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[Archive] Chapter One: Overview

 

The Relationship between Gifted Education Curriculum and Curriculum Reform

  • The gifted education curriculum is developed upon the common belief in the education and curriculum reform that all students are capable of learning and have the right to learn. Education should be student-centred to realize the holistic personal development and fully develop the potentials of students.
  • Based on the principles and framework of curriculum reform, the gifted education curriculum aims to fully develop the potentials of the more able and the gifted students.
  • The three-tiered implementation mode adopted in gifted education in Hong Kong has fully realised the spirit of curriculum reform.  At Level One, to strengthen the learning objectives and enhance the learning interest and ability of all students, subject-based enrichment programmes are emphasized in regular classroom at whole-class level. At Level Two, systematic training is provided to a homogeneous group of students in pull-out programmes to cater for the individual needs and ability of different learners.
  • The three key elements of gifted education in Hong Kong ( higher-order thinking skills, creativity and personal-social competence) align with the nine generic skills , positive values and attitudes, advocated in the curriculum reform.

 

 Elements of gifted education

Generic skills
 Higher-order thinking skills →  Critical thinking skills, computation skills, problem-solving skills and study skills
 Creativity →  Creativity
 Personal-social competence →  Communication skills, collaboration skills, self-management skills, positive values and attitudes

 

  • The three key elements of gifted education cover the three prioritised generic skills (3C's), i.e. critical thinking skills, creativity and communication skills.
  • While curriculum reform promotes "learning to learn", gifted education encourages teachers to develop their students' self-learning abilities in a systematic manner. Various teaching and learning strategies (such as multiple assessment modes and diversified questioning skills) and learning approaches (such as the extensive use of project learning, one of the Four Key Tasks) are in accord with the direction of the curriculum reform.

In short, gifted education realizes the recommendations in the curriculum reform to help students learn how to learn and make achievement by developing their multiple talents and potentials. 

Myths about Gifted Education

In general, there are misunderstandings and misconceptions about gifted education. This section aims to resolve the myths that commonly exist in the community.

 

General Perceptions of Gifted Education

Please read the following statements about gifted education carefully, and show your views by circling the appropriate options.

 

1

Gifted education should only serve gifted students.

agree / disagree

2

Every student is gifted.

agree / disagree

3

Gifted students are geniuses.

agree / disagree

4

Inherent gifts imply an exceptionally happy life.

agree / disagree

5

Intelligence assessment is the only tool of identifying gifted students.

agree / disagree

6

Gifted students are physically weak and unhealthy.

agree / disagree

7

Gifted students are capable of learning independently. Therefore, teachers need to pay neither attention nor assistance to their learning.

agree / disagree

8

Only gifted teachers are suited to teaching gifted students.

agree / disagree

9

Every gifted education programme can benefit all students in school.

agree / disagree

10

Gifted students grow up in depressed and unhappy psychological conditions.

agree / disagree

11

Gifted students are “problem students” in the class.

agree / disagree

12

The potential of the gifted students can be developed if they learn and study in a homogeneous group of peers.

agree / disagree

 

Facts

To enrich teachers with knowledge of the characteristics of the gifted and gifted education, below are the facts responding to the above-mentioned myths:

Myths

Facts

1

Gifted education should only serve gifted students.

  • Gifted education in Hong Kong adopts the three-tiered implementation mode to serve the needs of all students and enhance the potential of the gifted. In line with the vision of the "universal gifted education and universal quality education", it nurtures and explores the potentials of the gifted students in the school-based approach.

2

Every student is gifted.

  • Each student may possess his or her own potential in certain areas.
  • Whether or not the potential of a student can be developed into a gift hinges on the combination of the environmental factors and the provision of curriculum appropriate to their learning needs. The environmental factors include family education, schooling, peer influence and the gifted education policy of the attending school.

3

All gifted students are geniuses.

  • All geniuses are gifted; but not all gifted students are geniuses.
  • Not all gifted students are geniuses; but they possess special learning needs, extraordinary talent and potentials
  • "Gifts" and "disabilities" can co-exist. Some students with special learning needs, such as hyperactive behaviour and reading and writing disabilities, may also be gifted. Thomas Alva Edison, Albert Einstein and the basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson are some good examples in this respect.

4

Inherent gifts imply an exceptionally happy life.

  • Gifted students may not be particularly happy or unhappy. It depends on whether their teachers can guide them to lead a happy and healthy life.
  • Gifted students have high expectations of themselves, or even are perfectionists. Therefore, they must learn how to set reasonably challenging goals for themselves.
  • Gifted students may recognise the differences in abilities or modes of thinking between themselves and their peers that may cause them a strong sense of alienation from their community. Hence, teachers should provide students with training on social skills when needs arise.
  • Teachers should observe those gifted students with emotional problems closely to know the needs of their affective development early.

5

Intelligence assessment is the only tool of identifying gifted students.

  • Intelligence testing is one of the ways of identifying gifted students. Intelligence quotient (IQ) cannot fully reflect different potentials of gifted students.
  • IQ tests may easily pose a labelling effect on gifted students.
  • The abilities of speech and expression of children under the age of five are not yet mature. In this case, the validity and reliability of the intelligence assessment will be adversely affected.
  • Gifted children are best identified using multiple methods, such as behavioral checklists, teacher and parent observation, peer assessment and self-assessment, which provide more accurate and comprehensive information.

6

Gifted students are physically weak and unhealthy.

  • The talents of gifted students do not influence their physical fitness. In terms of their physical fitness, gifted students are no different from the ordinary peers. However, if they only focus on their areas of interest, they may neglect their physical development.

7

Gifted students are capable of learning independently. Therefore, teachers need to pay neither attention nor assistance to their learning.

  • Gifted students are capable of self-learning, but they also need the care and guidance of their teachers.
  • The contents of the general curriculum cater for the majority of students only. The needs of the gifted may be neglected.
  • The interest and learning motivation of gifted students may be deprived if they are engaged in the curriculum that is mainly composed of controlled, well-learnt topics or repeated exercises.
  • Teachers are lights to students. The potential of gifted students may be stifled if their learning needs are not met with appropriate curriculum.

8

Only gifted teachers are suited to teaching gifted students.

  • Teachers trained in gifted education are capable of assisting schools in promoting it.
  • Teachers should receive relevant training, in order to understand fully the characteristics of gifted students, the latest theories in gifted education, and the suggested implementation mode, before they implement gifted education in schools.

9

Every gifted education programme can benefit all students in a school.

  • Whether a gifted education curriculum is appropriate depends on the abilities and characteristics of individual gifted students. Different students have different learning abilities and needs.
  • Schools should adjust and modify their gifted education curriculum, including its content, level, coverage and pace, according to the individual needs of their gifted students.

10

Gifted students grow up in depressed and unhappy psychological conditions.

  • Like ordinary students, gifted students may have emotional problems. Gifted students may sometimes have specific emotional problems other than those of ordinary students.
  • Gifted students will be able to grow up happily with appropriate guidance and assistance.

11

Gifted students are "problem students" in the class.

  • The general curriculum may not be able to satisfy gifted students' quests for knowledge. The failure of meeting the learning needs of the gifted may result in their disruptive behaviour in the classroom.
  • The key to helping gifted students learn effectively and happily is to identify their talents as early as possible, understand and satisfy their learning needs in order to develop their potential.

12

The potential of the gifted students can be developed if they learn and study in a homogeneous group of peers.

  • The needs of gifted students may not be satisfied with the general curriculum or traditional classroom teaching mode.
  • Homogeneous grouping can satisfy gifted students' learning needs and develop their collaborative learning abilities.
  • Teachers may guide gifted students to master the skills in collaborating with peers of different ability to enhance their social and leadership skills.

 

Past Experience of Gifted Education in Hong Kong

  • In the early years, gifted education services were provided by the Psychological Services Section of the then Education Department. It mainly focused on providing counselling services for gifted students with learning difficulties or behavioural / emotional problems. In 1988, the Psychological Services Section organized enhancement courses and "creative group" activities for gifted primary students without serious emotional or behavioural problems during school holidays. The aims of these various activities were to develop students' creativity, problem-solving skills, enhance their self-understanding, communication skills, teach them data collection and compilation methods as well as nurture their spirit of self-learning. Meanwhile there was growing concern in the public about gifted education in Hong Kong. Organisations aimed at promoting gifted education were gradually emerged.
  • The Education Commission Report No. 4, published by the Education Commission in 1990, studied the definition and educational needs of gifted children. It outlined the development direction of gifted education in Hong Kong. The Report introduced the definition of giftedness by the United States Department of Education and affirmed that a broad definition of giftedness using multiple criteria should be adopted. It pointed out that there had been training programmes in visual and performing arts and sports for students with special talent in non-mainstream schools and organisations. Therefore, the Report recommended that Hong Kong should develop school-based programmes in mainstream schools to meet the needs of academically gifted students instead of segregating them in special schools.
  • In 1992, the Education Department conducted two studies about gifted education.  They were Identification Tools for Gifted Students and Investigation of the Distribution of Gifted Children in Primary Schools and their Educational Needs.  In 1994, the Education Department initiated the three-year "Pilot School-based Programme for Academically Gifted Children" in 19 voluntary primary schools. Moreover, in line with the recommendation of the Education Commission, the Education Department established the Fung Hon Chu Gifted Education Centre to provide support and resources for gifted education in Hong Kong in the late 1995.
  • In 1996, the Curriculum Development Institute of the Education Department set up a task group responsible for developing gifted education curriculum and teaching resources, organising teacher training programmes, providing school-based support and managing the Fung Hon Chu Gifted Education Centre.
  • To nurture students' multiple intelligences and strengthen the development of gifted education in Hong Kong, the Education Department formulated the Policy of Gifted Education in Hong Kong and a three-tiered implementation mode in 2000. The Cluster School Gifted Project was also launched from September 2000 to February 2003 to pilot the three-tiered implementation mode in 30 secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong.
  • To promote the development of gifted education, the Gifted Education Section of the Curriculum Development Institute provides a range of web-based curriculum resources and other resources on the principles of developing gifted education curriculum and exemplars at the website to schools for reference.
  • To help schools implement the curriculum reform, since 2000, the Curriculum Development Institute has launched a series of reports, curriculum guides and exemplars as basic reference for the implementation of gifted education. In Chapter Four of the Basic Education Curriculum, Effective Learning and Teaching – Acting to Achieve, specific measures to meet the needs of gifted students are listed.

The Importance of School-based Gifted Development Programmes

(Please refer to the Guiding Principles in the policy paper on the gifted education in Hong Kong.)

Grounds of the school-based gifted education in Hong Kong are as follows:

  • To be in line with the recommendations in the Education Commission Report No. 4 (1990).
  • The vision of education is to cater for the learning needs of all students; all schools should be committed to providing appropriate learning opportunities for their gifted students.
  • Regular classroom, immersed with the elements of gifted education, would be the best ground for students to explore and develop their potentials.  As such, the school-based approach would be the most favourable way to benefit the gifted students and nurture their talent.
  • Learning in mainstream schools can reduce the labelling effect and pressures on gifted children.
  • The school-based approach encourages the holistic growth of the gifted through learning with average learners. This equips gifted students with the competence in interacting with people from different walks of life in the future.
  • Studying in the mainstream schools, gifted students not only play an active part in building up a learning atmosphere but also have the opportunity to develop their potential in leadership and contribute to their own school and the community in future.
  • The experiences gained from the Pilot School-based Programme for Academically Gifted Children, the Cluster School Gifted Project and the Seed Project of the Gifted Education Section have shown the positive results of the school-based gifted education.
  • Following the major trend in adopting the school-based approach in the education development, we provide schools with flexibility to engage students in quality learning experience based on the existing strengths and features of the school.