This is a serious acknowledgement ! Which is why the JAL Fundation intends to make itself heard by constituting a platform for actions concerning exceptionally gifted children and placing academic psychological ill treatment at the centre of the debate.
Investigations underline the fact that schools still operate too often as if all students fitted a single profile. Intellectually precocious students don’t always find themselves in a class of their age group with activities corresponding with their capacities, which can lead them to resigning themselves and losing all interest for the academic activities. The tedium they feel can give way to instability, passivity, etc., and their behaviour resembles that of problematic students. Whereas, some students are ready to tackle various qualifications sooner than others : they are very quick in finding answers to complex situations and often succeed in inventing new ones to satisfy their constant need to learn.
These students need to find the appropriate answers at school to the fact that they are ‘different’ on an academic and personal level.
We deplore only too often that intellectually precocious children, because they’re different, are rejected by other students as well as teachers. Such a situation is all the more preoccupying when an adult is a witness and doesn’t intervene in the “psychological stoning” of these children, and even sometimes takes part in it. This is understandably unacceptable!
Repeated forms of behaviour and acts due to psychological ill treatments terrorise the children. Unwillingness to understand, ironic unpleasant remarks, verbal attacks, mockery, blackmail, veiled threats, segregation; systematic depreciation giving them the impression that they are rejected and worthless; humiliations concerning their academic level; speeches and attitudes leading children to give up any hope of pulling through; groundless sanctions; allusions to their appearance, physique, intellectual capacities. In short everything that casts doubt on their integrity is due to psychological violence.
It is quite unforgivable for a teacher to tell a student he is hopeless in front of everybody else. Insinuations of this sort are intolerable ! It is the teacher’s duty to have a personal talk with him. A student who develops mathematic models in aeronautics and is not allowed to move up to the science sixth form under the pretext that “he has not been following the standard curriculum and has comprehension difficulties” (and gets 19/19 at his comprehension test) and, when confronted by the protests of the student and his family, his teacher adds “he can wait till he has a doctorate in mathematics before developing mathematic models.” Such a student is a nuisance. I mean to say, who is the Teacher? Under other circumstances, giving a 0 for an exercise because the student in question has given the result straight away without any details… a standard situation with intellectually precocious children, or else, even though the exercise is accurate, giving a 0 for an exercise because a word is missing in the sentence ; in the latter example, this corresponds with a synchronism problem between the rapidity with which the brain operates and the capacity to write fast…
The relevance of their answers and the maturity with which they are capable of discussing a subject is destabilizing. They must be stopped from talking. Hence, they are no longer asked any questions and they no longer take part in any subject !
Psychological ill treatments result in serious growth and development disorders. The effects of inhibition cause these children to regress, switch off, stop thinking… amounting to intellectual death, or suicide without anybody intervening… Their manifestations are so many calls for help that many of them are suppressing because they are disruptive. This is nothing other than complete annihilation of the intellect!
Henceforth, one should establish a precise typology of psychological ill treatments. A legal answer should be determined for each one of them, and should it not exist, then a law should be set. And people should be informed of this legislation. When ill treatment occurs, it is essential to intervene immediately, and put a stop to it. A list of irresponsible teachers or students should be made in order for them to be dismissed should they do it again. Such dispositions should be addressed in the law. All the participants must be involved in order to prevent the academic difficulties these children are exposed to. Moreover, if the state schools are unable to guarantee an adapted curriculum in places where the children are properly treated, then one should be in favour of transferring the children to appropriate state or independent schools, whether they are under state contract or not. The tuition and transport financial expenses should be totally at the cost of the state, counties and towns.
Where higher education is concerned, access to Preparatory or Higher Education Schools must be adjusted to enable students aged 14/15, if they so desire, to pursue their studies in optimal conditions of admission. It is not right to hear teachers say that the younger students “should take a sabbatical year abroad or do something else.” Nor is it right for a young student with exceptional potentials to repeat a grade or be backslidden due to maladjusted schooling and related ill treatment.
Self respect, respect for others, respect for differences, mutual aid… these are just a few values worth reminding. It enables people of different backgrounds to communicate et live in harmony. The reception and accompaniment of families is also essential to creating an in-depth and sincere dialogue. The dialogue should no longer be the know-all Professor’s faced by irresponsible parents who are only seeking to impress their offspring upon him.
By starting up a debate on psychological ill treatment of intellectually precocious children, ill treatment that most school boys and girls, secondary school boys and girls are experiencing, we know that thanks to this thousands of children will be saved.
Bernard Leune, Chairman
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