29th January 2016 at 00:00

Talent ‘does fuel good performance’

The idea that talent does not play a direct role in pupils’ ability to perform at a high standard is challenged in a new paper.

The notion that differences in performance are largely the result of external influences, such as family and social circumstance, as well as accumulated hours of practice, was popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book, Outliers.

But David Hambrick, from Michigan State University, along with other academics from the US, Australia and Sweden, reviewed the most recent research on the topic and found that this argument leaves a significant proportion of performance variance unexplained. They suggest that innate talent might have a role to play.

Black pupils less likely to be ‘gifted’

Black pupils are only a third as likely as their white peers to be placed into gifted programmes in maths and reading, a new study shows.

Jason Grissom and Christopher Redding, from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, used data from more than 10,000 US primary school pupils. They found that black pupils were 66 per cent less likely than their white classmates to be placed on a gifted programme, even when pupils’ academic performance was identical.

However, when black children were taught by a black teacher, the race gap in gifted classes ceased to exist.

Teach pornography risks, pupils say...

Pupils and teachers agree that schools should teach about the risks associated with looking at online pornography, an academic from Kings College London says.

Karen Elizabeth Baker surveyed 218 London pupils, along with 23 teachers. She found that both groups believed there were many negative effects to viewing pornography. They both called for schools to introduce discussion of the issues around pornography.

...because we don’t understand them

Meanwhile, unrelated research shows that pupils are more worried about the vague notions of danger associated with online pornography than they are about the actual pornographic content.

Sanna Spišák, of Turku University in Finland, examined more than 4,200 questions about sexuality that had been sent by Finnish pupils to sexual health experts. Only 1.5 per cent of those questions addressed pornography.

Ms Spišák believes that pornography is a relatively unimportant issue for teenagers, and points out that many of the questions asked by them referred to adults’ vague talk of the various risks associated with it.


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