Myths of Giftedness

28 08 2009

         The following is from Special Education in Canada (Volume 56 #1 Fall Issue)

 and The Gifted Kid’s Survival Guide by Judy Galbraith

 Myth: Gifted children will make it on their own.

 

Reality: Everyone needs help, encouragement and appropriate learning experiences in order to make the most of themselves.  Many learners with gifted abilities have disabilities or are underachievers and some will become dropouts from learning or from school unless they receive guidance and challenge.

 

 

Myth: Gifted children can be handled adequately in a regular classroom.

 

Reality: Gifted children process information much faster and in different ways than other students.  Classroom teachers are notably producing differentiated curriculum but do not always have the time to develop quantitatively different programs for each learner for all curriculum.  Classroom teachers need help and resources to deal adequately with children who are no in the learning mainstream.  Just giving more work or asking them to teach others does not educate a child at his or her own level.

 

Myth: If gifted children are grouped together or given special programs they will become an elite group.

 

Reality: By derivation, elite means the choice, or the best, or superior part of a body or class of persons.  However, time and an overemphasis on egalitarianism have imparted a negative connotation to the word, implying snobbishness, selectivity, and unfair special attention.  Like a Jazz band or a Basketball team, we often group children according to their talents.  We expect children will achieve their best at their own level.  We should provide some grouping for gifted children, not so they can learn to be snobs, but so they can experience working with children most like themselves. In fact, gifted children are elite in the same way that anyone becomes a champion, a record- holder, a soloist, an inventor, or a leader in important realms of human endeavor. Linda Silverman adds that it is stressful raising a child with any type of exceptionality, but parents of gifted children have the added stress of being continuously discounted.  There are great emotional risks in going to the principal and saying, “I believe my child is gifted and has special needs.”  Too often they hear the patronizing reply, “Yes, Mrs. Maxwell, all our parents think their children are gifted.” Parents of disabled children do not receive this kind of treatment. Therefore, parents have a distinct responsibility to challenge those who cry “elitism” and explain to them the true meaning of the term.


Myth: Programs for gifted children are good for all children.

 

Reality: Possibly true if only content is considered.  We often hear that all students should be exposed to the topics taught to the gifted.  However the pace and depth of understanding and exploration is different for gifted children and is not equal or the same for all learners.  In many cases mainstream students would not want and would not be able to handle the issues addressed in a gifted class.

 

 

Myth: Gifted children must learn to get along with their peers

 

Reality: A great goal —  but which peers? social peers? chronological peers? economic peers? intellectual peers?  We should look at all sides of a societal goal. Many times all provisions for the gifted student — ability grouping, acceleration, pull-out programs, full day programs, special schools — are held suspect on the grounds that they will “prevent the children’s social adjustment.” Indeed, the remarkable emphasis on the school as an agent of socialization makes one wonder if anyone really cares about the development of these children’s abilities or if all that is important is whether they fit in! Gifted children find their intellectual and talented peers stimulating and should be allowed some time to get along and work in their atmosphere as well as in a regular classroom. Studies by Feldhsen, Kulik and Kulik and Oakes confirm what…educators have known for years: gifted students benefit cognitively and affectively from working with other gifted students.

 

 

Myth: Everyone is gifted

 

Reality: True.  And we are all athletic and musical to a degree.  But we cannot all achieve at the same level all of the time.  If we could, Olympic medals would be as common as dollar coins and we could all hold concerts to draw international audiences.  Let us be realistic, we cannot believe that everyone is at the same learning in the classroom all the time.


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