Will your students help to shape Australia’s future?

September 5, 2012

Currently some politicians, media commentators and education bureaucracies have a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy, measured by NAPLAN, as signifiers of school success. However, many teachers and parents agree that while all children need to be literate and numerate, it is also important to help them achieve their personal best – from those with identified learning difficulties to gifted and talented thinkers. Young people will then be well placed to help shape Australia’s future.

While gifted and talented students can process and manipulate abstract ideas and concepts with relative ease, and often have exceptional memories, their learning needs are complex and require thoughtful teaching. In most schools gifted and talented students represent about 10% of the student population. The Age recently reported that some schools experience difficulty in identifying gifted and talented students. These students have advanced cognitive abilities, learn at a faster rate, and can often identify, solve and follow up on issues and problems quickly. However, these students often think in non-traditional ways.

For a summary of The Age article go to Psych4Schools:

Talent, skill and effective thinking strategies, along with concentration, effort and perseverance are integral to promoting excellence in individual achievement for all students. Those who learn to use and build on these qualities by being challenged from their first days of school, are more likely to develop a ‘love of learning’ and be inspired to achieve their personal best. For gifted and talented students high levels of challenge and support are vital. Otherwise they will cruise along doing what’s expected, or sadly, some will ‘mask’ their ability, ‘tune out’ or ‘dumb down’. Others through frustration and disenchantment will ‘act up’ causing behavioural issues and concerns.

Australia’s future will be best shaped by our most able thinkers performing at their highest levels, who are supported by others who are motivated and capable of performing at their personal best. Encourage your students to achieve their personal best by providing extension and enrichment that requires them to exert mental effort rather than simply relying on natural talent. Implement a differentiated curriculum that encourages them to move beyond their comfort zone, to experience the excitement and stimulation of new learning and, in turn, harness their true potential.

Extension and enrichment is about adjusting planning and school curriculum to meet the needs of all students, including those who are gifted and talented. Psych4Schools provides resources to assist schools to identify gifted and talented students and ideas to differentiate the curriculum to support these and other learners.

What do you think? Will your students help to shape Australia’s future?

How do you cater for gifted and talented students? Have your say below.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Murray Evely

Psych4Schools Psychologist


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