‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.’ Albert Einstein.
Professor Francois Gagne has written that giftedness needs catalysts to become talent. In his model, giftedness is untrained, spontaneous abilities and these need favourable intrapersonal, environmental and developmental process to develop into talent. Simply, an intellectual child with fluid reasoning needs others to develop the self-management to use their abilities in a field. In his 2002 update, it is stated explicitly that talent only comes from learning and practising. Interestingly, a programme distinct from normal classroom activities is labelled ‘provision’, which in turn is one of seven catalysts impacting this progression. In aiming to cater for the differentiated needs of our Junior students, we provide them many and varied opportunities to learn and practise to enhance giftedness into talent. Beyond this, we create some small group environments for these students to hone skills relevant to their continued progression.
As a school, we seek to provide students with opportunities outside of the school to demonstrate their abilities. Our students have experienced great success in mathematics competitions, such as Met West Mathematics, Bebras Computation Thinking and ICAS Mathematics. Our classes have been ability grouped to allow students to focus on areas that will best develop their abilities. Each week we undertake teaching specific problem-solving skills related to mathematics which can be applied to unfamiliar situations to solve complex problems. This has continued to be an area we excel.
A project that has been occurring in year 6 this year has been a philosophy immersion for students who are performing well in their written work. The purpose of the programme was to encourage students to think more broadly about a topic and not fall into logical fallacy traps when formulating an argument. Throughout this process, we have looked at various philosophical questions and delved into the depths of the topics to understand different viewpoint and appreciate other people’s perspectives. This process has been richly rewarding for the students and for the teachers delivering these lessons.
The overarching philosophy of Gagne is to engage students with classroom activities in order to allow them to develop talents. The model encourages students to look in-depth at a topic, rather than more broadly. Finding insight that others may miss in a given set of information and then using it are hallmarks of this approach. The teaching of specific study skills, such as active reading and Cornell notetaking in our Formation lessons are geared towards students having these opportunities to think deeply, rather than broadly. This also relates to our learning goals in the Junior School to develop positive learning dispositions as well as capacity.Above all, while not every student can be gifted, they can be talented and like Einstein, passionately curious.
Head of Learning – Junior School