Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Early Age Group Talent Identification

A book I recently read, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, highlights the need avoid labeling children as talented too early.  This was brought again to my attention in a Tony Ryan course I attended today.  Tony mentioned the fact that many sports teams around the world are dominated by people born in the first three months of the year.  This is due to the fact that with an age group cut-off on the 1st of January, a child born in January has a whole years advantage over a child born in December in terms of physical development.  The Jan 1st child will then receive the better coaching through being part of representative teams from that point on.

The policy of this early labeling means that we are potentially denying a large percentage of children the opportunity to reach their full potential, or to have the chance of competing at the highest level in sports.  Why not instead leave the talent identification for a later time when there is more equality in the level of fairness for all children, regardless of when they are born.

It was interesting to see that in a room full of education leaders, only two were aware of the advantages of being a child born early in the year (The issue was only brought to my attention because Outliers was bought for me as a gift).  Perhaps now that these leaders have now been enlightened they will use their influence to avoid this birthday discrimination occurring in their own schools for all manner of school programmes, both academic and sporting.

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