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Bright kids overlooked in schools

Fear of elitist behavior in Norway has resulted in a lack of needed systems to aid brighter children, claim educational researchers in a new report. The lack of guidance means the most intelligent students can fall by the wayside and not be able to reach their full potential.

Researchers say Norwegian schools must invest more in kids with a high intellectual capacity. PHOTO: Liv Buli

Researchers Kjell Skogen, professor emeritus in Special Pedagogy at the University of Oslo and Ellen Cosmovici Idsøe, first lecturer in psychology from the University of Stavanger, recently published Our gifted children, a book that examines conditions for the smartest 5 percent of children in Norwegian schools.

“In Norway we have a tendency to assume that the most intelligent students can take care of themselves, and won’t need any special assistance or support,” Skogen told newspaper Aftenposten. “In Norwegian schools we have a group of under-acheivers with a high intellectual capacity that we have to get better at helping. If these students are not able to take advantage of their capacity, it can have negative consequences for the individual.”

Particularly intelligent students will often be inquisitive, intense, and highly critical of information and self. Constantly repeating tasks that other children will need practice to comprehend can lead to boredom and misbehavior. The gifted students should be allowed to advance and Skogen feels schools must get better at providing for these children. According to him, there is an inherent ideological resistance in Norway to the idea of nurturing any one individual over the rest, and that’s the problem.

The study presented in the book follows five such particularly gifted students, four of whom are now adults and one who is currently in school. None of the adults managed to complete Norwegian secondary school in a traditional manner, and the males in the study fell into criminal environments.

For those who do receive help, the outcome is better. One 11-year-old, Morten Aakervik Hansen, has an exceptionally high IQ and one year ago was struggling to do simple math problems. His parents described to Aftenposten a troubled, maladjusted young boy with homework sessions resulting in tantrums. After testing uncovered Hansen’s particular condition, he is now thriving after receiving support and advanced instruction at school.

Views and News from Norway/Liv Buli
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