The Problem with labeling a child Gifted and Talented

Having been a high school teacher for the past 13 years, I have noticed a growing trend is to have children tested and labelled as Gifted and Talented (GAT).

I want to be clear that it is referring to academically gifted and talented. The truth is every single child is gifted and talented, which I will discuss later. I understand part of the reasoning is to ensure certain children are being challenged and not growing bored with school work that is too easy for them. However, my concern is two-fold. For the children who are labelled a GAT child and for the children who are not given that label.

Firstly, for the children who are labelled gifted and talented, it can weigh heavily on them as they are now expected to perform and beat other students. Ask the Australian Olympic swimming team about how having the weight of expectation can impact performance. What if a GAT child’s greatest talent is outside academia and is in the arts, music, sport or being an entrepreneur? Most of these children are now expected to attempt to get into medicine or law. Most aren’t asked, what would you love to do? Also by labelling them as GAT children, it creates a false sense of security as some think they can still get great results just on the back of the label.

Gifted and Talented

Many of our students at InFlow Education have not been labelled as Gifted and Talented yet regularly out-perform some GAT students. Why? This is because long-term school results are more reflective of whether a child is motivated, doing their weekly study, applying exam techniques and in an environment that supports what they really want to do. Consistent study of an “average” student beats “gifted” without the weekly study.

Secondly,what about the students who are not labelled Gifted and Talented? There are positives to not being labelled. You are left to pursue what you really want to do if the students see it that way. However, many students will believe they have been given a label too. That is, NOT gifted or NOT talented and will give up on studies because they believe they are  “not smart enough”, In my motivation and study skills seminar for parents and students, I outline the simple step-by-step system to guaranteed academic improvement for any student.

Talented and gifted

One of the greatest feelings about what I do is seeing a child previously labelled “average” or “not likely to succeed” regularly performing well and growing in self-confidence.The fact is EVERY child is gifted and talented so we don’t need that label. The real question should be, what is my child’s gift and talent that they can share with the world and do for a living?

We ask our students at InFlow Education to sit with the question; if other people’s opinions didn’t matter and money was never going to be a concern for you, what would you like to do for fun and get paid to do? Without pressure, young people soon figure out what their gifts and talents are and begin their journey filled with purpose and serving others.

What is your child’s gift and talent that they want to share with the world?