Griffith University education lecturer Dr Michelle Ronksley-Pavia is spearheading a new push to nurture gifted and talented school students across the country.
Dr Ronksley-Pavia and colleagues at the School of Education’s Professional Learning Hub have developed a new online training course for Australian teachers, to help them recognise and support the needs of gifted and talented children in their classrooms.
“Educators often find they are pushing the latest policy ‘initiative’ or trying to cram the hottest politically-driven topic into an already overcrowded school curriculum,” she said.
“Teachers are overwhelmed, and they are crying out for ways to support those students who are gifted and talented.”
Dr Ronksley-Pavia is a member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and is the Australian representative on its Teacher-Education Committee.
She said a commitment to inclusive education often neglected gifted and talented students, – with dire consequences.
“The needs of these students are often overlooked and their potential wasted,” she said.
“It’s often assumed that gifted children will become talented individuals who go on to university and a dazzling career.
“But for many, their giftedness goes unrecognised in school and their needs remain unmet.
“Until education systems recognise that gifted students are remaining unidentified and unsupported at school, these kids will continue to disengage and fall through the cracks.”
Dr Ronksley-Pavia said it was important to broaden the definition of ‘gifted and talented’ to encompass practical giftedness, being an aptitude for problem-solving and the ability to think outside the box.
“It’s definitely not just children recognised through high academic performance in school that can go on to have successful careers,” she said.
“In the workplace, gifted and talented individuals can be innovators, visionaries, creators and problem solvers who can get to the crux of complex issues.
“Future employment opportunities will require various degrees of proficiency in all kinds of areas of talent development—high-level analytical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, ‘learning how to learn skills’ in new and evolving technologies, and creativity.
“There needs to be a focus on educating gifted students for all of life, to address the uncertainty of what jobs and careers are available in the future.”
The training course on understanding and supporting gifted or talented students is available online.