Giftedness Expressed by Affective Function
High levels of cognitive development do not necessarily imply high levels of affective development. The same heightened sensitivities that underlie gifted intelligence can contribute to an accumulation of inforrmation about emotions that the student needs to process. The affect-based information comes from sources within and outside of the child. Gifted children need to learn that their cognitive powers applied to this material will help them to make sense of their world. Their educational program must provide oppportunities to bring emotional knowledge and assumptions to awareness, and to apply verbal ability and inquiry skills in the service of affective development.
The early appearance of social conscience that often characterizes gifted children signals an earlier need for development of a value structure and for the opportunity to translate values into social action. This can occur in the context of the society of the classroom and should then be extended into the larger world, as appropriate to the child's increasing competence and widening concerns.
| Differentiating Characteristics
|| Examples of Related Needs
|| Possible Concomitant Problems
|Large accumulation of information about emotions that has not been brought to awareness||To process cognitively the emotional meaning of experience; to name one's own emotions; to identify one's own and others' perceptual filters and defense systems; to expand and clarify awareness of the physical environment; to clarify awareness of the needs and feelings of others||Misinterpretation of information, affecting the individual negatively|
|Unusual sensitivity to the expectations and feelings of others||To learn to clarify the feelings and expectations of others||Unusual vulnerability to criticism of others; high level of need for success and recognition|
|Keen sense of humor—may be gentle or hostile||To learn how behaviors affect the feelings and behaviors of others||Use of humor for critical attacks upon others, resulting in damage to interpersonal relationships|
|Heightened self-awareness, accompanied by feelings of being different||To learn to assert own needs and feelings nondefensively; to share self with others, for self -clarification||Isolation of self, resulting in being considered aloof, feeling rejected; perceives difference as a negative attribute resulting in low self-esteem and inhibited growth emotionally and socially|
|Idealism and sense of justice, which appear at an early age||To transcend negative reactions by finding values to which he or she can be committed||Attempts toward unrealistic reforms and goals with resulting intense frustration (suicides result from intense depression over issues of this nature)|
|Earlier development of an inner locus of control and satisfaction||To clarify personal priorities among conflicting values; to confront and interact with the value systems of others||Difficulty with conformity; rejects external validation and chooses to live by personal values that may be seen as a challenge to authority or tradition|
|Unusual emotional depth and intensity||To find purpose and direction from personal value system; to translate commitment into action in daily life||Unusual vulnerability; difficulty focusing on realistic goals for life's work|
|High expectations of self and others, often leading to high levels of frustration with self, others, and situations; perfectionism||To learn to set realistic goals and to accept setbacks as part of the learning process; to hear others express their growth in acceptance of self||Discouragement and frustration from high levels of self-criticism; difficulty maintaining good interpersonal relations as others fail to maintain high standards imposed by gifted child; immobilization of action due to high levels of frustration resulting from situations that do not meet expectations of excellence|
|Strong need for consistency between abstract values and personal actions||To find a vocation that provides opportunity for actualization of student's personal value system, as well as an avenue for his or her talents and abilities||Frustration with self and others leading to inhibited actualization of self and interpersonal relationships|
|Advanced levels of moral judgment||To receive validation for nonaverage morality||Intolerance of and lack of understanding from peer group, leading to rejection and possible isolation|
|Strongly motivated by self-actualization needs||To be given opportunities to follow divergent paths and pursue strong interests; to receive help in understanding the demands of self-actualization||Frustration of not feeling challenged; loss of unrealized talents|
|Advanced cognitive and affective capacity for conceptualizing and solving societal problems||To encounter social problems; to become aware of the complexity of problems facing society and the conceptual frameworks for problem-solving procedures||Tendency for "quick" solutions, not taking into account the complexity of the problem; young age of gifted child often makes usable alternatives suspect; older, more experienced decision makers may not take the gifted child seriously|
|Leadership ability||To understand various leadership steps and practice leadership skills||Lack of opportunity to use this ability constructively may result in its disappearance from child's repertoire or its being turned into a negative characteristic (e.g., gang leadership)|
|Solutions to social and environmental problems||To experience meaningful involvement in real problems||Loss to society if these traits are not allowed to develop with guidance and opportunity for meaningful involvement|
|Involvement with the metaneeds of society (e.g., justice, beauty, truth)||To explore the highest levels of human thought; to apply this knowledge to today's problems||Involvement in obscure groups with narrow, perfectionistic beliefs|
Society has unique needs for the services of exceptional individuals. While we would not wish that education for the gifted focus on societal needs at the expense of the needs of these individuals, neither can education of the gifted disregard the importance of their mature social roles. Gifted students need direction in exploring all of the opportunities society has to offer them and the ways of contributing what they have to offer society. They need conceptual frameworks to organize their experience of society (e.g., Maslow's  hierarchy of needs), and they need opportunities to develop those skills that will make it possible for them to affect society. Educational programs should provide for the options, conceptual frameworks, and skills that will underlie effective social involvement of gifted students.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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