Dubai: It is a common knowledge that many successful personalities, without whose contributions the world wouldn’t have been as we see it today, either dropped out of schools or universities or generally struggled to cope with the
largely regimented education system.
Thomas Edison, Bill Gates and to some extent even Albert Einstein are known to have struggled with the pedagogic education system.
It is rare that a gifted boy or girl shines through the school system, the basic structure of which has more or less remained the same in the last 100 years.
Though there are exceptions, giftedness hasn’t been generally identified early on in schools, even in modern days when there is greater emphasis on interactive and innovative learning.
Either, there is something with these geniuses that doesn’t allow them to fit into the pedagogic settings of the school, or there is some fundamental flaw with the education system.
Experts feel the problem is a mix of both, that most gifted children are way beyond their contemporaries and need customized attention, which most schools lack.
“There is a problem of identification in schools and even in cases where the gift is identified all schools can’t provide personalized attention,” said Reema Menon, an educational psychologist.
She adds that most gifted kids don’t pay attention or don’t want to sit in the class as they already know what is being taught and normally schools try to avoid such kids without trying to find out what is the reason behind their peculiar behaviour.
“Parents need to find avenues to supplement their children’s needs as the results have shown that in cases where they are identified and handled with care they really shine through,” she states.
An example of such a case is Pritvik Sinhadc, who at seven is the author of a book on dinosaurs and an expert in paleontology.
Initially thought to be autistic or abnormal, Sinhadc’s rare gift was spotted by his Grade One teacher Georgina Williams at Dubai British School.
Thanks to her, the Grade Four boy has now established himself as a little genius and is charting his course for the future, without being bored by the lessons in the classes that he already knows.
“He was getting bored in classes and was largely disinterested in what was being taught but when you ask him a question he always knew the answer, that made me wonder and it arouse my curiosity leading to the identification of his rare gift,” said Williams, who is Sinhadc’s key mentor.
Sinhadc’s example only serves to confirm what is known, that gifted children are different from the normal kids and need to be taught differently.
This is exactly what Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for the Distinguished Academic Performance, is trying to highlight by playing host to the 12th edition of the Asia Pacific Conference on Giftedness next month in Dubai.
Being held for the first time in the Middle East, the July 14-18 event will help cement the region’s commitment to consolidating the development of world class standards and best practices for the gifted students’ community.
The conference, titled, “Nurturing Talent, Growing Potential”, will bring together government officials, educators, policymakers, parents and advocates for the gifted from across Asia for a stimulating and thought-provoking three days of workshops, seminars and debates on issues, ideas and trends in gifted and talented education.
To be held at Dubai World Trade Centre, workshops will address topics such as “Parent and Gifted Child”, “Building a Community of Learners”, “Homeschooling”, “How to Protect our Gifted and Talented Population from Pressure to Perform,” and “If the World is Flat, Why Not School?”
Parents will have the opportunity to meet other parents of gifted and talented children and share their experiences and opinions.
Speaking about the importance of the event to the evolution of the region’s education system, Dr. Jamal Al Muhairi, General Secretary of Hamdan Awards said: “There’s no doubt the need for such an event was strongly felt by a variety of people who are interested in the promotion of gifted education. What is unique about the event is the mix of people who will participate. We will definitely benefit from their experiences. Every kind of voice will be given a chance to be heard and all suggestions and ideas will be welcomed to improve gifted education.”
He added that the event will push to acknowledge the multifaceted nature of giftedness and promote its identification and development at various levels.
Dr. Howard Gardner, the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero will be the Keynote speaker at the conference.