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Challenging Myths about Gifted Children

gtchat 12212017 Myths

During our last Twitter chat of the year, #gtchat tackled the subject of myths about gifted children and what can be done to challenge them. Myths can have wide-ranging effects on these children; some of which can last a lifetime.

Exactly what are some of these damaging effects? Myths can prevent children from receiving the services they require at school and this can leave them vulnerable, feeling neglected and discouraged, or worse. Myths can also cause unrealistic expectations. Gifted children are usually not gifted in all areas. When adults repeat the myths, young gifted children can believe them and begin to question their own abilities.

Myths can affect teacher’ perception of students labeled ‘gifted’ in the regular classroom. Due to little or no undergraduate classes in gifted education, many teachers lack knowledge about gifted students. Myths too often become perception and this influences interactions with these students. A gifted student may not always be a ‘straight A’ student. Asynchronous development – many ages at once – can complicate their academic life as well. As Justin Sulsky, GT teacher in New York, pointed out, “Myths cause teachers to think that the “wrong” kids are in GT programs and that the “right” kids are not being served. ”

Why does the ‘all children are gifted’ myth still persist? It is particularly disturbing and misleading. Failure to adequately define what ‘gifted’ is and is not perpetuates this myth. The ‘all children are gifted’ myth is often used as an excuse to deny services to this special population of students. A misunderstanding of gifted as meaning ‘better than’ rather than ‘better at’ cause some to view gifted children as elitist. Lisa Aguilar, special education teacher, explained, “I think we want to see the best in all children, that we overdo it and confuse giftedness with strengths. All students have strengths that can be built on, but giftedness is a different way of thinking.”

“The myth that all children are gifted is an attempt to justify whole group instruction. All children may be blessed, unique, and valuable, but their academic, social and emotional needs vary by their ability.” ~ Ellen Williams, Ed.D, consultant and author

Many educators are resistant to accelerating students – what myths cloud their thinking? Not all children will successfully accelerate – many times for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the child’s abilities; but one misstep should not obscure the benefits for students who need it. Acceleration is one of the most researched strategies used for challenging gifted students. Myths persist when decision makers fail to read the research.

“Educators don’t accelerate because: 1. “it’s just not done that way”; 2. It will complicate a child’s trajectory down the road. (e.g. What will they do in 11th grade of HS if they already took the whole math sequences?); and 3. They wrongly worry about student’s social development.” ~ Justin Sulsky

The myth that twice-exceptional students’ disability be addressed before their giftedness is a myth often faced by parents of 2E kids who are required to ‘prove’ their child be seen as gifted first. Currently, researchers are providing exceptional research reported in papers and books. Parents need to share this information with their child’s teachers. (Please see links below.) They need to be vigilant in documenting their child’s progress when challenged and then share it with school officials.

Finally, we discussed the myth that AP classes constitute a gifted program for secondary gifted students. Recently, a few states in the U.S. have recognized that AP classes can be ‘part’ of a rigorous program, but simply do not address all the needs of gifted students and are attempting to change direction. AP classes may address academic needs, but gifted students are a diverse population expressing many different abilities and talents.

For more information, a transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

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 2 PM NZST/Noon AEST/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 Storify. 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.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  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:



TAGT: 5 Myths about Giftedness (pdf – p. 25)

10 Myths about Gifted Students (YouTube 5:13)

Myths about Gifted Students

Gifted Isn’t Good

The Unique Challenges of Raising a Highly Gifted Child

The Value of Challenging Gifted Students in Elementary School

Differences, Disregarded (Michael Clay Thompson) *response to “all children are gifted”

(AUS) Gifted Education: What is it? Do We Even Need it?

10 Facts You May Not Know about Gifted Children, But Should

Twice-Exceptional Newsletter: What Is Gifted and Why Does It Matter? 

7 Myths about Twice-Exceptional (2E) Students

Gifted Children: Myths and Realities (Amazon)

Gifted Children – So Intelligent, But They Struggle

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster

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

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6

Is it a cheetah? (Stephanie Tolan)

Top Ten Myths if Gifted Education (YouTube 8:10)

Personas, Profiles and Portraits: Facebook 52 Illustrations Challenge July

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum: Are All Children Gifted?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Creative Commons

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad


Common Myths of Gifted Education Part 2

Gifted Education Elitist venspiredPhoto courtesy of  (all rights reserved)

This chat was the second part in a series, “Common Myths of Gifted Education”. It became apparent soon after chat started that these myths evoke strong emotions in all stakeholders in the gifted community. A full transcript can be found here. To view the post from Week 1, click here.

I’ve included below some of the comments made during the chat.

In response to the myth – ‘gifted education programs are elitist’:

Lisa Van Gemert @gifted_guru “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people” ~ Thomas Jefferson. GT kids are qualitatively different.

Krissy Venosdale @venspired  R5) Different not better.Needs met, not privileged.Elitism insinuates the idea that it’s a “prize.” Real prize? Understanding.

Krissy Venosdale @venspired  R5) I like to tell people that we need to stop focus on high-achieve and focus more on thinking deep.

In reference to the possibility of a child being twice-exceptional: StemMom Advocate  R6: head in fire, feet in ice. Nothing fits.

Please note that our next chat will be Sunday, January 26, 2014 @ 4P ET/3P CT/21.00 UK/Monday 8.00 AUS (ET). We will be having one chat a month at this new time.


Ensuring that Diverse Learners Participate in Gifted Education Programs & Services 

Identifying Gifted Children from Diverse Populations 

Classroom Instruction & Teacher Training for Gifted Students from Diverse Populations

Diversity Focus in the NAGC-CEC Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education

Optimizing the Potential of Gifted, Low-Income African American Students: Lessons Learned (pdf)

To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled: Strategies for Helping Bright Students with LD, ADHD and More (book)

Designing Services & Programs for High-Ability Learners A Guidebook for Gifted Education (book)

Critical Issues in the Identification of Gifted Students with Co-Existing Disabilities

Gifted But Learning Disabled: A Puzzling Paradox 

Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Issues 

LD Gifted and Talented 

Bright Kids, Poor Grades & What You Can Do about It 

Poor Results for High Achievers 

Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 8” from Jo Freitag on  Sprite’s Site 

Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6” from Jo Freitag on Sprite’s Site 

Cybraryman’s Twice-Exceptional Children

The Dyslexic Advantage (Amazon) by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide

The Advantages of Acceleration by Lisa Van Gemert

Gifted and Talented – High Intelligence is a Special Need – So Treat It That Way

2014 The Year Ahead

2014 got off to a rousing start with a look to the year ahead! It was exciting to see many old friends as well as many ‘first-timers’. In fact, there were so many tweets that we were unable to get to all of the prepared questions! A full transcript may be read here.

The chat was filled with some exciting news of upcoming guests ~ including Dr. Joy Davis (for a return appearance), Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, Christine Fonseca (for a 3rd guest appearance on our chat) and Dr. Dan Peters. All are in the process of being scheduled and dates will be announced in the near future.

We also discussed the possibility of a bi-lingual chat with teachers in the U.S. and Mexico which will admittedly take some planning. If you are interested in participating, please email for details.

There was certainly interest in moving the time for #gtchat. It has always been a difficult time slot for parents and teachers as well. Potential times included Thursday evening at 8/7 C or Saturday/Sunday afternoon. Unlike other educational chats, our ‘global’ nature has always been a serious consideration. At the current time, it is extremely difficult for our friends in the UK/Europe to participate on a regular basis.

In response to “who would you like to see as a guest”, we were pleased to see that several of our already contacted guests were on many people’s wishlist. Other requests included ~ Dr. Patricia Gatto-Walden, Dr. Joyce Juntune, Dr. Jim Webb, Dr. Ed Amend, Stephanie Tolan, and Dr. George Betts. Please check out the transcript for a complete list.

“What would you like to chat about?” garnered enough responses to cover the entire year! Some of the topics mentioned included: math anxiety; gay and straight relationships for teens and gifted adults; how to start a parent advocacy group; twice-exceptional; gifted kids and puberty; adult perfectionism; and  Asperger’s and gifted. The moderator will work to include as many as possible.

In a welcomed turn of events, several other educational chats expressed interest in doing a joint chat with #gtchat. We hope to move on these requests in the very near future!

Gifted Education Myths

Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be discussing “Myths of Gifted Education” and utilizing the list provided by the NAGC (US) on their website. Prechat tweets and retweets are showing a good deal of interest in this topic! Please join us on Fridays at 7/6 C on Twitter for engaging discussions on all things gifted.

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