Guest blogger Bexology2 joins the blog tour today to analyse the political sound bites which are appearing in the lead up to Gifted Awareness Week:
Welcome to the #NZGAW blogtour. As a part of #NZGAW, each political party in New Zealand gives an overview of their gifted education policy. This blog post takes a closer look at some of their nice sounding rhetoric and asks what it is that they are REALLY saying? What would these fancy policies look like on the ground, in the everyday lives of our gifted children and their current schools?
Firstly, we shall begin with the current government: National with support from ACT, United Future, and a little supply-and-demand from the Māori party. National’s policy statement is as follows:
Doesn’t that sound lovely? Oh, how supportive and encouraging this government is! Yes, I am being sarcastic. This government has not invested in ANY gifted programmes in the city that I live in, other than funding schools and teacher training in the usual manner. Some schools offer GaTE programmes. They get the same funding and professional development allowance as the schools who do not. The flagship organisation specifically working with gifted children – the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education (which encompasses both Gifted Kids and the Gifted Education Centre) has received absolutely NOTHING from this government. I checked. They deliver quality supplementary programmes tailored to the needs of our gifted children. Not one jot of investment by this government. I am underwhelmed. Less lovely sounding rhetoric and more action, if you please!
Now, ACT. ACT have been quite instrumental in pushing for charter schools. They could have something good to say about gifted education.Basically, ACT aren’t doing anything, and (as per their political persuasions) are leaving it to the parents to make the right ‘choice’ for their child. Gah! Aaargghh! I am losing my ability to create coherent thoughts when surrounded by such ineptitude. As any parent of a gifted child who has had to battle their way through our education system will know, there is no ‘choice’ without funding. There is no ‘choice’ when teachers and schools don’t understand or recognise intellectual giftedness. There is no ‘choice’ if there are no programmes in your local area – and transporting a child an hour (or more!) away isn’t always a realistic options for families. On the bright side, having been involved in producing a proposal for a partnership kura, there does seem to be scope for creating a (free!) partnership school focused on meeting the needs of gifted children. The difficulty would be (a) convincing the Ministry of Education that such a need exists, and (b) the geographically scattered nature of our gifted population – it would probably only be possible to offer something in the main centres, which already provide options for gifted kids. But, hey! Parents choose to live in remote, rural, farming locations, don’t they? (Yes, you guessed it, more sarcasm.)
These political posts are depressing me. Here’s hoping that the Māori Party have something a little more to offer:Access to digital learning at home? That’s your goal? And our gifted learners need more from their teachers than the ability to form positive relationships. As for R&D. Really? Really, really?? My gifted son had to be tested in English. There were NO (not ONE!!) educational psychologists who could administer the appropriate psychometric tests in Māori, and the tests themselves were only available in English. We had to hold off testing until his English was good enough to be able to manage the testing process. R&D when you can’t even administer the required tests in a Māori medium? I have no words. This party fails to understand the needs of our gifted children. They seem disconnected from the reality that too many of our children have to choose between ‘being Māori’ or ‘being gifted’. So disappointing, Māori Party, so disappointing.
United Future, on the other hand, seem to have someone who knows what they are talking about:Well knock me down with a feather! Hot damn, someone has a clue. Yes, yes and yes!! This policy makes me happy – make the person who wrote this Education Minister immediately!! I wonder if the opposition parties can compete with this?! We shall have to wait and see…til next time, this is Bexology2 signing off.
Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/1104/.
You can contribute to gifted awareness by reading, writing or sharing posts. Please also consider talking to a parent, a teacher, a school board member or a principal about giftedness. If at all possible, write to your Member of Parliament.