Educating Exceptional Children
The word exceptional is used here to mean rare or unusual. li represents a kind of significant deviation from the usual, natural or normal happenings. In this sense, a boy standing seven feet tall would he termed quite a typical, exceptional and above average in a population of Indian adolescents Similar would be the case with a boy having height of 4 feet 0 inches, as he would be exceptional at (he lower end of the height scale Thus, people are termed exceptional if they deviate miserably in one attribute to the other from what is supposed to he normal or average for their group. One person may be exceptionally beautiful and other extremely ugly, one a genius with an I.Q. of 20. The other an idiot with an IQ of 20. Such wide variations and deviation are found nearly in a attributes and trails of personality and patterns of human behavior Consequently, the term exceptional carries a very wide connotation as it covers the entire range and possibilities of the significant in deviations in every shades of human activity and personality (trait. The term exceptional here stands for a separate and in many ways distinct category or relax of children who have markedly above average or below average traits and characteristics which makes them fundamentally different tom the general of average population of children.
These children begin to demonstrate signs of their exceptionality from their very Birth or during their developmental stages as they race ahead or lag behind in term of natural growth and development in various dimensions—physical, mental, emotional, social and moral etc. to such an extent that they exhibit symptom of maladjustment with average children and with the average way and mean of their upbringing and education.
NEEDS AND PROBLEMS OF GIFTED CHILDREN :
Like other children, the gifted children have certain basic needs, the need for security, for love, for belonging and the need to he accepted as an individual In addition lo these basic needs the gifted children may have certain special needs like
(a) the need for knowledge and,
(b) creativity and ingenuity,
(c) the development! of his exceptional ability or abilities, and
(d) the need for self actualization or self-expression.
The gifted child thus strives for the satisfaction not only of the basic needs but also has to have the opportunity and he facilities for the realization of (he above-mentioned specific need). In case he experiences difficulty in (he accomplishment of these needs he becomes disturbed mentally as well as emotionally. This leads to a sort of maladjustment and he becomes a problem child The gifted child needs one proper environment for his development. He wants to be understood carefully in
response lo his different needs and problems the gifted child is exceptionally curious and has a thirst for knowledge and is. There fore, in the habit of asking search questions. The parents as well as the teachers, who do not understand his urges, usually snub him. Sometimes, he wants appreciation for his ingenuity in a scientific field or creativity in the, but does not gel it.
THE IDENTIFICATION OF GIFTED CHILDREN:
The first step in the direction of planning special education for gifted children is to identify or separate them from average children. In absence of identification and adequate provision many of the gifted children, like the flowers in the garden or diamonds in the earth, go unnoticed. For the proper identification of the gifted children, we must make a distinction between the intellectually gifted and children with special Talents who show superior in one area or the other. In the identification of intellectually gifted or academically talented children, intelligence more often used us a screening instrument. Psychologists have differences of opinion regarding demarcation between average and gifted children on the basis of 1.Q. Some children with I.Q. of 125 or above are gifted while others raise limit to 15 or 14. The criterion is quite arbitrary and not universal. However, an I.Q. of 130 or above (us measured by an individual intelligence) is usually accepted us the most agreed criterion for singling out the gifted children from the average population.
THE EDUCATION OF THE GIFTED CHILDREN:
It is often suggested should be separate schools for gifted children and adequate facilities should be provided in these schools to help them in developing their specific abilities and potentialities. Such segregation is often criticized and labeled as undemocratic. The products of public schools, where there is provision for selective special education also justify our fears and doubts. The students educated in these schools develop a superior and conceited attitude and widen the gulf between the educated and the uneducated or the privileged and the unprivileged. Similarly, segregation of gifted children into a separate section within same school also involves the. same danger. This plan is known as ability grouping. Here, a given grade is divided into different sections on the basis of ability, the range of ability within each section being relatively narrow. The non-feasibility of both these plans involving segregation is obvious in the Indian context. We can neither afford such segregation as it involves huge expenditure nor can it yield very fruitful results.
THE MENTALLY RETARDED:
In the classification of exceptional children, the mentally retarded children belong to the lower end of the scale of intelligence and scholastic aptitude quite opposite and contrary to the gifted and who lie at the high end of scale. As I matter of terminology such children are known by so many names other than mentally re-larded such as, ‘feeble minded, ‘menially handicapped, `menially deficient’, ‘mentally subnormal’ or ‘mentally sub average, etc. By whatever, name we recognize connotes the sub average menial functioning of a group of children which affects not only their behavior and future development but also creates serious problems for the people responsible for their welfare. Who are these children? What are their specific characteristics and requirements? What can be done for them specially in the sphere of education?
CAUSES OF MENTAL RETARDATION:
It is difficult 10 lay down the standard causes of mental retardation applicable In every such case. A number of factors are believed to cause mental retardation which may be divided into two broad categories;
2. Socio-psychological factors I, Organic or biological factum.
Definition and Meaning of the Term Backward Child
The term ‘backward children’ and “backwardness” has been defined in many ways. We give below, some of the well-known definitions.
Uarton Hall: Backward in general, is applied to eases where their attainment fall* below die level of abilities
Schvnell: Backward pupil is compared with other pupils of the same chronological age marked educational deficiency.
Burt: A backward is one who in his career is unable to do the work of his own class of people who are normal and easily sufficient for any task.
Kinds of Backwardness
Backward is supposed to be of two kinds, general and specific. The child suffering from such general backward- ness is weak in all the subjects of the school curriculum. The child suffering from specific backwardness on the other hand, lags behind in one or two specific subjects only, while in others his progress may be satisfactory or even extraordinary.
CAUSES OF BACKWARDNESS :
It is difficult id list the general causes of backwardness as it is an individual problem and every individual problem is unique. But it is certain that the root of backwardness of a child must lie wiihin him or outside him in the environment. Moreover, it is also found that usually, many factors or causes operate together in a particular ease of backwardness.