Oh, what a wonderful phenomenon is the Gifted and Talented Child!
In this fabulous and enlightened age, which gives us ‘quality time’, ‘bonding’ and ‘four-wheel-driving for suburbia’, the country is seething with workshops to foster the extraordinary abilities of the GTC. But what are the ‘other children’, pray tell? Chopped liver? How terrifying to imagine sitting in on one of these workshops – a fly on the wall wouldn’t have a chance. It’d drop dead from noxious air. What happens, at these encounters? Do the GTCs perform? Do the parents brag? Does it all end up with a bit of biffo? One would hope so – if not, there doesn’t seem much point.
And how, indeed, does one become aware one has a GTC? Does a parent decide for itself when the infant ejects dummy from mouth in order to perform excerpts from Wagnerian opera for their edification? Does the child itself inform the parent, in between explaining Newton’s Law and whipping up a quick nuclear reactor? And what does the talent need to consist of? In categorising GTCs, does this similarly brand everyone else as Non-Gifted and Anti-Talented? It must – given everything has to have an opposite.
For here is the conundrum. Surely everyone is talented, in some way or another. I refuse to believe otherwise. God didn’t put us here just for decoration – why would He? He had nice things like flowers and animals. How do you know your child isn’t capable of becoming a world champion caber tosser, if he has never been given the opportunity to fling a log? People who haven’t benefited from formal education can’t possibly know the heights they may have attained if only they hadn’t been brought up in the middle of Woop Woop and had to tend the hogs.
It’s all very well being impressed by the child who can string a few words together at an early age and add up a couple of numbers. Brill – prod him ever onward towards university! But what about Rocco, who ripped apart Dad’s camera, Uncle James’s solar-powered watch and annihilated the neighbour’s automated musical gnome fountain? Is he Gifted and Talented? You’d better believe it! Rocco, who is 10 years old and can’t spell his own name, is entirely capable of assembling space shuttles and re-inventing the wheel. But what happens to him? He gets called a destructive little bastard and sent to his room without any TimTams.
And what damage is being done to the GTC, told he is one from an early age? In all probability he is wishing Mater and Pater would get a life. Preferably one of their own. His seven-day schedule of tutoring, music lessons and GT workshops is running him into the ground. Interestingly, lots of GTCs do not have brothers or sisters. The parents realised perfection only strikes once. They wanted to devote all their quality time and bonding to the one glorious basket. This is a blessing for the rest of us, indeed. If anyone ever says to you; ‘Of course, my Madison has been identified as a Gifted and Talented Child …’, the only proper response is to run like hell. The world is full of grown-up Madisons. And the sad truth is, they still need someone to fix their cars, build their homes, repair their washing machines. Bring forth into glory all those TimTam-deprived Roccos, who understood the principle of the internal combustion engine when they were six – though nobody gave a hoot. They’ll be getting a phone call from Madison any time now, because her microwave has thrown the towel in. Rocco knows exactly how to replace the magnetron – even though he signs an X on the receipt.
Surely, some workshops are called for. Members of the community should donate their unwanted cameras, watches and radios to the Zero-Gifted and Nix-Talented to foster their incredible ability in pulling apart and putting together again.
And don’t look so smug, Madison – what good’s perfect punctuation when your car breaks down on a deserted road in the middle of the night? Go on – dig that mobile phone out of your Gucci bag … Rocco’s on call 24/7, and you’d better have some TimTams in your glovebox!