Gifted Education and Talent Development: Myths and Misconceptions
Uninformed attitudes about the education of gifted and talented learners have often become strongly held beliefs among educators and decision makers who are most responsible for the educational services that these students receive. Among the beliefs that limit educational practices are the following:
All children are gifted.
All children are valuable, all children are important, and all children should be allowed to develop to their highest potential; however, all children are not gifted. The term gifted designates the students “who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities” (Javits Act P.L. 100-297, reauthorized in 1994 through 2006). The capabilities to which the Javits Act refers include high levels of intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, or academic abilities. Obviously, not all children have high levels of development that create needs for modification of the curriculum, and yet, in a misguided effort to assert the value of all children, a statement such as “all children are gifted” is mistakenly made. The problem is that such a statement can cause the unique educational provisions needed by gifted students to seem unnecessary, and, therefore, they will not be provided.
Gifted students are not at risk. If they are really gifted, they can get by on their own.
This would be true only if intelligence was solely inherited and, therefore, did not change. The well-documented fact is that intelligence is developed from an interaction between genetic patterns and environmental opportunities. It is dynamic rather than fixed, which puts children who are not stimulated at the level of their growth at risk. They do not progress; rather, they regress. Additionally, the growth of intelligence is less limited than was once supposed, and the level to which any child can achieve, when given appropriate stimulation, is unknown. This possibility alone makes this belief that these children can get by on their own very problematic. Gifted students, like all students, need challenges presented to them by their educational experience at the level congruent with their ability and development. The problem for the gifted learner is that schools often do not present curriculum aimed at higher levels of thought.
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