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Expert calls for appreciation of talented learners

There  is need for teachers to recognise the peculiar needs of gifted and talented education (GATE) learners among the population of students they handle, an Education Specialist from the Minnesota Department of Education, Wendy A. Behrens has said.

Ms. Behrens said teachers overlooked the educational needs of GATE learners as most of them suffered from poverty and illness making it difficult for them to develop their exceptional abilities.

Ms. Behrens, who  serves as the Gifted and Talented Education Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Education in the USA spoke during a Seminar on Nurturing Gifted and Talented Children and Youth at Uhuru Gardens Primary School in Nairobi. The seminar was conducted under the auspices of Kenya Association for the Gifted and Talented Children.

Ms. Behrens said inability to meet the needs of GATE undermined their capacity to realise their full potential, saying teachers should accord them opportunities they deserve and which they need to succeed.

She said teacher education programmes should be able to integrate training programmes that empowered the teachers with the skills and knowledge to understand the nature and needs of gifted and talented learners.

She said GATE learners had great intellectual curiosity, and sometimes too impatient with classmates who did not readily understand the concepts they were learning.

“If not sufficiently challenged, they become withdrawn, lazy and may not take examinations of the regular curriculum seriously,” Ms Behrens noted, saying teachers ought to adopt multiple teaching methods to engage all students, included GATE learners.

The  President of Kenya Association for the Gifted and Talented Learners, Ms. Molly  Gawo  said the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC) has taken into account the peculiar needs of the gifted and talented learners.

She said the pathways that the senior Secondary School has now provide for learners with differentiated gifts and endowments to pursue education, training and careers suited to their abilities and interest.

“CBC takes the needs of gifted learners into account even better,” Ms Gawo said, adding that teachers have been trained for the inclusive education and will now be able to address the intellectual and emotional needs of GATE learners under the CBC system.

Gawo was among hundreds of educators from across the globe at Austin High School last year for The Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Education Symposium.

The  Treasurer of the Kenya Association for the Gifted and Talented Learners, Dr. Evelyne  Sule  said effective classroom management by teachers defined how well teachers engaged every learner.

Dr.  Sule, who is a lecturer at Marist International University College in Nairobi, said rote learning disadvantaged gifted and talented learners as they needed activity based learning instead of the passive learning associated with lecture method of teaching.

She said gifted and talented learners are essentially critical thinkers and get engaged when teaching targets the development of High Order thinking skills.

By  Buhere  Kennedy

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