What is giftedness?
"Giftedness 'asynchronous development' in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally." (Columbus Group, 1991)
What does giftedness “look like” in school and in the classroom?
Not all gifted students are the same; there is not one typical gifted child. Below are some descriptors for the various facets of giftedness. Keep in mind,children need only demonstrate one aspect of giftedness to qualify.
General intellectual ability or talent. Aspersions and educators alike usually define this in terms of a high intelligence test score--usually two standard deviations above the mean--on individual or group measures.Parents and teachers often recognize students with general intellectual talent by their wide-ranging fund of general information and high levels of vocabulary, memory, abstract word knowledge, and abstract reasoning.Characteristics of general intellectual ability or talent include conscientious students who are hardworking and typical high-achievers.Specific academic aptitude or talent. Students with specific academic aptitudes are identified by their outstanding performance on an achievement or aptitude test in one specific such as mathematics or language arts. The organizers of talent searches sponsored by a number of universities and colleges identify students with specific academic aptitude who score at the percentile or higher on standard achievement tests and then give these students the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Remarkably large numbers of students score at these high levels.
Creative and productive thinking. This is the ability to produce new ideas by bringing together elements usually thought of as independent or dissimilar and the aptitude for developing new meanings that have social value.Characteristics of creative and productive students include openness to experience, setting personal standards for evaluation, ability to play with ideas, willingness to take risks, preference for complexity, tolerance for ambiguity, positive self-image, and the ability to become submerged in a task.Characteristics of creative and productive students may include being messy,appearing less than enthusiastic about academic tasks, artistic, comedic or musically talented students.Leadership ability. Leadership can be defined as the ability to direct individuals or groups to a common decision or action. Students who demonstrate giftedness in leadership ability use group skills and negotiate in difficult situations. Many teachers recognize leadership through a student's keen interest and skill in problem solving. Leadership characteristics include self-confidence, responsibility, cooperation, a tendency to dominate, and the ability to adapt readily to new situations.Visual and performing arts. Gifted students with talent in the arts demonstrate special talents in visual art, music, dance, drama, or other related studies. This particular level of giftedness may not always be evident within the school setting as students may be engaged in activities to demonstrate their skill outside of school time. Students may appear not to care about school (ie, not turning homework in due to time commitment for practices,performances..) or seem to be detached due to having a more personal connection with separate peer group.
Psychomotor ability. This involves kinesthetic motor abilities such as practical, spatial, mechanical, and physical skills. It is seldom used as the sole criterion for qualification in gifted programs. This type of giftedness may not truly be evident in the school setting due to the student’s level of activities outside of school.