Monday, November 30, 2009

More study

The end of last year saw the end of my first degree, that being a Bachelor of IT.  I was glad to finish and learnt quite a few lessons.  Last session, I started a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) that builds on my IT degree.  I am tackling three subjects over summer school and have been studying Teaching Gifted and Talented kids. This has been very interesting and led me to this submission for my first Uni posting:

After reading the readings for topic one, I am left with quite a few questions and a few concerns. I initially thought of gifted kids in a stereotypical way. I couldn’t have told you which of my classmates were ‘gifted’ from my school days, but I could tell you the ones that were weird or different – were these the gifted kids? I could also tell you the ones you just didn’t compete with in athletics, they always won. Are they gifted? And I could tell you the name of a male student in my year 10 that sewed the most amazing, and apparently perfectly sewed, ball gown you would ever likely to see? He was constantly picked on for having multi-coloured hair and being different – was he gifted or just extremely talented or just picked on for being different?
I have four children, two of each gender. My second son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten and put on medication. During kindergarten, and prior to his medicating, his teacher had a lot of trouble with his behaviour. I strongly advised her to make sure that Bill knew SHE was the boss. Upon one visit, of many, she showed me a story that he had written. I read the story, about a kangaroo father (Matthew, my ex-husbands name) and a kangaroo son, called Billy (his own name). It was about a page long and was very interesting. I initially thought, “Where is the mother kangaroo called Kylie?” The teacher then said to me that she could get a sentence out of the other kindergarten students, but my son had written a story – something she thought was amazing. I was still hurt that I wasn’t in the story. Did I miss a gifted kid here?

He was regularly removed from the classroom for respite for the teacher (I think Billy started her drinking). On one removal he had a particular problem with another student that was in their group of ‘troubled kids’. So, they put Billy in with the other group of ‘gifted kids’ just to separate him from this other student. The teacher said he flew with those kids. Again, did I miss the cues? I never entertained the thought that he could be gifted in some way, just a bright kid. Did his ADHD behaviour mask an underlying trait that I should have pursued? I thought the school would have been better at identifying potential in children than I would be. I thought I would just be another mother saying “Here, look at MY child!”

My second son – I put him into preschool early because I thought he was a little slow. Turns out he just followed the mumbling speech pattern of my second ex-husband. He went to the same preschool as Bill did, and they said they were very similar in intellect, except for the behaviour. During second grade, his behaviour worsened quite dramatically. He showed off and started quacking in quiet times, for example. The teacher said he was clearly bored. I reprimanded him for behaving badly – maybe I should have reprimanded myself for not seeing a cheetah in a small box? His teacher retired that year. When he was in year 7, he told me that he didn’t want to go to school; it was boring and they were teaching him everything he already knew. I asked him why all 13 year olds think they know everything already? I should have asked the school why they weren’t challenging him further.

I am clearly not gifted in picking up traits that I should in challenging my brighter kids, other than winning in computer games (my youngest son wiped the memory card for my high score and cut my Playstation controller cord). Academics came reasonably easy to me in school and just thought it did for my boys are too. I was very inventive in my ways of skipping PE too. I can still factorise maths after 25 years out of school but can’t mention the names or details of half the sharks or dinosaurs or warships that my sons can. I also can’t make a Pavlova as well as my eldest daughter can, nor have as much energy as my youngest daughter exerts.

This is going to be one very interesting subject to study and from a mother’s point of view as well. I shall have to look at my lion’s and check under the scruffy hats and smart aleck remarks and check for spots. Do I have cheetah’s in lion’s cloaks – maybe I do – I hang my head in shame for not studying this topic before I had my children... onto Topic 2!