Busting the Myths About Gifted Children
A Misunderstood Minority
Like many other minority groups, gifted children are victims of stereotypes and false assumptions. Like all other children, gifted children are individuals with various gifts, temperaments, dreams and fears. Let's first define "gifted". Then we can consider some of the common myths about gifted children and refute them with the truth.
Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or a gifted student, I hope this information is helpful. There is so much information available about various learning disabilities, yet not much about the learning differences of the academically/intellectually gifted population. I have shared some resources that have been most helpful to me as an individual, a parent, and a teacher.
What is Giftedness?
Defining Characteristics of Gifted Kids
Ellen Winner (1) defined three characteristics typical of gifted children. They:
- are precocious in some area;
- learn differently; and
- must pursue mastery.
Dabrowski (2) identified gifted students by their "overexcitability" in one or more of five areas:
The most common characteristic of gifted children is asynchronous development. This means they are developing at very different rates in different areas. For example, a child who is six years old may be reading at a fourth grade level, doing math at a second grade level, and showing advanced art skills while still having the social skills and athletic prowess of a first grader.
1. Winner, E. (1996). Gifted children: Myths and realities. New York: Basic Books.
2. Daniels,S. & Piechowski, M.(2009). Living with intensity. Scottsdale, Arizona: Great Potential Press.
My Favorite Gifted Education Resource Books
The best book for parents of highly gifted children. Finally, somebody explains why your child is so intense and how to help them.
This is a more academic treatment of giftedness. It is comprehensive in it's coverage of concerns of parents and teachers as well as the children themselves.
Common Myths About the Gifted
Those kids are so smart, they don't need any special treatment.
These kids need to be challenged just as much as other kids need to be helped with the basics. Without an enriched curriculum, they can become bored and become discipline problems.
Gifted children are pushed by their parents.
Actually, it is most often the child who is pulling the parents. The parents are running as fast as they can just to keep up with the child's thirst for knowledge (what Winner calls the "rage to master" a subject.)
All children are gifted.
Okay, all children are a gift and all children have some gifts. Not all children, however, are "gifted" as defined above--having unusual intellectual ability. This is not to say they are "better" than others, only different.
Telling children they are gifted will make them snobs.
News flash: children already know they are not all the same! Prideful or selfish behavior is not unique to the academically gifted; it is part of fallen human nature. Good parenting will nip such attitudes in the bud. Simply teach children that with gifts come responsibilities to use them wisely and beneficially.
Accelerating children through grade skipping will make them social misfits.
A child who is functioning several grade levels above his/her age peers is already misfit. Skipping a grade will not make this any worse and may actually help for moderately gifted children. The profoundly gifted (in the extreme right tail of the bell curve) will be misfit no matter what. There is more to life than fitting in with age peers.
Research actually strongly supports acceleration. It is the prejudice of education schools and teachers (who are taught almost nothing about giftedness) that prevents the most able students from moving ahead.
Genius v. Talent
Arthur Schopenhauer: "Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
Helpful Truths About the Gifted
The Truth Will Set You Free
Gifted children can learn to be friends to people of all ages and all abilities. They can excel in their areas of special ability while also enjoying some more typical childhood pursuits. They can learn to accept that they are different and that different is not bad. They can learn not to be intellectual snobs.
Parents and teachers can learn to channel the gifted child's innate excitability and zest for learning. They can provide appropriate challenges while keeping the environment appropriate for the child's physical and emotional maturity (which may be very different from those intellectual abilities.) They can accept that the child might need time for quiet reflection or deep immersion in some pursuit such as music or science.
In conclusion, society can learn to accept that kids are not equal in intellectual ability any more than they are equally athletic, artistic, or musical. Our duty is to make sure every child has the resources and opportunities to develop his/her own abilities, whatever they are, to the fullest extent possible.
Learn About IQ
- IQ Basics
IQ Basics, IQ Explained, IQ scores for three hundred eminent geniuses; Estimate your IQ from your GRE or SAT scores; IQs for occupational groups; Entrance criteria for high IQ societies; The Flynn Effect; Average IQ scores in nations vs Nobel prizes.
- The Bell Curve, Cognitive Elites, and Synergistic Strategy
The average IQ of Ivy League college graduates (e.g. Harvard) has shot up from 120 to 142. This is the cognitive elite.
- America and the Left Half of the Bell Curve
- Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
Giftedness: Everything parents, educators, administrators, counselors, psychologists, and gifted children & teens need to know.
- Davidson Institute for Talent Development
The Davidson Institute's mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.
- Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted
SENG is dedicated to fostering environments in which gifted adults and children, in all their diversity, understand and accept themselves and are understood, valued, nurtured, and supported by their families, schools, workplaces and communities.
- Grade Skipping--Opinion
... it seems to me that schools rarely consider skipping students ahead anymore.
- Grade Skipping for Gifted Children
... learn about the various options that can be used in school
- Stupid opinions on gifted kids
a blog post
- Top Seven Considerations about College for Younger Children: A Professor's Perspective - Gifted Home
By Doresa Jennings
- Gifted Challenges: Why some teachers just don't "get it" about gifted education