sophswfc
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Today, we hear of the inclusivity of less intelligent children and those with special educational needs being championed in a ‘no child left behind’-esque manner. While the formerly oppressed and, for the most part, wrongly labelled ‘naughty’ children have become the focus of classroom support and praise, it’s clearly overlooked that there is an opportunity cost associated. Teachers aren’t given more time to support lower ability kids, they have to do more with the same amount of time, which is impossible and wholly unrealistic. Something has to give and it’s usually the encouragement and development of the ‘smart ones’.

The rise of ‘encouraging participation’ in certain activities and a ‘you’re all winners’ attitude simply belittles high-flying students’ achievements. Some intelligent children may not need to work as hard as those who are less academically inclined, but this does not mean they don’t deserve praise or as much attention. It’s perfectly possible for a child to be intelligent, not have to plough into work and still feel at a loss with confidence and self-belief. I massively believe that part of the lack of motivation in some bright children for revision etc is due to a lack of attention and push to be driven and career-minded from early education, especially through years 7 and 8.

The language we use when speaking to these kinds of children is incredibly ignorant. ‘You’ve got nothing to worry about’, ‘there are people in far worse positions than you’ and ‘you’re smart, you will go far’ all imply that you’re not a priority and you’ll be pushed aside, while the lesser able kids are told they’ll be supported to get them to where they need to be, or that it won’t be easy but they believe in them. Being astute is actually almost glamorised as the holy grail. You’re supposed to be eternally grateful that you’ve been ‘gifted’. It’s clear some have trouble seeing beyond surface intelligence and assume they’ll be fine because their brain will ‘never fail’ them.

It’s time to start normalising being smart again. Comments from other students such as ‘but how do you know that, why are you so smart, stop pushing it in our faces’ can make bright children feel like freaks and cause social exclusion. Being smart is natural. It’s time to stop making them feel like they’re incredibly lucky, as many kids also see it as a burden. The ‘too smart to fail’ puts unnecessary pressure on kids to either perform highly every time or fail and risk humiliation. Success and failure is natural in students of all abilities, and it’s time to stop the teachers', seemingly innocent, jokes and students’, well intentioned, questions about where intelligence comes from. Praise kids when they do well and support them when they don’t, regardless of ability.
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Oxford Mum
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If students are naturally smart, they shouldn’t be ashamed of it, or be put off by the snide comments of others. Just keep on being intellectually curious and keeping up with the world around you. You have the ability to get the best future you can in life. I, for one, support you .
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Tolgarda
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If students are truly that gifted, take them to a grammar school or put them on an educational track for gifted children. I'm sure there are many programmes like that out there for naturally intelligent children.
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Oxford Mum
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Tolgardai am 100 percent behind you on this one.
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Andrew97
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Tech companies really have thought of it all haven’t they?
Smartphones,
Smart watches
Smart kettles
And now smart children



I jest of course. I agree with you OP. Unfortunately from a teachers view, the class is only as fast as it’s slowest member. Those who are not as academically gifted, but so try should be helped by any means necessary. I remember during my A-levels, I had a couple of mates who had to retake GCSE maths and thus had a class a week. I also decided to help them for like an hour a week for two reason.

1) it’s always good to reaffirm any material and practice maths
2) they were mates and I wanted them to do well

What I’m saying here is that students can support one another as well.
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lilacdolphin
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Yes yes yes. I was lucky enough to go to a school where I got the support and encouragement to be as intelligent as I could be. But there are kids I know from when I was younger who should have been straight A students and got a mix of Bs and C's in their exams. I'm not saying this is the case for all kids but the learning environment definitely leaves people by the wayside. I mean there are also people I know who are less intelligent and have done so much better than I expected and I'm so glad about that for them. It is very difficult however for teachers and I appreciate that. Even at my school, people got left behind but it was the people in the middle - they didn't need extra help in class but they didn't really excel either. This is a topic which is kind of ignored but that needs addressed. Unfortunately, no one in education (who cares) has the time to do so at the moment. I think there is also a fear of saying 'smart kids should be pushed' because of the backlash saying that it will be at the expense of the less able kids.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by Andrew97)
Tech companies really have thought of it all haven’t they?
Smartphones,
Smart watches
Smart kettles
And now smart children



I jest of course. I agree with you OP. Unfortunately from a teachers view, the class is only as fast as it’s slowest member. Those who are not as academically gifted, but so try should be helped by any means necessary. I remember during my A-levels, I had a couple of mates who had to retake GCSE maths and thus had a class a week. I also decided to help them for like an hour a week for two reason.

1) it’s always good to reaffirm any material and practice maths
2) they were mates and I wanted them to do well

What I’m saying here is that students can support one another as well.
It's a pity there aren't more resources for smart children. My children were identified as gifted and talented at primary school, but absolutely nothing was done to help them. I recall as a trainee teacher, doing a project on gifted and talented students. The school manager told me there were no gifted and talented students at her school. This was out of about 1,000 young people! They just didn't want to know.
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_Mia101
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I agree 100% with OP.
There was a "gifted and talented thing" (it started and ended in my year) but all that ended up happening was that we'd sit on a table at the back of the class and be left to our own devices.

Now I spend most of my classes doing what I like (the teacher is generally too busy explaining to those who don't understand).
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by _Mia101)
I agree 100% with OP.
There was a "gifted and talented thing" (it started and ended in my year) but all that ended up happening was that we'd sit on a table at the back of the class and be left to our own devices.

Now I spend most of my classes doing what I like (the teacher is generally too busy explaining to those who don't understand).
What a waste of your talent. The same thing happened to me with French, so can relate.
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sophswfc
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Thankyou all so much for your positive response!
Andrew97 said the class is only as fast as the slowest member. This is very true! I am a massive advocate of ability based classes. As the resident 'smart kid' in high school, I was sat with less able kids regularly, and it massively impacted on my standard of work in the lesson. I was being poked for the answers every minute, it seemed like, and because I spent a lot of time trying to help them instead of doing my own work, I didn't finish some tasks and very rarely was able to reach the extension tasks (which are meant for my ability level!). Teachers are there to teach and so I wholly reject an argument that it's my responsibility (or 'smart kids' as a collective) to help bring them along. The teachers have all the knowledge we do and more! It's great for my learning to teach someone else how to do it or help them along, but pairing such severe gaps in ability together is such a silly idea.
Once again, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who was feeling this! I was really nervous to post this in case I received backlash, but I'm glad I put myself out there.
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Oxford Mum
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(Original post by sophswfc)
Thankyou all so much for your positive response!
Andrew97 said the class is only as fast as the slowest member. This is very true! I am a massive advocate of ability based classes. As the resident 'smart kid' in high school, I was sat with less able kids regularly, and it massively impacted on my standard of work in the lesson. I was being poked for the answers every minute, it seemed like, and because I spent a lot of time trying to help them instead of doing my own work, I didn't finish some tasks and very rarely was able to reach the extension tasks (which are meant for my ability level!). Teachers are there to teach and so I wholly reject an argument that it's my responsibility (or 'smart kids' as a collective) to help bring them along. The teachers have all the knowledge we do and more! It's great for my learning to teach someone else how to do it or help them along, but pairing such severe gaps in ability together is such a silly idea.
Once again, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who was feeling this! I was really nervous to post this in case I received backlash, but I'm glad I put myself out there.
sophswfc I agree with you 100% here. You should be steaming ahead, not being held back by others.

In primary school, I had learnt French from the age of four. Yet at 11, in my comprehensive, I was seated next to the person who was bottom of the class. Needless to say the first two years in that mixed ability class was a complete waste of time, with many students trying to make the teacher cry (and succeeding).

During my studies of gifted and talented children (as a languages teacher), I identified those I thought were the brightest in my French class. I said to them "If I could wave a magic wand, how would you like me to help you, academically?). They replied "to be taught separately from the others, because we hate the disruption".
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math42
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Some blame needs to go on the parents too, to be fair. It's pretty hard for teachers to have sufficient one-on-one interaction with all their students and to understand what they need. Some smart students really don't need much encouragement, while some absolutely do.

Personally I just wish somebody had instilled in me a proper work-ethic and a career-focused mindset. I smashed exams, and have just completed a masters degree, but all-in-all my biggest motivation has been fear, not ambition. It's mainly fear of not living up to my supposed intelligence. Nobody ever expected me to fail or even really allowed for the possibility. It was just constant insistence that things would go super well. This even happened at uni tbh, where I was one of the top students. Sure, the people who said this were generally on the money, but it's not great to have your genuine feelings trivialized. And I do feel privileged to have been able to do extremely well academically without exceptional effort, but where has it gotten me now? I have no job lined up, no savings, no ambition, and crippling social anxiety/self-esteem issues. And still people say that the world is my oyster and I can do anything because I've got a great degree. Basically, they say that how I feel is bull****. And that doesn't feel great.
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LemonMan
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Mixed ability classes back in my day were during Year 11, we would have to choose three subjects along with the standard lessons. I was in lower tier and I was mixed with higher tier for all three of them. I am absolutely sure that if the School had more resources the chosen classes would have also been separated into lower tier and higher tier. If the education system had more resources, they would definitely do everything they can to help out higher achievers.

Edit:- It seems they are using the little resources they have to bring up the lesser able which I also agree is wrong.

'It’s time to start normalising being smart again.' In my life time this has never been normal, may you give us an example of how this was normal?

I also want smart kids to be normalized. Brain, beauty and brawn make up people and brain is the most important one.
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sophswfc
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(Original post by math42)
Some blame needs to go on the parents too, to be fair. It's pretty hard for teachers to have sufficient one-on-one interaction with all their students and to understand what they need. Some smart students really don't need much encouragement, while some absolutely do.

Personally I just wish somebody had instilled in me a proper work-ethic and a career-focused mindset. I smashed exams, and have just completed a masters degree, but all-in-all my biggest motivation has been fear, not ambition. It's mainly fear of not living up to my supposed intelligence. Nobody ever expected me to fail or even really allowed for the possibility. It was just constant insistence that things would go super well. This even happened at uni tbh, where I was one of the top students. Sure, the people who said this were generally on the money, but it's not great to have your genuine feelings trivialized. And I do feel privileged to have been able to do extremely well academically without exceptional effort, but where has it gotten me now? I have no job lined up, no savings, no ambition, and crippling social anxiety/self-esteem issues. And still people say that the world is my oyster and I can do anything because I've got a great degree. Basically, they say that how I feel is bull****. And that doesn't feel great.
Wow!! I never thought anyone could ever articulate how I feel, but you've hit the nail on the head there. Failure was my motivation, until I realised I very rarely 'fail'. If I'm not feeling it one week, I allow myself to slack knowing I won't 'fail'. I hate being told my feelings somehow don't matter/are stupid just because I'm smart. Those two things just don't have any relevance to each other at all
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sophswfc
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
sophswfc I agree with you 100% here. You should be steaming ahead, not being held back by others.

In primary school, I had learnt French from the age of four. Yet at 11, in my comprehensive, I was seated next to the person who was bottom of the class. Needless to say the first two years in that mixed ability class was a complete waste of time, with many students trying to make the teacher cry (and succeeding).

During my studies of gifted and talented children (as a languages teacher), I identified those I thought were the brightest in my French class. I said to them "If I could wave a magic wand, how would you like me to help you, academically?). They replied "to be taught separately from the others, because we hate the disruption".
I'm glad they feel at ease enough to be totally honest with you! I never told teachers how i felt about it and now i massively regret it.
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_Mia101
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(Original post by sophswfc)
Thankyou all so much for your positive response!
Andrew97 said the class is only as fast as the slowest member. This is very true! I am a massive advocate of ability based classes. As the resident 'smart kid' in high school, I was sat with less able kids regularly, and it massively impacted on my standard of work in the lesson. I was being poked for the answers every minute, it seemed like, and because I spent a lot of time trying to help them instead of doing my own work, I didn't finish some tasks and very rarely was able to reach the extension tasks (which are meant for my ability level!). Teachers are there to teach and so I wholly reject an argument that it's my responsibility (or 'smart kids' as a collective) to help bring them along. The teachers have all the knowledge we do and more! It's great for my learning to teach someone else how to do it or help them along, but pairing such severe gaps in ability together is such a silly idea.
Once again, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who was feeling this! I was really nervous to post this in case I received backlash, but I'm glad I put myself out there.
Yes, I've been fighting for sets in my school since I was in year 7! Thankfully in year 10 and 11 I've had more freedom to pick where I sit but back in year 7 I was always put on the same table with the lower ability students. Honestly, it was counterproductive. Either, I would want to do well in a group project, but they wouldn't care or we would be doing a task and the teacher would expect me to explain. If we had sets it would let each child move at a more ideal pace. Nowadays, when people ask me for help I have to remind myself that it I don't need to help anyone before when I refused to help someone they'd make it seem like you were being a *****.
Sorry for the rant, lol.
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gjd800
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I was never in a 'mixed ability' class except for art, which I hated and failed

The 'it's the taking part that counts' mindset never held me back either, it fascinates me that it seems to hold back other people. I'm more headstrong than most, though, I suppose; I don't particularly need my hand holding or being told I'm doing well, and never have
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sophswfc
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(Original post by _Mia101)
Yes, I've been fighting for sets in my school since I was in year 7! Thankfully in year 10 and 11 I've had more freedom to pick where I sit but back in year 7 I was always put on the same table with the lower ability students. Honestly, it was counterproductive. Either, I would want to do well in a group project, but they wouldn't care or we would be doing a task and the teacher would expect me to explain. If we had sets it would let each child move at a more ideal pace. Nowadays, when people ask me for help I have to remind myself that it I don't need to help anyone before when I refused to help someone they'd make it seem like you were being a *****.
Sorry for the rant, lol.
We all need a rant! Hahahaha. I made a point in year 11 of always finishing my work before i helped someone else. Your work should not be sacrificed for someone elses!
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sophswfc
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(Original post by gjd800)
I was never in a 'mixed ability' class except for art, which I hated and failed

The 'it's the taking part that counts' mindset never held me back either, it fascinates me that it seems to hold back other people. I'm more headstrong than most, though, I suppose; I don't particularly need my hand holding or being told I'm doing well, and never have
I would agree it never held me back, it motivated me to do more to try and get recognition off a teacher. However, I feel I would've been even more motivated if I was in friendly competition with a group of kids of the same ability as me. I think the whole participation thing is more of an indicator of how society cannot praise achievements anymore without 'offending' someone else-which is wrong! There are ways around it, it's really not difficult. I wasn't asking for our hands to be held, just that we are given a little more recognition and attention than we are currently given. It could be different in different schools, though! Maybe your school were better than mine at this and thats why you don't feel the same as me, and thats fine. Our environments subconsciously affect us more than we think
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gjd800
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(Original post by sophswfc)
I would agree it never held me back, it motivated me to do more to try and get recognition off a teacher. However, I feel I would've been even more motivated if I was in friendly competition with a group of kids of the same ability as me. I think the whole participation thing is more of an indicator of how society cannot praise achievements anymore without 'offending' someone else-which is wrong! There are ways around it, it's really not difficult. I wasn't asking for our hands to be held, just that we are given a little more recognition and attention than we are currently given. It could be different in different schools, though! Maybe your school were better than mine at this and thats why you don't feel the same as me, and thats fine. Our environments subconsciously affect us more than we think
Oh I went to a failing school, haha. My attitude and outlook largely comes from my ma and da

I don't see this 'can't praise without offending' thing at all, I think it's often brought out by people but is often a disingenuous presentation of the way things broadly are in reality (which is not to say that it doesn't happen at all, but that it doesn't happen as a matter of routine across the board). Inclusivity is important, especially in schools. But with that said, I do take your wider point re mixed ability. Even our place had sets.
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