The Inclusion of Gifted and Talented Children in the Field Of Special Education
Over the years, education of exceptional persons has suffered a lot of neglect basically because the society does not recognize that they have the capacity to withstand the rigout of formal education. In contrast to this challenge of mainstream special needs education, the problems associated with giftedness are mostly external in nature and are caused by the lack of acceptance and understanding of giftedness in the society (Salaudeen, 2010)
Education means equipping the individual to be a functional member of his community. Mu’azu (2016) described education as the consciously planned and systematically applied formal training, carried on through the various social agencies especially the school. Special education is meant to make provisions for the special needs of special children so that their education potentials can be realized. It is a matter of necessity to provide sound and qualitative education for the citizenry in any society, be they normal, handicapped, gifted and talented (Omede, 2005).
The concept of special education
Special education is a formal special education training given to people (children and adult) with special needs. This group of people may be classified into three categories: The disabled, the disadvantaged, the gifted and talented (FRN, 2004).
The National Policy on Education (2004) further explains that the gifted and talented are people (children and adults) who have/possess very high intelligent quotient and are naturally endowed with special traits (in arts, creativity, music, leadership, intellectual precocity, etc.) And therefore find them insufficiently challenged by the regular school/college/university programmes.
The aims and objective of special education are to:
- Give concrete meaning to the idea of equalizing educational opportunities for all children, their physical, sensory, mental, psychological or emotional disabilities notwithstanding;
- Provide adequate education for all people with special needs in order that they may fully contribute their own quota to the development of the nation;
- Provide opportunities for exceptionally gifted and talented children to develop their talents, natural endowments/traits at their own pace in the interest of the nation’s economic and technological development; and
- Design a diversified and appropriate curriculum for all the
Looking at the above provisions it is clear that gifted children need to be provided with opportunity to develop at their own pace. What is rather not too clear is how the government intends to actualize this goal. The FRN (2004) did not elaborate on the salient strategies for educating the gifted children and in fact falls short on giving any clue in that regard. To this end, this paper shall dwell on the exposition of the various strategies, complementary or alternatives, for educating the gifted.
The Gifted and talented Children
In view of the above Winzen (2003) perceives giftedness in two perspectives, that is, as a potential and as the actual product of the outstanding work. Winzen noted that when giftedness-as-potential is used, usually this indicates a cut-off point on intelligent test of IQ as between 120 and 140. If giftedness-as-product is used, there is less importance attached to IQ but puts on trial the attributes of the person and their potential value to society.
Due to their superior intelligence, gifted children may know much of what the teacher is about to teach and they can learn new material in much less time than their peers. They show very clear signs of superior ability and intelligence, learn very rapidly and display knowledge of many things at a surprisingly high level of competence for their age and expected experience (Obani, 2004).
This is why Okyere & Adams (2003) say the gifted child in school should be catered for early in their school lives so that as adults, they will be able to be creative in their chosen fields. These children require different educational programmes beyond those normally provided by the regular school programmes in order to realize their contribution to selves and society. According to Fakolade &Archibong (2006) Giftedness should not be defined by separate categories, every aspect of personality and development influences and interacts with every other aspect.
Man has always recognized that the progress and advancement of a society depends on the genius, creativity and contribution of a few of its members. According to Okwudire & Ugbong (2009), there is no one single definition accepted totally to be the best, because there is no typical gifted child. According to the authors what is regarded as gifted depends on societal values and the child’s particular talents.
The Inclusion of Gifted and Talented Children in the Field Of Special Education
The writers see the gifted as those individuals who, by way of having certain learning characteristics such as superior memory, observational powers, curiosity, creativity, and the ability to learn school-relate d subject maters rapidly and accurately with a minimum of drill and repetition, have rights to an education that is differentiated according to those characteristics.
Gifted and talented children are children who defer averagely from normal children who are physically, mentally, socially and otherwise not fit or lacking certain abilities. Special/gifted children may include the following: (a) children with visual / hearing difficulties (b) retarded children (c) children with emotional / behavioural disorder (d) physical disabilities (e) children with learning disabilities (f) children with special talents and many others.
JUSTIFICATION OF THE INCLUSION OF GIFTED AND TALENTED CHILDREN IN THE FIELD OF SPECIAL EDUCATION
It is estimated that students who are gifted and highly talented encompass 5 to 15% of the school age population according to Adelodun (2010), the National Planning Committee on Education for the Gifted and Talented Children stated that the target population anticipated for a take-off of the programme in 1987 was 5% of total primary school population.
Although this population may be negligible; their contribution to national growth and development is inestimable. The following highlighted points are the relevance of justifying the inclusion of gifted and talented children in the field of special education.
PRINCIPLE OF EQUITY:
As against the misconception that gifted/talented persons has the capability to succeed without differentiated or specialized attention, the contributions by Maria Montessori, J. P. Guilford, Lev Vygotsky, and Jean Piaget helped to prove that the education of these unique individuals is indeed necessary.
Montessori noted that intelligence could be developed and was not fixed. In his model, Guilford expanded the parameters of intelligence, described intelligence as educable, and concluded that there are 120 different aspects of intelligence. Vygotsky’s research conclusions addressed intelligence and educational remediation, early stimulation and language development.
Piaget researched the interaction between genetics and the environment as he developed the stages of cognitive development. Continuing efforts by Jerome Bruner and Benjamin Bloom led to further support for an expanded view of intelligence. Jerome Bruner developed a theory of instruction designed to release the capacity of the mind. Bloom reexamined research data to uncover that children’s early years are optimum for learning and expanding intelligence.
We live in a society that is based on democratic principle. As a result, respect for human right and person should be a core value of any democracy. Gifted / talented student are parts and parcel of the democratic society. Denying them access to education that march their ability is a tantamount to injustice and in equity. Furthermore, this amount of inequality, which according to Thomas Jefferson, is inequality.
In Nigeria, individuals with disabilities such the visually impaired persons receive education that is tailored forwards their special needs. The principle of equity which is the core democratic value should be upheld. The gifted deserves special treatment corresponding to that received by the handicapped. Gifted/ talented students should be given the opportunity to receive education as a matter of equity.
Advancement of Ability:
The Nation Policy on Education (NPE, 1981) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stated that gifted/talented children find the regular school insufficient and inadequate in terms of stimulation and providing them with academic challenges.
Giftedness/talent represents potential which will wane and later rot away if it not discovered and nurtured. Efforts must therefore not be spared towards meeting the special need of academically and cognitively superior individuals in our schools. Schwartz (1994) has dedicated a whole book to presenting evidence that investing time, energy and resources in the suitable educational opportunities for the gifted is not undemocratic. She maintained that the small initial commitment yield exceptional future leaders. According to her, everyone will benefit from the rich return on such an investment.
DISCOVERIES, INVENTION, INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY:
Gifted/talented minds have the potential and capability to make discoveries, inventions and put Nigeria on the list countries of the world with great inventions and innovations.
Through their creative ability, gifted and talented students when nurtured can bring ideas that will assist in proffer solutions to some nagging societal problems. Refusal or failure to educate and nurture gifted/talented children is like robbing our society of immense benefits derivable from such a venture.
Like in China of 2200 BC, gifted/talented students can be harnessed to become future leaders. As it is often pointed out in discuss among political analysts, Nigeria, a land flowing with milk and honey, is yet to get the best crop of leaders that can move the country to the Promised Land.
The country will definitely benefit later from educating the gifted and talented students as these individuals can be adequately prepared for the task of taking the society to the promise land in the nearest future.
In conclusion, gifted children occupy an important position in our country’s quest for economic and technological development.
To this extent, a thought of underachieving gifted children is a thought of an underachieving nation as this target class has been shown to be the propellers innovations and technological breakthroughs such as scientific inventions in medicine, engineering and the arts and of such this children should be guided in other to help them to achieve their set goals.
Mu’azu, D. (2016). Blueprint on Education for the Gifted and Talented Persons in Nigeria: A View from the Classroom. Nigeria Journal of Clinical and Counseling Psychology, 1, 4-33.
Nwazuoke I.A. (1995). Blueprint on Education for the Gifted and Talented Persons in Nigeria: A View from the Classroom. Nigeria Journal of Clinical and Counseling Psychology, 1, 24-33.
Obani, T.C. (2004). Handicap, Disability and Special Education: What Parents and Teachers want to know. Ibadan: Oluben Printers.
Okwudire, A.N. & Ugbong C.J. (2009). Education of the Gifted and Talented for National Development. The Exceptional Child, 2(510).