Gifted education and ideology: the growth of the gifted education movement in South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Although the provision of education for gifted pupils has been widely criticised as elitist by liberals and radicals alike, this charge has never been specifically substantiated. In this dissertation, the relationship of socially defined giftedness to social power is explored from two major directions. The first is through an analysis of the ideology in theory conventionally informing gifted education, including selected information-processing models of intellect and creativity, theories of emotional and intellectual development, and justifications for gifted education in terms of social benefits. The second direction is through a historical analysis of the dramatic growth of the gifted education movement in the South African social and political context. Explanations for this growth are suggested and are explored through examining four selected issues in the South African context (i) the rhetoric of the gifted education movement, (ii) the changing role of the private associations advocating gifted education, (iii) the process of official acceptance of gifted education, (iv) the role of the HSRC, including discussion of the proposed national policy for gifted education. In these analyses, it is demonstrated thta gifted education is contributing to the complex reproduction of social relations and therefore inhibiting significant social change. It is concluded that a case can be made for the provision of gifted education but that there is an urgent' need for gifted education theory which is adequately formulated in terms of South African social reality, and for specific interventive strategies to offset the elitist function of gifted education and to redistribute its benefits.

Includes bibliography.