Why do schools separate gifted students

Gifted students

There is great excitement in the workshop of the Karlsgymnasium in Stuttgart. A good 20 children stuck in knee-length old shirts are working their way through stacks of waste paper.

"So we draw paper and now we have to tear up newspapers first '..' and we already had some stories of gods in connection with pyramids ..."

The fifth graders are currently studying "Egypt" and trying to make scrolls. The history teacher explains the meaning of the pyramids, while the math teacher has their dimensions and angles calculated. The fact that two subject teachers teach together is typical of the subject "Man and Nature". It was specially developed for the highly gifted train. Headmaster Dieter Elsässer explains the goal:

"Networking in the student's mind, approaching a topic from two sides, for example: Roman underfloor heating: I'm a Latin teacher, I could tell a lot about Roman life, but I'm not a physicist and can't understand it scientifically as well a physicist. "

That's why he stands in front of the class with the physics teacher. The interdisciplinary lessons are part of the so-called "enrichment" offers, which expand and deepen the material for gifted students. Just as important is the acceleration of the learning pace, the so-called "acceleration". Without them, gifted students get bored in class. This is one of the reasons why Lena, Veronika and Konstantin have bad memories of their primary school years.

"I actually didn't do anything anymore, went to school and improved my teachers. I couldn't get on with the others because they saw that I was better."

"I felt the need to do more in elementary school and no teacher helped me!"

"Most people consider you a nerdy or don't want to have anything to do with you, all viewed my achievements disparagingly, saying: 'You don't have to do anything for it anyway, don't brag' if I get a good grade would have..."

"Primary school was very bad because I always got good grades and they always annoyed me. They really said I was very different from them. I am a completely normal person!"

In the gifted class, they no longer feel like outsiders. But this role can also be avoided in mixed classes, emphasizes Günther Vormeyer, who is responsible for the gifted in Linz, Austria. There you let them learn together with normally gifted students. The rural school inspector explains the lessons:

"It should be less head-on, it should be more in the direction of group work, individual work, project work. Where it actually takes place: very good experience! But if you are completely honest, it still takes place too little the direction that people say, how can we optimize our system, through appropriate further training, to sensitize teachers to it and to get them there. "

Despite the existing shortcomings, the evaluation was positive. The comparison between the Austrian promotion of highly gifted students (in mixed classes) and the German promotion in separate trains produced an amazing result, says Hein Hofmeister from the seminar for didactics and teacher training in Stuttgart.

"Whether you teach them separately or teach together is not a relevant variable. If you interpret the data accordingly, you can say that no differences in performance are visible. It has become clear to us that the quality of the teaching is what counts, the culture in which Children want to feel good, want to be valued and accepted, and if the teachers manage to create a situation of trust and, above all, to think from the child's point of view in their lessons, i.e. not just expect the children to be confront, then the children feel equally comfortable in a common or in a separate class. "