11 April 2007

If you really want to help the gifted ...

The following was left out of my January press release about the proposals to provide gifted children with additional "resources", because it would have made it too long, and because I had no reason to think anyone would take any notice of what I (former gifted child) think would be beneficial, compared to what "trained experts" on the subject of giftedness think. As with all other socially appointed "experts" in the modern world, one may ask "trained in what?" — clearly in what society at large wants to think about the topic in question. This does not necessarily have anything to do with what is really the case, and often appears to be related to it as an inversion designed to suppress an unacceptable reality.

Dr. Green proposes an alternative scheme:

What I would suggest is that children be provided with the possibility of greater real autonomy. Academic exams should be something that can be worked for and taken without dependence on the permission of a school, and wherever possible without dependence on attendance at an institution, although in subjects where there is a genuine need for practical work as part of the course, such as physics or chemistry, there would need to be some method of access to centres where this practical work could be done.

Children should be able to enter themselves for exams without having to seek permission from parents, teachers, doctors or any other adult authority, at least after a certain minimum age which could be on a sliding scale related to performance in a standard IQ test. An average child should be free to enter himself for exams at the age of, say, ten; the equivalent qualifying age for a child with an IQ score of 180 would be five-and-a-half.

How would children know of their opportunities? This should present no insuperable obstacles to a society which is constantly informing citizens of their ‘rights’ to obtain benefits etc. We could not rely on teachers or parents spontaneously to inform children of the examination system, but we could have the address of an information centre prominently displayed in every junior public library and after children’s programmes on the television.

A new association for gifted children could be set up which would pay the examination fees for children whose parents refused to do so, or whose school refused to let the required exam be taken under its auspices. Any child able to score as having an IQ of more than 130 would be entitled to the fees for any six GCSEs and any 3 A-levels at any time. Any exam the child passed would entitle it to the fees for one further exam at the same level. Any child who didn’t qualify for free entrance on the grounds of IQ, or who failed too many to have any further entitlement, could go to earn the necessary money at a special work centre where children could earn money – the same sort of idea as workshops for the disabled where they can earn small amounts by addressing envelopes, making baskets, etc. The rate of pay would not need to be very high as the children would still be being supported at home; they would only need a way to earn money for any exam fees that were not provided for them free.

The new association for gifted children could also make available computerised and correspondence courses of instruction which could be purchased with money earned in this way or obtained from parents or relatives. This would supply learning material for those who did not think the ‘teaching’ which they happened to be receiving at school provided them with what they needed to prepare for a given exam, together with the standard textbooks, and samples of past exam papers.