parents who are often plunged into this need to match provision to ability in ways they never looked for; they sometimes painfully change lifestyles, employments and goals to create environments where those unique kid talents can be recognised and encouraged.

But then Prof Freeman makes such an extraordinary statement in answer to that suggestion, of removing the non-conventional child from the school environment, that I can't quite believe my ears. If you take gifted children away from all the others of their own age, you are giving them the message they are different and they cannot make friends and good relationships with other people.

What? Should she tell the thousands of home ed kids out of school who are uniquely given to their own paths that, once outside the school gates, that's it. They'll be socially written off. They'll never make friends.

Is she really so very unaware how many groups are out here, how many kids of all ages are here mixing together, what tremendous opportunities for learning, play, and social networks exist, all outside your normal school environment?

Tells me something. We still have a lot of attitudes to change.

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