Myths about Gifted Kids


This week at #gtchat, we welcomed Kathleen Humble, GHF Press author of Gifted Myths: An Easy-to-Read Guide to Myths on the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional. Kathleen is a writer and homeschooling mum with ADHD in Australia to two wonderful twice-exceptional children. Previously, she was also a mathematician, computer programmer, and a children’s entertainer.

The first myth we discussed was – “All children are gifted” – How should we respond? The idea that ‘all children are gifted’ is tantamount to saying ‘everyone is the same’ and that is simply absurd. We wouldn’t say all children are athletic any more than all children are stupid. It’s wrong and consequential. As argued by Michael Clay Thompson, just substitute the word ‘gifted’ with any other descriptor; it becomes nonsensical. ‘All children are [fill in the blank] … No; no they are not. To say ‘all children are gifted’ is an effort to conflate educational and social meanings of the term ‘gifted’. Have a gift – such as being kind – is not the same as being gifted.

“High achievement = being gifted” – Does it? Motivation is a key aspect of achievement. Gifted children may be motivated, but others are not. Non-gifted students may respond to extrinsic motivation; whereas, gifted students may only be intrinsically motivated. High achievers can be identified as gifted and gifted students may not be high achievers. The terms are not synonymous. This poses a significant issue when providing services to those who need them. Underachievement – a discrepancy between ability and academic performance – is, in fact, a significant issue among gifted students which frustrates parents and is perplexing to educators.

“All children should have gifted education” – Should they? When critics of gifted education use this argument, how are they defining ‘gifted’ education? Most times, it is seen as providing ‘extras’ like field trips or extension opportunities not available to all students. This myth concludes that all children can ‘become’ gifted if they work hard enough or are exposed to higher level opportunities. Requiring students to attempt mastery of content they are unable to handle can have the opposite effect; increasing a feeling of failure and highlighting inabilities.

“Gifted education is elitist” – Why should schools be required to provide it? The charge of elitism in gifted education is usually an excuse used to deny services to GT students. It has no basis in reality. Stating that ‘gifted education is elitist’ is more often a response to a situation meant to evoke emotion; to elicit sympathy for all ‘other’ children. It sets up a false equivalence; an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mindset. Advocates for gifted education seek educational accommodations based on need; not some sense of superiority. Gifted education should be provided to children with demonstrable need just as special education is provided to children based on their individual needs. Without it, these children become disadvantaged.

“Ability grouping hurts some students feelings” – Why is it necessary? “Grouping gifted children is one of the foundations of exemplary gifted education practice.” In educational terms, it is the ‘least restrictive environment’ for GT students (NAGC Position Statement). Ability grouping is essential to meeting the needs of gifted students. It is the basis for successful differentiation of the curriculum. To imply that other children will be academically or emotionally disadvantaged because of ability grouping is simply not supported by research.

“2E students don’t exist” – Who are they and why do they need accommodated? This is a myth that needs to be eliminated now – that a student recognized as gifted cannot also experience learning difficulties. They can and they do. For generations, education systems have failed to understand or identify twice-exceptional students because ability and disabilities often mask each other. Best practice dictates that ability should be accommodated before disability, but usually the opposite occurs. This severely limits these kids from even considering the fact that they have greater potential than is recognized.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2PM NZDT/Noon AEDT/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Lisa Conrad About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:



Yellow Readis (Kathleen’s website)

Gifted Myths: An Easy-to-Read Guide to Myths on the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional (book)

GHF Press (website)

Twice-Exceptional Kids are Education’s Canary in the Coal Mine (pdf)

Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Mathematical Giftedness: A Literature Review (2016)

Optimized Gamma Synchronization Enhances Functional Binding of Fronto-parietal Cortices in Mathematically Gifted Adolescents during Deductive Reasoning

The Effects of Disability Labels on Special Education and General Education Teachers’ Referrals for Gifted Programs (pdf)

Worth the Effort Finding and Supporting Twice Exceptional Learners in Schools (YouTube 1:06)

Giftedness Is Not an Unwrapped Present

Differences Between Academic High Achievers and Gifted Students

The Truth about ‘Gifted’ Versus High-Achieving Students

Being Gifted is Often NOT the Same as Being High-Achieving

A Response to “Everyone is Gifted in Some Way”

How the Gifted Brain Learns: Chapter 1 – What is a Gifted Brain? (pdf)

NAGC Position Paper: Grouping (pdf)

Michael Clay Thompson: Is Everyone Gifted?

The Concept of Grouping in Gifted Education (Fiedler, Lange, & Winebrenner, 2002) (pdf)

Grouping and Acceleration Practices in Gifted Education (Essential Readings in Gifted Education Series) (book)

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 2

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 3

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 8

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 9

Sprite’s Site: Gifted Under Achievers

Sprite’s Site: 2E is

Sprite’s Site: What makes them 2E?

Grouping the Gifted and Talented: Questions and Answers

Meet the Female Entrepreneur who became an Artist Overnight after a Brain Injury

Graphic images courtesy of Kathleen Humble and GHF Learners.

Graphic created by Lisa Conrad.


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