It was a pleasure to hear about the programs that have been set up in Coquitlam, thanks largely to the initiatives of parents. The programs were explained when I attended the Parents as Partners conference some weeks ago.
In Coquitlam School District 43, children described as gifted are clustered together in one of 9 classes…yes, nine in one school district. There are three classes each for Grade 6, 7 and 8, geographically spread across the district. Called Middle Age Cluster Classes, or MACC, their website explains:
MACC is an interdisciplinary inquiry-based program, designed to support gifted students in challenging themselves, developing their intellectual capacity, and contributing to a collaborative community MACC is responsive to the needs of gifted learners, whose intellectual, personal, and social skills may be developing at varying rates.
At the Parents as Partners meeting, three students from Grade 8 described how much they had appreciated being in the program for the past 3 years. They spoke about being hesitant to join the program at first, and their growing appreciation of having like-minded young people around them. As they go on to Grade 9, they are more confident of themselves and their abilities.
I have long been an advocate of clustering these bright minds together. In a province where integration is the buzz-word, there is little support for cluster classes. One of the arguments is that children shouldn’t be segregated. My counter-argument is that we have to think in terms of congregating, not segregating. The literature shows there are many benefits.
Check out the information on the Coquitlam, MACC Program, and you may agree.