I am sitting in front of my PC and am reading this brouchure that is sitting on the table. It says 'P3 GEP Prep course'(GEP-- Gifted Education Programme) & highlighting a variety of different courses to train superior writing skills & arithmetic. I am impressed by the types of courses available for these young students and they are indeed stretching their minds. It is a far cry from what GEP was some 26+ years ago, when the first batch of students go in for their kill with no professional coaching.Nonetheless, they still managed to understand the Qs and made their replies. If memory doesn't elude me, it was a test selectively for those top PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) kids who had scored at least 3 A*s. They were fished out & given some hundreds of test questions to complete in the stated time. 100 students out of the entire PSLE chohort of some 30,000 students were picked up as GEP students, who would then placed into Raffles Girls or Raffles Institution for their secondary education.

Today GEP is expanded to 9 selected Primary schools which will train youngsters who are merely 9 years old for rigourous academic training and mind stretching. They do Olympiad Math, Science and participate in various mind camps. It is also expanded to secondary schools and junior colleges in Singapore. All these are great but what is not so great is that students begin to compare with themselves and start to differentaite between GEPs and non-GEPs.

Seriously, if Gifteds are gifteds, would they need to get trained that much ? If they were trained to ace those test papers, then are these students trained in a restricted frame of taught thinking strategies and minds that are planned in their taught subjects?

Gifteds or naturally talented individuals are trained primarily by themselves. Their minds could formulate ideas and methods with minimal guidance. While these kids do need a condusive and stimulating learning environment to grow their minds; I thought such paper chase training has inherent  flaws. One main concern is that it could be unhealthy habit to society as a whole where compeition becomes fierce and people start to actively compete on the main basis of proving one's superiority. Students should learn to grow in a humble environment, made aware of different social issues. If you are gifted, great. If you are not, that's fine 'cos everyone has their own strengths.

We have successfully groomed very academically abled student bodies at different levels of education. There is no doubt about it. But the idea of superiority in a so-called gifted programme can actually ruin the lives of many whom fail to understand what is really important in life.

Test papers simply cannot identify every form of giftedness. It cannot exactly give an overall view of smartness 'cos smart means how you react in different situations, not just test situations on paper.

The world's a big place yet it is also small in many ways.  -- Karen Fu





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