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Nurturing young talent

Young Gifted and Bored

By David George

Crown House Publishing pound;18.99

3 out of 5

David George's new book, Young Gifted and Bored, is predicated on the view that too many young people who are gifted and talented are not catered for by current teaching practice. They end up avoiding using their talents or, worse, they use them to create disruption and mayhem in the classroom.

The solution, he suggests, lies in seeking to understand better the nature and needs of these young people. We need to adapt the way we work with them in our schools and homes, help them exploit their own strengths and challenge them to be better than they are. George believes they need to be rescued from their boredom and frustration and from a school system that is failing them because it is too easy.

The book encourages teachers and school leaders to go beyond the narrow idea of providing a "gifted and talented" programme. There is a phrase George uses, which can be traced back to John F Kennedy, if not further, and is relevant for all teachers who perhaps struggle with the very concept of gifted and talented: "a rising tide lifts all ships". In other words, teachers need to challenge and stretch themselves in order to stretch the young, gifted and bored in their care. In so doing, all learners will benefit and learn to discover the pleasure of successfully blowing whatever trumpet they have.

It would be wrong to portray this book as merely a treatise on why teachers, schools and parents need to cater for the needs of the gifted and talented. It is a book that helps teachers - particularly anyone co- ordinating a gifted and talented programme - identify and provide for gifted and talented young people. Teachers will be attracted to the practical examples offered, the possible classroom strategies, useful worksheets and various tips and tactics. Sadly these are all contained within the book itself, so teachers will have to create the worksheets, questionnaires, and other collateral for themselves. Perhaps the next edition could provide a CD-ROM with templates.

I found the chapter on self-esteem and the gifted underachiever particularly helpful. George argues, correctly in my view, that being a gifted and talented learner does not necessarily mean being a motivated learner. He references evidence that gifted and talented pupils often have low self-esteem because they are "put down" by their peers. Worse, they sometimes feel they cannot do enough for their parents, who have such high expectations of them. George provides some useful and focused activities for use in whole-class settings to help raise pupils' self-esteem.

The final chapter is directed at the parents of the young, gifted and bored. It is full of helpful strategies and tactics for them to deploy - either with their children or with the school. As a parent, I read this chapter with great interest. Am I an authoritarian or authoritative parent? Indulgent or uninvolved? The advice is applicable to all parents and written in a practical and supportive style.

This insight into the mind of the gifted and talented young person will provide teachers and parents with helpful tools to identify, assess and nurture the abilities of those with high learning potential.

About the Author

David George is founder president of the National Association for Able Children in Education and a member of the executive committee of the World Council of Gifted and Talented Children. He is a consultant to the British Council and UNESCO.

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