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High capacity students: the forgotten ones

The meeting was organized by Aprenent x Educar (Axe).

The meeting was organized by Aprenent x Educar (Axe).

Núria Rajadell: “When parents have a son with high capacities, they feel lost”.

Núria Rajadell: “When parents have a son with high capacities, they feel lost”.

This is one of the activities to be held revolving this topic.

This is one of the activities to be held revolving this topic.

Víctor Pons is now studying the bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Barcelona.

Víctor Pons is now studying the bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Barcelona.

Pons: “I know what it is like to be the black sheep in the class without understanding why. I don’t want other kids to suffer like I did”.

Pons: “I know what it is like to be the black sheep in the class without understanding why. I don’t want other kids to suffer like I did”.

10/04/2019

Acadèmic

There are many myths and stereotypes regarding high capacities, and a big lack of knowledge. This is one of the main conclusions of the meeting “High capacities, heard about them? An approach and experiences”, held on March 27, at the Faculty of Education. Organized by Aprenent x Educar (Axe), this is one of the activities to be held revolving this topic.

“When parents have a son with high capacities, they feel lost”, noted Núria Rajadell, lecturer at the Faculty of Education who works on this issue, and who was invited at this event. Other participants in the meeting were three collaborators from her research group: Lorena Agúndez, educator who carried out her practical lessons and her bachelor’s degree final project on this topic; Lissette Guzmán, psychologist expert on high capacities and conducting her master’s degree final project on Education and Society research, and Jéssica Cabezas, who is finishing her doctoral thesis on high capacities in secondary education. They went through the main features of kids with high capacities, indicators to detect them, and actions framed within a class.

They are extremely interested in everything. They start talking and writing early and show an advanced vocabulary for their age. Their learning skills are higher than the rest of the kids’. Many of them are hypersensitive and perfectionists, and cannot tolerate frustration. These kid are intense, creative and imaginative, and they like to experiment. They have an extraordinary sense of humor and are interested, as kids, in transcendental issues such as death or love. Usually, they prefer to be among adults to feel more understood and talk “between equals”. Some of these are the traits that, according to the experts, should make their family and teachers suspect of having a kid with high capacities.

 

A lack of specific training and a psychopedagogic look

“It’s a shame that high capacities have been left aside and there is not a single specific training regarding their detection and intervention over the different stages of education. We should have used the moment of transition between diplomatura to bachelor’s degree (with one more course) to include in the syllabus, aspects such as diversity in the classroom, high capacities or emotional education, for instance. There is a specialist minor in special education, which touches on everything but it doesn’t offer a real insight, and students have to complete that training with other master degrees of post-graduate studies”, noted Rajadell.

The experts also noted that in order to conduct a proper detection and intervention in kids with high capacities, it is necessary to have a dual perspective adding psychopedagogy to psychology: “the psychologist is who conducts the diagnostic, but the educator is the one intervening in the classroom. They have to work together”, noted Rajadell. Víctor Pons, invited to tell about his personal experience as a high capacity student, is now studying the bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Barcelona. He is twenty-one, and was diagnosed at seventeen. He says he wants to prevent other kids from going through what he had to face: “I know what it is like to be the black sheep in the class without understanding why. I don’t want other kids to suffer like I did”.

Pons spent his primary education years in a small school where he could be motivated and interested in learning: “I did not have any problems in my first school. I didn’t get bored and I always got on well with the other students. I had many friends. Also, I was always surrounded by culture at home. I had many toys and my mother taught me how to play chess. When I was three, I used to tell the teacher about my weekend visits to the museum”.

In this sense, Pons was lucky, but it is not always like that. Rajadell stated that, “in general, what teachers evaluate is the academic performance, where the kids with high capacities usually score high, and since they do well in maths and language, they forget about this issue until they feel lost”. As a result, there is a risk: kids with an exceptional talent can lose motivation and can eventually drop out their studies in high school.

 

“If a family feels ignored by the education system, the system has failed”

Victor Pons faced problems when he got to high school: “My school closed and I was registered in another high school: I was the new kid in a classroom which was already ‘created’ and nobody took the time to welcome me. I felt like ‘the new’ during all secondary education. I was bullied, they stole things from me and faced psychological and physical abuse, and the high school never helped me. I never said anything at home so as to not worry them. I suffered in silence. There were situations in which I got a 10 out of 10 in mathematics in a 3rd year course, but I got 4 out of 10 in the 2nd year courses. Actually they suggested I should re-take the course. I was demotivated and faced a hard situation at home, I failed seven subjects from school”.  

Also, Pons said that all education centers should offer a service of psychological orientation: “We have the same right to be detected just like a kid with dyslexia or ADHD. Those who think having high capacities is a gift are wrong. At school, we have kids who need psychological assistance. Psychology has to offer more accessible materials for the educators”.

Pons was clear: “The school has to adapt to the needs of every child. You would never try to sell a motorbike to someone crippling. Why would you offer a regular education to a high capacity student? And, why should you impose a demanding system to someone with difficulties? Kids are diverse and education has to make adaptations. It is funny when they say the system should be inclusive: it is inclusive. We are all in the same group and we cannot leave. It should be diverse, and adaptable”.

 

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