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Perspectives on Giftedness

For decades, educators, academics, professionals in the field, parents and even those identified as gifted have tried to define the term ‘gifted’ with few reaching consensus. Today’s chat will explore different perspectives about giftedness. The terms educationally and psychologically gifted are terms used by some to distinguish between individuals with different needs in school. Other terms frequently used include high achievers or profoundly gifted. 2Es or twice exceptional students are labeled ‘gifted’, but also experience learning challenges. It’s important to consider a student’s strengths and address those before deficits.

What does it mean to be ‘more’ regarding gifted children and why does it matter? When the idea of ‘more’ is introduced in discussing gifted children, concerns about behavior are generally the issue. The source or reason for intense behaviors is debatable in academic circles, but rarely for parents. It is important to recognize and address out of the ordinary behaviors of a child who is identified as gifted to ensure their well-being as well as their ability to achieve academically and gain important social skills to be successful in life. In recent years, the importance of SEL or social-emotional learning has gained recognition among educators and parents. For GT kids, the assumption was that they would be fine on their own. This is no longer the case.

What challenges do twice-exceptional students face at school and in life? Initially, recognition of the existence of twice-exceptional students is paramount to providing appropriate educational opportunities. Failure to do so can result in students receiving only remedial services. Twice-exceptional students are often misunderstood both in school and by society at large. Challenging behaviors or academic deficits can result in students being misplaced in special education rather than placement in gifted programs. Inappropriate placement in school can lead to life-long consequences for twice-exceptional students whose most urgent needs are never met. It can have disastrous effects on life and career outcomes.

Pathologizing a gifted child’s behavior – labeling normal behavior as abnormal – is like trying to fix a problem which does not exist. Interventions, inappropriate treatments and even drug therapy can do more harm than good. For parents, in particular, it is extremely important to engage with professionals who have qualified experience working with gifted children. Pathologizing gifted behaviors may result in misdiagnosis which can lead to unmet needs or even more serious problems for their child.

Parents may wonder if they should tell their child they have been identified as gifted. However, its important to explain giftedness before they learn about it from unqualified sources or form their own opinions based on misinformation. Gifted children need to understand that they are more than a label assigned to them in order to receive services at school. That understanding involves realizing they are not better than, but rather better at. Understanding the nature of giftedness will help a gifted child to realize it’s okay to make mistakes or even fail at times; it’s not an excuse for poor behavior; and they may view the world around them differently than their age peers.

What does giftedness look like in adulthood? Gifted adults may or may not recognize their own giftedness based on their individual life experiences. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to only view eminent or high achieving adults as ever being gifted. Psychologists’ offices are filled with gifted adults experiencing anxiety, intense emotions, perfectionism, an acute sense of loneliness due to an inability to connect with others, existential depression, and so much ‘more’.

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 Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM 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.

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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

The Columbus Group Conference | Gifted Parenting Support

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

Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling

If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice Exceptional

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth

Behavioral Profiles of Clinically Referred Children with Intellectual Giftedness | BioMed Research International

Homeschooling Gifted Students: Considerations for Research and Practice (pdf) | IGI Global

Dwelling on the Right Side of the Curve: An Exploration of the Psychological Wellbeing of Parents of Gifted Children (pdf)

New Brain Mapping Technique Highlights Relationship Between Connectivity and IQ | Neuroscience News

“Choosing our Histories” by Kevin Gover, Baccalaureate Address 2016 | Brown University

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star (book)

Bright Adults: Uniqueness and Belonging across the Lifespan (book)

Comparison of Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Adaptive Behavior Profiles among Gifted Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gifted … You Know What That Means, Right?

When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs (book)

Serving Highly & Profoundly Gifted Learners (pdf)

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth | Vanderbilt University

Behavioral Profiles of Clinically Referred Children with Intellectual Giftedness | Biomed Research International

Images courtesy of GHF Learners, Celi Trepanier, Dr. Gail Post, Stacie Brown McCullough, and Paula Prober.

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

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: gtchatmod@gmail.com

 

Resources:

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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