[EDITORIALS]Gifts for the giftedThe government will officially launch a special education program for gifted students starting in September. Expectations for the program are high, for gifted students have not been given many chances to develop their talents due to the lack of systematic programs for them. However, some people are worried about the side effects that could possibly result from the educational zeal of Korean parents.
As the competition among nations to educate talented persons heats up, an international trend has developed that says a government must play a bigger role in educating the gifted. Although it was belated, the Korean government introduced a law on special education for the gifted in 2000. The law clarifies that the government is responsible for educating the talented, and provides criteria for establishing schools, academies and special classes for the gifted. A school for the gifted will be a reality next year when the Busan Science High School is transformed into one. Academies for the talented will be established either at the provincial education offices or at universities. And special classes for the talented will be created at different levels of schools. Altogether, 10,000 gifted students in mathematics, science, arts and athletics will be accepted in this education program. The attention of parents naturally is on the selection procedures: What categories of students, and through what procedures? Ten thousand students to be accommodated in the program represents only one-tenth of 1 percent of students in primary, middle and high schools. Fierce competition, including cram classes to become selected as a talented student is feared. Accordingly, it is advisable that a thoughtful selection process, not based on a school's curriculum but on a student's intellectual and creative potential, be provided, and that the selection process be transparent and professional.
More than anything, education for the talented should never be mistaken as a way to be admitted to a leading university. Parents should heed this expert's advice: "The gifted are born with it. Forcing special education for the gifted on ordinary students can bring about unpleasant results."