Carshalton Tutorial College

Tutoring and e-Tutoring

Carshalton Tutorial College is a specialist tutoring college based in Carshalton, which is located near Sutton and Croydon and specialising in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Computer Science tuition, as well as emergency help with homework or project crises. We also provide after school activities and coaching in computer programming.

A good Quaker friend of the director who has many years of experience working with both gifted and special needs children suggested that we put up a section specifically for Gifted Children. As this is by way of a "work in progress" this, starting page is an edited transcript of our conversation. If you find it of help, or of interest, or might be interested in becoming involved then please do get in touch.

W: Just another thought! I have not seen any mention of gifted children in your courses, unless I have missed it. This is an area that I think you would really enjoy. I have worked with gifted children in various schools and found that these children were desperate for activities at a higher level. Every time I saw these children around the schools they would beg me to do more work with them and said mine were the 'best ever' lessons.
So I was thinking that maybe you could design some modules for this specific group of children, because when I looked for supportive materials there was hardly anything. Mainly I had to generate my own materials, which were specific to each particular group. This was incredibly time consuming, especially as I was also dealing with major behavioural problems and children who were needing intensive teaching because of their high level of need. So I think schools would be very keen to buy into such modules, as most teachers do not know how to teach gifted children. Gifted children, from my experience, love working on computers, so this is an area that could be 'exploited' commercially.
Anyway, something else to possibly consider?
Να έχεις μια όμορφη μέρα.

A: How best to introduce such a section ... ? I have often thought that the GCSE maths and science syllabi are somewhat dull ... and the same applies for A Levels ... I do not mean it in a disparaging sense, but rather in the sense that they are so constraining and do not do that much to get students to "think out of the box" ...
My good friend Peter when studying for the CAPES so that he could teach in France ... had to follow a series of courses at the university of Lille. Foe one of his assignments he wrote a wonderful essay critiquing Charles Dickens ... only to be told that that was not the answer that was expected ... and that the expected answer was along such and such a line ... (? sounds familiar).
My thoughts in connection with gifted children are that I can help with certain gifts e.g. computing, maths, science ...
I am thinking along the lines of reactive teaching / tutoring ... along the lines of " ... and what shall we do today ?" ...
Maybe it would be possible to put together a number of "core modules" that could then serve for further "ad hoc" elaboration ...
Maybe I can start with modules such as e.g.

  • Using the BBC Microbit as a starter for more ambitious projects ..
  • Using Python as a way of developing more advanced mathematical skills and interests e.g. exploring modeling, simulation, experiments with numbers and geometry ...
  • With geography .. maybe adapting "Geographic Information Systems" to experimenting with map making and visualisation of geographic information ...
  • For chemistry and biology ... (parents need to have confidence in the common sense of their children and steady nerves) ... various experiments that are aimed at the more imaginative and adventurous (the kinds of things that Gerald Durrell would have approved of).
Have a Nice Day

W: Καλησπέρα Ανδρέας
Re introduction, I think you need to have a separate section in your educational programme that is entitled Gifted Children.
There are so many gifted children in our schools and so often they are completely unrecognised. I will give you an example of this. When I taught in a very poor part of Islington I always chose to sit with the infant children during lunch time. One day I noticed a little six year old boy gradually moving up the table so that he could sit next to me. I had left a book on the table and I could see him reading the title. He told me that he had read the book and had enjoyed it. The book was Great Expectations. Then he continued to tell me that he had read seven books by Dickens. His teacher had no idea that this child was so bright. So I spoke to his parents, and they thought his choice of novel was quite normal. He was their first child, so they had no other child to compare him to. I later took this little boy to see Dr Peter Congdon who assesses gifted children (and is always cited in the press when a gifted child is highlighted) and as I suspected the child had a very high IQ.
That was just one case, but how many more children are there like this that go largely undiscovered. Middle class children are probably spotted very quickly, but this little lad came from a lovely working class Irish family, and they lived on the 19th floor of a council tower block. I am still in touch with the family all these years later.
I agree with your comments about GCSE and A levels - and I would apply the same comments to the National Curriculum. Constrained, lacking originality and imagination. In my opinion children are not taught to think for themselves. Teachers teach to the tests and I think that is so damaging for a child's intellectual development. Recently I read through a dissertation that had received top marks in a degree course. I was appalled by it, it was just quoting back text that others had written. There was nothing of the writer's own thinking within it. So what happened to your friend at the University of Lille does not surprise me in the least.
I think you could easily compile courses/modules in the areas that you suggest. I have found that gifted children really enjoy being set a challenge, and like to try to work out their own solutions to problems that are set. I once had a group of 5/6 year olds and got them to look for patterns in number sequences. They were absolutely fascinated by this - and of course that led on to looking at Fibonacci etc, and the many patterns that are apparent in nature. The possibilities are endless.
I think your ideas sound very interesting and I believe they could work very well. Do not forget that there is a paucity of materials for young gifted children.
I agree that children are not allowed to be adventurous enough in their learning or their general activities. My prep school ( a convent) allowed us to wander at will through the grounds which contained woods, fields and formal gardens. We climbed trees, rolled down hills, made camps etc. Such things would never be allowed now, but we learned so much from these activities. We were all free spirits, and that has never left me.

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