The challenge of working with high-achievers

As a tutor, I have come across many children who find school work easy. Despite having natural ability and being ahead of their peers, children who are perceived as highly intelligent often seem to have character traits that bind them together. I talk about “perception of intelligence” because it is the perception of being intelligent which can truly damage a child, not the fact that the child may have extraordinary mental abilities.

 

These are the four points that have stood out to me with the children I have worked with (there are actually much more):

 

  • Seeking perfection

Children are often told that they are intelligent by those around them. This adds to the internal pressure that they feel (as clever children often feel) that they need to be perfect. They thus identify themselves as “the clever one” in their peer-groups.

 

  • Inexperience in failure

Naturally, many of these children past most of their early years being able to accomplish most of the academic tasks set by their teachers. This means that they may lack the experience of real failure, which is important for well-rounded developmental.

 

  • Lack of mental resistance to failure

As a consequence of not failing in their young days and the need to seek perfection, some children take failure in their later years particularly hard.

 

  • Difficulty relating to others in their peer group

If others perceive a child to be intelligent, and the child, in turn, believes this idea, this can lead to isolation in social situations.

 

As an educator, my role is not merely to facilitate learning, but to understand the issues affecting a child.  At every point, I have to always be aware of the words I am using when working with children. If anyone has comments about the points I have mentioned or has experience dealing with these issues, please feel free to comment.  

 

Jonathan Strange

School Funding

Initially, thinking about the way schools were funded, I had thought that perhaps the public sector could be thought of as inefficient. On consideration of the data, perhaps it is instead the case that some schools are being starved of the funding that is desperately needed to improve standards.

A figure of around £6000 is the average amount needed to educate a child at school per year. On considering this figure, it may seem like a lot of money, however, this figure is only an average. Consider this, different councils provide schools with differing amounts of funding. That means that some schools receive far more than £6000 and some schools receive far less. Consider this fact carefully. Some councils are providing their schools with just around £4500 per year per pupil (sometimes less).

I am a believer in quality over quantity. Of course, efficiency is something that should be lauded; sometimes placing constraints on spending can generate creative thought. However, £4500 is nothing in this economy. Consider how for much time these children are in school and how much the education they receive will have to be watered-down. I have to say that I am worried for the future of our state education system. Furthermore, it appears that spending will continue on a downward trajectory. Take a look at the data and be afraid.

The only positive that I can take from all of this is that online education may save the system. Online education has the potential to revolutionise the way children learn and improve standards. It could also save money in the long term, however, councils and schools need to be forward thinking enough and intelligent in their investments.

Jonathan Strange