What is giftedness?
For over a century, researchers, scientists, and educators
have been trying to define the term gifted. Historically,
giftedness has been closely linked with the concept
of genius. This association began around the turn of
the century when psychologists developed tests that
were designed to measure intelligence; people who scored
low on the tests were considered retarded and those
who scored high were geniuses. It is important to note
that the original intelligence tests were developed
to identify mentally handicapped students, not the
The use of intelligence tests as the single measure
of giftedness has been greatly criticized in recent years
primarily because the tests are often biased. Also, many
researchers and educators have come to believe that giftedness
is more than high intellectual ability; it may also include,
among other things, creativity, memory, motivation, physical
dexterity, leadership and sensitivity to the arts.
A self-directed learner
Conducts on-going evaluation of own progress and products.
Seeks appropriate academic rigor. Allows self and others
to be productive. Establishes realistic goals and determines
appropriate courses of action. Thinks with foresight.
A contributing, collaborative worker
Monitors own behavior and interpersonal needs and skills.
Displays coping skills, interpersonal skills, and communication
skills. Exhibits effective leadership. Demonstrates sophistication
in attitude, appreciation, and intuition.
A complex thinker
Uses inductive and deductive logical reasoning skills
in content areas. Utilizes critical thinking skills for
factor analysis in diverse situations. Selects creative
or logical reasoning as appropriate for task completion.
Incorporated complex thinking skills to develop the understanding
that all learning is related.
A problem solver
Problem finder, identifies, and hypothesizes. Selects
and applies alternative strategies appropriate to problem
solution. Evaluates strategies and solutions with accuracy
and thoroughness. Demonstrates ability to transfer knowledge
gained to solving relevant problems in simulated and
real situations. Develops a tolerance for ambiguity.
A quality producer
Seeks efficient resources and technology appropriate
to task. Communicates effectively and efficiently. Develops
creative products that meet intended purpose and are
appropriate to the audience. Designs and makes products
that show effort and creativity.
A community contributor
Demonstrates knowledge and understanding of a variety
of cultures within communities. Develops effective leadership
and team-building skills to be a productive contributor.
Takes action by transferring problem solving processes
to address real life community issues.
Early signs of giftedness Include:
- unusual alertness in infancy
- less need for sleep in infancy
- long attention span
- high activity level
- smiling or recognizing caretakers early
- intense reactions to noise, pain, frustration
- advanced progression through the developmental milestones
- extraordinary memory
- enjoyment and speed of learning
- early and extensive language development
- fascination with books
- excellent sense of humor
- abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills
- vivid imagination (e.g., imaginary companions)
- sensitivity and compassion
If a child exhibits a majority of these characteristics,
parents may wish to have the child assessed by an experienced
examiner to find out if the child is gifted. Firstborn
children tend to be recognized more often than their
siblings. When one child in the family is gifted, it
is quite possible that others may also be gifted. Early
identification is recommended (ages 3 through 8) because
it permits early intervention, as important for gifted
as for any other children with special needs.
some characteristics of gifted children?
Although there is no easy formula for identifying a
gifted child, certain characteristics appear to differentiate
the gifted child from his/her classmates, such as:
- Early ability to read and to understand nuances in
the language: A child who is gifted often reads two
or more grade levels above current grade placement
and reads widely in many areas or intensely in one
- Early use of advanced vocabulary: The ability to
express thoughts readily and clearly is often a characteristic
of a gifted child.
- Retention of a variety of information: A gifted child
often amazes parents and teachers by learning new information
quickly and remembering the details over long periods
- Periods of intense concentration: The child can become
totally engrossed in topics of interest, while being
oblivious to surrounding events.
- A broad and changing spectrum of interests: The child
may be involved in many self-initiated projects at
the same time.
- Keen observation and curiosity: An acute awareness
of self and the environment is typical of a gifted
child. The child may persistently pursue a line of
questioning to learn more about topics of interest.
- Complex processing of information: A gifted child
is able to perceive relationships, comprehend implications,
and process a large amount of information.
- Ability to think abstractly: The child can often
move from concrete to symbolic representation very
comfortably and at an earlier age than most children.
- Strong critical thinking skills: The child is able
to perform evaluations based on established criteria
and often notices discrepancies between what people
say and what they do.
- Ability to follow directions and assume responsibility:
A child who is gifted often shows independence, self-reliance,
and responsibility in completing tasks.
- Creativity and inventiveness: The child is able to
view situations from varying perspectives, develop
and explore alternative approaches, and generate novel
Seemingly limitless energy: Frequently a gifted child
is alert and eager, delving into interests beyond the
usual limitations of children his/her own age.
- Leadership: The child often assumes leadership roles
in a variety of circumstances and settings.
Note: High grades in classes and/or high scores on standardized
achievement tests are not necessarily indicators that
a student is gifted. Further evaluation is necessary
for accurate identification.
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