Boffin scoffing

11th August 2000 at 01:00
YOU can almost hear the playground taunts of "boffin" following the children attending the 500 new summer schools for gifted pupils this month.

As we report on page five, many of those who attended admitted that they regularly avoid answering questions in class - for fear of being labelled as a swot.

The intense peer pressure on children, particularly teenage boys, to affect a lack of interest in learning makes a significant contribution to academic underachievement.

Summer schools such as the one in Brighton where pupils learnt about Leonardo da Vinci and Harry Potter longside similarly talented and committed young people represent an important effort to counter this anti-intellectual culture. But a week away for a few high-fliers will not solve the problem. Once summer is over, pupils will return to school to face the same destructive criticism.

And anyway, most pupils who turn their back on learning to gain acceptance from their peers are not in the top 5 per cent academically. Unless children's attitudes can be changed, those for whom Leonardo means da Vinci rather than di Caprio will continue to hide their light under a bushel.

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